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An Emotional Eating Break-Through!

By Michelle May, M.D.

Lexie, a woman who has been on this mindful eating journey for a while, shared two recent insights and invited me to share them in hopes that they will provide encouragement for others.

My Cheeseburger Epiphany

“I have to tell you about my cheeseburger epiphany. The other day I was waiting for my grocery pickup and it had been a horrible day. I was just frustrated and angry at everybody and had no patience. They messed up my order and I just wanted to bite the lady’s head off. It was at that moment that I realized I was PMS-ing and that the whole world hadn’t been turned into imbeciles, I was just hormonal.

I thought to myself, ‘Screw it! I’m just going to get a great big fat cheeseburger for dinner.’ And then I had this thought that didn’t sound like something that would come from my head: ‘Why would you do that to yourself? When you’re already feeling like crap, why would you put more crap in your body? You should be treating yourself better, not worse.’ I realized I didn’t want a cheeseburger, I wanted to feel better. That was the first time in all these years that I made that connection with emotional eating and really understood what it meant. I went home and had soup and salad for dinner. I was so glad I did and I felt better.

Tonight, I did have a cheeseburger for dinner, because I wanted one!”

Then a few weeks later…

The Cheeseburger Connection

“I had another huge breakthrough today. A few weeks ago I told you about my cheeseburger epiphany. I recently invested in a puppy that will be trained to be my service dog for diabetic alert and balance so I’ve been studying everything I can about training. The training for a diabetic alert dog is based on Pavlov’s theory of conditioned response. This really got me thinking about the conditioned responses I might have to food.

I remembered that when I was a teenager, my family went through a huge crisis that tore our family apart. It was the most stressful and upsetting time of our lives and it took years to recover. During that time, we had to go to family counseling every week. On the way to counseling, we would stop at Rally’s and have a cheeseburger. For that short time when we had cheeseburgers together, everything was okay and we were like a normal family again. That time in my life was so bad that I have very few memories, but this memory stands out. It completely explains my conditioned response to want a cheeseburger whenever I’m upset. Cheeseburgers are my favorite food and I craved them more than anything else. I have been known to eat cheeseburgers everyday for every meal for a week. I never got tired of them.

Today with this knowledge, I feel like cheeseburgers no longer have power over me. I can enjoy them when I’m hungry, but no longer need to go to them to feel better.”


About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

One Comment

  1. KaoruAnatu says:

    Thanks for your words Dominik!

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