Monday, 19 January 2009


I came in on this programme half way through last night, and at first thought " Oh my God, thats disgusting". This nineteen year old guy was so fat he literally sat in a chair all day being waited on hand and foot by his mother. I watched as he ate a ginormous plate of burger(s) and chips with ketchup and to be honest I was repulsed.

He weighed in at 800lbs, and doctors in America told him he wouldn't live for another ten years if he carried on. His heart and lungs, and other organs are under enormous pressure that cannot be sustained indefinitely.

But my repulsion turned to pity when his mother was interviewed by a psychologist; it turned out she had a son before this one, who had died at eighteen months. She struggled to get over it, and when she had her second son (Half Ton) she poured all her love into feeding him up. And boy what a good job she did!

This was how she met her emotional needs. And how common is that, actually? How many of us use food and drink and cigarettes and caffeine when we're emotionally stressed. I know I do(just with chocolate though, dark of course!).

Most undisciplined eating is emotional.It makes some sense - simple carbs and fats elevate a persons mood by lowering stress hormones. So, if you're down it lifts you up, temporarily. Sweet foods elevate pain relieving chemicals in the brain, heightening pleasure in the same way addictive drugs do.

So for self medication, people with emotional needs (which could be any one or a combination of the following : loneliness, anger, sadness, anxiety, stress, fright, irritation, depression, worry and many more) may overeat sweets or processed foods/binge drink/smoke etc to get them through the hard times.

The trick to conquering it is to find out what your 'trigger' is ie. the feelings you get just before you reach for the big bar of chocolate, and then to look for an alternative way of dealing with it/them. It's important to acknowledge your emotions, write them down and don't push them away or supress them. Unless dealt with, they will return.

There are many options available to help - just caught the end of a Paul Mckenna programme using EFT (emotional freedom technique)tapping techniques on just this very subject. Hypnotherapy can also help, as can timeline therapy and councelling. Even relaxation techniques such as massage, and most definitely positive affirmation CDs can help. All of these therapies aim to break the emotional connection with food, and boost self esteem.

Not an easy one, but for the lady with the One Ton Son it is a life or death situation - if she carries on feeding her son 8000 calories a day he is going to die, and soon. Most of us are not in such a critical situation, but if you do recognise emotional eating in you, it may be worth trying to get a handle on it.

Good Luck!

1 comment:

Ruth said...

Glad I'm entertaining you Lucy, it's the sole purpose of my blog don't ya know. RX