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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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Why would a woman who wants to lose weight, and had a very

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Why would a woman who wants to lose weight, and had a very satisfying lunch at 1:00 in the afternoon, leave the work on the novel she's writing (that seems to be going very well) and get up and make, of all things, pancakes at 3:00 - and eat them?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 1 year ago.

Hi! I'll be glad to be of help with this issue.

I can imagine how frustrating this situation must be for you. You are clearly an intelligent and sophisticated person, who understands the emotional and psychological forces that drive life. And yet, when it comes to eating, it is as if all of this understanding and intelligence disappears and a primal need takes over.

This, of course, is the experience that is called emotional eating. There are two commonalities in emotional eating (EE) that can be easily identified: a self sabotaging drive and a need for comfort, for self-soothing.

Soothing is not just a need during infancy and childhood. We all need to be comforted and soothed throughout our lifetimes. The goal during "normal" passage from early childhood to childhood and then adolescence and then young adulthood, etc. is to gain the ability to self-soothe. To be able to define and choose activities that will comfort us is a skill. Young children may begin with a blankie or some other object, we then graduate to activities that are self soothing and comforting: lying under the covers, reading a book, etc. We begin to identify certain activities and certain actions as soothing and they have that effect on our emotions.

Tip: let's interrupt here for a quick tip. Soothing and comfort are terms that describe a passage from an anxious state, some form of tension, to a relaxed state, some form of rest state. Often, internal body mechanisms (the normal up and down of our blood sugar, for example) can create a tension state in us. The tip, then, is to instead of reaching for the pancakes, to go to a quiet place and take a nap or read a favorite book that will ease the breathing and create relaxation. Naps are the best...

Okay. Often, the anxiety/tension state (we're not talking major, we're talking about small somatic states) interferes with our plans, schedules, goals, etc. We tend to ignore them and push them aside. They then work in semi or subconscious areas of our selves. Meaning, they grow. And this is where the self sabotaging of ourselves comes in.

We begin a battle that has played forever inside ourselves: I deserve vs. I should. I should always loses. Why?

Because I should is part of the cognitive side of us (goals, plans, strategies). I deserve is part of the emotional subconscious part of us. That is the part that was neglected. And when it is neglected it causes psychological "pain". And we jump. In this case, we jump to the kitchen and make pancakes!

So, the key is to not deny that original need to have comfort and self soothing, to find activities/objects, etc. that will give that relaxation and comfort. When that's done, then Weigh Watchers will be much more successful for you.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Dr. Mark,


As accurate as your answer is, it's nothing I haven't heard a hundred times before. Can you tell me something I don't already know? Like is there a new medication that may be able to help me? At 52 I'm sure you realize I have tried every imaginable diet, behavior modification technique including naps and baths, have had years of counseling, and yet, here I am again. It has something to do with my brain. The phentermine changes something in my brain - it isn't simply an appetite suppressant because I wasn't at all hungry when I ate the pancakes. What I would like to know is if there is a medication out there that can soothe me and work better than the phentermine. Thank you for your time & expertise. (And as I'm writing this, I am realizing that I probably do need a nap. However, if you can give me some additional information, I would be very, very grateful.)

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 1 year ago.
I understand your frustration. If there was a medication that was highly effective, didn't have high risks (diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.), and kept people from gaining the weight back once they stopped taking the drug, the company making it would certainly not keep it secret.


But as you already know, there aren't any. You can try Qsymi, which is your current medication in conjunction with topiramate. It's been shown in trials to be moderately more effective. Xenical is perhaps the most popular appetite suppressant. But there others.


Again, though, there is no magic pill. Just as even Bariatric surgery has a high rate of subsequent weight regain, medications do as well. This is why I stressed the basics in my answer. There is no way to suppress parts of who we are, and that is what emotional eating is about, as I wrote.


So, remember: the most effective approach is not to beat yourself up and get angry with yourself about it. Because that only strengthens the self sabotaging part of us. Instead, get in tune with your body's signals, like when it needs a rest, when it needs to just relax, when it needs a bit of excitement, etc. That is so essential, like you noticed.


I wish you the very best!

My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX


Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5170
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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