Sunday, March 29, 2009

April is Emotional Overeating Awareness Month

People often ask me what diet they should go on to lose the most weight in the fastest way. Here is my answer: “Diets actually cause weight gain and for many reasons too numerous to go into here. I suggest you visit as April is Emotional Overeating Awareness month. There is an article there on emotional eating which may help. I also urge you up for the Chew Tamer's Journey which comes out a few times a year. This has lots of info to help you understand weight issues. Additionally, I suggest you visit my site and go to the archive of old newsletters (no charge for any of these resources). Also every week I post on my (really your blog) blog on about weight management issues. Then, of course, I suggest you read The Taming of the Chew for an in depth understanding of eating issues from physical, emotional, social and spiritual perspectives. It may sound like a lot but as you look into these resources, you will gain a very different understanding of what you're going through. Also, there is another fantastic resource at If you just try to find the "right" diet, you will always fail. There is so much more to it than that. So, begin educating yourself and soon you will make healthy, permanent changes....”
My very best wishes, Dr. Denise

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Incorporating Meditation

To me, being spiritual means staying in touch with my spirit. I know deep within that I have a powerful connection to something beautiful, loving and giving. I am loved and I know that when I feel connected to my source, my God. When I am not feeling connected, life has a way of overtaking me. I get wrapped up in all the external matters of day to day living and forget my powerful helper, my spirit.

When I feel alone and unloved, I punish myself. I get overcome with sadness and want to collapse and sleep away precious days. When I reconnect with my source I feel loved. I no longer feel lonely and can approach each moment of my day with curiosity, appreciation and enthusiasm. For me, meditation is something that I resist at times but also something that is essential for my wellbeing.

If I allot twenty minutes in the morning to ask my higher power to help me treat myself and all those around me with gentle compassion and love, my day is entirely different from the days when I neglect my time of connection with the spiritual energy all around me, and inside me.

Early this morning, for example, I awoke lying in bed with my head stuffed full of worries. The more I tried to quiet my mind, the more negative chatter I experienced. I felt tired, lonely, and unlovable. I didn’t want to lie there feeling so badly and I didn’t want to get up and face another day of responsibilities and stress either. In years past I might have turned to food for solace (no, not I might have, I would have). I would definately have engaged in emotional overeating. I’d have chosen muffins, or doughnuts or tortillas with butter and jam. These reliable friends would unfailingly be there to calm my frazzled nerves and soothe my aching heart. Now I know better and you do also. We know these foods will only make whatever we are feeling bad about, feel worse in the long run. So I put my feet onto the floor and forced myself out of my warm, cozy covers.

For me, meditation provides a better alternative to the sugars and carbohydrates of bygone days. Taking twenty minutes to sit quietly and comfortably with eyes closed, focusing on my breathing – deeply at first - then slowly, quietly and peacefully as I continue both centers and calms me. I choose a word such as peace or love to repeat over and over with each breath to help my mind clear itself of some of the rumbling negative chatter. I pray sometimes and ask God to help me through the day, and when I do this I feel a shift inside of myself. I no longer feel alone, discouraged or bombarded with negative thoughts. When I open my eyes my energy is different and I feel ready for the wonders of the day ahead – not exhausted and apprehensive as I once did.

Now, this is what works for me. Yes, there are days when I am unable to enter a meditative state and those days are more difficult. When that happens I do my best to take care of myself (with varying degrees of success). I count my blessings, take deep breaths whenever I think of it and engage in activities and conversations that are pleasant and positive.

It is always my choice how I approach my day. I can drag myself out of bed and unconsciously perform the routine duties before me. I can plod mindlessly along like a robot and, for me, this assures I will struggle and things will seem more overwhelming and stressful than they need to be.

The alternative is to approach each day as a new start and spend those quiet few minutes in the morning connecting with myself, my spirit, to remind myself of my many blessings and to ask God to help me live this day fully, appreciating all I have and making the most of each moment. The difference is like night and day.

An unconscious, disconnected day is likely to be filled with negative experiences and emotions, many of which will scream to be soothed with food. We have all learned through experience that our old friend food will never fail to soothe and satisfy us in the short term.

A conscious, connected day is entirely different. Those valuable few meditative moments can mean the difference between feeling frustrated, exhausted and depressed or feeling peaceful, joyful and optimistic. It is always your choice (although it may not always feel that way). Making the choices that you know are in your own best interest is not always easy. If you are feeling badly about yourself, guilty or ashamed for example, the last thing you will want to do is treat yourself lovingly. You are much more likely to want to punish yourself with yet another day of unhealthy food and frustration. Perhaps a few minutes of quiet concious breathing will help you turn things around.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Overcoming Emotional Eating

In order to overcome emotional eating you first have to understand what it is.

Emotional overeating is primarily eating to mask difficult feelings. When we experience any unpleasant emotion, we may be tempted to reach for our “sugar/simple-carbohydrate” fix (By simple carbohydrates I mean white flour, refined products, not fruits, whole grains or vegetables.) We also may be emotionally eating for at any time and for any reason, whether we are feeling anything or not aware of feeling anything in particular. We may be soothing our boredom or mindlessly snacking through the day. For many of us feeding ourselves becomes disconnected from physical hunger and at times we may not know any other ways to take care of ourselves.

These are stressful time and we all manifest our stress differently at different times. Some of us tend to hold it inside. Others explode in angry rages. Our responses may differ but when we are stressed, our bodies produce excess cortisol and cortisol is a hormone that increases appetite. This is important to know because sometimes if you realize you are extra hungry and you are feeling stressed, you will know that it is in large part due to the cortisol flooding into your system and you may choose to do something to manage your stress other that eating to soothe yourself. You could go for a walk, talk with a friend or take a warm bath for example.

