Why do I read so many books on emotional eating and intuitive eating? Shouldn’t I just go into therapy? In part, I can’t get my brain around the cost and time of going into therapy. The idea of attending therapy for a year (or more) is overwhelming. Of course, how many years have gone by as I struggle with emotional eating? (Twenty-ish)
I’m also a do-it-yourself kind of person. Reading books and going through written exercises appeals to me. I can go at my own pace and I don’t add on demented layers of worrying that I’m letting down the person I’m paying to help me. I like to please/help people and I’m concerned that therapy would be about me trying to lose weight just so I wouldn’t let down the therapist (yep, therapy might help this characteristic as well!).
Finding Alternatives to Binge Eating
Susan Albers’ 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself without Food (New Harbinger Publications, 2009) – A bevy of soothing techniques gives you many options to do things other than eat. The “50 ways” is really much more than that because many of the tips break down into two or more actions. She recommends trying at least three techniques when you feel like binging.
However, I do believe personal insight is necessary so that you know which type of technique will work the best. Doing three different types of activities is a good distraction and a lot of time, that might be enough to halt a binge. This is a wonderful resource of non-food activities.
I Can Make You Thin (Sterling Publishing, 2008) by Paul McKenna – If you can be hypnotized, McKenna’s book offers a CD of mind-changing suggestions. If you can’t be hypnotized, his four rules of eating – eat when hungry, eat what you want, eat consciously and stop when full are really the bare bones of the intuitive eating route. I wish I could be hypnotized, but my thoughts wandered while listening to the CD.
The book also offers exercises for self-hypnosis. This is a skinny book with very logical, non-hypnosis suggestions for conscious eating.
Martha Beck’s Four Day Win (Rodale Press, 2008) – Martha Beck breaks down dieting into microscopic steps that a dieter follows for at least four days before moving on. She believes that it takes four days for the mind to become comfortable with a new action. Martha Beck is fond of individuals giving themselves rewards for following the different steps – not for bribing yourself into engaging in appropriate actions but for reinforcing and acknowledging that a behavior has been learned.
This isn’t a quick, lose 20 pounds in two weeks kind of diet plan, although she does offer a “jump-start” program. One of the key components in following her plan is in finding “thinner peace” aka “inner peace.” When I picked up the book, I couldn’t get past the beginning of her book because I was too stressed (my mother was going in and out of hospitals and rehab centers on a weekly basis); one four-day process has you sit still for ten minutes a day. I would jump off the couch and start doing something without realizing that I was supposed to be meditating. Twenty minutes later, I’d see the book on the coffee table. Her plan has you learn new behaviors and new ways of thinking. I definitely see myself picking up her book again.
The books I’ve mentioned above an on day 26 don’t offer quick solutions. Although I’d like to try a technique once, have light dawn and immediately engage in normal eating patterns, I know that isn’t the case. Food and emotions are integral to life and learning to not confuse food as something that is more than a source of energy and being willing to experience emotions as neither good nor bad but simply as what they are is the process I engage in daily.