To define a typical emotional eater one needs to understand that their innate sense of self worth is closely linked to the numbers on their bathroom scales. A pound lost, or a pound gained can set the tenor of their entire day. Foods are also never neutral. They are forensically studied, and determined to be good or bad. Emotional eaters battle with their own body’s hunger, and cravings. They know there have been times when they have succumbed, and eaten one forbidden food for it to start a tsunami of bingeing, and sometimes purging with all the accompanying feelings of shame, and self-loathing. An emotional eater’s attitude towards themselves, and food isn’t logical. The extent of their preoccupation with the axis of food, and their weight is often a private source of great personal distress, and shame. The reasons for this all-consuming link between food, body weight, and how they define themselves, and feel about being themselves in the world are varied, and inevitably complex.
Therapists Sally Baker, and Liz Hogon specialise in resolving issues around emotional eating so that people who have struggled with weight loss for years can finally successfully lose weight. They are also the co-authors of 7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating (Hammersmith Press, just out). Their clients are mostly people who feel particularly over-whelmed with the challenge of weight loss, and they often have other long term health issues to contend with.
Non emotional eaters have a different relationship with food. They also come in all sorts of physical shapes, and sizes and some may decide they are heavier than they would like to be. With this realisation they now have two main choices. The first would be that they now decide to lose their excess weight. For non emotional eaters this would mean setting about making appropriate changes, and adjustments to their food choices, and portion sizes, and maybe even incorporating regular exercise until they have reached their goal weight. Unlike emotional eaters they are not completely defined by how much they weigh. Therefore for them losing weight is no more of a challenge than any other aspect of their lives such as learning conversational French, or taking up water-colours as a hobby. They often successfully lose weight, and even if they eventually pile on some extra pounds they have the option of just applying their tried, and trusted methods until they are back again at their goal weight.
Their second choice makes it easier to accept their expanding waist bands, and bigger clothes sizes when most people they know are of similar increasing versions of their former selves. They consider it hard to feel their weight gain is that important when the trend of increasing pounds is a familiar trait with their partner, and members of their family, and friends. They simply get used to buying a size, or two larger in their clothes, let out their belts another notch, and ultimately pay it little mind.