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If you’re a fan of 12-step programs, STOP EATING YOUR HEART OUT: THE 21-DAY PROGRAM TO FREE YOURSELF FROM EMOTIONAL EATING by Meryl Hershey Beck, MA, MEd, LPCC will be right up your alley. Let me say at the outset that I don’t personally or professionally subscribe to or endorse 12-step or higher power programs for any kind of recovery, and that energy methods lack sufficient scientific evidence beyond the placebo effect for me to believe in their efficacy. That said, many of you who do believe in these approaches might find this book helpful.
This is a user-friendly book. By sharing deeply of her personal struggles with food, depression, and being a “nice girl,” which so many disregulated eaters are, Beck lets you know that she understands what you’re going through and can help. She then moves on to various strategies disregulated eaters can use to end emotional eating and achieve a happier, healthier life. She teaches about the value of writing an eating history: to take the mental burden for your problems off your shoulders and recognize how you’ve been shaped to become an emotional eater. Then she stretches you further by encouraging you to keep a food-mood diary and journal as a way of getting connected to your feelings. For each of 21 days, she sets out a new task to focus on.
This book touches on much of what you need to master in order to end eating and emotional problems—self-honesty, getting support rather than struggling alone, taking excellent care of yourself, seeking out a therapist to accompany you in your exploration of how you got to where you are and to guide you into healing and recovery. One of my favorite “day assignments” in the book is Embracing Your Inner critic which includes exercises to help banish your critic forever. Another favorite focuses on Forgiveness, which is very emotionally freeing—especially when you’re forgiving yourself. Beck also explains two important techniques which foster recovery: visualization and meditation, both of which have been proven in research studies to change thinking and, therefore, behavior.
For Day 21, Beck describes a simple but useful concept called H.A.L.T. for working toward “normal” eating: “Don’t let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired—if you do, you’re more tempted to eat compulsively.” Good advice! She then goes on to provide strategies to deal with these four situations, offering lots of avenues for acquiring self-knowledge and getting your needs met without food. To find out more about Hershey and her work, visit http://www.energizedforlife.com.
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