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Suicide by Food: Junk Food and Suicide


Dr. Sheila Forman


health, fitness, and beauty

Dr. Sheila Forman, a former practicing attorney, has PhD in psychology, and is a one of the first qualified Mindfulness Based Eating Awareness Training (MB EAT) Instructors in the world. Often characterized as having the mind of a lawyer and the heart of a therapist, Dr. Sheila has devoted over twenty years to helping people address weight and food issues by focusing on the emotional aspects of overeating.

As the pandemic takes a fourth swipe at America, more and more American are soothing themselves with unhealthy processed foods, you know, junk food. 58% of us are snacking at least once a day, and 25% of us seeking snacks multiple times a day. While an occasional snack of low-quality, highly processed food isn’t too bad for us, daily consumption can have dire consequences. Some mental health professionals call such eating habits a form of slow-suicide. The negative of these foods impacts our health and leads to chronic, life-shortening disease such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, as well as, detrimental mental health issues including depression and anxiety. Rather than slowly killing ourselves with unhealthy foods, we can relieve stress and improve our plight with other more effective coping strategies.


Dr. Sheila Forman is a Psychologist, Mindful Eating Instructor, and founder of TAME Your Appetite: The Art of Mindful Eating. She is an expert in helping people cope with their emotions without eating and using a non-diet approach to lose weight and make peace with food. She is also the author of several self-help books, including Do You Use Food to Cope? A Comprehensive 15-Week Program for Overcoming Emotional Overeating, and The Best Diet Begins in Your Mind - Eliminating the Eight Obstacles to Permanent Weight Loss.

 Here are 4 Coping Strategies to Help Manage Your Stress and Anxiety Without Committing Suicide by Food:

1. Build Resiliency:  Resilience is the ability to adapt well when faced with adversity and can be learned.
To develop resiliency:
Accept change and discomfort as parts of life
Don’t isolate - Make connections
Keep things in perspective
Look for opportunities to make things better
Count your blessings; find the silver lining in whatever is plaguing you
Remain optimistic – there is alight at the end of the tunnel

2. Cope with Your Emotions in Better Ways:
Learn the difference between physical hungry and emotional hunger
Choose to eat only from physical hunger
Identify five things you can do to respond to emotional hunger instead of eating. For example, take a walk, call a friend, write in a journal, cry, or scream!
Reward yourself with “credit points” each time you resist eating from emotional hunger; “Cash” in your credit points for items or experiences you desire – just not food!
If you eat for emotional reasons take some time to reflect on what you were really hungry for; commit to meeting that emotional need in a different way next time.

3. Manage Stress:
o   When we are under stress our body makes the hormone cortisol which works with the brain to help us in difficult situations.

o   When we are in a state of heightened stress, cortisol shuts down certain functions in our bodies so that we are better able to fight or flee as needed.

o   This is all good, but when the stressor is chronic, meaning all the time, our cortisol levels remain high and that’s when the sabotage happens.

o   One side effect of excess cortisol is weight gain.

o   This happens because if you are snacking while stressed the cortisol pumping through your body is causing your snack food to turn to fat.

o   Unwanted weight gain can lead to poorer health, lower self- esteem, depression  and anxiety.

o   So, instead of snacking while stressed, how about walking, meditating or napping instead. All these activities will help reduce your stress and none will put on extra pounds.

4. Practice Mindful Eating Whenever You Eat (Especially When Junk Food is on the Menu!)

o   Mindful eating means eating with awareness and intention so you can really taste the food you are eating, enjoy it more and be satisfied with less. To eat mindfully, try this:

§  Take a moment and get centered. Breathe. Focus your attention on the food you are about to eat.

§  Check in with how hunger or full you are.

§  Observe the food in front of you. Notice its appearance, scent and texture.

§  Think about how the food got to you. The farmers, manufacturers, transportation vehicles, stock clerks, cashiers, etc. Silently thank them for their participation.

§  Eat your food slowly, paying attention to how it tastes and feels in your mouth. Notice when/if the taste changes.

§  Check in periodically with your hunger and fullness signals.

§  Stop when you notice that you have had enough and feel satisfied.

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