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Emotional Eating & Cravings

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Say goodbye to emotional eating

Say goodbye to emotional eating

Say goodbye to emotional eating
Local author offers tips to help you replace food with more positive comforts
By Theresa Tayler, Calgary HeraldJanuary 25, 2012 8:06 PM
Photos ( 1 )

Author and public speaker Beth Castle in her kitchen in Calgary on January 19, 2011.
Photograph by: Christina Ryan, Calgary Herald
If you’ve ever found yourself arriving home after a hard day’s work and heading straight for the potato chips and vino instead of the treadmill, well, you’re not alone.
We’ve all been there; stress can cause the best of us to let our guard down and go diving into that carton of chocolate-chunk cookie-dough ice cream at warp speed.
There are numerous reasons why people turn to emotional eating: depression, undealt-with childhood wounds, life changes and other traumatic events are just the tip of the iceberg.
“It’s really different for everyone. Everyone’s issues are complex and unique, but the result of using food to cope is the common denominator for emotional eaters,” says Beth Castle, author of Stop Emotional Eating, Fix Food Cravings, Find Your Metabolism and More.
Castle, a dietary technician and public speaker, literally wrote the book on conquering emotional eating.
The pages serve as an interactive manual for anyone who wants to understand the reasons behind why they might eat emotionally, and how they can begin to stop.
It was exactly the kind of read that Denise Szekrenyes was looking for.
Szekrenyes, 46, says she has been dealing with “food issues” since she was a young adult.
“I struggled with anorexia as a teen, but I had never really admitted it to myself until I went to see Beth speak,” says Szekrenyes, who attended one of Castle’s speaking engagements just over a year ago.
Throughout most of her adult life, Szekrenyes says, she let food control issues consume her. While she was underweight in her early 20s, by her 30s she had put on extra pounds.
Szekrenyes found herself in an emotionally abusive relationship, and she began to seek solace in food.
Now happily remarried, Szekrenyes says she has a new outlook on life. She lost some of the extra pounds but says she still needed some help addressing the emotional issues behind her food cravings and control issues.
Castle’s no nonsense yet empathetic advice and theories on emotional eating struck the right note.
“She understands the dysfunction. It’s not about a diet, it’s about addressing the mental issues that are behind the addiction. Her ideas are centred around dealing with those issues and replacing the bad mental inner talk with more positive thoughts,” Szekrenyes says.
Castle’s book, which also comes as an e-book and an audio guidebook, gives readers a step-by-step process to identify the reasons why they overeat.
Readers can make notes, journal and work through those issues as they read. It’s not a diet, but Castle does give readers the basics regarding healthy eating and making nutritious choices.
She says the trick to conquering emotional eating issues lies in identifying what you’re feeling when you have a craving, and where that emotion comes from.
“This is not a quick fix, and people sometimes want a quick fix,” Castle says.
“Eventually, people realize that diets alone can leave them on a roller-coaster ride. You’re either on a diet or off a diet. Once people get to the point where they realize a quick fix doesn’t work, they begin looking for long term answers and that’s where dealing with the emotional issues behind why they overeat becomes important.”
Castle worked as a food counsellor with Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers in Calgary for many years before writing her book. She saw first-hand the complexities behind most people’s weight issues and she says it was her clients that inspired her to write her book.
Castle says there are no fast rules as to how Stop Emotional Eating should be read or followed — the book can be used alone or in conjunction with another weight-loss plan or diet.
“I jump around in the book and through the exercises quite a bit,” says Szekrenyes.
“It’s a continual process. I’ll read a chapter and think about it for a while, sometimes for weeks or months. Then I’ll go back to it later when I’m ready.”
Castle’s process focuses on replacing emotional eating with positive activities and rewards.
“If food is a reward, or something you’re using to comfort yourself, then it can be helpful to find a different activity or thing to do instead of eat when you first feel that craving. For me, it’s to have a cuddle with my dogs,” Castle explains.
“It sounds simple, but it stops you from taking that first bite and forces you to do something else instead, something positive. You don’t have to run a marathon — even taking a quick walk around the block can help to get your mind off the food and get you doing something positive.”
Castle says she encourages people to take things one day at a time.
“People get stuck when they overdo it, or when they punish themselves for slipping up. That’s something I address in the book as well. I have chocolate, sometimes I feel guilty. That’s life,” she says.
“If you beat yourself up for having a couple cookies for your snack, then you’re going to fall back into the trend of punishing yourself and indulging in negative self talk. You have to learn to forgive yourself and move on.”
For more information on Beth Castle’s book Stop Emotional Eating, $47, and to find out about her speaking engagements, visit
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