Archive for the ‘Emotional Eating’ Category

SUGAR: Eating Sanely with a Sweet Tooth (Reprint)

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

 I reprint here a blog from 7/8/10, as a companion to the above entry on how to deal with the new findings on sugar….this was originally posted  as SUGAR:  Eating with a Sweet Tooth (Part 2).

Sweets top the food pyramid—they sit on that tiny “eat sparingly” point.  We know “eat sparingly” is easier said than done.  Sugary foods fill way too much of the average person’s diet these days.  It’s hidden in foods we buy, we love it, and it’s hard to stop after any amount that could be called “sparing”.

As promised in June 25’s [2010] blog, I continue here the discussion of how to stick to those small amounts.  I started with a few ideas about buying less, switching to items containing less, and eliminating sugared beverages.  Now we turn to the sweets we eat because we want to—whether that’s candy, cookies, pie, or cake.  How do you start to say “No, thanks, I’ve had enough” after one piece? (more…)


Cutting Calories, Skipping Meals.… and the Binge Eater

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

I’m reprinting here a verion of “Must Calorie-Cutting Lead to Binging”, from my Psychology Today blog (    You can find several previous blogs dealing with binging under “addictions”, “Thin From Within”, and “emotional eating” (see categories at left).  Also, Eat Sanely:  Get off the diet roller coaster for good offers a workbook supplement to reinforce supports for the binger.  Relief from binging is a prime goal of sane eating, after all.

We’ve known for a long time that calorie-cutting can spur binging.   A strong diet-binge link first caught national attention in 1985, when psychologists Polivy and Herman demonstrated the connection in their laboratory.  Further studies consistently confirmed that “dietary abandon follows dietary restraint”–so reliably, in fact, that eating disorder experts usually consider the link a given.   Recent headlines, though, highlight research supporting deep calorie cuts, and even breakfast skipping, as potentially effective weight loss aids.  In other words, in these studies eaters did not necessarily “rebound” eat after restriction, and thus weight loss continued.  All this will surely confuse the binge-prone overeater, who may have worked hard to not skip meals or cut calories too deeply.   What’s there to learn here?

One study at Cornell, for instance, found that subjects indeed did not “rebound” eat when they followed extremely low calorie (500 cal) regimes two days per week for six months.  Their weight loss, in fact, matched that of a comparison group who reduced on a more traditional regime.  The New York Times summarized the study as “A Low Calorie Meal is Shown to Pay Off”.   The study’s lead author, David Levitsky, found “no evidence of any compensation” in the dieters. (more…)



Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

(recently posted at Psychology Today blogs,  
Can we get addicted to food?  Lately, the question has absorbed researchers in fields from psychiatry to diabetes medicine.  We see headlines like “Addictive Tendencies Tied to Obesity” and “Cravings for Junk Food Mirror Drug Addiction.”   We still may not fully understand how food does and doesn’t work like other addictive substances in the brain.  However, it’s clear that some parallels exist, and that these are worth understanding.  If you’re an overeater, though, how does this information affect you?   In other words, do you need to know if you’re addicted to get control of your eating?  And if you are, what then?

To recap the emerging science:  brain scans show similar activity patterns in the brains of those seeking drugs and those seeking foods they tend to overeat.  Also, researchers note correlations between obesity and family addiction history.   Processed foods, with their sugar- and sodium-dense flavor enhancers, have been shown to increase the appetite for more of the same.  Indeed, they are “engineered” to do so.   In decades past, food was not thought to be addictive, and not all current research confirms the addiction hypotheses.  Still, it’s pretty clear that science can confirm what overeaters have long declared:  some foods are hard to stop eating. (more…)


BE KIND TO YOURSELF: It's Better for Your Diet

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

How we beat ourselves up for that brownie or pizza slice!  Once we’ve lost control or overdone it, forget about self-care and serenity.  But research keeps confirming some ancient wisdom when it comes to eating better.  Gentleness, being kind to oneself, paves a better path to success than self-flagellation. 

One early (2007) study asked dieters to go easy on themselves in the face of eating proferred candy.  Eaters first rated as “highly restrictive” ate less after hearing a self-compassion message than those who did not.  Christopher Germer, Ph.D. mentions this study in The mindful path to self-compassion (2009).  He explains, “When dieters’ heads are ‘not cluttered with unpleasant thoughts and feelings,’ they can focus on their dietary goals rather than trying to improve their mood by eating more food.” (more…)



Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

My Psychology Today blog talks about how those many, many diets can block the way to true weight loss success.   You can read at .


SPEAK UP TO KEEP WEIGHT DOWN: For the Holidays and Beyond

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

 As we near the holiday season—and its inevitable challenges to sane eating and weight control—I’m highlighting the importance of speaking up.  For stating your needs and preferences becomes especially important in the holiday push to join in, avoid making waves, and keep others happy.   It’s not that joining in and making others happy is bad.  It can lead to the abandonment of self-care, though, and of course to regained weight.  And for this we often end up feeling pretty unhappy ourselves.

