If you’ve read even a few of my articles on emotional eating, you’ve likely noticed the number of books that I’ve referenced. Although I’ve read my share of traditional diet books – cut out this food group, follow this meal plan for six weeks, etc. – I’ve also read many books on emotional eating and conscious eating.
Along the way, I’ve gained a lot of insight into the reasons why it’s likely that I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. Of course, insight is nothing without action and that’s where things get more difficult. While it may be “easy” to practice a particular behavior for a few days, it is easier to be distracted.
Insights into Binge Eating
Some of the following books require digging deep and developing a better view of our actions as a reflection of our past thoughts and behaviors. I won’t recommend one book above another but I will describe my experience with the books.
The Beck Diet Solution (Oxmoor House, 2009) by Judith S. Beck, Ph.D. – During this six-week program, Beck uses cognitive therapy to give dieters ways of reframing their thoughts about the actions necessary to diet successfully. Each day brings a new task, with basics, such as “sit while eating” and “make time for dieting and exercising.” Day 40 encouraged me to do something that I had been putting off because of my weight. I joined eHarmony and met the man who I’ll be marrying in a few weeks.
Although I lost 12 – 15 pounds, shortly after finishing the six-week plan my mother ended up in the hospital to have surgery and ended up bedridden. The new thought processes crumbled under the stress and I didn’t have the energy to start again.
Geneen Roth’s books – Roth has several books on emotional eating. She encourages people to find their own right eating habits by having conscious binges – eating whatever they want in a conscious manner. Roth sees one of the problems of dieting is that it sets off a famine mindset. People go on eating binges after years of denying themselves certain foods.
On her plan, if a person eats peanut M & Ms (or whatever their desired food is) for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two weeks, Roth believes that the individual will realize that they can have this previously denied food and will no longer feel the need to binge. Unlike restrictive diets that ban foods, the person will feel safer around food and realize that it won’t be taken away from them. The stories in the books make an emotional eater realize that they aren’t alone in their thoughts and behaviors.
Intuitive Eating (St Martin’s Press, 2003) by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch – Along a similar bend as Geneen Roth’s books, but the two authors are nutritionists so they really don’t advise living on coffee ice cream for a week. However, they do point out that a diet isn’t just a 24-hour period but a series of days where food and treats balance nutritionally over time. They offer insights into the different ways people restrict food and then ultimately binge.
If you want a book with lots of direction, writing exercises, and other guided action, then this book isn’t for you. It does provide clear information to better understand eating binges and how intuitive eating can be right for you.
Shrink Yourself (Wiley, 2008) by Roger Gould – Like Judith Beck’s book, this book uses cognitive therapy to get the emotional eater to change his or her thoughts. Gould focuses on different levels of powerlessness – including self-doubt, frustration, safety, and emptiness.
The first half of the book explains why feelings of powerlessness encourage individuals to overeat. The second half of the book is filled with activities that, if followed, help overeaters to reevaluate their thoughts, not just about food, but also about how they view their lives. If you are an emotional eater, chances are you overeat to feel numb and avoid dealing with the emotions and thoughts that are causing stress and making you feel powerless. I’ve read the first half and I’m just getting into the exercises.
These are just a few of the books that I’ve read, used, and referred to time and again. Although reading through a book the first time you pick it up allows you to get an overview of what the author is asking you to do, you need to do something. Insight is helpful, but you really need to make the time to sit down with the desire to do something that is different from what you’ve done in the past.