Counselling and Psychotherapy for
Body, Mind and Spirit

Ina Stockhausen, MTC

Ina Stockhausen R.P.C. offers spiritual counselling and body psychotherapy or somatic counseling in Burnaby and North Vancouver.

Geneen Roth

Beware of advice that is designed to distract you when you want to overeat. Some time ago a client came to me seeking help to get her spending under control. She was afraid that she was well on her way to becoming a shopaholic.

Originally she’d been seeking help for overeating and binge eating. Internet research had led her to a blog post where the author was suggesting that the next time one felt lonely, depressed, angry or sad, one shouldn’t take a trip to the refrigerator but a trip to the mall.

Skeptical at first but wanting to find a way to control her binge eating, my client gave the advice a try.

One day, just when she was about to devour the rest of a birthday cake in her fridge, she decided to get in the car instead and head over to Winners.

What a combination… the thrill of shopping while saving money!

It seemed to work…because when she left the mall she was in a great mood and the frustrations of the previous hours were momentarily forgotten.

The advice my client had found on the internet, suggested retail therapy to shift her mood combined with a “catch and release” technique.

Essentially, had my client followed the instructions “properly” she should have returned to the mall the next day with all her purchases and receipts in hand to get her money back.

Alas, here the plan failed. It seemed a shame to take some of the things back… besides, she was busy the next day. Thus time passed, until the next shopping spree. Shopping continued to leave her feeling thrilled and in a good mood until guilt started to set in.

While her fridge stayed full and her pants were becoming loose, her closet was swelling at an alarming rate…becoming a secret treasure cove filled with items never worn.

Her credit card bills were climbing sky high. Money that had been set aside for other important purposes had been spent.

The good feelings about herself were more and more ephemeral, being drowned out by the tireless voice in her head berating all her faults.

She realized, that she was feeling as poorly as she would feel after overeating. Shopping was definitely not filling her longing to feel good about herself nor her desire for connection. She had only succeeded in trading one unhealthy coping mechanism for another one, just as damaging.

Shopping addicts tend to shop when they feel depressed, lonely or angry. (If you’re wondering whether you’re suffering from Shopping Addiction, read more information here and feel free to contact me for a complimentary consultation).

If you’re trying to overcome binge eating, please realize that distracting yourself with some other compulsive activity is not the solution. Switching from bingeing to shopping did not help my client deal with her feelings of emotional pain.

Given her timely cognizance around this fact however did jump start something positive.

She reached a different level of awareness around her bingeing.

She was clearly able to identify when she was about to eat for other reasons than hunger.

This process of stopping – even if just for a moment – while resting in a place of mindfulness is the first step towards healing binge eating and overeating.

There is an exciting wave of mindfulness sweeping across North America. Ever since Geneen Roth has appeared on the Oprah Show and Oprah has endorsed the content of her new book “Women, Food and God” women and men have found motivation and courage to examine their relationship with food.

I am thrilled at how well Geneen’s Book “Women, Food and God” compliments my coaching course “Stop the Weight loss Boomerang – How to Stop Yo-yo Dieting and Emotional Eating”. Geneen uses a body-centered approach which is very similar to how I work and I am recommending her book to anyone with a desire to examine their emotional relationship with food.

So if you’re about to binge….rather than heading to the shopping mall… head to the bookstore 🙂

Gimme, gimme, gimme my toy … teaching your child stress tolerance can be more labor intensive than saying yes and an important part of her/his development.

I recently sat in a coffee shop beside a mother with two young toddlers.
Mom was chatting with a friend and the toddlers were happy to be kept occupied with a cartoon they were watching on Mom’s iPhone.

Only moments before, Mom’s friend had wanted to see the iPhone. When Mom had handed her the phone, one child immediately grew restless. She said to her friend: “You better give it back, because Jimmy (fictitious name) gets impatient quickly.” And in fact, he almost immediately started wailing “Gimme, gimme, gimme…”

I’m relating this incident not to criticize the mother or her children. But it made me wonder if today’s children will have lower stress tolerance when they are adults than previous generations.

How will they learn to be present in the moment with themselves and their thoughts if they are constantly entertained, soothed and distracted?
How will they learn, if so many of us as adults are not able to model stress tolerance?

We live in a world of instant gratification. Fast food, fast service… for many wanting something means wanting it now. We live stressed lives, constantly on the clock.

I regularly hear my clients share how overwhelmed they feel. A full time job, children, a mortgage, regular sex with a partner, exercise, home cooked meals, soccer practices, ballet classes, continuing education…the list is endless.

In order to cope, many shut down or cut themselves off from their body. Depending on the situation, they give up, get angry or irritable or try to escape.

Escape can sometimes be as close as the next drive thru at Tim Hortons or a trip to the fridge. Emotional eating is often an attempt to escape from uncomfortable feelings and what Geneen Roth is calling “The Voice” in her latest book “Women, Food and God.”

“The Voice” running in your head telling you that you’re supposed to be a perfect parent, partner and employee. And it doesn’t stop here, often it also tells you that you should be slim, trim and fit (let’s not forget sexy).

Because if you’re not thin… then you’re already failing. You are already not good enough.

And so the vicious cycle starts. Unbearable feelings and demands that are overwhelming. Standards, which are impossible to reach.
We need a quick fix, because there is so much to do. Here’s a drink. Have a smoke. Go shopping. Eat this fabulous food… and you will be as happy as the people you see in the commercials. The beautiful people who are having fun and coping with life with a smile on their face.

Learning to develop healthy coping mechanisms to the stressors of life is a first step to heal emotional eating or other forms of addiction. People who have an emotional relationship with food and a low mood tolerance often resort to binge eating, vomiting, or excessive exercising to get relief from intense feelings.

It takes energy and patience to sit through children’s “growing stages” and temper tantrums while they learn to wait and self-soothe.

Don’t forget to breathe and tune in with what is happening for you in those moments. Acknowledge your feelings to yourself and acknowledge your child’s feelings. Yes, it is hard to wait and feel uncomfortable. But the more we learn to breathe and self-soothe, the less uncomfortable we are.

I invite you to check out Sarah Zeldman’s , free ‘Stress-Relief-Kit-for-Moms’.

If you are a stressed parent, giving yourself permission to relax, unwind and recharge in a healthy way, allows you to take better care of yourself and consequently your family.

Furthermore, you will be modeling and teaching your children how to develop a higher tolerance to stress without resorting to unhealthy or addictive behavior.