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IE - Emotional Soothing Process

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Old 07-24-2014, 11:24 AM   #1
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Default IE - Emotional Soothing Process

I just posted in another thread asking if anyone had any resources on how to handle emotional eating, but I thought I might post my process as I understand it so that I can get some feedback on whether this is a process that others use and whether it works in the long run. For the past several months, I have not practiced IE. I have been eating to cope, always eating when I'm not physically hungry. So, now I want to get back to it, but it's hard! This is the process I was doing when IE was working for me, but the intensity of my emotional experience has magnified since this past winter, which is making this process difficult. Not sure if that makes sense?

When I want to eat:
1. I feel a sense of emptiness that I falsely assume is some kind of physical hunger. There might be some squirming sensation, akin to butterflies in my stomach.
2. When I drill down to the actual feeling and look at it head on, it sort of changes and shifts. I do not feel any emptiness in my stomach. What I feel is a stress in my head, a pressure, and a deep sadness. I feel trapped (and I realize that I am very unhappy in my job, etc. which I'm working on, but it's taking a long time.)
3. I realize that I'm not hungry, and then I panic because I know that means I ought not to eat, i.e. cope via using food.
4. I look at the panic head on, similar to the way that OCD patients are taught to look at their fear rather than away from it.
5. The pressure usually dissipates as I realize I will be okay. I practice self-compassion to help even further.
6. Time goes on, I haven't eaten, I feel a bit relieved. Eventually, possibly hours later, my stomach does start to get empty...it's a gentle sensation that I can ignore if I want to, not that same pressure I get when it's emotional.

Now, I find that when I haven't done IE for a long time, it takes about a week to get adapted to it. During that time, I feel a lot of pressure as I shift my coping mechanism to self-sufficiency.

Can anyone else detail their process to help me out? Thanks!
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Old 07-25-2014, 07:31 AM   #2
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That sounds like a well thought out process. And if it works that's all that matters. I think mine is similar. I get stuck around #3 and 4. Even when I realize what the source of my anxiety is I dot always know immediately what to do. But in working on it. I have a list if possible coping techniques I refer to such as write in a journal, sit with my feeling, talk to someone etc. I gauge the level of my anxiety and if it's over 7 on a scale of 1-10 it's too much to bare and I smooth myself with food. My NT says this is the most compassionate thing to do since going over a 7 is not easy to calm down. But it doesn't end there, I go back and revisit and reevaluate after I eat and soothe and think about what I could have done.

It feels like in rebuilding my personality, not just rearranging my food habits. When you're like me who uses food to soothe you have to flex your emotional muscle and put the work in. It's not just a about eating when you're hungry.

Oh and I agree, physical hunger is such a simple sensation with an equally simple solution. It's even easy to ignore for a while isn't it?
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"Binging is a descent into a world where every restriction... is cut loose. At its core is a feeling of deprivation.. a feeling you can never get enough. Binges do not signify a lack of willpower or inability to care for yourself. On the contrary, binges are a urgent attempt to care for yourself when you feel uncared for. They are the voice of survival. Binges are the mark of the self that says, 'I am tired of feeling deprived, of being told I am wrong, that I am bad." - Geneen Roth
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Old 07-27-2014, 05:16 PM   #3
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Quote:
Now, I find that when I haven't done IE for a long time, it takes about a week to get adapted to it. During that time, I feel a lot of pressure as I shift my coping mechanism to self-sufficiency.
Would it be eating intuitively if you need to make yourself follow the rules?

I don't follow IE exactly as I personally think that there are too many rules with how we're supposed to eat but to me, intuitive eating means just at - eating without much thought to the process. In other words, your WOE is self-regulating.

Personally, I don't even think about when I eat anymore just what I eat (I'm consciously trying to eat less dairy, more low GI foods for training). I eat when hungry and I get hungry 3 times a day.
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Old 07-27-2014, 08:37 PM   #4
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OMG I can completely relate to what you described.. the overwhelming urge to eat even though I am not physically hungry.. for me it was a combination of craving sugar/starch salt and the "need" to eat till my tummy hurt and to ignore the signs of thirst.
I went through withdrawals back in January when I broke myself of this behavior. I had the shakes, the sweats the mood swings until homeostasis prevailed.
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Old 07-28-2014, 03:01 PM   #5
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Lucinda...I wish it was so straightforward for me. I gave up all grains and sugars, including dairy, for a period of 6 months thinking that would be the holy grail. Sadly, I felt no difference whatsoever. I would have done anything to lose 50 pounds and/or feel more energetic/better! As I'm sure most women would. The only time in my life that I felt physically "well" and lost weight in the process was when I was following a hunger-directed approach. For me, it seems, my stomach and overall system operates much more smoothly when I allow it to get hungry before I put more food into it. Perhaps I am not an addict to those substances and therefore did not feel relief by eliminating them.

