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Learning to Recognize the Real Feelings Behind an Improper Craving for food?

Abstract: People with eating disorders tend to confuse different kinds of feelings of unease with hunger. This text explains how to find the real cause of what is incorrectly experienced as hunger.

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Learning to Recognize the Real Feelings Behind an Improper Craving for food?

Intelligent natural language question-answering in the area of psychology and psychiatry. Ask a simple question  Local help Info

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Written by: Gunborg Palme, certified psychologist and certified psychotherapist, teacher and tutor in psychotherapy.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 28 Dec 2008.

How do you learn to recognize your real feelings behind an improper craving for food?


It is probable that those with eating disorders have never had good contact with their emotions. You learn to identify feelings when very young in the interplay with others. However, if you get no help from those in your surroundings, you may grow up confused regarding your own inner world.

The psychotherapist teaches patients to begin listening introspectively and search for what they feel and want. They become increasingly sincere and true to themselves, but can also be more troublesome for those in their surroundings as they no longer try to be accommodating.

If you do not have a therapist you can try to identify your feelings as follows:

  1. Take the opportunity when you feel inclined to overeat or starve in a way which is inadequate for your real needs.
  2. Don't overeat or starve. Eat just enough.
  3. Lie down in a quiet room and close your eyes.
  4. You will probably get a most unpleasant feeling.
  5. This feeling of unpleasantness may become almost unbearable but stay with it nevertheless. You will gradually become aware of your real feelings.
  6. Worry, loathing, shame, anger, fear and grief are examples of suppressed feelings which may contribute to overeating or starving.
  7. The unpleasantness feels dangerous but it is not. Have courage! It is the held-back feelings which can be dangerous, not the conscious and experienced ones.
  8. Let the feeling of unpleasantness spread and make intensive contact with it. Allow yourself to express these feelings by making sounds and movements.
  9. Within a quarter of an hour the feeling of unpleasantness will have probably disappeared and taken with it your strong need to overeat or starve.
  10. Allow yourself to feel some satisfaction of knowing that you have managed to handle this situation successfully.
Intelligent natural language question-answering in the area of psychology and psychiatry. Ask a simple question:
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