Author: Diana Corwin Gordon, Psy.D.
Many clients come to us with concerns about overeating, binge eating, and feeling out of control around food. Clients often recognize that their concerns about eating are complex, and that they overeat or binge for a variety of reasons. Sometimes these reasons are psychological in nature, and other times they are situational, but many clients feel frustrated by how difficult it is to change their eating habits.
We work with our clients to identify all of the factors that are contributing to their problem, and we use evidence based interventions to target them. Using intuitive and mindful eating approaches, we teach clients to identify their triggers, tune into their natural hunger/fullness cues, and feel more in control of their food choices. In this blog post, we will explain how we use a two pronged approach for treating these concerns: 1) identifying and treating common reasons for overeating/bingeing and 2) introducing intuitive and mindful eating principles. Taken together, these two areas of focus often help our clients reduce episodes of overeating and binge eating, and help them feel more in control and confident around food.
Common Reasons for Overeating/Bingeing
We work with our clients to understand the thoughts, feelings, and situations that trigger overeating or bingeing. We encourage clients to notice what's going on for them emotionally when they feel out of control around food. We meet urges to overeat or binge with curiosity and compassion, rather than judgement, and try to help our clients see these experiences as opportunities to learn more about their own needs. Depending on the specific triggers, we use a variety of evidence based techniques to alleviate the underlying causes of bingeing and overeating, including:
-Treatment for underlying psychological conditions
-Collaborative CBT problem-solving (helping clients determine all of their options for solving a problem, and the pros and cons of each)
-Thought modification (helping clients think more rationally)
-Emotion regulation skills (helping clients develop a toolkit of strategies for dealing with complicated emotions)
-Body acceptance and body image improvement
Our goal is to help our clients understand themselves better, and to help them address the underlying causes of overeating and binge eating. When these underlying causes are addressed, the urge to overeat or binge naturally diminishes.
Introduction to Intuitive and Mindful Eating
Intuitive Eating, initially developed by dieticians Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, is an approach to eating that helps people tune into their internal cues of hunger and fullness. Many psychologists, physicians, and dieticians have put their own twist on this approach, but all share an emphasis on mindfulness, body awareness, and internal cues. We draw from many different theorists to offer a personalized and comprehensive approach to intuitive/mindful eating for each client.
Intuitive and mindful eating approaches teach clients to trust themselves about how, when, and what to eat to feel physically and emotionally satisfied. We work with clients to develop health affirming behaviors, such as eating foods that make them feel good and exercising in ways that feel energizing, rather than focusing on weight loss. Some goals of intuitive and mindful eating include:
-Tuning in to natural hunger and fullness cues
-Learning to stop eating when you feel satisfied
-Eliminating forbidden foods
-Developing confidence and trust in one’s own body and instincts
-Developing a healthy set of beliefs about food
-Finding true satisfaction and enjoyment in food
-Discovering ways to be healthy and happy, regardless of body size, weight, or other numerical indicators
-Read more about the principles of Intuitive Eating here
Using intuitive and mindful eating strategies, we strive to help our clients develop a happy, healthy, and satisfying relationship with food. As psychologists, we are uniquely qualified to treat overeating and binge eating, because we can offer a multifaceted approach to treating these concerns. We treat the underlying psychological conditions that make binging and overeating more likely, as well as providing practical strategies for getting in touch with your own internal cues. When appropriate, we coordinate care with dieticians, physicians, and other members of your medical team to ensure that you get the best care possible.
If you are interested in learning more about our approach to reducing binge eating and overeating, please contact us for a free phone consultation. We’d be happy to tell you more about our approach and to determine whether our services are a good fit. Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog post (coming soon), which will outline some practical strategies for incorporating intuitive and mindful eating principles into your daily life.
Diana Gordon, Psy.D., Kari Kagan Psy.D., and Katie Leoni, Psy.D.
Drs. Gordon, Kagan, and Leoni practice psychotherapy in downtown San Francisco and Oakland. Their areas of expertise include anxiety, sleep, stress, depression, and addiction. They blog about these topics to provide research-based information about common problems and strategies to help manage them.