Find a Therapist
Share this Blog
Asked & Answered: Read Therapy Tips from the TherapyTribe Professional Therapist Community.
Have you ever wondered if you need therapy and how to select the "right" therapist for you? Or, what should you expect from...
Dance Party for One: Real World Advice on Coping with Depression & Loneliness, Part II
Feeling depressed, lonely, and hopeless are not unusual emotional experiences for many of us. Yet it is something we rarely t...
Addiction Recovery In Paradise Setting: Concierge Private Villa Retreat
Cali Estes partners with Moffitt Wellness Retreat to offer: Concierge Private Villa Retreat Addiction Recovery In Paradise....
Groundbreaking New Research On The Science Of Attachment In Relationships!
In November 2013, Sue Johnson shared the results of a groundbreaking collaboration between herself and University of Virginia...
Doing something else while waiting!
If there is anything that this winter has taught us, it is patience. It seems it has either been really cold or really snowy ...
- August 2011
- September 2011
- October 2011
- November 2011
- December 2011
- January 2012
- February 2012
- March 2012
- April 2012
- May 2012
- June 2012
- July 2012
- August 2012
- September 2012
- October 2012
- November 2012
- December 2012
- January 2013
- February 2013
- March 2013
- April 2013
- May 2013
- June 2013
- July 2013
- August 2013
- September 2013
- October 2013
- November 2013
- December 2013
- January 2014
- February 2014
- March 2014
Do Chocolate Chip Cookies have Arms and Lips?
Let’s talk Basic Human Needs and how “Overweight” and “Food Struggles” start and continue…
As soon as we are born, an infant comes into the world with Basic Human Needs. The need for love, protection, safety are common to all human beings. As a child grows up, add to the list of Basic Human Needs, the need for belonging, understanding, acceptance and acknowledgment. The role of a parent or caregiver is to meet a child’s needs so they feel secure, cared for, valuable and worthwhile. When these needs are invalidated and denied, a child experiences fear, pain and stress.
Fear and stress are like storm clouds signaling a person to run for cover. Unfortunately the refuge some children retreat to takes the form of food. Its drug-like effects give a person pleasure and relieve pain. Through no fault of her own, a child, having a limited repertoire of skills, does a behavior she has already mastered….eating. Were a child to have already developed skills in self-protection, connecting, and problem-solving, using food as a drug would not be unnecessary.
A child who learns to substitute food for some unmet need eventually becomes an adult. Using food “to cope” is a familiar default response. Most significantly, a grown person who has food struggles or an overweight problem, gives food human-like attributes that relate directly to unmet human needs.
Please understand that eating for nutrition, eating for fuel to sustain activity, is fundamental to survival. We must eat. Yet, when we eat more food than our body needs, “something” is going on within an individual. When food is used to escape loneliness, anxiety, frustration or acts as a person’s only source of pleasure, food has now taken on human-like attributes.
Have you ever met a chocolate cookie that has arms, lips, legs, a brain, a voice? You may laugh reading this question. Seriously though, Emotional Eaters use food to cope with situations they perceive as “too difficult” to handle. Though some situations, once explored, are best resolved by walking away, chocolate chip cookies have yet to bake feet and legs. Some people have told me it’s as if they hear cookies shouting “eat me, eat me” until they finally give in. Before they know it, there they are going to the cupboard, pulling out a box and chowing down. Even though eating will abate discomfort, the relationship or situational difficulty that led to emotional eating remains unsolved.
Cookies do not have a voice. We do. Some situations of difficulty call for a person to speak up on their own behalf. Think of stuffing down food as stuffing down the expression of a personal voice. In fact, effective communication naturally leads to fulfilling unmet needs like acknowledgement, protection or acceptance. Let’s say a family difficulty exisists. Your mother is ill and the rest of the siblings are leaving you to take care of her. Constant attention to mom is deteriorating your health and causing you to eat compulsively out of resentment and anger. You’ve already gained 20 pounds in two months. To withhold your thoughts and feelings is to deprive yourself of a balanced quality of life. Likewise, family members are deprived of an opportunity to acknowledge you, know what is happening and support you in some way that will work.
Many situations require using your mind to problem-solve and generate alternatives. Cookies do not have cognitive powers. After all, its human beings who made up the recipe. The human brain is capable of choosing from options and formulating a sequence of action steps to take. To sit passively on the couch, eating and gaining weight as if a situation is “impossible” to solve, zaps a person of the basic human need for self-acceptance and belonging.
Let’s say your lover of the last six months has decided to break up. You feel rejected and find yourself obsessing over this guy, gaining pounds and more pounds. The ice cream tub ofRocky Roadyou have been spooning from each evening, is without arms to hold you and lips to kiss. To fulfill a basic human need to love, be loved and to belong, requires self-awareness and perspective. Isolating and retreating to cookies and ice cream makes achieving them impossible.
When a person describes themselves as an “emotional eater,” they are ascribing food with human-like qualities it simply does not have. To make chocolate chip cookies more powerful than developing the behaviors that will lead to love, belonging, self-protection and acceptance, is to negate one’s basic needs and personal capabilities. Struggles with food and overweight can be erased as we update our behaviors releasing the old (we aren’t 6 years old anymore) and align with our maturity and healthier self-concept.
Call 760-798-9076 to speak with Dr. Denise in person or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
© Copyright 2014 by Denise Budden-Potts, therapist in San Marcos, California. All rights reserved.