Shrink YourSelf

by roger Gould, M.D.

Break free from emotional eating forever!  |  

20 years ago, Roger Gould worked as a psychotherapist with people who had eating disorders. He continually asked them “Why do you continue to eat once you’ve decided not to?” They had a whole range of answers, but the treatment remained superficial. Eventually it sank in. “I’m powerless” was the key to people’s compulsive eating. He had been exploring the wrong question. It’s not “Why do you eat?” It’s “Why are you powerless?” Why, after you made a commitment to yourself to take charge of your eating, did the urge to eat become so powerful that it, or that part of you, overruled your conscious intent? There was not only an urge to eat, there was a conflict occurring between two parts of your mind fighting over who was going to control that moment when your hand moved toward the chocolate cake. He soon realized these people’s problem was exactly like other addicts he had worked with. The alcoholic and the addict both felt they were powerless when it came to alcohol and drugs, but it was very clear that the real powerlessness was about some aspect of their life. When things went wrong, they turned to these dangerous and illegal substances, while people who struggled with their weight had found a legal, readily available tranquilizer to serve the same purpose. Shrink Yourself is not a simple answer, but it does offer an interesting and proven process that will let you recover your power not only over food, but over many aspects of your life.
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Many people feel that there isn’t any other choice but to deal with problems by eating. They give up because they feel powerless. By choosing food, they totally relinquished their ability to solve problems and deal with their lives in a mature and empowered way, and this naturally reinforces their experience of powerlessness. The only way to recover that power is to stop and think about what other options you have besides eating when something in life comes up to challenge you. This book is really about finding the space between when something has challenged you and your sudden urge to eat (which is not real hunger). In that space you can explore what goes on in your mind when you have that uncontrollable urge. Up until now, the emotions and issues that fuel the urge to eat have been operating on instinct without your awareness, and they are sabotaging all of your good intentions.

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Summary Information
from the book Shrink Yourself: Break Free from Emotional Eating Forever by roger Gould, M.D. Copyright © 2007. reprinted by arrangement with Wiley ( All rights reserved. This book summary may not be copied or distributed in any form without the permission from assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Always work with a qualified health professional before making any changes to your diet, prescription drug use, lifestyle or exercise activities. The advertisements contained in this summary do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or policies of the book publisher, book author or health Book Summaries, llC. CAT 215103

Emotional Eating 101
Why can’t you reach your weight goals? The reason is that food is not only your source of nutrition, it is also your life’s coping mechanism. Using food to deal with emotions is called emotional eating. A study the author conducted of 17,000 failed dieters showed that virtually all of them relapsed because of emotional issues, mostly related to self-esteem or emotional hurt. 


Attacking emotional hunger by counting calories is almost like trying to run a marathon while lying on your couch. It just doesn’t make any sense. Each person needs to go deep within themselves in order to discover why they feel the need to compulsively eat. The answer to controlling hunger lies in the mind, not the belly. Emotional Eating in a Nutshell: 1. They overate to suppress feelings. 2. They chose comfort food (not broccoli) and felt guilty about it. 3. They short-circuited their best problem-solving abilities.

Phantom Hunger
You eat when you aren’t really hungry because you have two stomachs: one real, the other phantom. The hunger in your belly signals you when your system has a biological requirement for food. If that was the only signal of hunger you received, you’d be at your optimum weight. The phantom stomach sends out a signal demanding food when emotions that you feel you are unable to cope with are coming into awareness. You feel compelled to eat in order to stuff yourself so that you don’t have to feel the feelings. What Triggers Your Phantom Hunger? 1. Situations, places, or events. Perhaps you overeat when you have to attend staff meetings at your pathetic job, or when you go to family functions. For some people, it’s funerals or restaurants or sports events. For others, it’s a boring day at work. 2. The second category that triggers phantom hunger is people. A specific person— your boss, parent, spouse or child—may trigger you to overeat. Phantom hunger is the hunger that’s created when a person feels uncomfortable.

