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    Self Compassion and Emotional Eating

    self-compassion-and-emotional-eating

    Many of us eat for emotional reasons — when we’re sad, angry, happy, stressed, or lonely — we find ourselves eating so that we feel better. And eating works!

    Temporarily.

    Unfortunately, we usually feel worse afterwards — both emotionally and physically. More often than not this triggers a cycle of  beating yourself up — quite literally adding insult to injury — as the guilt and shame become yet another trigger for emotional eating, feeding the eat-repent-repeat cycle.

    Now, what would happen it we agreed the first step to breaking this cycle is self-compassion instead of self-criticism? How might that help? And more importantly, where would we start?

    How does self-compassion help with emotional eating?

    As difficult as it may seem to get our heads around, being understanding and forgiving of yourself for overeating will help you take the next step to finding other ways to meet your emotional needs.

    After all, we don’t eat for emotional reasons because we’re ‘weak-willed’… ‘stupid’… or ‘out of control’… We do it because it works!

    Blaming, shaming, criticizing, and finding fault for attempting to care for yourself only backfires. Imagine you were teaching a young child something new… would blaming, shaming, criticizing, and finding fault help or hurt? The way you speak to yourself has just as much power! You may be feeling afraid that if you are ‘nice’ to yourself, you won’t change. However, the exact opposite is true! You care for yourself because you accept yourself, not so you’ll accept yourself.

    So, how can you begin to respond with self-compassion when you overeat?

    Three Ways to Nurture Self-Compassion

    Gently acknowledge that you were doing the best you could in that moment.

    Validate your thoughts, feelings, and actions as being normal and understandable given the circumstances. “Of course!” It’s like saying, “I totally get why you thought, felt, or did that!”

    Of course you ate! Who wouldn’t want to feel better when they’re sad, angry, stressed, or lonely — or magnify the pleasure when they’re glad? This validation and unconditional acceptance creates a safe environment for experimenting with new thoughts, feelings, and actions.

    When you overeat, validate the choice as being rational at the time: “Of course you __________________!” This gentle, understanding self-talk will open the door to exploring how you might do it differently next time if you don’t like how it turned out.

    Bring Non-judgmental Awareness to the Situation.

    Mindful eating is all about bringing nonjudgmental awareness to your choices and experiences with eating. Non-judgment is essential because it provides a more objective understanding of what happened and why.

    One tactic you can try is writing about an overeating or binge eating episode and identifying the ‘voices’ that show up. Non-judgmentally recognising how your Restrictive Eating, Overeating, and Binge Eating voices drive the cycle will give you a great opportunity to cultivate your own Self-Care Voice.

    Cultivate Your Self-Care Voice

    Your Self-Care Voice wants the best for you. It is unconditionally compassionate, affirming and accepting. Your Self-Care voice is the voice of kindness and wisdom. It is like a loving parent who guides you to learn from your mistakes, face your challenges, and loves you unconditionally, faults and all.

    Fiona Wilkinson

    Emotional Versus Physical Hunger

    emotional hunger vs real hunger

    Emotional hunger can be powerful. As a result, it’s easy to mistake it for physical hunger. But there are clues you can look for that can help you tell physical and emotional hunger apart.

     

    • Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. It hits you in an instant and feels overwhelming and urgent. Physical hunger, on the other hand, comes on more gradually. The urge to eat doesn’t feel as dire or demand instant satisfaction (unless you haven’t eaten for a very long time).
    • Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods. When you’re physically hungry, almost anything sounds good—including healthy stuff like vegetables. But emotional hunger craves fatty foods or sugary snacks that provide an instant rush. You feel like you need cheesecake or pizza, and nothing else will do.
    • Emotional hunger often leads to mindless eating. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a whole bag of chips or an entire pint of ice cream without really paying attention or fully enjoying it. When you’re eating in response to physical hunger, you’re typically more aware of what you’re doing.
    • Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied once you’re full. You keep wanting more and more, often eating until you’re uncomfortably stuffed. Physical hunger, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be stuffed. You feel satisfied when your stomach is full.
    • Emotional hunger isn’t located in the stomach. Rather than a growling belly or a pang in your stomach, you feel your hunger as a craving you can’t get out of your head. You’re focused on specific textures, tastes, and smells.
    • Emotional hunger often leads to regret, guilt, or shame. When you eat to satisfy physical hunger, you’re unlikely to feel guilty or ashamed because you’re simply giving your body what it needs. If you feel guilty after you eat, it’s likely because you know deep down that you’re not eating for nutritional reasons.
    Categories: behavioural psychology, Mindfulness

    Thinking About Food

    The more we learn about the different aspects of hunger we sometimes mistakenly begin to think of “Mind Hunger” as something that is a problem.