In summary, to be your very best, naturally healthy, vibrant, beautiful self and to stop eating for emotional reasons, you must consider your total wellbeing. It is no longer possible for you to think in terms of calories in/calories out as your guide. It is more complicated than that and yet it is paradoxically simple as well.

If you think self-destructive thoughts such as “I really am fat. I need to lose these ugly pounds” you will feel bad and you will attract more” bad feeling” thoughts. Then you are likely to get stuck in a loop of negative thinking leading to negative behaviors, extra pounds, increased worries, stronger efforts to diet, more deprivation, discouragement, guilt, shame and fear of gaining more and more weight. This can lead to depression, increased anxiety and eventual apathy. You are likely then to submerge yourself in sugar and simple carbohydrates to shield yourself from these painful feelings for the few moments, hours or days of relief that you know these substances can and reliably will provide.

Once done with this cycle, you regroup and plan your next strategy for losing those pounds that you are sick and tired of hauling around. Perhaps this time a new diet has captured your attention or you saw a new exercise machine advertised that is guaranteed to melt your pounds away effortlessly and at warp speed. You enthusiastically embrace your new course of action. You are hopeful and optimistic. You pray that this time you have hit upon exactly the right method to achieve the weight loss results you have so desperately been searching for.

Your newly designed plan my work for a while but unless you make friends with yourself and attend to your emotional needs you will find yourself soon stuck in the same loop you so recently broke out of. You are likely to feel more frustrated, discouraged and depressed than before.

You can recognize emotional eating and hopefully are making friends with yourself more and more every day. You are now aware of how you may be setting yourself up to fail by expecting yourself to behave perfectly at all times. By now you can see that this has not gotten you anywhere that you want to go. These impossible, self-imposed ideals of appearance and behavior have kept you from relaxing and enjoying your life. You have been trying too hard to accomplish your impossible goals. It is time now to stop, to relax and to really give yourself what you truly want and desire.

Once you accept who you are and become gentle and non-judgmental with yourself, you will swiftly make progress toward to ideal weight, vibrant health and balance you want so badly. Each of you must figure out precisely your own plan to soothe yourself during difficult times. You can take advantage of the Bach emotional eating support kit which contains three powerful remedies to help you learn to appreciate your body (Crab Apple), remain in control of your eating (Cherry Plum) and to stop repeating your same overeating mistakes over and over again (Chestnut Bud). For more information about this extremely helpful resource, visit .

Pause, breathe and substitute a positive thought to turn around your negative thinking. Gradually you will find that your thoughts will become directed towards positive, grateful places and your life will become more positive in the process. As you courageously shift your perspective in this way, you move quickly towards the life of radiant health and balance that you have longed for.

It is vital to pay close attention to your thoughts and feelings. Your feelings represent your internal guidance system (which is never wrong). When you identify what you are feeling will know what to do every minute. Your guidance will come from within you instead of outside of yourself. Your internal guidance system will never steer you in a wrong direction. If you make yourself number one and heed the messages your feelings are delivering through this system (as consistently as possible, you will move closer and closer to meeting your goals.

Remember that this is your life and your body to do with as you wish. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing, thinking about or telling you. Emotionally eating and keeping yourself murky and drugged with unhealthy foods will never bring you the happiness that you deserve. To be happy, healthy and whole is up to you and the time is NOW!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Overcome Overeating and NEVER diet again!

Food control is difficult for most of us. We may feel possessed by urges to stuff ourselves full of excess calories. We are then listening to the voice of our “Chew”. We all have a “Chew”, also known as our “saboteur”. This is the part of each of us that says, “Go ahead, eat whatever you want. You deserve it! It is OK to dive right into that sugary, carbohydrate-laden snack. Life is tough! Enjoy it all! You can worry about your weight/health tomorrow, or Monday, or next week!” Do any of those messages sound familiar?

It is fine to indulge now and then. Life is to be enjoyed and so is food. For most of us, however, stopping eating can be tricky at times. We crave. We overeat. We feel bad about it. We admonish ourselves which leads to more craving and continued overeating and then, no matter how much we put into our mouths, we often don’t feel satiated.

This is because satisfying the “Chew” requires more than candy bars, sodas and pasta. Being truly satiated means attending to all of our needs, not simply our need for food. We have to fuel our bodies regularly to function and must make nutritious choices as often as we can. This does not mean eating perfectly at all times. We also require other things such as adequate rest, plenty of water, exercise, companionship and laughter.

We are not simple or one-dimensional. We are complex beings with multiple needs and we have to nurture our emotional, intellectual and spiritual selves as well as our bodies. We may be doing our best to fulfill our physical needs for nourishment, rest, sunshine and exercise but we may not be quite as tuned in to nourishing to our whole selves. We have many needs and these are often neglected. We try to look perfect and eat perfectly. This is not possible! We cannot do it. WE get frustrated and then emotional eating begins. Most of us would never expect others to behave perfectly at all times, nor would we punish them if they occasionally overindulged.

It is the human way to overeat sometimes and, at other times to eat less. It is striving for perfection that gets us into trouble. We are human and set ourselves up to fail if we strive to be perfect. We set this impossible goal, fail to meet it and then feel like failures. We punish ourselves, head for the nearest “fix” of chocolate, pasta or cookies to feel better.

Check in with yourself to decide what you really want and need at every moment. It often is not food. Live your life with zest and enjoy every minute. You deserve nothing less!