Beyond the Diet Mentality: Helping Clients Through Attuned Eating

This month’s article is written by Judith Matz, LCSW, co-author of The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating, Acceptance and Self-Care and Beyond a Shadow of a Diet: The Therapist’s Guide to Treating Compulsive Eating.  I came across this article in the latest issue of Psychotherapy Networker, a magazine geared toward what’s new in the world of psychotherapy.  Aside from my obvious professional interest in the article, I was impressed with how clearly Judith outlines what it is exactly we do as therapists working with people who struggle with yo-yo dieting and emotional eating.  Although this article is written by a professional for professionals, I think it comes across as quite accessible and will demystify the whole process of how therapy and coaching can help you overcome your struggle with food.  Judith’s website can be found at 

Q: Many of my clients struggle with food and weight problems. I’ve helped them look at the emotional issues behind their overeating, but it doesn’t always help. What else can you recommend?

A: When I began treating clients with eating problems, I believed that once they understood the emotional triggers behind their overeating, their compulsion to reach for food would decrease–which in turn would lead to weight loss. Instead, I discovered that, although they could resolve issues around depression, anxiety, relationships, work, and self-esteem, conflicts with food and weight usually remained. In the early 1990s, after witnessing the failure of most diet programs, I learned a nondiet approach to treating compulsive eating, one that has enabled me to intervene directly in the diet-and-binge cycle and help my clients make peace with food, their bodies, and themselves.

In our culture, dieting is seen as the primary way to control […]

Managing Perfectionism

This is the first of two articles that address perfectionism. In this one, we will explore what perfectionism is and why it is destructive. In the second one, we will take a look at some strategies for both controlling the need to be perfect and living a more relaxed, satisfying life.

What Is Perfectionism?

Perfectionists aspire to be top achievers and do not allow themselves to make even a single mistake. They are always on the alert for imperfections and weaknesses in themselves and others. They tend to be rigid thinkers who are on the lookout for deviations from the rules or the norm.

Perfectionism is not the same as striving for excellence. People who pursue excellence in a healthy way take genuine pleasure in working to meet high standards. Perfectionists are motivated by self-doubt and fears of disapproval, ridicule, and rejection. The high producer has drive, while the perfectionist is driven.

Causes and Characteristics

* Fear of failure and rejection. The perfectionist believes that she will be rejected or fail if she is not always perfect, so she becomes paralyzed and unable to produce or perform at all.

* Fear of success. The perfectionist believes that if he is successful in what he undertakes, he will have to keep it up. This becomes a heavy burden–who wants to operate at such a high level all of the time?

* Low self-esteem. A perfectionists need for love and approval tend to blind her to the needs and wishes of others. This makes it difficult or impossible to have healthy relationships with others.

* Black-and-white thinking. Perfectionists see most experiences as either good or bad, perfect or imperfect. There is nothing in between. The perfectionist believes that the flawless product or superb performance […]

By |July 2nd, 2009|Beliefs, Depression, Tips|0 Comments

What to do About the Holiday Blues

Not everyone shares in the celebration and joy associated with the holidays. Many people feel stressed and unhappy in response to the demands of shopping for gifts, spending large amounts of money, attending parties and family gatherings, and entertaining house guests. It is not uncommon to react to these stresses with excessive drinking and eating, difficulty sleeping, and physical complaints. The holiday blues are a common result. If you experience reactions like these during the holidays, you are not alone. Let’s take a look at what causes the holiday blues and what you can do about them.

What Causes the Holiday Blues?

* Fear of disappointing others. Some people fear disappointing their loved ones during the holidays. Even though they can’t afford to spend a lot of money on gifts, some people feel so obligated to come through with a fancy gift that they spend more than they can afford.

* Expecting gifts to improve relationships. Giving someone a nice present won’t necessarily strengthen a friendship or romantic relationship. When your gifts don’t produce the reactions you had hoped for, you may feel let down.

* Anniversary reactions. If someone important to you passed away or left you during a past holiday season, you may become depressed as the anniversary approaches.

* Bad memories. For some families, the holidays are times of chaos and confusion. This is especially true in families where people have substance abuse problems or dysfunctional ways of relating to each other. If this was true in your family in past years, you may always carry memories of the disappointment and upheaval that came with the holidays. Even though things may be better now, it is difficult to forget the times when your holidays were ruined […]

By |December 4th, 2008|Depression, Tips|0 Comments

Should you take an antidepressant?

Many of my clients ask me if they should take antidepressants. Although I’m not a doctor and cannot prescribe or recommend the use of medication, in general I’m against the use of antidepressants for mild or situational depression.  If a person is so depressed they can’t get out of bed or maintain a minimal level of functioning, then I’m all for medication to help them get through a rough patch.  In these cases, medication is a must.  But the idea is to make this a temporary solution, not a permanent one.  The downside of taking an antidepressant alone to treat depression is that you never learn to deal with the problems that are leading to the depression in the first place.  By taking a medication, you’re treating the symptoms, not the real problem, which is equivalent to putting a bandaid on a deep wound.  It might stop the bleeding, but the second you take it off the bleeding starts again. 

I came across a great article that discusses the use of antidepressants from a holistic point of view. Go here to learn more.  Note that this article is mainly geared towards women, but much of the content applies to men as well. 

By |March 17th, 2008|Depression, Medication|0 Comments

Can being depressed shorten your lifespan?

I recently came across a disturbing statistic. The World Health Organization (WHO) has studied a number of factors that reduce both a person’s lifespan as well as their quality of life. The latter statistic is termed Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs), which is basically the number of years of quality life that get taken off because of one factor or another. They calculate these DALYs for each of the different parts of the world, and as you would expect, various diseases like tuberculosis and HIV are near the top of the list for developing nations. You would think that the so-called lifestyle diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, would top the list in developing nations. However, you’d be wrong.

Depression is the #1 disease accounting for the greatest number of quality years of life lost in North America. In fact, on average, it accounts for 8.0 DALYs, or years of quality life lost due to the disability caused by the disease. This number is greater for North America than for any other part of the world. And no other country lists it as their top factor. I was astounded not just by the fact that depression topped the list in North America, but by the number of quality years it takes off the average depressed person’s life. Often people think of lifespan as being the number of years they live, but few people consider how many of those years are spent feeling healthy, happy and well. What good is it to live for 100 years if only 60 of those are healthy?

It’s time to start thinking more about quality of life and not longevity. If you or someone you know suffers from depression, this statistic […]

By |January 25th, 2008|Depression, Emotional Eating|0 Comments