UK Council for Psychotherapy

UKCP

Accredited Psychotherapist

British Association for
Counselling & Psychotherapy

BACP

Accredited Counsellor

Counselling for Addictions
Central London, Camden, Kings Cross, London NW1
Glen Gibson - Dip. Counselling, MA Psychotherapy, Dip. Psychotherapy
UKCP & mBACP Accredited male Addiction Counsellor & Psychotherapist

therapy@counselling-london.org.uk 020 7916 1342

Unwanted Habits & Addictions

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Food Addiction Therapy - Comfort Eating, Compulsive Eating, Stress Eating, Emotional Eating Addiction & Binge Eating Help

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Wanting To Stop Comfort Eating We may be used to turning to food for comfort. Eating food can be an enjoyable experience, it can make us happy. Yet when we eat exclusively because of this, and not because we are hungry, this may become a habit. We may seek comfort or distraction through food and have developed some magical thinking around food. We all have our favourite foods and there are many degrees of comfort eating, from the occasional turning to comfort food, to a full on binge, as we struggle to respond to our hunger sensations. Some of us may be very willful, disciplined, so we learn to comfort eat rather than binge. Our comfort eating or craving for food may include convenient food, physically comforting food, nostalgic food or indulgent food. We may select certain foods for certain moods or effects, e.g. favourite snack or warm, hearty food. Constantly worrying, we may want to stop comfort eating, try to stop, promise we'd stop, and now seek comfort eating help.

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Comfort Eating Triggers We may have begun to eat to soothe our emotional issues - we might as well eat as if we are under compulsion and there is no other way of responding. Some of us may look for something to nibble or eat, so we can tune out what's gong on in our head. We may eat when scared to protect ourself as if to give us a boundary. We may also use comfort eating as a pause or reward between tasks. We may comfort eat when we are down, feeling good or to keep our moods up. We may often turn to comfort food (even when not really hungry), triggered by other people's comments, or our own internal dialogue or heartache, maybe through feeling bored, frozen inside, hurt, disappointed to numb our feelings, upset, sad, depressed, stressed or anxious, angry or even happy, having so called positive emotions, celebrations, love or romanticism can also be linked to emotional eating, as can major life events. Some of us may eat to feel nothing, repress our feelings, others to feel something - anything. We may eat as a release. We may have certain food cravings with associated feelings underlying, like self-sabotage, as if we wanted to punish ourself, believing we deserve to suffer. We may have what some people call a food addiction, eating addiction.

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Comfort Eating Help Comfort eating can be about using food to fill an emotional void, a symptom of a struggle in tackling something difficult, neglect in other areas of our life. We may crave food, turn to comfort eating for a quick fix which can give us temporary solace. Most of us have uncomfortable feelings and we may use food as a distraction to give us short term relief. Turning to food for comfort, safety may provide us with this temporary relief, compensate for something else missing, yet our underlying issues have not gone away. "What's enough?" may be a continuous struggle. After our comfort food has been consumed, we may still be consumed with our difficulty, and we may for example become more depressed. Alienated, lonely, empty or hollow inside we may return to comfort food to fill this, struggling to recognise hunger and fullness. Yet our inner hunger and sense of loneliness may continue, as our moods rise and dip, affecting the food we eat. We may feel guilty, self-loathing or ashamed for not taking care of ourselves, especially if we put on weight. Food may affect our social life and we may not feel free to do certain things. We may want to find ways to stop comfort eating, seek comfort eating help. We may have gone on lots of diets, try to eat, then restrict, get our eating under control, yet these measures don't seem to work. Counselling and psychotherapy can offer help with this struggle and how else we might respond to our hunger need.

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Emotional Eating Help

Wanting To Stop Emotional Eating (Emotional Overeating), Seeking Emotional Eating Therapy At some level we are all emotional eaters, but for some emotional eating can get out of hand, as our emotions increasingly trigger our eating and we may have become too dependent on food as a way of responding to difficult emotions. Our emotional eating may have become learnt behaviour as food becomes our crutch, give us some sense of security. We may use food to deal with what we are feeling, instead of satisfying our hunger, not even being aware of it sometimes. When the pleasures of emotional eating have gone, the underlying cause of our emotional eating may remain, and we may feel worse about the type and volume of the food we have consumed. By now we may be looking for emotional eating help, seeking ways of overcoming emotional eating. Our control around food may have diminished. We may have begun to eat more portions than usual or at unusual times (sometimes named emotional over-eating). Usually our emotional eating comes on suddenly, demanding to be satisfied instantly (and often it needs to be specific food), whereas our physical hunger tends to occur gradually and can wait. When we are emotionally eating, we find it hard to stop, yet when we are eating because we are hungry, we tend to stop when we are full. Eating when we are physically hungry tends to leave us more satisfied than emotionally eating, which may leave behind guilt. When eating becomes our main strategy to help manage our emotions, then we may be in difficulty and seek emotional eating help so we stop emotional eating, seeking emotional eating help, emotional eating therapy.