How You Got Hooked on Food
Food is our main source of comfort when we are infants. As infants and children, food was often associated with comfort and love. You probably adopted food as a method to cope with uncomfortable feelings at some point in your development. You began overeating in order to feel the safety and security that you felt when you were and infant. If you overeat when you feel distress in order to change your state of mind, then food has unconsciously become your substitute for safety and happiness you felt with your mother.  |  

Why Is Emotional Eating So Hard to Stop?
Using food to deal with feelings creates a vicious cycle. Food lets you avoid your problems for a while, but when problems are left unattended they grow in intensity. This makes you stuff yourself and then you’re filled with guilt on top of your original problem, and the cycle spirals out of control because then you need food to deal with the guilt as well as the original problem. You have been using food as a quick fix that brings temporary but immediate relief and pleasure. However, it doesn’t take long before you need more food to feel the pain of your life. Powerlessness 1. You feel powerless about how to deal with your self-doubts. 2. You feel powerless about how to get real satisfaction in life. 3. You feel powerless to ensure your own safety. 4. You feel powerless to appropriately assert your independence. 5. You feel powerless to fill yourself up when you feel empty inside. You eat when you feel powerless in one or more of these five ways, because the experience of powerlessness is almost instantaneously transformed into the uncontrollable urge to eat. This fact is the cornerstone of everything that follows in this book. The goal of this book is to help you become aware of the pattern you are running so that you can find the space between when you have one of the five experiences of powerlessness and when you begin to overeat. Only by observing your mind and finding that space will you begin to change your emotional eating pattern. Diets fail because you are emotional eating. It’s not the person or the event per se that sets you off, but the way that you react to them and how they make you feel. Identifying the times when you overeat is a huge first step. Food Protects You from Bad Feelings 1. Food helps you avoid feelings. The desire to avoid emotions is called the “feeling phobia.”
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2. Food gives you a way to replace bad feelings with the pleasurable experience of eating. The pleasurable experience that food provides is called the “food trance.” In short, eating protects you from the feelings that you don’t want to feel.  |  

Feelings Phobia
Many people report that as they’re approaching their goal weight they often sabotage themselves and all of their efforts. They wonder why that is. The answer is generally the same: If you didn’t have your weight to think about, you might have to deal with what’s really bothering you. It’s frightening because you feel powerless to change the things that really bother you. You’ve made what the author calls the “unexamined powerlessness conclusion.” No one likes feeling angry, lonely, bored, or sad. But most emotional eaters are deeply effected by these emotions; in fact, they have an allergic reaction to them. This could be called a “feeling phobia.” When you are afraid to stay with and explore your feelings, you have already come to the conclusion that you are defeated in some way. Your feelings are leading to a deeper experience of powerlessness, and that’s your biggest fear.

The Food Trance
The food trance is a place to find rest from feelings that you can’t cope with. It’s the place where the bad feelings are actually transformed momentarily into the pleasure of eating. The food trance is an escape. The food trance is enjoyable while you are in it, but it was always followed by guilt and regret and, of course, extra pounds, and ultimately the need for more food. If food really does make you content and happy, even if only temporarily, what a powerful narcotic it is. You need to see not only the weight you’ll gain by eating too much - because that clearly hasn’t been enough to stop you in the past - but also to understand how covering up emotions with food sets you back psychically, spiritually, and effectually. Your feelings aren’t there to make you unhappy. Rather, emotions provide you with information about your inner world. They are full of messages you need to hear.

Where Did the Voice That Makes You Powerless Come From?
When you were little, you needed your parents to teach you how to obey rules and manage in society. You developed an inner critic, or voice to ensure you followed these rules. As you grew up, the rules have been changing daily as new experiences require you to adapt to a world you couldn’t imagine a decade before. However, every time you change a rule to make it your own or drop a rule that doesn’t make sense to you, you face an anxiety challenge, since they have to be put against your inner critic.

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If all goes well, your critical conscience loses. You evolve and grow, the end point being that you have no more harsh, unrealistic, perfectionist, absolute rules to live by or criteria to me—just a good set of values, guidelines and rules of thumb to help you decide what to do and how to behave. If you’ve been using food in an attempt to escape from the critical voice because you are afraid of its accusations instead of facing and challenging it, you’ve stopped the natural and necessary separation from your inner critic. You may have momentarily quieted the strong critical voice by eating, but you remain stuck with its criticisms and demands as soon as you aren’t using your drug.

