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Yesterday I did the Third Saturday Support Group. This is a three-hour program offered in my office on the third Saturday of the month; it has been going on, with the help and hard work of Marty Lerner, PhD, from Milestones, for seventeen years. I love seeing my clients in this relaxed setting.

Our topic yesterday was the Five S’s of Food Sanity. We talked about a lot of things, and the plans and processes that make the food sane.

But one of the things that came up in the group, and after, was the PAIN that the food was used to cover! There was a time in your life when you had some sort of physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual pain and food was the only thing available to medicate the PAIN. So, the food did it and did it well.

The food most often used to medicate the PAIN was refined, processed, man-made and low nutrient food – and what have now become your personal drug and trigger foods. Over time, and because of the repeated use, you developed a change in your ability to handle certain neurotransmitters in your brain, most often dopamine and endorphins. That means that more food was required to get the same effect. And it means that if you stop using the food, you become more depressed and your appetite seems insatiable.

Eventually those neurotransmitters are damaged. The only relief is more and more food to get the result, or even just to avoid the withdrawal symptoms. The research is clear that processed foods and sugary drinks hijack the brain in ways that are similar to addictions to cocaine and other drugs. There are only two ways to solve this problem – continue eating ever increasing amounts of these foods, or live through the withdrawal and allow the body and mind to re-stabilize themselves.

And then, to add more problems, the issue you were eating to handle, comes back up in your face! The person who behaves in ways you find unacceptable, still does that. The memories of earlier trauma are triggered by a current life situation. The struggle of not having, being, doing, or becoming the person you want to be; of not having created in your life the things you really wanted; they are right at the front of your mind. If you have any physical pain issues, they will flare. If you struggle with that idea of a Higher Power, or feel angry towards it, that will appear. So how do you handle this?

Whenever the stress in your life increases, you must increase your support activities to match it. That may mean eight hours of sleep a night. It may mean more contact with people you can trust.  It may mean more pleasant activities (like knitting, jigsaw puzzles, petting the dog, cuddling with someone special, adult coloring books, a good novel, a trip to the beach, joking with a grandson, wrapping in a soft blanket and taking a nap) whatever makes you feel supported.

Some feelings ebb and flow like ocean waves. But feelings never leave until you feel them and hear their message, and perhaps take ACTION to handle the situation.  Taking ACTION is the hardest part.

You may need to get help from a physician if you feel physical PAIN, or a therapist or support group to handle the emotional issues. You may need to draw boundaries with others. You may need to take charge of those repetitive thoughts that run around and around in your brain and make you feel miserable.

Eating abusively will not help this; it will prolong your PAIN. It is scary to take these actions, and that is what is necessary for you to get free. Let the right people help you.

Be welcome to comment about this or other posts; tell us, “What works for you? How do you handle your PAIN best?”

Blessings to you,


8 Responses to FOOD AND FEELINGS

  1. Mary Fran Paul July 17, 2017 at 4:52 pm #

    Although I did not attend this workshop, I feel that I would like to comment here with being your client and having reading Marty’s book “A Guide To Eating Disorder Recovery.”I believe the hardest part in working your food plan is dealing with “sabotage,” referring to those people who are NOT happy with your change. For me, the challenge has always been dealing with the emotional fallout that ultimately occurs when others are threatened by your success and change of lifestyle you have chosen with excluding addictive food items no longer a viable part of your being. It’s not just being a smaller dress size in their eyes or “diet.” I am hoping that in the future as my progress continues with working my program, that this “emotional pain” and issue that has been chronic in my life will have more attention paid to it. In recognizing the fact that I am powerless over food, all that I have learned about nutrition has definitely steered me in the right direction in my journey to a healthy body weight. My hope is that more work can be done to help the recovering compulsive overeater deal to help keep those demons away to help better cope with social and work situations where food bullies lurk are waiting to pounce. Thank you!

    • H. Theresa Wright August 10, 2017 at 2:18 pm #

      You are so right, Mary Fran! Every time we make a change in our behavior, it initiates changes in other people’s behavior; and some times they don’t like that. I will put sabotage – self sabotage and dealing with saboteurs – on my list of future blog topics! Thank you for writing! Theresa

  2. buy fresh figs online August 18, 2017 at 9:25 am #

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    • H. Theresa Wright August 18, 2017 at 11:46 am #

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  3. Grace Buchanan September 11, 2017 at 4:21 pm #

    Thank you for more awareness of sabotage from others as well as from self by reacting to others’ discomfort as a result of my choices. The comment is helpful.

    • H. Theresa Wright September 12, 2017 at 3:37 pm #

      Sabotage is SO difficult to deal with! I will write more on this as we go along.

  4. Anne Osada October 7, 2017 at 5:47 pm #

    I realized reading this that I’m still trying to “schedule” my food plan implementation/ lifestyle change so that it doesn’t affect any upcoming social engagements – so I can avoid having to disappoint my friends who expect me to enjoy the food as the centerpiece of most of these occasions. It’s becoming more obvious to me that I need to start going to OA as much as deciding on a “food plan” – the commitment is daunting though.

  5. Theresa November 13, 2017 at 12:42 am #

    Think about this as a learning experience. Go look and see and try things out. Experiment till you find what works for you. We can teach you how to handle the friends and the holidays as well. You only commitment now is to shop for an OA meeting you like!

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