Originally Posted by dstalksalot
"They" always say: "It's not what you eat, but what's eating you!"
I think "they" are often mistaken. It can be true, but I also think it's untrue far more often than we tend to assume.
I DID strongly believe this most of my life, and even got a bachelor's degree and master's degree in psychology as much for wanting to figure myself out as finding the subject interesting.
And I've come to the conclusion, sometimes it IS what you eat, not what's eating you!
I spent more than 35 years trying to find out what was "eating me." I read self-help books, I saw therapists (one concluded it was "abandonment issues from having been adopted," another concluded that sibling rivalry was to blame...)
Then a miraculous coincidence helped me see the root of my issues.... carb addiction.
Turns out I wasn't fat because I was an emotional wreck, I was an emotional wreck because of my high carb diet.
The miraculous coincidence was my doctor recommending that I try low-carb dieting for my insulin resistance, but warning me not to go too low.
I had tried low-carb diets in the past, but never gave them more than a three to four week shot, and only the most restrictive stages (like Atkins Induction).
I would get so ill (and it got worse after the two week mark, not better) to the point of actually passing out (I now recognize these symptoms as low-blood sugar).
By experimenting with low-carb I found a strange side effect... on moderately low-carb (but not super low carb), I found that my emotional state was much improved. I didn't get as easily upset as when I was eating high-carb (even healthy carb diets like post phase I South Beach).
It turns out that I wasn't fat because I was crazy, and I wasn't even crazy because I was fat, I was crazy and I was fat because I was eating a diet that made me crazy and fat (to be clear I don't mean crazy literally. I mean crazy in the sense of being very prone to emotional upset, and to eating in response to the emotional upset).
Sugar (and carbs that break down into sugar - which is all carbs but fiber) acts as both a stimulant and a narcotic. I was using sugar to medicate a problem caused by sugar.
On high carb diets, my emotions are a rollercoaster. On a low (but not too low) carb diet, the roller coaster is replaced by a boat on calm seas.
I'm not saying that emotional problems (even my own) don't contribute to obesity, but because of my experience I do wonder how many people's emotional problems are being exacerbated by their diet.
I do find it exceedingly difficult to stick to the diet I feel best on (physically AND emotionally), and the pessimistic side of me (and the part of me that wants to believe that my education and career choice wasn't wasted) wants a deep psychological reason for that difficulty, but the rational part of me suspects that the difficulty sticking with the diet is more complicated (and yet more simple) summarized by the statement "Change is difficult."
Especially a change that puts you in the position of having to rebel against cultural norms. You have to "swim upstream" and "march to a different drummer," and all the other cliche' analogies that mean "you can't do what everyone else is doing." And it's hard to be different. It's so tempting to think and feel "why can't I eat what everyone else around me is eating (whether or not those people are overweight or carb-addicted)...."
Food (especially carbohydrates) can be used as a drug, and in our culture it's a drug that we receive a lot of pressure to use recreationally, and some of us can't, and it doesn't necessarily mean that there's anything psychologically or emotionally wrong with us. It may be strictly physiological. Some of us may even carry a gene that makes carbohydrate-abuse more likely (although some suggest that we all carry the gene).
In "The End of Overeating," by David Kessler, the author argues that the salt/sweet/fatty flavor/texture combinations are difficult for humans (and rodents) to eat in moderation. Rather than "addiction" he uses the word "conditioned hyper-eating."
I think we WANT to believe as a culture that fat people are defective in some way, but the American obesity rate is climbing much faster than can be accounted for in a rise in emotional problems. It's not particularly likely that we're "crazier" than our ancestors or modern people living in countries without as large an obesity problem, and I suspect the food environment and the food culture is to blame. We're eating on a daily basis, what our ancestors ate only a couple times a year, and we're actually pushing the foods on each other (please, just have a bite. I made it just for you. One bite won't hurt, don't be a party-pooper).
I know I've written a blasted novel again, but in a nutshell I just want to say don't assume there's anything at all wrong with you or your emotions until you have evidence. Counseling isn't a terrible idea, but don't expect the counselor to know you. And consider experimenting with a whole-food, paleo, or moderately low-carb diet and see if that helps the "emotional stuff." I was absolutely amazed (and so was hubby).
Hubby used to call me werewolf because of my severe PMS (really to the point of PMDD). A combination of birth control, a low-dose antidepressant, and a paleo diet has largely tamed the werewolf. The irrational werewolf only comes out when I eat off-plan carbohydrates. And I don't think that when I do, that deep-seated emotional issues are to blame. It's just very easy to be tempted to eat off-plan foods because they taste wonderful and "everyone else is doing it." I don't beat myself up for eating off plan (even if it means I have to ride the emotional rollercoaster for a day or two until the carbs are out of my system), I just get back on my food plan, which I consider almost a medical "prescription." If I want to feel good emotionally and physically I have to keep carb intake within a specific limit.
Again this might not be true for you, but what if it is? Experimenting with your food plan can't hurt.