    Mind Hunger (as it’s come to be defined) is composed of thoughts about food and eating. For example:

    • Numbers such as: “ One slice of cheddar cheese has 113 calories.”
    • Facts such as: “One egg has more than your daily requirement of cholesterol.”
    • Instructions such as: “ You have got to stick to your diet. Do not eat anything that contains white sugar or white flour!“
    • Fears such as: “If you eat too much cholesterol you might have a stroke or heart attack.”
    • Criticism: If your Inner Critic creeps in, the thoughts in your mind about food and eating can take a very unpleasant and even destructive turn, such as: “You broke your diet by eating a piece of your niece’s birthday cake — you’re a hopeless failure.”

    When Mind Hunger takes charge, it can become a problem. This seems to happen when people lose connection to their internal sources of information about hunger and rely instead on external sources of control such as diets, calorie counting and frequent weight checks.

    Minds like Information

    Our minds “feed on” scientific and medical information. We like hearing about the latest research on healthy or unhealthy foods. However, that information is always changing. Eggs were ‘good’ during my childhood, but when I was studying nutrition they became ‘bad’ because they contain cholesterol.  Now they’re labeled ‘good’ again, because they are an inexpensive source of protein and don’t actually raise serum cholesterol. When information about what is healthy changes, our minds can become chronically anxious about eating. And anxiety is not nourishing — not for our minds, bodies or hearts. Additionally, when we feel anxious, we may think we are hungry, since anxiety and hunger share many of the same physical and mental symptoms. We may feel anxious so we eat… then we feel more anxious for eating inappropriately… so we eat more… and on and on!

    When our minds orient toward an external locus of control, it tends to pull us away from the valuable sources of wisdom within our own body.  But this doesn’t mean that our minds should be ignored. Diabetics, for example, may be able to detect the sensations in the body that occur when their blood sugar drops — an aspect of what is sometimes called Cellular Hunger.  Then it is essential that they listen to what their mind says about the sensations that signal hypoglycemia, and follow that advice: “We need to get some sugar into our body now to avoid problems!”

    Our mind can also help us distinguish between real food and ‘food-like substances’, through intelligent reading of labels.  Our mind could also point out that we are going to have a very busy afternoon, and it’s not a good idea to skip lunch, and also remind us that we can eat the first three bites mindfully, even if we have to eat the rest of lunch in a hurry.

    Balancing Mind and Heart

    Mindful eating is embedded in awareness. From overarching awareness we can check in to body sensations, assessing eye, nose, ear, touch, mouth, stomach and cellular hunger. We can check in with our mind to hear what it is saying, and also with our heart, for emotional cues related to hunger. Taking all this information into account, from awareness we can choose what to eat and how much to eat. Awareness brings choice, and choice brings freedom, freedom to enjoy the simple pleasure of nourishing ourselves.

    Can you think of other examples of when your mind can be helpful as you shop, cook and eat mindfully?

    As you practice assessing the nine hungers before eating, are you able to better balance what the mind says about food and eating with the physiologic cues that come from your body?

    Categories: Anxiety, Mindfulness

    Top Ten Psychosomatic Symptoms

    headacheThe origin of a psychosomatic illness is within the brain.


    The illness is the brain’s attempt to throw a person’s consciousness off guard by inducing physical changes in the body, in order to prevent the person from consciously experiencing difficult emotions, such as rage, sadness, and emotional distress.