Speaking up can prove hard at times, perhaps especially in this season.   I offer here some quick reading resources to help you get through these weeks feeling good about how you’ve cared for yourself, with some emphasis on the “speaking up” part.

 Eat Sanely blogposts:
11/23/09 (“The Best Holiday Gift:  No Weight Gain”)
12/22/09 (“The Joys of ‘Just Maintaining’”)
Click on “Older Entries”, below

Thin From Within blogpost: 
11/4/10 (“Assertiveness and Eating Better:  Speaking Up to Manage Your Weight”)

Other articles: 
“Avoiding the Holiday Spread,” Suzette Glasner-Edwards, O the Oprah Magazine, 12/08

“4 Ways to Put Your Diet First,” Suzette Glasner-Edwards,, 11/08

“Caring for Yourself at Thanksgiving,” A.F. Hutchinson,, 11/08



Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

I recently posed these questions on my Psychology Today blog:  How Do You Like Yourself…When There’s So Much to Change?  And, How Do You Change….When You Don’t Like Yourself?   (    10/8/10 and 10/22/10)

For all of us, perhaps, but especially for those trying to lose weight, these are crucial questions.   Despite the growing number of Americans struggling with their size, we continue to think negatively of the overweight.   It takes a lot of work to keep from internalizing these negative views—and few succeed.

Yet the very process of making major changes, such as those needed to lose weight for good, requires that we bring some self-confidence and care to the task.  In other words, you’ll have an easier time sticking to new, at-first-uncomfortable routines when you’re feeling worthwhile and capable.  And worthwhile and capable are surely not how the world works to make a heavy person feel.

So consider that balance between self-acceptance and the push for change.  If there are things about your body or your eating habits that you don’t like, try to separate all that  from your notion of who you are as a person.  No one is perfect….and given your particular history and biology you’ve probably been doing your best until now.  Despite what we might take from the media or from ill-informed others, “it’s not just you”.  A lot of factors conspire to make overeating easy, and weight loss hard, in our current world.

Paradoxically, accepting all that may make it easier to start the tough job of change, and to succeed.



Friday, October 1st, 2010

            Maybe you can’t lose weight without exercising, but sometimes slowing down, and even sitting, help more than you might think.    Last week my Psychology Today ( blog explored research on how the very presence of fast food in our world promotes bad choices.   In fact, purposeful slowing down for reflection, stress management, or better self-care sometimes makes all the difference in achieving dietary changes.  Here I’ll address a related phenomena—that is, the role of sitting in weight loss.  (This article appeared in a slightly different form in the July 2008 Diet Coach’s Letter.)


            We usually talk—a lot—about moving when we talk about staying fit.  Sitting can actually help us, though, too, when we’re trying to improve our fitness, particularly our eating habits.  How?  To understand, we need to think about how habits change.  In other words, how do we ditch habits we don’t like and build the ones we want?

          Change usually does not happen instantly or all at once.    And many people find changing how they eat hardest of all….some will say harder than quitting smoking or drinking, even.  “At least with drinking, you don’t have to face it every day” is what I often hear.  This is true— with food, you have to get used to eating less, or differently, while the same “triggers”, or eating cues, surround you.  For some, a good deal of mental or emotional preparation must come first.  (more…)


MAD ABOUT LUCKY CHARMS & FROOT LOOPS?: How that helps sane eating

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

The following foods carry a “healthy” label from the manufacturers:  Lucky Charms, Froot Loops, Cocoa Pebbles, McDonald’s Happy Meals, Burger King Kids Meals, certain frozen corn-dog-and-fries dinners, and… get the picture.  As people push to get more fruits and vegetables onto their plates, food companies have added just enough of something—maybe increased whole wheat, for example–to justify the “healthy” claim.  In part, the claim on the label attracts people to these foods, which  aren’t really so healthy.  Also, it allows the food companies to keep on advertising the foods to children—otherwise, new laws would try to stop them.

 How can knowing this help you eat more sanely?  Or lose weight?  Several recent books and movies have drawn our attention to alarming food company practices (see below).  These practices keep us eating foods that are fattening, possibly harmful to health, and definitely appetite-stimulating.  That means they’re hard to not overeat.  Once aware of this, we hope to start making better choices.  We may consider how to minimize or avoid processed, sugar-added foods.   By definition, though, this is easier said than done.  If a food is indeed engineered to make you want more, then you’re probably going to have to struggle to eat less of it. (more…)


Emotional Overeating: Returning to those questions

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Back in February and March, I blogged on topics related to emotional overeating, including the question of how addiction factors in.  I share some further thoughts on this issue at “Thin From Within” this week.  Read at