Is food controlling you? Eight questions to ask yourself

Many of us have a complex relationship with eating. Can you control the impulses to eat?

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Many of us have a complex relationship with eating. We often feel like we can’t control the impulses and emotions we feel around food and this is what causes weight gain and also what derails us when we try to reverse the process. Often these are patterns that have been established in childhood.

Food, especially sweet treats, are frequently given as rewards by parents. This causes a deep-seated connection between that wonderful sensation of receiving parental approbation and sugar. Going through life replicating this pleasurable feeling is what often drives people to turn to chocolate, cakes and other sugar laden foodstuffs, because they are sub-consciously seeking that feeling over and over again.

Conversely, other overeaters might turn to food looking for comfort, mistakenly believing that anger, depression and emotional turmoil can be remedied by gorging oneself. Momentarily maybe, but the reality is food will never fill an emotional void in the long-term and only dealing with the source of the emotional negativity will have any impact on how we use food to block out and numb those difficult feelings.

Added to this, busy lives, stress and the fact that many of us choose to eat convenience foods rather than cooking from scratch, all conspire to enlarge our waistlines and decrease our mindfulness of the damage we are potentially inflicting on ourselves.


However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t take back control over what you choose to put into your body. Too often we become passengers in life, because we fall into bad habits that become so normal and engrained that we believe they can never be broken. But this simply isn’t true. Learning to sit in the driving seat again might not be easy, but with the right support and the ability to become objective about your thoughts around food, you can change the habits of a lifetime, turn things around, transforming your health and your future.

Key questions

So, take a few minutes to ask yourself these questions. They will give you a swift insight into how you feel about food if you answer them honestly…

1. Has your tolerance to portion size increased over time?

2. When you deny yourself do you experience symptoms of withdrawal? (These include obsessive thoughts about food, anxiety, shaking, and anger.)

3. Do you sometimes have difficulty stopping eating even though you are full?

4. Do you sometimes eat to create a feeling of numbness against painful emotions? Have you ever binged on large amounts of food in response to these emotions?

5. Do you persist in certain eating habits even though they have an obvious negative impact on your self-esteem, your health, your career or your family life?

6. Have you ever tried to minimize the impact of your eating patterns concealing, avoiding eating in public, mentally justifying your eating to yourself and lying to others about your eating habits?

7. Do you eat more convenience or fast food than food cooked from scratch with fresh ingredients?

8. Have you repeatedly tried and failed to lose weight on a variety of diets over a long period of time?

If you answered YES to three of these questions then you most likely need support and help to get back into a positive relationship with yourself and the food you eat.

Recognizing that you have an issue with food is the first step to doing something about it.

Seeing a professional that can support you on your weight loss journey is a great second step, because when embarking on a life-changing journey, it’s always easier to walk the path with someone who understands what you’re going through and can keep you focused on your destination.


Russell Hemmings is a Dubai-based clinical and cognitive behavioral hypnotherapist. He can be contacted online at www.russellhemmings.com or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/bridgehypnotherapyclinic.

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