Monday, June 29, 2009

No will power?

Many people come to see me stating they have no will power and that they feel like failures. Often it is remarked that eating is the one area in which they feel helpless and out of control. They may be successful in business and family life, but when it comes to passing up the cheesecake or potato chips, they feel helpless and weak.

I do not believe in will-power. As I have said in The Taming of the Chew I do believe that people will feed themselves well when they feel good about themselves and are able to genuinely express their emotions to others. Being happy, healthy and whole is not about being thin. It is about being happy with yourself at whatever size you are now. It is about self-acceptance and joy. It is about self-love.

It is necessary to take the focus away from feeling fat and unhappy and change the focus of attention to the positive aspects of ourselves and our lives. It is vital to appreciate what we do have and to let go of the things that are restricting us and holding us back. Only then can we create the lives of balance and joy we so desperately want.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Are you trying to be perfect?

As a professional speaker, I have the opportunity to address large audiences about women’s issues. I will joke with my audience members that there are probably no women in the room who expect themselves to be perfect. This usually prompts loud laughter as each woman looks around and they realize that they are the same. Most, if not all, women hold unrealistic expectations of themselves. They would never expect such perfection from others but they continue to set impossibly high goals for themselves.

Setting unrealistic, impossible goals leads to failure – every single time. We are all human and, although it is wise to set challenging goals, it is self-destructive to hold perfection as the only acceptable outcome. If we continually set ourselves up to fail in this way, we can never feel good about ourselves. Instead we will feel discouraged and see ourselves as failures. This leads to self-punishment and often to the bakery or candy aisle. We then eat to soothe ourselves and, as you can see, much of our over-eating is emotional eating.

Some women spend years captured in this loop. They set themselves up to be perfect, fail, feel badly and then eat to feel better. They resolve to perform better in the future. Since they still can’t behave perfectly every minute, they set themselves up to fail again. Then they beat themselves up, eat to feel better, end up feeling worse and this cycle repeats itself again and again.

You do not have to continue to feel like a victim, failing to manage your life. You will be able to change once you understand how and why you have been harming yourself. Stop trying to be perfect. You already are!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Did you grow up in a “crazy-making” world?

Most women tell me that they felt confused in their homes. They received mixed messages and had trouble making sense of the world around them. You may have heard the expression “There’s an elephant in the living room.” This means that many issues in the family, which may have seemed obvious to the child or young woman, were never acknowledged or addressed. People pretend that all is fine when underneath the fa├žade they are not fine at all. This occurs all too frequently.

Crazy-making messages are common elements in many families. Parents may not know how to confront difficult situations and may lack the communication skills necessary to do so. They may be held back by fear (of upsetting someone else, of incurring another’s anger, being abandoned, or being invalidated once again). So, many family members play the roles they have been assigned in the family and act as they imagine they are supposed to but, all the while, feel confused and disconnected – their true experiences and feelings hidden away from each other.

This breeds self-doubt and confusion. It is hard to feel confident and good about yourself when the world around you is not making sense. It is easier to play along (and eat to dull your feelings) than to risk disrupting the family system. Does this sound familiar? Have you been emotionally eating to suppress your real thoughts and true feelings? The time to stop that is now!

My Best, Dr. Denise

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Exciting new book

Todays blog entry is a little different. Rather than share advice or suggestions, I want to alert you to a most valuable resource. The End of Overeating (Rodale) by David Kessler, M.D.
appeared in bookstores in April. I, and my colleagues here, are all very excited about it. It is top notch research and perhaps the first book that will truly help people understand in concrete ways why they overeat and what they can do about it. He does not do much about the emotional eating piece and so his work combined with The Taming of the Chew makes a complete guide to changing frustrating overeating behaviors and healing from the negative effects of these behaviors. Dr Kessler's work is philosophically compatible with the Chew Tamer's approach to overeating issues.

He discusses brain function, sugar, fat and salt addiction, the ways food is processed to guarantee that we will overeat, marketing, portion sizes, some useful techniques to stop overeating and much, much more. It is a cutting edge book and very thoroughly researched. I am now going through the manuscript of my new book to add in some of Dr. Kessler's powerful and useful information. (More news on this to follow)

My new book will include a workbook, share the historical perspective on food abuse via interesting case stories, tackle emotional eating, incorporate a tips booklet at the end, include a list of suggested readings and now will also include Dr. Kesslers findings from his cutting edge research. My Chew Tamers will be the first to know when it is published!

So, for now, I strongly suggest you look into Dr. Kesslers work. It could save your life!

Warmly, Dr. Denise