The Colorado Center for Clinical Excellence
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Food is universally important - it's a part of every culture, and provides nourishment on multiple levels. There are many good reasons why eating gives us comfort. However, when taken to an extreme, eating can become a tremendous source of difficulty. I believe that truly changing your eating habits requires an exploration of your emotional relationship with food, as well as your food environment - how your daily habits and surroundings may be shaping your eating behavior without you even realizing it. By addressing all of these levels, we can create changes in your eating that are effective, sustainable, and allow you to have healthy and fulfilling relationship with food. I also often help people to improve their body image - and contrary to popular belief, you do not need to change your body or lose weight in order to feel better about the way you look. We can work through a step-by-step process to address the beliefs, emotions, and behaviors that are contributing to your body image problems. You'll find that improving your body image can be a rewarding way to feel better about yourself as a whole.

A number of my clients have come because of the emotional eating they've done to cope with feelings or to stuff their feelings. With apologies to Quentin Tarantino: Food is good. Ice cream is good. When life feels so desperately yucky, we need some yumminess in our lives. Like all addictive substances and behaviors (shopping, gambling, porn, alcohol, drugs, Facebook), the desired effect (relief, soothing, escape from pain) isn't necessarily wrong. Rather, it's that this need and vulnerability can be so easily exploited by our brains (or profiteers) to do things that cause harm to us. There are many good books and methods to help people confront the inner feelings that people try to manage with food (Geneen Roth's books come to mind) but many people find the continual interaction and reflection of psychotherapy necessary to provide the proper balance between challenge and support to face what's inside.

When you feel bored, lonely, anxious, or depressed, food can be a source of comfort and pleasure. If you find yourself eating when you feel emotions like this and are not hungry, you may be engaging in emotional overeating. You may be struggling to lose weight and find that not dealing with your emotions is actually the main obstacle to losing weight. You may also feel guilty and put a lot of pressure on yourself about not making progress "fast enough," which can actually get in the way of your goals. If you can relate to this, consider that it may be worth dealing with these emotions in a more effective way. Trying to stuff your feelings or numb yourself so you don't have to feel them will only result in more problems.

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Kristen Morrison, Ph.D.

main phone: 303-547-3700

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Jason Seidel, Psy.D.
Irina Banfi-Mare, Psy.D.
The Colorado Center
for Clinical Excellence