As you embark on this new Diet Program please prepare a journal to write in, 10 index cards and a pen.
Week 1: We all know that it’s not what you are eating that counts-it’s what’s eating you!? Compulsive eating may be caused by anxiety, the source of which may be known or conscious; or its source may be in the unconscious mind. Compulsive eating cannot be stopped by sheer will power. It can be controlled by getting in touch with the source of the anxiety.
Anxiety can be caused or triggered by a known fear or an unknown fear. If you are driving down an icy hill and you lose control of your car-you experience fear. Your heart beats fast, you gasp for air, your chest tightens and you have a feeling of impending doom. This emotional response is perfectly understandable given the circumstances. The source of the anxiety is known-and it gives rise to symptoms related to the fear. Your reactions by taking evasive measures, are appropriate in response to the anxiety.
If however, you are standing in the checkout line at the supermarket or you are driving along a pleasant highway and you suddenly experience similar symptoms you are experiencing a panic attack without being aware of the source of the anxiety.
Many people seek relief from anxiety in constructive ways by being stimulated to accomplish things that elicit a positive feeling, like exercising or taking a walk. Other modes of relief from anxiety are neutral-such as reading or watching TV. But some methods are destructive like becoming a workaholic, drinking alcohol, taking drugs or excessive eating in order to feel better. The effect of alcohol or drugs renders the mind oblivious to the anxiety-at least temporarily. Since the effect is brief, the person is likely to continue using these chemicals, with a high risk of addiction.
Some people seek relief from anxiety by means of food, even though they have already eaten enough to have satisfied the body’s nutritional needs. Food may in fact cause the brain to release endorphins which brings about a sense of relief, similar to the feeling of “relief” brought about in the brain due to the use of alcohol or drugs.
Another explanation is a psychoanalytic one. The first anxiety we experience in life as infants is hunger. To an infant that hunger causes anxiety. It may actually be anxiety itself. When the baby is fed the hunger/anxiety disappears. The infant then learns that food can relieve anxiety. This is how the unconscious mind may handle anxiety later in life. It remembers, unconsciously, how food relieved anxiety-and the adult body’s demand for relief from a current anxiety may be the unconscious command: “EAT!”-and this command has the force of compulsion. The fact that the person is unaware why he or she is eating does not diminish the force of the compulsion.
One of the most common unconscious anxieties which is related to compulsive eating is low self esteem. It is defined as an unwarranted feeling of inferiority or inadequacy-which are themselves distressful and unpleasant and also give rise to maladaptive behaviors. One effective way to gain control over compulsive eating is to eliminate the anxiety caused by low self esteem boyaqq. You can do this by learning the positive hands on techniques which will increase healthy self esteem. Having healthy self esteem means having a positive self image- which comes about as a result of two components: 1) thoughts and feelings that you are a person of value and that you are worthy of love and respect; and 2) that you are a competent and talented individual who has the inner strengths, resources and competence to deal with, respond to and cope with life’s challenges.