Shrink Yourself blogger Dr. Roger Gould is one of the world’s leading authorities on emotional eating. He has helped thousands reclaim their power over food by conquering emotional eating, the number one cause of weight gain. Dr. Gould’s approach has been the subject of seven scientific studies.

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Shrink Yourself

by Dr. Roger Gould, Emotional eating expert
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The obvious negative effects of overeating are extra weight and jeopardized health. Most people are well aware of these negative effects. But overeating affects so many other aspects of your life, too.

As a psychiatrist who has worked with overeaters for decades, I understand that if you're an overeater, there is so much more at stake than just your weight.

Take a look at these surprising negative effects of overeating:

1. You Still Feel Hungry

Emotional eating is when your hunger for emotional fulfillment gets turned into physical hunger for food. The only problem with eating for comfort is that while your stomach is getting filled, your heart still remains empty.

Eating might make you forget about your emotional needs for a few minutes, or even an hour, but no matter how much food you eat your real needs never get met. The more you eat, the more your emotional hunger grows. As time passes, using food this way leads to feelings of defeat and depression.

Looking for the real source of your hunger and addressing it directly will help restore your hope.

2. Your Psychological Growth Gets Stunted

When food gets installed as a coping mechanism it becomes a quick fix instead of finding a real solution. Once you get relief from food, you turn to it to deal with more and more problems. Suddenly, you're eating when you're overwhelmed, tired, bored, lonely, frustrated, irritated and unable to deal with just ...    Continue

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@ 2:44pm ET on June 29, 2009
I can honestly say I don't believe I use food as a coping mechanism. For example, for lunch today I had a really nice yam with some Olivia (butter substitute), and I was totally satisfied, and that's all I'll eat until dinner. But while I avoid going back for seconds, I generally give myself a healthy portion of whatever I cooked. Unfortunately, I am a really good gook. Believe me, this doesn't help anything! Being under a lot of stress and post-menopause doesn't help, either!

@ 1:45am ET on June 30, 2009
This is a very fascinating article. Thank you Dr. Roger Gould! Personally, I'm not an emotional eater, but I can completely understand your points on emotional eating.

It is frightening - although intelligent insight. You've helped me to learn something!

@ 8:05am ET on June 30, 2009
I actually did the Shrink Yourself program last summer. Im telling you...its good,real good. If you are an emotional eater, then you should go & do the free trial they have. This really really worked for me like nothing else ever has. :-)

@ 8:05am ET on June 30, 2009
This is a comment for Jerseygirl. What might help, is to eat smaller meals throughout the day and eat more often..every two to three hours. This helps boost your metabolism and makes weight loss alot easier. Hope that helps :)

@ 12:32am ET on July 2, 2009
ARRGGHH!! Enough already!! If my big appetite increases a little when I'm stresed, is that "emotional eating??" At some point, I stopped beating myself up for eating when HUNGRY and focused on doing what needed to be done to reduce my appetite - small frequent meals/snacks, adequate protein, fiber and fluids, avoiding meds or supplements that increase appetite, a little hoodia and other OTCs/supplements to take the edge off of it. Surprise, surprise - the weight came off. Who would have guessed - my APPETITE was driving my overeating! All along, if I was full, I would stop eating no matter how upset I might be. It just took way too much food to get full! My big appetite, and trying so desperately to deny it, telling myself I should not be hungry, promising myself I would not eat any more, and failing time and time again was driving the negative emotions, NOT the other way around!! I've had people tell me that the "right" way to do it is to eat smaller portions of "regular" foods, which put my weight back on pronto every time in the past. At one point I gave up on dieting because trying to eat less than I was hungry for was just making me obsess about food more and more. I tried exercising alone; I got a little more fit, but the scale did not budge and the dress size stayed the same. In my family, we definitely have big appetites and probably slow metabolism. So guess what, we can't expect to eat the large or even moderate portions of high caloric density "regular" foods our world typically presents us with and maintain a healthy weight. I strongly suspect that true "emotional eating" as described here is the primary factor for about 10% of us, 20% tops. (Look at the statistics for bariatric surgery, which defintiely reduces appetite - it works 80% of the time, only a little better in magnitude of weight lost with malabsportive procedures than without. But I have even known professionals to deny aids to reduce appetite to people on the grounds that all fat people are just eating when they are not hungry, so it can't possibly make a difference. THIS IS SO WRONG. This kind of posting adds fuel to that misconception and stops way too many of us from doing the things that will actually help the most, like looking hard at the real physiology of what is going on with us individually and addressing it appropriately. I have lost almost sixty pounds and kept it off; I am no longer pre-diabetic and I've gone from size 18 to size 12. I will have to be vigilant life-long, but that does not seem too daunting to me simply because I have gradually learned how and what to eat, and how and what not to eat, so that I can feel satisfied and not ravenous. And I have also learned not to listen to bad advice any more!! No one can exert massive willpower day in and day out for the rest of their lives to battle a fundamental physiological drive to eat when hungry. This may not be the key for everyone, but it is for many of us, and too many of us do not even realize it because we are so obsessed with the idea that it is all in our minds and we just have to be disciplined and not comfort ourselves with food. Even Overeaters Anonymous advises you to HALT - which is an acronym for four things to avoid being - HUNGRY, Angry, Lonely, and Tired - notice which one is first!

@ 1:49pm ET on June 26, 2012
I too realize that I need some kind of mild appetite suppressant. I don't eat more in response to stress, I'm just hungry!

@ 7:22pm ET on June 29, 2012
I've been thru emotional stress before and eating is my outlet. I felt my hungry for something my tendency is to eat everything. I begun to gain so much weight. And I begun to feel something hard in my chest and back head, after that I start moderating my food. I start my research for what diet tips I need to lose weight and gain a healthy body.

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