Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Tips to Break Emotional Eating

posted by Linda Mintle

Last night, I did a live webinar on Food Addiction and emotional eating. So many of the call-in questions concerned what to do instead of reaching for food when emotionally upset. This is a great question because it has to do with breaking the habit of going to food for emotional reasons.

In order to break that habit, you have to substitute another behavior for the food. This doesn’t mean that the substituted behavior will be as pleasurable as eating, as easy to do as eat, or as rewarding as food. But it does mean that if you can continue to substitute another behavior, or what I am calling use an an emotional rescue,  you will eventually break the habit of reaching for food to soothe yourself.

Here are examples of emotional rescues. Your list should be tailored to you.

 

 

  • Walk around a room–get up and move and distract yourself
  • Talk to someone
  • Play a CD and get lost in the music
  • Write a To Do list
  • Draw or paint
  • Take a long relaxing bath
  • Clean something
  • Play with your pet
  • Count to 10 and then backwards, deep breathe
  • Pray
  • Journal your thoughts
  • Exercise–short walk, stretching, etc.
As you develop your list, come up with ideas you can do in the car, at the office and at your home. Look at the list when you want to eat and make yourself choose an emotional rescue. Over time, you can change your pattern of emotional eating.

Another technique called the Graduated Approach, uses this idea with food. When you feel like you must have a trigger food, add a small helping of a fruit or vegetable to the trigger food. Do this every time you reach for the trigger food and add a little less of the trigger food, and more of the healthier option. Eventually, you will associate the healthy food with the reward feeling of the trigger food.

Add these two tips to your plan to work on breaking free from emotional or compulsive eating. It can be done.

 

Is Food Addiction Real?

posted by Linda Mintle

“Hi. I am John and I am a food addict.”

Somewhere in a 12-step group called Food Addicts in Recovery, John is working his steps and kicking what he believes is an addiction to food. But is food addiction a real addiction?

Tonight, I am presenting recent research on the topic of food addiction during a live FREE webinar for the American Association of Christian Counselors (Here is the link, live 6-8:00p.m. ET).

The scientific community is currently debating whether food is a real addiction. More studies are needed but the idea that people can be addicted to food is gaining ground. Because of neuroscience, we can see into the brain and recognize the neural pathways similar in food addition to other types of addiction. Food and drug addictions both disrupt parts of the brain involved in pleasure and self-control. And addictive-like eating behavior and substance dependence share similar patterns of neural activation that we see on functional magnetic resonance imaging.

That said, food addiction is NOT a mental illness, nor is it a category in the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental illness that lists substance abuse as an addiction. However, it is possible that there are subsets of people capable of abusing food as a substance.  For a certain group of people who struggle with overeating, this classification may make some sense even though the jury is still out. Food addiction could be one contributor to obesity.

Food addiction advocates see early warning signs as obsession with food, eating to relieve worry and stress, eating until so full that one feels sick, feeling anxious while eating, overeating because food is available, eating fast to eat more, eating everything on the plate despite feeling full, guilt with eating, secretive eating, food bingeing after dieting and avoiding food.

Obviously, an abstinence approach with food is not possible. We all have to eat multiple times a day. So treatment programs based on 12-step models are available as well as other treatments.

I’m following this evolving field of research, but not sure if I believe that food is in the same category as cocaine or other drugs. Certainly, treatment is needed to stop  food obsession and compulsive eating regardless of how you think about food addiction.

I’ll keep you posted.

What are your opinions about food addiction? 

 

 

7 Anger Cool Downs to Practice and Use

posted by Linda Mintle

A few weeks ago, a fired worker unloaded his rage at his Minneapolis employer through a shooting spree that wounded two, killed six people and then shot himself. It appears that mental illness played a partial role, but what motivates a 36-year-old to get even by killing people who upset him? The answer is complicated but nothing justifies these actions.