Your Self-Doubt Layer
If you’re an emotional eater, every time you feel that you aren’t worthy, you become hungry. Feeling inadequate makes you desire food as much as biological hunger. It’s your own lack of self-esteem that triggers the eating. It’s not what others say. If your sense of self were more valuable than another person’s opinion of you, you’d ignore them, and you would not feel the need to overeat. The single biggest problem standing between you and your optimum weight is your harsh view of yourself. Nothing activates self-doubt like getting criticized or rejected by other people, and if you’re an emotional eater, you’ll quickly be in need of some food every time your feelings are hurt.

Hurting Yourself Because Someone Hurt You
What would happen if, instead of eating, you could freeze-frame your feelings and put them under the microscope at the moment the tension occurs? Most likely you’d see that you initially feared that someone else had a valid reason for hurting you: You feared that they did what they did because there was something unlovable (self-doubt label) about you and so you deserved the rejection. If you were able to slow down instead of immediately using food to shut the hurt feeling off, you might be able to make a reinterpretation.

Unprovoked Self-Doubts
Sometimes, even when there’s no one around to make you feel bad about yourself, you still continue to feel horrible. In fact, for some of you, you may feel more horrible when you’re alone. You don’t actually need anyone else to make you feel bad about yourself. .
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How to Weaken the Power of Your Self-Doubts 1. You can diminish self doubts by talking back to your nagging critical conscience. 2. You can stop adding to your load of doubt by catching yourself when you misinterpret a situation to mean there is something wrong with you.  |  

Your Reward/Frustration Layer
Until now, when you’ve felt frustrated with some part of your life, you’ve eaten to satisfy yourself because deep down you haven’t thought you had the power to do anything about the frustration. Many people use food to motivate them through life. You may use food to deal with your: Unfulfilling relationships Unfulfilled needs Unlived potential Stresses Addressing your self-doubts, cultivating satisfying relationships and pursuing your dreams are critical components to ending your dependence on food as a reward. If you can’t manage your stress, you can’t manage your weight. Stress, even everyday stress, can make people desperate to overeat. You must remember that you have two methods to recover your power over your own life: 1. You can proactively deal with your life challenges and make your life work in the areas we’ve covered. 2. You can avoid defeatism, adding to your false powerlessness, by not using obstacles and difficulties as justification to become a victim of your life, rather than the one in charge.

Your Safety Layer
Up until now we’ve been approaching this problem from the part of you that wants to lose weight but is addicted to the escape that food provides. It is your tranquilizer, and you don’t know how else to cope with life. Now we want to look at a deeper layer, the part of you that actually wants to be fat.

The Rebellious Self
Your rebellious self has two main modes of operation: It wants you to stay overweight in order to provide you a place to hide (under your fat), using weight as an excuse for not growing up or for avoiding romance and adult responsibility. It wants you to stay overweight to assert independence from expectations or to get back at controlling people.  |  

Somewhere along the line you made a decision to use fat to avoid dealing with psychological and developmental issues. As long as some part of you still believes that being fat will make you secure, you will always return to fat. We don’t expect to see obese people in prominent positions, such as CEOs and film stars. We don’t expect to see them in happy relationships having a fulfilling sex life. And so when we meet someone significantly overweight, right away our expectations go down. So if you want to avoid facing life and making things happen, staying fat can be the perfect excuse. If you’re staying fat so you won’t be disappointed by your wishes and hopes not coming true, or by not having the life you want, or because of the meaninglessness of existence, then you’re depressed, and you’re staying fat because of your depression. Many people hide behind their weight in order to avoid sex. You have two methods to dismantle the false conclusion that you’re incapable of providing your own safety in life: 1. You can use these insights to stop hiding so you can discover for yourself that you’re not powerless. 2. You can stop misinterpreting the dangers in your daily life in order to stop reinforcing your conclusion about powerlessness.

