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It’s Back To School Time So We Are Going To Do Some Learning Ourselves… What’s Your “EEQ”?

Class is in session! Since you have to get smart to get skinny, the next few Weiss Wednesdays are going to be about us learning about EEQ, our “emotional eating quotient”. In the field of weight loss, it’s the WHY behind what makes us overeat. But you know me, I don’t just preach. I put verbs in my sentences, as Dr. Phil would say. So stay with me to find out some secrets to help you manage your EEQ, get control of your relationship with emotional eating…. and finally fit into your pants.

Did you buy six boxes of Girl Scout cookies this year because you couldn’t say no to the world’s cutest 7-year old in a Brownie uniform? Did you take that extra helping

of your sister-in-law’s whole wheat carob cake because you didn’t want to hurt her feelings or cause family fallout? When your BFF is waffling over ordering chips and guac “for the table”, do you agree to share it with her even though you don’t want it- and then match her bite for bite?

If you could answer yes to any of these questions, you may suffer from sociotropy- the scientific term for having the need to please others. While that might make you the right candidate to broker peace between Bethanny and Carole on the Housewives of New York City, excessive niceness is a recipe for excessive girth. And it’s one of the character traits that can lead to unhappy mornings on the scale.

We all know the major triggers of emotional eating: fear, loneliness, rejection, guilt, criticism, feeling less than. Most of us, at one time or another, have taken out our fear on a bag of crunchy corn chips or tried to beat the blues with 43 Oreos. But research shows that certain personality types are also prone to making a frosted donut a chosen alternative to therapy.

Besides the sociotrope (people pleaser), there’s the thrill seeker (boredom eater) and the worka-choco- holic (overwhelmed overeater). Each type needs different strategies for coping without the extra calories. (And most of us are all of these some of the time)!

Today in class we will learn about The People Pleaser.

The “people pleaser” eats for one, but that one is not necessarily you. In an experiment at Case Western Reserve University, researchers screened volunteers for their “gotta be nice” qualities, and then invited them to a meeting with a staff member who casually passed around a bowl of M & M’s. When the bowl came their way, students who scored higher on the need to please others scale dug in, taking more than the students who were less concerned with others’ comfort or with matching how many the staff member ate. “They didn’t want him to feel bad by eating fewer and cared about the staff member liking them, “ explains study head Julie Exline, PH.D.

We often eat more when we’re around those who are eating a lot- that’s one reason studies show that people whose friends are overeating are more likely to overeat themselves. If you have a people-pleasing thing going on, you subconsciously (and sometimes consciously, too) feel pressured to follow suit.

After overeating comes self-loathing, regret, remorse and depression, and not just because you can’t zip your jeans. “When your motivation is to please others and fit in, you’re letting them tell you what’s important to you”, says Exline.. I describe it as “dummying down”, aka: silencing your own voice. Therefore, the goal is to not dummy down, and to find that voice.

  1. First, Know What YOU Want: We have to act like grown ups in the world of food, so lay on some praise, and then state your boundary. You might say, “that dessert looks delicious, but I’m so stuffed from dinner that I’m going to take a pass”.
  2. A White Lie Can Come In Handy: You can smile at your BFF and say, “I had a stomach ache earlier today so I am going to be careful about what I eat tonight”, or “My cholesterol was a little high so I am trying to stay away from fried food for now”. In other words, fake it till you make it!
  3. De-NICE Yourself… A Little: It’s hard to not always be nice if you grew up believing that being agreeable is part of your DNA. But changing isn’t as hard as you think. It’s really about learning some new life skills. Practice saying a polite no to salesperson on the phone, then work your way up to strangers offering samples in a store or co-workers tempting you with leftovers in the conference room.

Soon, you’ll be ready to take on your frenemy when she pushes a second cookie at you!

(Next week’s class: You’re Bored and Want Candy!).

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