Work environments can be places of stress for those who struggle to deal with anger in a reasonable manner. With today’s violent media modeling acts of horror in movies, the unbalanced person who has not developed good coping skills can act out a fantasy of getting even. But getting even is not an answer. People need to control their anger and learn how to manage it. Here are  seven cool down strategies taken from my small book on Breaking Free from Anger and Unforgiveness that has sold close to 100,000 copies.

1) Count to 10 or higher, deep breath and relax your body.  We are taught this as children and it works. Count to 10, breathing slowly and calming down your body. The key is to try and slow yourself down, relaxing the body.

2) Take a time-out. Get away from the situation but your self-talk matters during the time-out. You have to calm yourself, not rev yourself up with what may feel like an injustice. Self-talk like, “It will be OK. I can handle this. I need to be more forgiving. I am not a victim and can deal with this…” are the types of calming statement to tell yourself while you are in time-out.

3) Pray. When you are frustrated, angered, pray. Jesus was the brunt of injustice and knows that feeling. Take your anger and outrage to Him. He sympathizes with your plight. now, cast those cares on Him. Retaliation is not the Christian way.

4) Practice restraint. Don’t act impulsively or meditate on ways to get even. Be the bigger person and use restraint. The Holy Spirit in you, can calm you down if you submit to God.

5) Write a letter you do not send. If you need an outlet for rage, write a letter that you don’t send. It may help you release those feelings and is a safe way to vent. But venting anger, often gives rise to more.

6) Problem-solve in ways that are not hurtful. If you feel unfairly treated, misunderstood or victimized, think of ways to solve the problem without violence. Most times, you have options.

7) Minimize consumption of violent media. Violent media do contribute to our desensitization of violence and do increase aggression. If you struggle with anger impulses, be sensible and don’t consume media that feeds that struggle.

Lindsay and Dina Lohan: 5 Signs of Mother-Daughter Dysfunction on Display

posted by Linda Mintle

Lindsay Lohan could be quoting the title of  my book pictured here, I Love My Mother But…She may love her mother, but the two are quite the dysfunctional pair.

The latest incident reported by all the entertainment sites involves an audio tape obtained by TMZ of Lindsay calling her father, while arguing with her mom in a limo around 4:00a.m. In the audio tape, Lindsay accuses her mom of using cocaine and threatening everyone in the car. The argument was over money Lindsay supposedly loaned to her mom to make a house payment. Dad, Michael, dialed 911 to call the cops.

There is so much wrong with this picture:

1) Enabling substance abuse. What are the two of them doing out partying until 4:00a.m? Lindsay has already served three times in jail for probation violations linked to two drunken driving arrests. What mother goes clubbing with a child who got out of Betty Ford Rehab Center in 2011 and has a history of drug and alcohol problems and has her own drug and alcohol problems?

2) The child becomes part of a dysfunctional martial triangle.  When two married or divorced people can’t get along and drag their child into the middle of their dislike for each other, they form an unhealthy triangle. On the audio recording, dad is heard telling Lindsay that her mom is horrible. And in the past, mom has had plenty of negatives to say about her husband. It’s a classic triangle in which the child is caught in the middle and plays the two. It’s highly dysfunctional.

3) Conflict that escalates from verbal to physical. If the reports are true, the screaming and arguing between the mother-daughter pair also led to a gash on Lilo’s leg and a broken necklace. While no domestic incident report was filed, escalation to a physical end indicates trouble.

4) Name-calling and blame. Accusing your mom of being on cocaine and kidnapping you are not common themes with most mother-daughter pairs. Blame, criticism, and contempt are part of a larger pattern of emotional distancing.

5) Lack of clear parent-child boundaries and clear definition of parent-child roles. Mom needs to start acting like a parent and not her daughter’s friend. I suspect that would take individual therapy to help her know what that would look like and how to lead by example.

It’s all very sad, but could be corrected with a willingness to stop this insanity and get into family therapy. Let’s pray the family sees this dysfunction and agrees to a road of healing instead of more harm and in the worse case, more destruction.

 

 

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