    People with psychosomatic illnesses contribute millions if not billions of dollars to the medical industry in the form of various treatments, including operations, medications, physical therapy, etc. People can spend decades chasing down physical symptoms when the root causes of their problems are emotional. Many addiction rehab programs will be conducted in residential or inpatient settings. During this period, residents live at the facility and interact with their peers, therapists, and doctors. This allows for round-the-clock supervision and, when necessary, access to medical services. Such a level of care is especially appropriate for those who may have psychological dependencies that they need assistance with or co-occurring mental or physical health issues. Learn more what is inpatient rehab? Get more information on how it works here.

    The reality is that somatic symptoms are extremely common. Research has found that approximately one-third of all physical symptoms fall into this category. However, patients are not quick to accept or believe that their symptoms do not have an actual physical cause. Only about 15 to 20 percent of patients will accept such a diagnosis.

    To be technical, the proper term for psychosomatic illness, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is somatic symptom disorder. Medical Center Dental Group is a great example of a full service dentist’s office, offering both cosmetic and general dentistry services. The aim of orthodontist The Woodlands preventive care is to avoid gum disease, enamel wear, cavities, and other preventable dental conditions. Visit woodlandsorthodontist.com for more information. There is an overlap across the spectrum of somatoform disorders, and this designation helps reflect the complex interface between mental and physical health. Cure your skin rashes with the help of Iridesse Skin Care.

    What follows is a list of the ten most frequent somatic illnesses:

    1. Chronic Pain Syndrome
    2. Fibromyalgia
    3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
    4. Gastrointestinal syndromes
    5. Migraine headaches
    6. Frequent need for urination
    7. Tinnitus and Vertigo
    8. Allergic phenomena
    9. Skin rashes (Eczema, hives, acne, etc.)
    10. Eating disorders

    References:

    American Psychiatric Publishing (2013). Somatic Symptom Disorder.  American Psychological Association Fact Sheet.

    DeAngelis, T. (2013) When symptoms are a mystery. American Psychological Association 44(7). P 66

    Sarno, J.E. (2007) The Divided Mind: The Epidemic of Mindbody Disorders. New York, NY:  Harper

    Sharie Stines, Psy.D

    Categories: behavioural psychology

    The Psychological Reason Diets Are Hard To Follow

    New study points to a radical new approach to dieting: choosing a diet you can actually enjoy!


    As every dieter knows, planning a diet and actually following through are two completely different things. A new psychological study reveals exactly why this is.

    The reason is that most people think their conscious thoughts and intentions will change their behaviour, when in fact they don’t.

    What really drives a lot of actual, real-world dieting behaviour is the emotions.

    Dr Marc Kiviniemi, a public health researcher at the University at Buffalo, explained:

    “The crux of the disconnect is the divide between thoughts and feelings. Planning is important, but feelings matter, and focusing on feelings and understanding their role can be a great benefit.

    If you’re sitting back conceiving a plan you may think rationally about the benefits of eating healthier foods, but when you’re in the moment, making a decision, engaging in a behavior, it’s the feelings associated with that behavior that may lead you to make different decisions from those you planned to make.”

    Weird diets which make you eat foods you don’t like or hardly any food at all are doomed to failure.

    Dr Kiviniemi continued:

    “First of all, the deprivation experience is miserable. If you didn’t associate negative feelings with it to start, you will after a few days. The other thing that’s important is the distinction between things that require effort and things that are automatic.

    Planning is an effort that demands mental energy, but feelings happen automatically. Deprivation or anything that demands a high degree of self-control is a cognitive process.

    If you put yourself in a position to use that energy every time you make a food choice that energy is only going to last so long.”

    Any potential diet should be centred around a radical approach: enjoying what you eat.

    Dr Kiviniemi said:

    “In the dietary domain, eating more fruits and vegetables is fabulous advice. But if you have negative feelings about those food choices, they might not represent elements of a good plan.

    It’s not just about eating healthy foods. It’s about eating the healthy foods you like the most.

    Think seriously about how you’re going to implement the plans you make to change your behavior, and that includes not only the feeling component, but how you plan to overcome a negative reaction that might surface during a diet.”

     

    Categories: behavioural psychology, health, Weight Loss

    Behaviour Key to Successful Weight Loss

    Behaviour key to successful weight lossBehaviour key to successful weight loss

    Learning about the nutritional value of food is not enough to achieve weight loss. Behaviour is key to successful weight loss.

