REASONS WHY ANYONE MAY OVEREAT
YOU EAT TO REWARD OR ENTERTAIN YOURSELF.
From the very beginning of your
life you have been rewarded with food for your accomplishments—anything
from a simple task to a monumental success. As a baby you get a
cookie as a reward for picking up your toys, saying “please”
or “thank you,” etc. As a growing child you get dessert
for cleaning your plate. Your teacher gives a candy to each student
who gets an A on the spelling test. When you are a teen-ager, the
coach takes your team out for a pizza after a good game. You go
to the movies to be entertained, and while there, you may consume
a soft drink, popcorn, or a bar of candy. When you graduate from
school, your parents take you out to the best restaurant they can
When you’re an adult, you
get a job promotion, and you celebrate by going out to dinner. You
take prospective clients out to lunch. You go on a much-needed vacation,
and the first thing you do is seek out those great little restaurants.
You may be reading this and thinking
that a lot of these examples fit you, or come fairly close, but
the trouble is that you enjoy these activities. Should you avoid
these situations now? You might be surprised to know that you can
participate in these food-focused functions with new habits firmly
established and still enjoy being there.
EAT TO LESSEN OR NEGATE AN UNPLEASANT EXPERIENCE.
the pattern is established when you are very young. You are teething
and miserable, so you are given a tasty teething biscuit. You fall
off your play swing and get a cookie. The pattern continues throughout
your life. You don’t get accepted to the business school or
college you applied to, so you go out and binge with your friends.
You go out with someone you really like, the date doesn’t
go well, and you know you’ll never see the person again. You
walk into the kitchen and find yourself a little comfort in the
contents of your refrigerator.
can add to these examples. You know which things are so upsetting
that they propel you to that cute little bistro around the corner
where the fondue is delicious. But how long does the consumption
of food negate the earlier unpleasant experience, such not getting
into your school of choice. If you are honest, you will probably
have to admit that the hurt is only partially desensitized while
you are devouring the cheesecake.
EAT BECAUSE Y OU WANT TO BE NOTICED, TO GAIN AUTHORITY.
can have a very big body and, at the same time, an exceptionally
small ego. You may need to command more attention, feel more important,
actually take up more space than those around you. There is a certain
fascination with an individual of great size. Even though the fascination
is often negative, it is, at least, some form of attention. Most
people would agree that it is far easier to get negative attention
than positive attention.
YOU EAT WHEN YOU NEED LOVE.
back to the beginning of your life again. As a baby, you cried and
you got a bottle. If you were lucky, you got held and had a bottle
at the same time. Now you eat when what you really want is to have
someone smile at you, give you a kind word, touch you, give you
a hug. You may want someone to make love to you, so you love yourself
by giving yourself lots of wonderful things to eat. The trouble
is that this behavior creates a treacherous cycle: As you create
a bigger self, the more likely it is that your self will be, from
a social point of view, unlovable. Unfortunately, our society rewards
thin and scorns fat, which leads us to the next major cause.
YOU EAT BECAUSE YOU ARE AFRAID
Afraid of what? There are more than
a few possibilities. One common fear is of the potential of your
own sexuality. If you are unattractive to the opposite sex, you
do not have to worry about the consequences, problems, opportunities,
and decisions a relationship can bring. You can stay in your present
situation, which demands nothing of you emotionally or physically,
because you are not sought after, and therefore don’t have
to deal with a relationship.
Interestingly enough, a husband
may encourage his wife to stop for donuts or a hot fudge sundae
when he knows that her resistance is low, that she has just arduously
taken off three pounds and will rapidly gain it back again if she
follows his suggestion. Why does he do it? It is his insurance against
her attracting male attention and finding that she has options,
and his finding that he has competition. The last factor serves
to increase his insecurity, which was the reason he tried to insure
the safety of the relationship to begin with.
Another fear may be related to good
health. You may have been raised to believe that thin was unhealthy
and therefore undesirable. The message you received as you grew
may have been “If you are plump, you are healthy. If you are
healthy, you are less vulnerable to disease.” So you make
sure that you always have pounds to spare and thus keep illness
WHERE DO YOU
GO FROM HERE?
of the cause of your overeating, the procedure you follow for change
will be the same. You need to replace the emotional satisfaction
that food provides with an activity that serves the same purpose.
For example, during a busy day you may need to stop and take a break.
A snack is just the thing to help you relax, but what you really
need at this moment is an appealing, satisfying alternative. A good
alternative to snacking would not be to clean your windows or drive
to the bank. It would be to sit down, close our eyes, relax for
five minutes, and listen to some soothing music.