The Emotional Eater’s Repair Manual: A Practical Mind-Body-Spirit Guide for Putting an End to Overeating and Dieting has three main parts: Mastering Self-Care Skills, Tuning Up Biochemistry, and Filling Up Spiritual Reserves. Since I found myself taking a lot of notes and personal reflections throughout the first section, I summarize it here to share with you the wisdoms of Julie Simon.
1. Establish the Habit of Self-Connection
– Disconnection from self is the primary cause of emotional eating; it leads to feelings of emptiness and meaninglessness.
– Overeating is an attempt to soothe or increase pleasure but it often leads to unpleasant emotions like guilt and frustration.
– Ignoring emotions take energy and results in their inappropriate expression, such as in chronic body pain, reactive emotional states, and relationship difficulties.
– Some needs are met by others, sometimes intimacy and companionship, but most of the time adults can meet their own needs and are in fact best equipped to do so.
– Inner Conversations ask and answer, in writing at first:
o How am I feeling in this moment? What am I thinking and sensing? Is this someone else’s emotion?
o What do I need? What developmental stage of life is this need? What would it look like if this need were met?
o How can I comfort my feeling self and address my needs?
– Self-talk thoughts have various learned “voices”: thinking self, inner nurturer, inner critic, or neutral adult.
– “Feeling self” represents authentic childlike sensing, intuition, and pleasure-seeking that is core and unchanging.
2. Catch and Reframe Self-Defeating Thoughts
– Write down everything you’re thinking and feeling about a situation; pick the most troubling to work on, the most painful thought about yourself or your life. Feel the pain. Consider core beliefs underneath thoughts.
– Find a neutral or “energizing” thought that feels as true as the negative one. Verbalize, write, and be patient if the new beliefs don’t feel true or comforting yet.
– Keep new thoughts present tense, unconditional, and affirming what you’re doing rather than what you’re not.
3. Soothe the Small Stuff; Grieve the Big Stuff
– Soothing behaviours aren’t about distraction or numbing; they restore calm in order to have an inner conversation. For example, hug yourself or create artwork.
– Grieving is a process of adapting for renewal, hope, change.
– “Just as a battery still exists after it has used up its power, these old memories we still exist but will have no power to unbalance us and fuel emotional eating.”
1. RETREAT for 30-60 minutes to a safe space away from the situation, food, people, and other distractions. Write down the causes of distress then pick the one that feels the most significant. Reflect on emotions and sensations.
2. Find the earliest memory of feeling the same emotion to REVISIT it like a video with as many details as possible. Feelings are more important than accuracy
3. GRIEVE the story. Journal, cry, rant, hit a pillow, get it all out.
– You may choose to catch and reframe self-defeating thoughts after the grieving session and make an action plan to address unmet needs.
4. Create a State of Enough-ness, Then Set Nurturing Limits
– Many emotional eaters have an exaggerated craving for fulfillment, feeling as if there is never enough love, time, nurturance so limits can feel like deprivation.
– Set gradual limits in the grey areas because “black and white” limits fuel rebellion.
– List what feels lacking and identify achievable nonfood ways to improve.
– “We settle for second best: feeling full and pleasured by food rather than being fulfilled by our lives.”
– Pay attention to the feeling self’s desires; set a nurturing limit. If it feels overly restrictive, consider if it’s realistic or if you’re longing for something else.
– “Delayed gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way a to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with.”
– Firm yet flexible personal boundaries allow connection and intimacy.
o People with loose boundaries might eat for nondemanding “oneness.”
o People with rigid boundaries might eat for intimacy without risk.
5. Practice Accepting and Loving Yourself Unconditionally
– “Your relationship with food will remain imbalanced as long as you continue to shame and reject yourself and your body.”
– You may feel remorse for making a mistake, but imperfection doesn’t diminish your worth.
1) Practice self-affirming commentary and dialogues
2) Adjust your expectations of yourself, others, and situations
– Low expectations may lead to disappointment while high expectations may lead to anxiety.
– Adjusting to be realistic about what you can change may feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s worth it to actualize potential and find balance.
3) Use comparisons for inspiration and motivation only
– “Despite an illusion of scarcity, there is truly enough good to go around. Accepting yourself and others increases the good all around you.”
– Observing something you wish you had, notice what it is you like and be happy for them. Be inspired and motivated.
4) Forgive yourself for perceived mistakes and failures