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PYP 093: Sharon Livingston on Conquering Emotional Eating

SharonLivingstonWhen Sharon Livingston was a kid, her parents were kosher caterers and she had to watch them nourish the world while, often, ignoring her. She doubled her weight between ages 9 and 12, and had to deal with being “the fat girl” all through high school.

These and other experiences and her long road of healing from them, along with her decades of study and practice of psychology, have made her a expert on emotional eating, or as she puts it, “when food becomes a four-letter word.”

In our in-depth and often hilarious conversation (including a quote by the late, great Buddy Hackett), we cover:

  • Sharon's simple and stark definition of emotional eating
  • a bowl of M&Ms and a difficult client: do we feel like we have a choice
  • the emotional function of sweet foods
  • shocker: “there’s no reason for dessert”
  • the gap between our body wisdom and our current food environment
  • the emotional function of dairy
  • food as metaphor
  • the history of Sharon’s dysfunctional relationship with food
  • throwing up a dozen veal cutlets
  • eating to make herself unattractive
  • “no compromise” eating: the best piece of chocolate in the world
  • the million dollar questions: “What do I really want?” “And what does that remind me of?”
  • a cameo appearance by Sharon’s dog Jeremy, demonstrating the emotional gratification available from chewing a squeaky toy
  • why the best diet in the world won’t work if you ignore the emotional reasons for eating
  • the limits of adaptation and “down regulation”
  • Sharon’s anger at invading yeast cells
  • the 72-hour craving window
  • unlikely strategies to deal with emotional eating
  • the value of substitutes
  • Sharon helps me with my chocolate issue (“a series of cheap one-night stands”)
  • the Bat Phone strategy
  • how to deal with thoughts of cravings
  • the magic of a short pause
  • craving textures rather than flavors
  • food choices as clues into how to give ourselves love
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Links – my local organic, raw, vegan  fair-trade chocolatier

Lekvar Prune Butter

Great article on emotional eating from the Onion (published the same day as this podcast, which surely is significant)

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4 comments on “PYP 093: Sharon Livingston on Conquering Emotional Eating

  1. David says:

    Humans are so complex, and yet simple in many regards regards.
    We spend so little time learning about some of the most important aspects of living and health.
    It often takes many years, much experimentation and discovery. The effort put forth often leads to satisfaction through the implementation and/or sharing with others who can benefit.
    It is hard to be expert at all the things that we may wish to gain knowledge in.
    Amazing, as T. Colin Campbell alluded to/and Dean Ornish as well/that once the science has been revealed, how many refute it, preferring to hear/see that which justifies your bad habits. Ketosis? Atkins. Cave Man/Paleo…..

    Thanks for these insights/reflections/tools. From “knowing” to “doing”. As I say “Motivation requires daily reinforcement.”/and, “We are each an experiment of one.”

    Keep up the good works; it is needed more now than ever/and will always be needed – unfortunately even more so in the years to come……


  2. David Sax says:

    Hey Howard
    Really interesting interview. Thanks for being so willing and open. Requires a lot of courage. I’d be curious to know how her suggestions play out for you over time…


  3. Mexie Butler says:

    Dear Howie,
    I love how vulnerable you and Sharon were both willing to be in this podcast. I loved the ‘series of cheap one-night stands’ and ‘is this all there is?’ as ways of talking about the disappointment and betrayal that comes from indulging a craving. I loved the red phone and the bat-light as symbols of the need for connection and love. I love how weird you are (your words)., I’m AT LEAST that weird. When it comes to food, I’m about as weird as it gets.
    Sharon talked about the pause that gives us a space between the craving thought and the action. This is so important in my experience. I am not getting cravings much now, but at times they come up. That’s when I need to remember this ‘sacred pause’ that gives me an opportunity to remember who I am, who I want to be, and all the reasons I have for not falling back into the morass of misery that is obsession.
    You both did such a brilliant job. You stayed human and real while sharing your professional and personal wisdoms.
    Much love,

    1. Howard says:

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Mexie!

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