A conversation with therapist Maria Sanchez about the healing of emotional eating, for example in the diagnosis of bulimia and anorexia.
People come to her who never want to do something in their life again: a diet! Because they are literally tired of constantly thinking about food. to count calories. Getting on the scale and writing down kilos with a plus or minus in front of them. They want to be free. Finally feeling good. With herself and in her body. The psychotherapist Maria Sanchez knows the fight against the pounds from her own experience. On her way to healing, she developed a psychologically sound concept. It’s called “Longing and Hunger. Healing from Emotional Eating”.
Ms. Sanchez, what exactly is emotional eating?
Maria Sanchez: Simply put – when someone eats more than their body needs. Can you describe that in more detail? You probably know that: although we are physically full, we eat. The chocolate in the evening in front of the TV. The piece of cake at work. Eating pizza with friends at an Italian restaurant. We don’t feel physically hungry, but we grab it anyway. Because it’s so cozy right now. Because we “deserve” it after a stressful day. Because we’re in good company. Clear. I know. This is my nerve food for relaxation. Exactly. All of us eat emotionally from time to time. The difference to an emotional eating disorder is that, firstly, it rarely occurs in naturally lean people and, secondly, they do not have to worry about how to get rid of the calories they have eaten. Emotional eaters, on the other hand, constantly control themselves while eating. You are always tense. And it doesn’t matter if you’re normal or overweight.
Does that mean there are also slim people who have a problem with eating?
There are. This has nothing to do with the official medical-therapeutic diagnoses such as bulimia, anorexia, obesity, or binge eating…
… a disorder with uncontrolled food cravings …
… nevertheless, these people have an eating problem from which they suffer extremely.
What does that look like in concrete terms?
Take obese people, for example, who don’t eat unusually large amounts in a short period of time. Their eating disorder manifests itself in consistently consuming more throughout the day than their body needs. I call them the “level eaters”. Then there are people who are not overweight but can only maintain their figure through behavioral control such as diet, exercise, or permanent self-discipline. Since they would gain weight without all of that, I call them the “thin fat ones”. They all have one thing in common: They eat in order to dampen down or “go away” a deeper feeling. This is “emotional eating”.
Are you longing and hungry?
Yes, her soul is hungry. She longs to be heard and answered.
So it’s about unrecognized feelings?
The main thing is to include our body as the seat of emotions. Feelings want to be felt – not thought of. what am I feeling What does my body want? What is he hungry for? Only when we succeed in bringing this physical level in can the urge to eat be resolved.
If I recognize: I want to eat something sweet or savory right now because I’m stressed, tired, angry, or lonely, does that help my problem?
Unfortunately, no. Because only on the cognitive level, i.e. with the mind, can we achieve anything that is permanent. This is why diets and changes in diet usually lead to a yo-yo effect. I’ve had enough of that myself for more than 20 years. My seminars are neither about kilos nor about calories. My participants have express permission to eat whatever they feel like. The goal is not: How do I lose so and so much weight? But: How do I reach my feel-good weight? One participant once put it this way: “I finally want to fit into my body again. And not just into my clothes.”
And how exactly can that succeed?
By gently and step by step finding out what food means in your life. For this, I have developed various inner body exercises and methods. They sensitize those affected to inner processes and help to discover and dissolve hidden blockages and feelings. I want to start a process that women and men can continue in everyday life. Helping people help themselves.
Then what happens to the people who come to you?
You become free. They become lighter. And physically and mentally.