I’ve read a lot of books about healthy eating and mood disorder therapy, not to mention seeing professionals on the subjects, and I have to say End Emotional Eating: Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills to Cope with Difficult Emotions and Develop a Healthy Relationship to Food by Dr. Jennifer Taitz is one of the best books I know. I find it scientific, relatable, and practical.
That said, it’s harder than it sounds to “sit with” emotions without letting it turn into feelings of deprivation. This is something I’m still practicing, so I’ve summarized the key points below to remind myself (and you, if you’re interested) most especially in those times of weakness what I can do to truly have a positive relationship with food and why it’s best for living a life I value.
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is based on accepting reality because suffering comes from trying to fight pain. Radical acceptance is an active process of “purposely adopting an open, nonjudgmental receptive stance” while at the same time deciding whether or not to change the way you respond, often choosing to accept commitments required to take action in order to live life fully.
It is illusory correlation to believe an increased urge to binge means an increased need for it. In fact, urges come and go, whereas “the more we indulge in a habit, the more habitual it becomes.” Giving into emotional eating takes away opportunities to develop other coping skills making you believe it is the only way to cope.
Thinking about food may be less painful than some emotions, but emotional eaters then develop pain and suffering around food. Emotional eaters tend to be more sensitive to rewards as demonstrated in caudate nucleus response research. In fact, motivation is fleeting and unnecessary. “Action leads to action.”
“Accept life as it is without indulging or controlling.” Pain can be “something you experience in the service of living according to your values.” Being mindful of this can foster self-compassion and empathy with others. Self-compassion involves kindness and warmth while maintaining realistically high standards.
Focus on changing behaviour rather than trying to control feelings. “You don’t have to feel willing to behave willingly.” Master mental aikido by weaving and surfing, not throwing punches. Be in the present, aware of the full experience, and problem solve. “Look at the thoughts rather than from the thoughts.”