Your Rebellion Layer
That part of you that wanted to get back at your parents and wanted to prove that you could do it your own way hasn’t gone away completely, except the object of your rebellion has long since disappeared. Your parents no longer control what you wear, what you say, or what you eat. Now you’re acting out against your own inner critic. Look back through your childhood to see if you ever used food to assert your autonomy. Did you ever sneak food? Did you refuse to eat or refuse to stop eating? Did you know you were being disobedient in doing so? Here are some of the most common theme songs of the rebellious: 1. Love me first, then I will lose weight. 2. They made me this way, so I can’t change.
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3. I’ll get back at them. 4. I’m not this body. 5. Food is the only pleasurable thing I have, so I’m not giving it up. 6. If I can’t be perfect, I’d rather be fat.  |  

You have two methods to void your powerless conclusion about anger and eating: 1. Rebellion and defiance are not the same as healthy independence and autonomy. 2. Stop adding to your anger by confusing old anger with current situations.

Your Emptiness Layer
You feel emotionally empty, but when you eat you feel temporarily full. However, it’s not the fullness you’re deeply longing for. All the other layers of powerlessness that we have discussed are all triggered by emptiness. Emptiness is a normal human emotion, uncomfortable yet normal. Finding passions, diversions, and things to focus your efforts on can fill normal occasional emptiness that we human beings are bound to feel in a positive way. There are many real ways to fill that emptiness besides eating, and they won’t make you put on pounds and keep the cycle of emptiness going.

The Mystery Emptiness
Underneath all of these other meanings of emptiness is the mystery layer of emptiness. Perhaps you are eating not only to cover up what is going on right now, today, but to cover up what is going on right now, today, but to cover up what has happened in the past. What about that emptiness that’s not about your life today, but your life so long ago that you can’t even remember it? As you mature, you have to accept the fact that expectations often lead to being disappointed and having to wait. This may hurt, but it’s tolerable. As infants and children, we expected our needs to be fulfilled very quickly, or else we began to form catastrophic predictions. The threat that exists inside you when you’re “empty” is based on the catastrophic prediction that nobody is going to be there for you in your time of need. You feel powerless in the same way as when you were a helpless infant, and that feels unbearable. When the experience of emptiness strikes, you’re flooded with feelings that nobody really cares about you or is thinking of you. You can’t count on anyone to soothe or nurture you, and you can’t do it for yourself. You’re all alone, floating in an alien, empty, cold space, without anyone who is reliable. That’s the hollow, empty experience.
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You have two methods to void your powerless conclusion about emptiness: 1. Remember that emptiness can never be filled with food. 2. Stop adding to your feelings of emptiness by confusing your childhood fear of abandonment with the current situation.  | 


Part 2: Practice Sessions
Recovering Your Power
The five types of power that you’ll need to recover are: 1. Power over your self-doubts. 2. Power over how you deal with frustration and rewards in life. 3. Power to create your own sense of safety. 4. Power to deal with anger without rebelling. 5. Power to fill your own feelings of emptiness. Once you can recover your power in those other areas, you will easily and effortlessly recover your power over your urge to eat. Using weight to manage the emotions and circumstances in your life does far more damage than merely giving you a body you’re dissatisfied with; it keeps you from living your life optimally. The events that you’ll have to watch out for are the following: Anytime you measure yourself or feel that you’re being measured. Anytime you don’t know how to handle frustration and you think that food is the only reward you can get. Anytime you don’t feel safe. Anytime you feel angry but don’t know how to deal with the anger. Anytime you feel empty. Now that you have learned all these ideas, it can seem like a challenge to put them into practice and make a change. That is what the practice sessions are for. The following exercises will help you to truly discover the powerful part of yourself so that you can gain control over your weight as well as your life.
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By the time you finish the last exercise, you’ll have a plan in place for making eating choices that will benefit you, no matter what emotions you’re facing or what types of crises you’re enduring or how good or how bad your luck is tomorrow. You may still, on occasion, want to avoid confrontation, or chase away a bad mood with food, but most of the time you’ll realize that this is not going to be a positive choice, and you will have good alternative options.  | 


