A Story of the Indulger and Food Controller Patterns

Jay Earley, PhD, and Bonnie Weiss, LCSW

Slim and athletic as a child, Arlene gradually put on weight in her teens and it steadily increased as she had children and then became a single mom. When she was eating, she couldn’t really tell when she was full. She kept feeling like she was actually hungry for more, but then after she ate more, she felt stuffed. In addition, she frequently binged on certain comfort foods, and she had a hard time stopping when she was eating. This is her Indulger Pattern.

Anything she tried–diets, programs, starvation, cleanses–were only stopgap measures. Anything lost was gained back and then some. She felt horrible abfood controllerout herself!

She always heard a nagging voice inside, her Food Controller Critic. It said, “You are fat and lazy, and so terribly inadequate. No one will ever love you, and that’s because you don’t deserve to be loved.”

When she began a counseling program, her fellow students and supervisors were always pointing out to her that she tried so hard to be “the good girl.” But this was to no avail. She could never feel good enough. “I never just felt like it was alright to be me.”

Arlene was always hearing the voice of her Food Controller berating her for being fat, for failing to lose weight. Whenever she went on a binge it was especially cruel and shaming. And its judgments went beyond her eating habits. It told her that she was worthless and unlovable.

This didn’t help her to stop bingeing. In fact, it did the opposite. She felt a need to eat to comfort herself when she felt so bad. But this just triggered a binge, which was followed by more attacks from her Food Controller.

You can work on transforming both these patterns in Self-Therapy Journey.