    Learning to pay attention to your emotions is a more powerful weight-loss strategy than greater nutritional knowledge, a new study finds. 

    With obesity rates rising, many policy-makers argue that nutritional education will help people make better decisions.

    The new research, though, points to the greater benefits of learning to understand and respond to your own inner states over and above nutritional education.

    In one study, published in the Journal of Marketing Research, a group of people were given a nutritional knowledge course and they were taught to recognise basic emotions in both themselves and other people.

    A comparison group was given just the nutritional knowledge course.

    Part of the emotion training involved being presented with food products and asked to notice how this changed their own emotions, and those of other people.

    At the end of the training session participants were asked to choose a snack.

    Those who had had the emotion training were more likely to choose the healthier option.

    The reason the emotion training is so useful is that people generally find it hard to be objective and observe their emotions dispassionately.

    In another similar study reported in the same paper, people were followed over a three month period to see who lost weight.

    Those who had had the emotion training lost most weight in comparison to a control group, and in comparison to those who had received the nutritional knowledge course.

    Part of the reason the emotion training works is it breaks down an automatic link in people’s minds between foods being unhealthy and foods being tasty.

    Without this automatic link, and by recognising the emotions associated with certain foods, it’s easier to make more healthy choices.

    The study’s authors said:

    “Consumers are often mindless.

    We not only demonstrate that emotional ability is trainable and that food choices can be enhanced, but also that emotional ability training improves food choices beyond a nutrition knowledge training program.”

    They conclude:

    “With a better understanding of how they feel and how to use emotions to make better decisions, people will not only eat better, they will also likely be happier and healthier because they relate better to others and are more concerned with their overall well-being.”

    The Psychological Key to Weight Loss

    behavioural therapy

    No, it’s not exercise! Ninety percent of people ignore psychological well-being as a factor in weight loss

    Most of us think diet and exercise — especially exercise — is actually the key to weight loss.

    In fact lack of exercise is not the cause of obesity, it is too many calories,  refined carbs and too much sugar. This may explain why most people who manage to lose weight, soon put it straight back on.

    Dr Diane Robinson, a neuropsychologist at Orlando Health, said:

    “Most people focus almost entirely on the physical aspects of weight loss, like diet and exercise.

    But there is an emotional component to food that the vast majority of people simply overlook and it can quickly sabotage their efforts.”

    The survey of over a thousand Americans found that:

    • 31% thought lack of exercise was the biggest barrier to weight loss.
    • 26% said it was what you eat.
    • 17% thought it was down to the high costs of being healthy.
    • 12% guessed that lack of time stopped people losing weight.

    Only 10%, though, supported the idea that psychological well-being was important in weight loss.

    The Psychological Key to Weight Loss

    Dr Robinson said:

    “That may explain why so many of us struggle.

    In order to lose weight and keep it off long term, we need to do more than just think about what we eat, we also need to understand why we’re eating.”

    The emotional connection most people have built up with food is surprisingly powerful.

    Learning to understand this connection can be more useful even than learning about the nutritional value of food.

    Dr Robinson explained:

    “If we’re aware of it or not, we are conditioned to use food not only for nourishment, but for comfort.

    That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, as long as we acknowledge it and deal with it appropriately.”

    Perhaps worst of all, comfort food doesn’t even actually improve our mood, research has found.

    Dr Robinson provides three tips for those looking to understand their emotional connection with food:

    1. Keep a daily diary of food and mood. Look it over for any patterns which emerge. For example, are there particular foods attached to particular moods?
    2. Spot the foods that make you feel good. Is it about evoking a memory or are you eating from stress?
    3. Before eating, think: do I need this because I’m hungry or is it something else (like stress). If it’s stress, food isn’t the way to deal with it.

    Fiona Wilkinson

    The Belief That Inspires Healthy Eating and Weight Loss

    Study identifies belief that could be crucial to inspiring healthy eating and weight loss


    People who believe they have control of their weight — and they were not ‘born fat’ — eat more healthily, a new study finds.

    Believing that DNA does not totally determine weight is also linked to higher personal well-being. The authors of the study, published in the journal Health Education & Behavior, explain:

    “If an individual believes weight to be outside of the influence of diet and exercise, she or he may engage in more behaviors that are rewarding in the short term, such as eating unhealthful foods and avoiding exercise, rather than healthful behaviors with more long-term benefits for weight management.