Getting Started
In this exercise: In order to take back control over your eating, weight and life, you will first have to define yourself and admit that you are an emotional eater. Recognize whether your hunger is coming from your need to avoid difficult emotions, or whether your hunger is genuinely biological. Begin to discover that there is a gap between your powerlessness and your urge to eat, and the point when you actually put the food in your mouth. You can begin to recognize that you have a choice. In that gap, you can regain your power. In order to begin working on yourself, you have to stop denying that you run these patterns. You will only be free of your addiction when you admit your misguided motivations to lose weight and at your failure strategies. You have to decide whether you really are ready to do the work necessary to master your emotional eating patterns, or whether you are just here to “think about” it some more. It is easy to deceive yourself about this issue. Once you are genuinely ready to admit you are an emotional eater and gain back your power, this book can genuinely help you. Some Failure Strategies that May Keep you From Gaining Back Your Power Include: 1. Relying on discipline and deprivation, rather than admitting that you are an emotional eater. 2. Using exercise to hide overeating. 3. Gorging on food and then purging, known as bulimia. 4. Eating very healthy around other people and gorging when you are alone.  | 


Are You an Emotional Eater?
To find out if you’re an emotional eater, answer the following seven questions. The last time you ate too much: 1. Did you notice your hunger coming on fast, or did it grow gradually? When you are physically hungry, you notice it gradually. Emotional hunger develops suddenly. 2. When you got hungry, did you feel an almost desperate need to eat something right away? When you are emotionally hungry, you need food immediately. You can feel physically hungry for quite a while before you really need to eat. 3. When you ate, did you pay attention to what went in your mouth, or did you just stuff it in? When you are physically hungry, you consider what you want to eat and are generally aware when you are eating and when you are full. When you are emotionally hungry, you eat past the point of being full, and are not mindful of the food when you are eating it. 4. When you got hungry would any nutritious food have sufficed, or did you need a certain type of food or treat to satisfy yourself ? When you are physically hungry, you can be tempted by a salad. Emotional hunger generally needs unhealthy foods like cookies and ice cream. 5. Did you feel guilty after you ate? When you eat because you are physically hungry, there is no reason to feel guilty because you ate to satisfy a biological need. Emotional hunger has guilt and promises to do better next time attached to it. 6. Did you eat when you were emotionally upset or experiencing feelings of “emptiness”? Emotional hunger results from challenging emotions, physical hunger results from a biological need. 7. Did you stuff in the food very quickly? When you eat for physical hunger, you eat slowly and savor each bite. Emotional eaters may not even notice they are eating until the food is suddenly gone.

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10 Habits Healthy Eating Habits:
Habit # 1: Listen to Your Body I stop eating when I’m full and only eat when I am hungry. Habit # 2: Manage Your Hunger I feed myself properly through the day so I don’t lose control. Habit # 3: Bounce Back If I’ve made a poor food choice, I don’t use that as an excuse to eat everything in sight. Habit # 4: Keep Your Weight in Mind I keep my weight in mind when I make food choices. Habit # 5: Avoid Junk Food I mostly avoid junk food. Habit # 6: Exercise Enough I exercise enough to stay healthy. Habit # 7: Control Your Portions I know how to properly control the amount of food I eat. Habit # 8: Prevent Binges I know when I’m about to binge and can stop myself. Habit # 9: Savor Your Food I eat good food in a slow way so that I enjoy it. Habit # 10: Choose a Balanced Diet I make sure I eat a healthy, balanced diet that keeps me feeling good both physically and mentally. Watch your eating patterns. When you aren’t following these habits, use it as a red flag, and then analyze what is going on in your inner world.

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Motivation: A Red Flag
The best reason to have to want to lose weight is to be healthy. If you want to lose weight for any other reason, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Weight loss is not necessarily going to bring you all of the positive things that you want in life; it is not a magic bullet. Therefore, if you don’t achieve the desired outcome, you will just put the weight back on. Find out if you are motivated to lose weight because of any of the following reasons. If so, remind yourself that losing weight to be healthy is the only good reason to do it. I want to lose weight so I can _____________________ Have better self-esteem Make my career go more smoothly Relieve some of my moodiness, depression, or anxiety Make some hard decisions about the course of my life Make my life feel as if it’s going somewhere Have more day-to-day fun Better handle the ups and downs of life Feel less burdened by responsibilities Feel more independent Be less critical of myself Stop envying the life that others have Be free of doubts and fears Start being more sexually active Feel more deserving of the good things I have in life Shed some of my shyness or discomfort around people Be happier and more content

For the next week, instead of focusing on your diet, just focus on finding a space before you start to overeat. What are you feeling? Has anything challenged you? Where are you when it happens? What time of day is it, and who are you with at the time? The more information you have about what triggers your overeating, the more you will be able to stop this cycle. It is essential that you identify the feelings that trigger your overeating, as well as the catastrophic predictions that you make. Once you are able to identify these triggers and pause before you overeat, you will be able to analyze and reinterpret them based on reality rather than reflex.

