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          Food and Diet Obsession

          July 13, 2005

          If most of your day is spent thinking about what you just ate or what you’re going to eat next, Dr. Phil says that the possible roots of your obsession may surprise you.

          • Most of the time, obsessive behavior and compulsive thinking about food have nothing to do with food. They have everything to do with your self-image. It’s just that the battlefield you’ve chosen is food. It’s where you’ve chosen to exercise tight control in hopes that none of your underlying fears and emotions will creep up on you.
          • People often use food as a control mechanism. Having an obsession with food and controlling your intake of it can be a substitute for having command over what you really want to control: how you feel about yourself.
          • Ask yourself what would happen if you didn’t focus on food so much and let go of the control. Do you fear you’d be a worthless human being? What if you said, “My body image is independent of my self-image. If I am a good, caring and loving parent/spouse/child and an honest, responsible citizen, it doesn’t matter how much I weigh”? You may want to weigh less and that’s OK. But weight and self-image are not the same thing.
          • Know that you can unlearn this behavior. Everybody has a definition of success. If your definition of success is to have hyper-control of food intake, it’s the wrong definition. You need to change your definition.
          • Understand that ending obsessive behavior with food sometimes isn’t the answer to the problem because it doesn’t deal with the root of the problem: internal dialogue that says you’re a bad person if you don’t weigh a certain amount. You need to change your internal dialogue.
          • When discussing food obsession, Dr. Phil believes it’s important to note that one of the biggest problems with weight loss programs today is that they are highly focused on food. Many popular programs incorporate a regimented diet in which people have to weigh food and count calories, etc. People often go on a diet because they don’t want to eat as much but the structure of the diet requires them to spend their entire day focused on food, which only exacerbates the problem.
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