If, by eliminating certain foods, you feel a noticeable improvement in your life, then maybe you do have some kind of allergy to those items (i.e., addiction). I cannot speak to that.

One thing I failed to include in my "process" is the part about enjoyment. I forgot that was a major component, and maybe that is why I've had trouble of late. wannabeskinny has mentioned this before, that it's okay to soothe with food on occasion, which I'm coming around to. It's the idea that you eliminate overbearing guilt about eating, about comforting yourself. Instead, eating with enjoyment and gusto should be the goal, rather than disengaged, guilt-ridden, painful. For me, this alone puts a light on food, makes it wonderful and wrapped in a clear-cut boundary that forces out any addictive process. Basically, I now prefer to "allow" - but, instead of shoveling quantity without regard to quality - I limit myself by making sure that what I eat is exactly what I want. If that is not available, then I eat the next best thing, but I always make sure to stay present with the food - to not tune out the experience.

Last edited by Mazzy : 07-28-2014 at 03:13 PM.
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Old 07-28-2014, 03:04 PM   #6
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magical, those aren't rules...it's a process that I was trying to communicate...How is consciously reducing dairy and low GI foods not rules in and of themselves? Not sure what you mean...

Quote:
Originally Posted by magical View Post
I eat when hungry and I get hungry 3 times a day.
I think the main point is this ^^^^^

What happens when you get hungry 6 times a day? But, it's not physical hunger? How do you deal with that?

Last edited by Mazzy : 07-28-2014 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 07-28-2014, 03:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wannabeskinny View Post
I gauge the level of my anxiety and if it's over 7 on a scale of 1-10 it's too much to bare and I smooth myself with food. My NT says this is the most compassionate thing to do since going over a 7 is not easy to calm down. But it doesn't end there, I go back and revisit and reevaluate after I eat and soothe and think about what I could have done.
wannabe, that's new for me...I will have to try this.

The book that I read, "Normal Eating for Normal Weight" alludes to this sort of thing, but doesn't clearly define it so well (in my opinion). Basically, the author says that every effort you take to discover your motive for eating in the moment and practicing self-compassion at that time is one step forward, but that there's no reason to be OCD about it. She says it takes time to transition, and that's okay. Which is pretty much what you are saying.

Last edited by Mazzy : 07-28-2014 at 03:11 PM.
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Old 08-25-2014, 10:35 PM   #8
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Smile Eat When Hungry - Stop When Full

The EWH - SWF Mantra helped me lose 40 pounds (200 -> 160) years ago. I just had a baby and need to start again.

I am an emotional binge eater. It's been hard to focus on taking care of myself with new baby. I need to lose 22 pounds.

The only thing that has ever worked for me was to only eat when I am physically hungry. My NT had me make a mental hunger scale.

-1 - Painfully full
0 - Overly full
1 - Satiated
2 - Not Sure
3 - Hungry
4 - Very Hungry
5 - Ravenous/Nauseated

The goal was to stay in the 1-3 range. If I had the urge to eat... I would ask myself, "Am I hungry?" ... Unless I was a 3 or higher I would wait 15 min and ask again if I still had the urge. Once I was hungry I would eat but monitor my fullness while eating so I would stop before getting over full.

If I kept having urges to eat but I wasn't hungry I would ask myself what was wrong emotionally. Then I would have to acknowledge what I was feeling and deal with it some other way (exercise, journaling, calling a friend etc)

I could eat anything I wanted as long as I stayed within the 1-3 area on the scale. I would slip up sometimes but then I would just recognize that and wouldn't beat myself up over it... And just wait until I was hungry again.

Hope this helps someone!

Last edited by Faelynith : 08-25-2014 at 10:35 PM.
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