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Binge Eating Therapy

Wanting To Stop Binge Eating We may be seeking help for binge eating through binge eating counselling, binge eating treatment. Binge eating is different to occasionally overeating. (It is not uncommon to overeat occasionally, many people do. Hungry inside some of us may have a habit of overeating.) When we frequently binge eat, we may have problems exercising control over our food consumption, eating large amounts of food in one go, maybe eating quickly. Things may have become out of balance. Empty inside, we may have episodes of uncontrollable eating, greed or binge eating, consuming a lot of food. When we are binge eating, or compulsive eating, we are powerless to stop and out of control. We may also like to do other things at the same time (e.g. TV, internet, etc.). When not in a good place we may eat more. We may get initial comfort and soothing from binge eating, yet other feelings follow. We may worry about our weight, become disgusted or depressed because of our overeating, compulsive eating or obesity. We may struggle to postpone our urges, choose not to follow them. Wanting to stop compulsive eating, we may now be seeking compulsive eating help through compulsive eating therapy. We may react by going on a diet, fasting or going on a campaign of exercising. We may become obsessed with food (obsessive eating) and our body, appearance, with frequent weight fluctuations. Eating alone or secretly, we may try to hide our binge eating from others, in the hope that they are unaware of our eating problem. After we have binged, we may have deep regret, be ashamed or guilty, experience self-hatred. We may even isolate ourselves from others. Overtime our energy levels may decrease, as we become lethargic, disconnected at times. Our esteem and confidence may sink very low. Some people binge eat regardless of what mood they are in. We may want to turn to binge eating therapy or counselling to stop binge eating, help us in overcoming binge eating, control binge eating or even wonder how to cure binge eating.

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Food Obsession, Food Craving, Food Addiction Therapy

Addiction To Food - Historical & Cultural Context We may turn to our favourite comfort food for instant gratification, which may have origins in our past, which may also be linked to our emotional experiences during early bonding patterns. Certain food may have a nostalgic or cultural or religious element. Memories of what happened when we left things on the plate may continue to impact upon us now. When we were younger, we may have been given food to help us feel better, or as a treat or reward. (Some of us may not have been rewarded by food, but in our adulthood can do this now for ourselves.) Hooked on our favourite foods now, in the past we may have associated food with comfort, similar to cushions or a duvet, to temporarily distract from our discomfort or emotional pain. This distraction can bring temporary comfort, yet doesn't help us to cope with difficult emotions. Rather than feel our feelings, we may have learnt to suppress them, and experiencing this emptiness, have learnt to turn to comfort food, binge eating to feed our need, feel full inside as opposed to an enjoyable source of nutrition, getting our needs met in ways other than through food. We may be looking for food addiction help, food addiction counselling or food addiction treatment. Treatment for food addiction not only acknowledges the type of food addiction (e.g. food obsession, obsessive eating, binge eating, emotional eating, comfort eating, compulsive overeating or compulsive eating addiction) but importantly acknowledges the feelings behind our food addiction, eating disorder. We may also want to consider if there is a biological component (e.g. leptin, adrenalin) to our food regulation.

Food Craving Whatever food craving we have, the more we have the more we want. Our food craving may have a physical cause and emotional cause. We may for example have a sugar addiction if our intestinal flora inside our gut becomes harmful, thus craving sugar. An emotional cause of our craving may point to our self-abandonment. We may become overweight and feel bad about ourself, shy away from things (or do the opposite, as if to compensate). The food craving counselling may explore whether our impulse comes from uncomfortable thoughts or from our joy.

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Food Addiction Help We may want to explore our relationship to food, how we think, behave around food and also reflect on our lifestyle. For some, it can be as if we want to push our self out of our body. Food addiction counselling and psychotherapy acknowledges our powerful feelings, hunger needs and can help us identify and recognise our emotions that we use food to deal with. We may have become so attached to eating for comfort, struggling to let go of this. Stopping to think before we eat may be challenging for us, as may discovering eating mindfully. We may have been "loved" by our parents through food. We may be using food for love, or because grief, loss in our life, to fill up our emptiness, created by abandoning ourselves, struggling to find love for ourself. Negative beliefs about ourself may "feed" our eating problem. Comfort eating and binge eating can also be seen as a form of self-harm, wanting more of nourishment outside of us, as if we are not enough (and we may have grown up as if we weren't enough). Used to turning to food for comfort, we may persuade ourselves we might as well continue, yet another part of us wants to overcome this, be freer (see also Diverting, Changing Responses To Our Drives, Urges, Impulses, Passions, Desires, Aspirations, Energies, Creativity). The binge eating therapy, food addiction therapy may also support you in finding other ways for you to eat and express your emotions rather than swallow them. Counselling and psychotherapy may include these considerations and support you in becoming aware and responding differently to physical and emotional hunger alongside thinking through what happens when any diets we are on expire.

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Questions About Counselling For Food Addiction Therapy, Binge Eating, Compulsive Eating, Emotional Eating & Comfort Eating Addiction We may have some questions about addiction to food, emotional overeating, e.g.:

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