    By fighting the perception that weight is unchangeable, health care providers may be able to increase healthful behaviors among their patients.” (Parent & Alquist, 2015)

    The study of almost 10,000 people found that with age, believing you are in control of your weight was linked to more healthy eating behaviour.

    People who felt in control took more notice of nutrition labels on food and were more likely to have fruit and vegetables at home.

    They were also less likely to eat frozen meals, unhealthy restaurant food and ‘ready-to-eat’ foods. People who thought their weight was controllable also took more exercise and had higher well-being. The study found little difference between men and women:

    “Although previous research has found gender differences in weight as a motivation for exercise and healthful eating, we did not find evidence that gender affected the relationship between health beliefs and physical activity or healthful eating.

    However, we found evidence that the relationship between belief in weight changeability and exercise, healthful eating, and unhealthful eating differs by age.”

    5 Health Conditions With Surprising Psychological Solutions

    5 Health Conditions With Surprising Psychological Solutions

    Instead of taking a pill, maybe you should talk about it.

    That’s the upshot of a slew of recent studies that show many health conditions previously believed to be completely physiological in origin, actually have psychological causes — and psychotherapeutic cures.

    “A wealth of research has surfaced showing clear relationships between psychological stress and major diseases,” psychologist Dr. Jack Singer told Newsmax Health.

    Mind-Body Connection

    The origins of disease-causing stress are rooted in our evolutionary history, says Dr. Singer.

    “Our bodies are hot-wired genetically from the cavemen days to react to perceived danger by shutting down bodily systems not necessary for immediate survival.”

    Dr. Judith Beck, clinical professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and president of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy in Pennsylvania, told Newsmax Health:

    “We have found that the mind-body connection is inextricable. By applying cognitive behavior therapy to a wide range of medical situations, we can improve the quality of life of even chronically ill patients and cure many diseases without drugs or medication.”

    Many people associate aches and pains with the aging process. They resign themselves to living with these aches because they think it’s natural. But these pains are more likely the result of a treatable injury. You can check out herniated disc treatment sarasota fl who are expert on this situations.

    Here are five examples of common physical conditions with surprising psychological solutions:

    Headache: When headaches hit, most of us reach for over-the-counter drugs. However, a growing body of xarelto lawsuit research shows that psychotherapy can prevent chronic headaches. Click here for more details.
    This is especially true of tension headaches, the most common kind.

    Dr. Beck says that teaching “mindfulness” helps people identify stressors and deal with them before a headache strikes.

    Irritable Bowel Syndrome: This chronic gastrointestinal disorder is on the increase, now affecting an estimated 45 million Americans. While diet and lifestyle changes may be necessary, experts say that 50-90 percent of IBS patients benefit from psychological counseling.

    Obesity: More than two-thirds of Americans over 20 are overweight or obese. Dr. Beck, co-author of the best-selling book, The Diet Trap Solution, says that cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) often helps patients lose weight — and keep it off.

    “It’s not only that people are eating too much, they aren’t paying attention to why they are eating,” she says.

    “We teach our clients how to avoid mistakes and not to beat themselves up when they slip up. There is a vast amount of research that shows CBT along with diet and exercise greatly improve weight-loss outcomes.”

    Chronic Pain: Millions of Americans are living with chronic pain. Dr. Beck helps her clients learn to deal with the fear and anxiety that comes with pain, which, in turn, provides relief.

    “Many people are fearful and anxious because they feel that they cannot enjoy life anymore,” she says. “For example, they love dancing but are afraid that this will exacerbate their pain.

    “In the office we encourage them to take a few dance steps and gradually build on small successes so that they realize they can enjoy certain activities and stop putting limitations on their lives. We shift the focus away from the pain to enjoying life again.”

    Insomnia: Studies have shown that people who have trouble falling and staying asleep fare better with CBT than by taking popular sleep drugs such as Lunesta and Ambien.

    “We not only stress good sleep hygiene habits like shutting off electronics and eating lightly before bed, we also teach our patients that losing some sleep isn’t a disaster and they can still function,” says Beck.

