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On the last track, we will discuss three techniques that can be helpful in restoring confidence in bulimic clients. These three confidence boosting techniques included: Beauty is the Beholder; Overcoming the Approval Trap; and Relabel Problems.
3 Different Levels of Overeating
Level #1 - Food Users
Jack, age 27, ate a Big Mac every day including a large fries and soft drink. At five foot seven, Jack weighed about 325 pounds. He stated, “I don’t understand. Yea, I eat junk food, but I don’t eat breakfast and dinner may be a bowl of cereal! Shouldn’t that make up for what I eat for lunch?”
I stated, “That’s not how your body works. When you don’t supply yourself with the necessary vitamins and you skip meals, your body goes into starvation mode, absorbing every single calorie in case you have to go for a long period of time without food. You may like how the Big Mac tastes, but there is another, underlying cause to your junk food indulgence. You may feel stressed during the day, when you’re at work or trying to complete tasks. The fast food helps you calm down and gives you plenty of salt and sugar to appease your stressed out nervous system.”
Think of your Jack. Is he or she trying to cope with stress by being a food user?
Level #2 - Food Abusers
Nicole, age 34, binged two to three times a week on average. She stated, “I don’t know where it comes from. I’ll be on a steady diet of vegetables, and I’ll be so pleased with myself, I have a little treat as a reward. Then it turns into three rewards, then five! Before I know it, I’ve completely blown my diet!” For these types of clients, I usually suggest avoiding dieting in the first place. I stated to Nicole, “Because you have deprived yourself of so much, you cannot resist giving into yourself even just a little bit.”
Food abusers tend to retain so many obsessive thoughts about their food and diet, that the effort becomes too much and they break. I ask that my food abusing clients change their goals, so that instead of attempting to lose weight, they are just trying to stay healthy. Think of your Nicole. How is he or she abusing food?
Level #3 - Food Addicts
Many times, food addicted clients will exhibit grandiose and aggressive behavior towards themselves and others. This is an attempt to cover up their lack of self-esteem by convincing the world of how wonderful they are. Often, these clients express acute denial of their addiction, believing themselves to be immune to the consequences of their actions.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy Technique: Food Log
I asked Larry to keep a “Food Log” recording all the meals he ate during the day. I suggested he learn the caloric count of each food, noticing the serving size, and record that as well. The next week, Larry showed me his “Food Log.” One of his days, on average, included: bacon, cheese and ham sandwich on a whole wheat bagel; club sub sandwich with turkey, bacon, provolone cheese, mayonnaise, and mustard; and a sirloin steak with mashed potatoes and buttered green beans.
In total, this day accumulated some 3500 calories. I stated to Larry, “A man of your size and activity level requires about 2000 to 2500 calories a day. You are exceeding this maximum by at least 1000 calories. Will you concede that you are in fact consuming more than you need?” Larry stated, “I did not realize how much that all counted up to. It fills me, but maybe it fills me too much.”
Think of your Larry. Could a CBT “Food Log” demonstrate just how severe his or her eating habits are?
On this track, we discussed three different levels of overeating. These three different levels of overeating included: food users; food abusers; and food addicts.
On the next track, we will examine four techniques for redefining hunger for overeating clients. These four techniques of redefined hunger include: Recognizing Mouth Hunger Phrases; Hunger Log; Demand Feeding; and Responding to Hunger.
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