Read an Excerpt
It was only a room away fragrant, moist and rich.
The more she thought she shouldn't touch itshe ought to wait for Bob and Mickie, etc.the more optimistic she felt about tomorrow. Tomorrow she would stop eating the fattening fun stuff. Tomorrow self-control would, or could, be easier. Any day would be easier than today, easier than right now.
NOW, she was going to eat it because she wanted it and it was there and whatever else she needed in her life wasn't.
She ate it.
A lot of it.
In fact, all of it.
It was the sixth day after the final day of her third dieting program this year. Like World War II, the last diet was supposed to be the one that was to end all wars. But that wasn't what was happening. The conflict wore on, half of her begging for the joy of sugar and half pretending that an eternity of self-denial was a realistic goal.
This book is for people who are tired of failure and its negative effect on both their self-esteem and their bodies.
It is for those who find diets an exercise in futility who are tired of hiding their appetites from others and who are ready to get rid of guilt and self-blame for good.
It offers a way out for the 300 pound overweight and for the five pound overweightthe common denominator of these two being a loss of control over achieving their favorite reading on the scales.
As I have seen in my own history of compulsive eating, mechanical or format solutions seldom last. However, not everyone who wants to shed pounds is ready to shed what is at the crux of permanent weight loss: the fear of examining those feelings that have been causing us psychological indigestion for many years.
In our quest for the real triggers of our urges to overeat, we will visit the dining rooms, kitchens and eating "hideouts" of a number of people with the same concerns. We will hear from many I've seen in my practice as a specialist in eating disorders. As we listen to their experiences, we'll understand better that the agonies that foster compulsive eating can be faced and shared without shame or blame. Their stories will be altered just enough to ensure anonymity.
We also will take a look at old notions of what we need to survive and will re-examine the models we've accepted and the standards we have set for ourselves. Are they really ours or someone else's? When is abandoning "willpower" a virtue, not a vice!
The entire issue of will power versus doing what we feel like doing is central to defeating permanent weight loss. Setting up an internal battleground between the Forces of Fat and the Admirable Abstainer is a common modus operandi among compulsive eaters who cycle in and out of diets. It results in heady short-term victories with some people, during which they feel very good about themselves as victors. Then come the dismal regressions during which the sense of defeat and failure often oozes inappropriately throughout other areas of self-regard.
The Strife-Free Approach
A true understanding of what's eating usof what really is behind the reason food is so important in our liveseliminates the need for "artificial" discipline and conflict. Our Inner Child and our Critical Parent stop their wrangling and allow our Adult self to flower fully, to get on with the satisfactions of life, free from the tyranny of emotionally driven appetites.
We can learn to stop sabotaging our attempts at permanent weight loss if the determination for compassionate understanding of ourselves is there. After I started the Compulsive Eating Program--based on my experience as a staff psychologist with major weight-loss programI saw the power of real insight to change lives impressively. Becoming healthier and happier, people experience the joy of being at home in their bodies, proud of who they are and what they have achieved. As they work through their emotional blocks, using various exercises developed to make insights come more easily, their excess weight begins to disappear.
All this takes place without conscious dieting.
While insights are vital to weighing what we want to weigh, they seldom can stand alone. They need repeating, restating, underlining and highlightingjust as we've done throughout the years with the misleading negative affirmations that have kept us too heavy.
Exercising Your Insight
The power of the past cannot be dismissed lightly in the excitement of vital new understanding. So throughout the book, you will find affirmations and visualization exercises which can be practiced daily to strengthen your new "muscles" of insight. These are valuable aids in the process of reprogramming our conditioned minds and of permanently shaking up the patterns that we've followed helplessly for too long.
You'll find these exercises throughout the book, wherever they may be helpful. It's a good idea to take advantage of them at the point where they occur before going on to new material. They will reinforce the discovery process and make it possible for you to identify even more profoundly with others. You may very well find, as a result, that the foundation of someone else's eating disorder may be startlingly similar to yours, even though you've considered your circumstances either irrelevant to your eating or a unique personal situation.
Our elation over seeing that it is possible, at last, to claim our right to a more satisfying life will be our motivation for practicing these reinforcers.
The payoff? Curbed urges to eat compulsively, a slimmer, fitter body and a raised level of self-esteem.
How slim, you say? We all have the power within to be as slim as we want butsometimeswe may want to rest from the activity of renewal before we go on. After all, changing the mind and body patterns of years takes a little more effort than swallowing a mint truffle. After some exploratory weight loss, we may find that a considerably lowered level of weight is so pleasant that we're happy to rest there and enjoy it for a while. We might even entertain the idea that, at a certain point, some extra weight is either okay or okay for a whileif we are able to make this weight level genuinely our choice, not an echo from a misunderstood past.
Not Every "Thin One" Wants Out
It's not always true, as critic-writer Cyril Connolly expressed it, that "Inside every fat man, a thin one is wildly signaling to be let out." To the contrary, once in therapy, many are wildly signaling to be left in, safely insulated from facing a host of difficulties, mostly interpersonal. Yet the pressures to be healthier, to be thinner, come from so many directionsadvertising, the workplace, family, friends, our doctors. There are so many of these demands that pressure itself may become the issue ("Nobody's going to tell me how I should be!"), clouding the underlying cause.
Frankly, fat has become the best friend of many. "Not me!" you say. "No way. It's disgusting. I hate it. I've spent half my life trying to lose it and I've been on every diet there is. Even the 120-Day Norwegian Tundra-and-Stork- Steak Diet. And I've got a ten-speed exercycle, and ... "
That may well be true for you but the best spirit in which to begin this book is one of all-out openness in the exploration of what makes us eat compulsively. Feel free to experiment with yourself, your feelings and your early food memories in the safety zone of this no-fault approach to permanent weight reduction.
Dare To Know Yourself
Test drive feelings you might ordinarily reject out-of-hand. There's no obligation. Finding out if, deep down, we really don't want to lose weight may rank first on our agenda. We need to gently poke our inner selves to release valuable information. Does part of us need, on some level, to stay fat? For many people there is a fear of losing the relationship with food they've built over many years because of what it has really meant in their lives. Food has been their best friend and fat, their protectionfacts that didn't make sense and therefore were buried deep down. Everyone knows food and fat are your enemies! This is a confusing message.
So, before we begin one of the most interesting and rewarding trips we will ever takea journey with plenty of companions around the world of compulsive eating we should define our own perspective on food. How do we conduct our extra eating?
- Do we eat a lot all day? Are our bodies obese?
- Are we secret eatersnobody really knows how we manage to gain?
- Are we not fat at all or only slightly overweight but what we do eat is bad for us?
- No matter how many times we try to reform our diet, do we find that we invariably reject good food in favor of junk?
- Have we been stuck for too long in the scary states of borderline or full-fledged bulimia or anorexiahypercompulsive eating and its opposite, hypercompulsive food avoidance? (More about these special problems later.)
A Most Natural Way To Lose It
A lot of questions lie between us and gaining control over ourselves.
As we see what we're made of psychologically, the straight answers will come to us and the pounds will go, without dieting, without starvation. You will be losing weight naturally, nurturing the inner you without overeating. You will be able to express anger, not smother it in whipped cream.
You will no longer be locked into a set of behaviors that you are unable to changepatterns of thought, actions and feelings that all lead to extra servings, odd-hour nibbling.
The compulsive eating cycle will have been broken at last. You will have a new shape but it won't feel strange. It will seem like remodeling your body to feel more like the home you have always deserved.
(c)1990. All rights reserved. Reprinted from You Can't Quite 'til You Know What's Eating You by Donna LeBlanc. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.