    “Very often it is the anxiety and fear of not being able to sleep that keeps them awake. They think, ‘What if I can’t sleep tonight? What will happen tomorrow?’

    “When they realize that tomorrow will come along and they will make it through the day, the anxiety lessens and the insomnia often disappears.”

    The Illusion of Control: Are There Benefits to Being Self-Deluded?

    The Illusion of Control
    Do people always over-estimate how much they control their lives?

    The ‘illusion of control’ is this: people tend to overestimate their perceived control over events in their lives. It’s well documented and has been tested over-and-over in lots of different studies over four decades.

    Here’s an example: you choose an apple which tastes delicious. You assume you are very skilled at choosing apples (when in fact the whole batch happens to be good today).

    Another: you enter the lottery and win millions. You assume that this is (partly) a result of how good your lucky numbers are (in fact lotteries are totally random so you can’t influence them with the numbers you choose. Although most of us know and accept this, we still harbour an inkling that maybe it does matter which numbers we choose).

    Sometimes this illusion manifests as magical thinking. In one study participants watched another person try to shoot a miniature basketball through a hoop (Pronin et al., 2006). When participants willed the player to make the shot, and they did, they felt it was partly down to them, even though they couldn’t possibly be having any effect.

    It’s like pedestrians in New York who still press the button to get the lights to change, despite the fact they do nothing. Since the late 80s all the traffic signals have been controlled by computer, but the city won’t pay to have the buttons removed. It’s probably just as well: they help boost people’s illusion of control. We feel better when we can do something that feels like it might have an effect (even if it doesn’t).

    A beneficial illusion?

    It’s sometimes argued that the illusion of control is beneficial because it can encourage people to take responsibility. It’s like when a person is diagnosed with an illness; they want to take control through starting medication or changing their diet or other aspect of their lifestyle.

    Similarly, studies find that hospital patients who are able to administer their own painkillers from https://www.ukmeds.co.uk/treatments/pain-relief/dihydrocodeine-30mg-tablets/ typically give themselves lower doses than those who have them prescribed by doctors, but they experience no more pain (Egan, 1990: What does it mean to a patient to be “in control”)a study has also shown that many people try to find how to get rid of external hemorrhoids permanently very desperately.

    Feeling in control can also urge us on to do things when the chances of success are low. Would you apply for that job if you knew how little control you had over the decision? No. But if you never apply for any jobs, you can’t get them. So we pump ourselves up, polish our résumé and practice our interview technique.

    But the illusion of control isn’t all roses.

    To return to the discussion of lotteries, we can see the illusion of control operating in the financial markets. Traders often feel they have more control over the market than they really do. Indeed one study has shown that the more traders think they are in control, the worse their actual performance (O’Creevy & Nicholson, 2010). A word of caution there for those who don’t respect the forces of randomness.

    More generally, some argue that the illusion of control stops us learning from our mistakes and makes us insensitive to feedback. When you feel you’re in charge, you are more likely to ignore the warning signals from the environment that things are not under your control. Indeed an experiment has shown that the more power you feel, the stronger the illusion of control becomes (Fast et al., 2009).

    Illusion of futility

    So far, so orthodox. What’s fascinating is the idea that the illusion of control itself may be an illusion, or at least only part of the story.

    What if the illusion of having control depends heavily on how much control we actually have? After all, we’re not always totally out-of-the-loop like the experiments above suggest. Sometimes we have a lot of control over the outcomes in our life.

    This has been recently tested out in a series of experiments by Gino et al. (2011). What they found was that the illusion of control flips around when control over a situation is really high. When participants in their studies actually had plenty of control, suddenly they were more likely to underestimate it.

    This is a pretty serious challenge to the illusion of control. If backed up by other studies, it reverses the idea that the illusion of control is usually beneficial. Now we’re in a world where sometimes the illusion is keeping us back.

    For example, applying for more jobs increases the chance of getting one, exercise does make you more healthy, buying a new car does make you poorer. All these are areas in which we have high levels of control but which we may well be assuming we haven’t.

    This effect will have to be renamed the illusion of futility. In other words: when you have high control, you underestimate how much what you do really matters.