Are Your Really an Emotional Eater? Try this Experiment and Find Out
Several weeks ago I discovered the Rosedale Diet. The author claims his program will "turn off your hunger switch." Even more importantly (in my opinion) is the claim that the plan will also curb sugar cravings by addressing the modern problem of leptin insensitivity. This is done by increasing Omega 3 fats, and limiting protein and highly refined carbs.
Naturally, if I recommend a diet, I have to try it out on myself. It wouldn't be very fair to do otherwise. I bought some fish, nuts and avocados, and kept to the diet for about two weeks. During that time I can honestly say that I had little desire to eat very much. I wasn't sure if this was caused by the leptin balance, or simply because I told myself I wouldn't want to eat. During the beginning phase of a diet, it's always easy to convince myself that it's working.
Then I had company, and I used it as an excuse to head down to the Cuban restaurant I'd been hearing so much about. It was a treat, and I found more excuses for more treats while my company was in town. For a few days, the diet was forgotten. In just that short time, I became aware of a remarkable difference in the way I felt about food.
Almost immediately after going off the Rosedale diet, I felt compelled to eat everything in sight. It took willpower and commitment to not give into this compulsion.
But I was not hungry! I was no more hungry after I went off the diet than I had been while following the program. What seemed to be missing was the "not hungry" signals that tell the brain to quit eating.
"Hungry" is a feeling that middle-class Americans rarely (if ever) experience. Yet we eat, and eat, and eat. We blame it on cravings, emotions, nerves, and habits. But perhaps Dr. Rosedale is right. We may be missing the "not hungry" signals that are needed to turn off our hunt for food.
Another thing I noticed while eating the Rosedale way was that I was actually more interested in food while on the diet than I was during the days when I fell off the program. I mean that I was more interested in the taste of food.
While not on the program, I felt compelled to eat anything that came my way. I had little interest in the flavor, aroma or texture of the food - I simply found myself hunting through the cupboards for anything I could find, then fighting the compulsion.
It wasn't hunger or desire that was pushing me to eat. In fact, there was no bodily sensation at all that could account for my "need" to overeat.
Perhaps this is why it is so easy to blame our overeating on our emotions and nerves. If there is no bodily sensation telling us to eat, but we feel compelled to eat anyway, it must be something in our mind that is causing the behavior.
That "something" can easily be mistaken for an emotional or "mental" problem, even if it's caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Therapists tell us that we overeat because we are trying to compensate for childhood traumas - Dr. Rosedale tells us that our leptin sensitivity is out of whack because we eat sugar and flour products, and not enough Omega 3 fat. If the "not hungry" signals can't get through, our brain will not tell us to stop eating. Without that signal, we don't stop hunting for food.
I love the simplicity of this concept, because anyone can do the same experiment I did - try eating the Rosedale way (it's like a merger between the Okinawa diet and the Mediterranean diet) and then go back to eating whatever you eat now. Pay attention to your behavior around food, and notice if you want more or less food on the diet or off it.
You may not react as I did, but it won't hurt to find out. You may just find a way to let go of the compulsion to overeat, without expensive therapy or even willpower. And that would be a gift for almost all of us.
Jonni Good is the author of a self-help book for sugar addiction, and the owner of a website concerning sugar and your health http://www.howtothinkthin.com