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What Does the Food Trance Give You?
Try to capture your unique experience of being in a food trance: Common Words That Describe the Rewards of Being in the Food Trance are: rewarded in control confident safe secure numb satisfied content relaxed calm powerful independent pleasured capable complete comfortable nurtured happy free completely focused on the tastes

What are you Trying to Escape By Being in a Food Trance? 1. Events and Stressors: Real-Life Issues 2. Real-Life Relationship Tension 3. Intensity of Feelings 4. Self-Doubts Once you realize what you are trying to escape, you can then find new strategies to cope with these challenges. You can find more meaningful and fulfilling ways to deal with your life than eating. You Are Powerless Because of Your Own Inner Critic Listen to and analyze what your inner critic is saying rather than running away and increasing its power. You can talk back to your inner critic when it tells you: 1. You’re not perfect, you’re deeply flawed. 2. You’re trying to cover up and deny your real faults. 3. You’re a phony. 4. You’re a pretend adult and don’t deserve the full rights of adulthood.
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5. You know the good stuff about you isn’t real. 6. Everybody knows what you’re hiding. Stop reinforcing the powerlessness conclusion that something is wrong with you by giving it power.  | 


Here is a list of common labels that you might allow your inner critic to place on you. Analyze and identify what your inner critic labels you as. Then ask yourself, is this really true? Do I need to endure this any longer? Start defending yourself. defenseless unlovable hopeless untrustworthy inferior mean cruel unworthy disobedient defective damaged incomplete stupid self-centered unfeminine unmasculine not self-sufficient childish coldhearted cowardly talentless incapable unreliable too dependent helpless too meek bad totally alone boring weak pathetic

Create Real Safety in your Life by: Facing the anxiety and fear rather than hiding in your fat. Seeing how eating never makes you feel safe, it just keeps you from dealing with life. Recognizing that there are better ways to deal with challenges and fears other than using fat as an excuse. Being a grown up so that you can actually get real safety and real independence. Knowing that you have two methods besides arriving at the false conclusion that you’re incapable of providing your own safety in life. Using insights to stop hiding so you can discover for yourself that you’re not powerless. Not misinterpreting the small dangers in your daily life that have added to your conclusion about powerlessness.

Reclaiming Your Body
When you overeat, you escape from your body and from reality. Try these three techniques for increasing body awareness when something upsets you: 1. Spend fivc minutes at a time looking in a full-length mirror, talking to yourself.
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2. Slow down your breathing. Remember to breathe from your diaphragm. Make sure that you take complete breaths. Focus all your attention on your breath. 3. Get into a bathtub and massage yourself. Better yet, get someone else to massage you. Pay attention to each part of your body as it gets touched.

17  |

Shrink Yourself does not offer you an easy way out. You may still long for a magic solution that will help you instantly lose weight and have the body you want. The only way to stop your destructive relationship with food and take control of your weight forever is to take your power back, one choice at a time. When you begin, you may find that you are able handle the some of the layers, but still find another layer difficult. This is fine and it doesn’t mean that you aren’t developing. It simply shows you in which layers you are most dependent on food. The more dependent you are, the more time, patience, and perseverance required. Whatever areas are still challenging for you are only indications of where you need to do deeper work. These are areas where you need to ask more questions, make more choices, reinterpret and challenge your inner critic with more persistence and determination. Mastering your life can take a lifetime, and taking control of your eating patterns is one way to sort your life out. The goal of Shrink Yourself is to show you how to find the space between when something happens and when you have the uncontrollable urge to eat. In that space you will discover who you really are and what your real needs are, rather than stuffing everything down with food. If you don’t discover that person, you will never be in control over your weight or over your life. At you’ll find the Hunger Coach, a program that will help you capture that pause before you overeat. And just remember: It’s your life and only you can make it work. It’s better to have the power of self-determination than to give away your power to your own primitive conscience. A mature conscience makes life a hell of a lot easier. As the adult author of your life, you can write the book any way you want.