Mindful Emotional Eating Partnership

I am still getting a good bit of correspondence regarding my harm-reduction, moderation-focused, Middle Way approach to dealing with emotional eating.  While the idea is beginning to sink in, there are still lingering questions about how to cultivate mindful emotional eating partnerships and whether doing so would be a form of enabling.  So, I am re-posting this essay (with a section on "enabling").  Be well.


As you might recall from the "Eating the Moment" self-help program for overcoming overeating, there are 3 reasons we eat:  just because, mindlessly; to satisfy biological/physiological hunger; and to change how we feel/for emotional reasons.  Emotional eating is extremely common.  In fact, it is pretty much hard-wired into our eating culture.  Take the concept of dessert, for example.  What is dessert?  Dessert is something yummy, tasty.  Does your body need dessert?  Of course, not.  So, why do we eat desserts?  Because we want to enjoy the taste of what we are eating.  That's an emotional reason.  Dessert is for the mind, not for the body.

Same goes for any kind of taste-focused cooking.  As a culture, we spend endless hours pursuing various gustatory highlights.  Why?  Once again, because we want to enjoy what we are eating.  That's emotional eating.  Why?  Because your body doesn't really need for the food to taste good.  What your body needs is the right amount of food and a certain combination of nutritional value.  Our obsession with the taste of food is nothing other than an attempt to kill two birds with one stone: to fill up our stomach and to caress the palate of your sensation-seeking mind.  Nothing's wrong with that!  Let cosmonauts eat spam!  The point I am making is that emotional eating is pretty much hard-wired into all of our eating.  If you want for your food to have a nice taste, let alone if you want a dessert, you are looking at food to satisfy your emotional desires for pleasures.  Once again: there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

Thrills of the Tongue

Human tongue is a thrill seeker. As it tires of one taste, it looks for another. This sensation-seeking tendency of the tongue is what accounts for the so-called sensory specific satiety.

Recall what happens in a buffet: while you might feel too full to eat...

Trigger Desensitization: Why Fear Your Favorite Foods?

In "Eating the Moment" I distinguish two broad approaches for dealing with environmentally-triggered eating:  trigger control and craving control.   There's a big difference between these two approaches and quite a bit of nuance within each of these approaches.

Trigger control helps you avoid triggers that provoke your cravings as well as to reduce their trigger power through a process of desensitization.  Craving control helps you manage the cravings once they arise. 

These two approaches are complimentary:  to get across the temptation land-mines without blowing up...

Rethink Emotional Eating

Cultivating Mindful Emotional Eating Partnerships 

I’d like to once again tackle the most provocative concept from “Eating the Moment” self-help program, that of mindful emotional eating.  I have received a good bit of correspondence regarding this harm-reduction, moderation-focused, Middle Way approach to dealing...

A Fast, Not a Feast

Fasting as a means of celebrating is as old as the world.  Much has been written about fasting and health benefits associated with it.  I encourage you to develop some curiosity about it (Dr. Fuhrman's writings are a good place to start).  My use of the term “fast” refers to a continuum of eating restrictions ranging from complete food-free, water-only fasting to various dietary restrictions (as you would find, for example, in the tradition of Lent). 

Before undertaking fasting a) read up on the...

A Fiesta, Not a Feast

Have you noticed that we tend to celebrate with food?  Celebrations are a powerful, culturally-sanctioned trigger to eat, over-eat, and even binge-eat.  For many over-eaters, food-centered holidays are a dreaded challenge and a source of post-holiday rumination and self-dissatisfaction. 

Here’s a new paradigm to try:...