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Weight Loss and Control:
Roger Gould, MD's Weekly Blog
on Emotional Eating

Knowledge is power.
Understanding why you turn to food is the key to changing it. Join in the discussion each week as Dr. Gould shares his valuable insights from over 30-years of clinical experience.

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As I work with people struggling with their weight, I continue to see patterns emerge that illustrate some very important points about the deeper parts of the emotional eating problem. Recently I saw two women who have been struggling with weight issues for decades, both of whom have a very difficult relationship with their sisters. And it is the "sister thing" that was "eating them both up" when we talked, and is quite central to their binge behavior and chronic weight problem.

Both women are married and both have very strong successful careers. Neither woman can stop binging when they are unhappy or distressed with their sisters. Both women tended to dwell in the past despite the fact that their present life is going quite well, albeit the normal stress bumps of every day life. In both cases, the emotional passion was much more intense when talking about their childhood grievances than about any real time problem in living.

The striking commonality on the surface is the conflict they have with their sisters, though each conflict is quite different. One feels overloaded by the responsibility of taking care of her older sister while the other feels exploited by her younger sister. Both relationships are enduring with absolutely no real danger of ending, and therein lies the deeper problem. They are both stuck and neither can figure out an easy solution to the thirty year problem of how to fashion a healthy, mutual, workable relationship with their respective sister.

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Recent Posts
All or None Thinking


As an emotional eater, when your life feels overwhelming and oppressive, you not only feel you want to eat, you actually need to binge. You have a desire to get away from it all, to get inside your own private familiar bubble, we call the food trance. When you just can't take it anymore, you say to yourself... "I need this for me. I'm doing enough and I need my reward." But you won't get the reward you are looking for if you apply "all or none" thinking to the situation that is oppressing you.

There are many reasons for periodically being overwhelmed or feeling oppressed by life, but the most persistent one is related to family roles adopted early in life that have not been modified over time. The most common role is taking responsibility for other members of the family, and encumbering yourself with the IMPOSSIBLE task of making everything all right, and fixing everyone. It is usually the most "sensitive" one in the family who gets caught in this role.

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In order to cure yourself of the obsession with food, you first have to walk away from the endless willpower battle between your conscious will to diet vs your unconscious will to binge or overeat. To do this, you have to reconnect to and trust your innate healthy "true" will. That's how you will overcome the intense cravings for food and take control of your eating habits, as well as manage and enjoy your life as a proud adult.

One person asked, is the "true will" the same as the higher power in the 12 step program? That higher power has been described in so many different ways that I hesitate to answer. However, if trusting in the higher power is the way to reconnect and trust yourself, then the answer is yes.

You may be asking yourself, what is MY "true" will, and how do I find it?

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Three Forms of Will Power


How many times have you had this thought?
"I have no willpower when it comes to food!"

Well it's not true. You have plenty of will power. You have a determination to lose weight by dieting, and you have probably spent thousands of hours exercising that "will." But there is something else you are determined to do, and that is to avoid certain feelings and thoughts about yourself that bother you.

That other "will" mandates that you eat to stuff down those feelings. In that sense, you have too much will power and you are out of balance when it comes to food. This battle of the two wills is endless unless you recognize that you actually have a third "will" power source.

There is a power within you which I call the "true will", and that is the will to continue to mature, deal better with reality, and be proud of yourself as an adult who can make your life work. You know about this "true will" which is pushing you to stop hiding in the shadows or behind your fat. This true character of who you really are deep down inside is the part of you that you need to reinvest in or reinvent. You have known about it all along but have been afraid to admit it out loud, because you don't know how to let it out safely. However, as you have seen from all the other comments to this blog, people have learned how to reconnect with themselves safely and have prospered.

I have been saying this in other ways in the last few blogs and today it may be even clearer to you. Once you take the leap of faith and start working on yourself instead of your diet, you will find a new source of energy and motivation, and your "true will" will have the power to make the right decisions in all areas of your life. That's what it really means to have will power. That's when you will be "cured" of your food obsession.

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