New IFS Demonstration Sessions on Eating Issues

I am excited to add 4 new eating demonstrations on eating issues to the store this week. Click on any title to learn more about it or purchase it.


Working with Exiles DemonstrationWorking with Eating Exiles

This is a particularly touching piece of work. The client has maintained normal weight throughout her life, though she constantly struggles with food and eating. She finds that she has an Inner Controller stemming from for a teenager who experienced ridicule about her body, and a protector with a trunk of memories from early childhood. The two most prominent memories were of a baby who got too much milk and not enough love from a rushed mother; and a little girl who stuffed her face to escape from family dinner table arguments. As we work with these two exiles she is amazed at the clarity she is able to achieve and the depth of understanding and compassion that emerges.


The Hijacker Indulger DemonstrationThe Hijacker Indulger

This client has been a yo-yo dieter for years, and now in midlife finds that she cannot lose the weight as easily as in the past. We work on the polarity between a controlling part and an unconscious out-of-control indulger. The exile that we find goes back to a broken relationship in her mid-20s. Its protector never wants to be intimate and vulnerable to that depth of hurt again.


Getting to know a food controller demonstrationGetting to Know a Food Controller

This university professor client has explored IFS intellectually, and was eager to experience it. She begins by exploring three parts of the cluster: the Food Controller, the Indulger, and the Inner Defender. As we get to know the Food Controller in the form of a Head Mistress, it spontaneously begins to soften and change. We are able to get a glimpse of the exile that she is protecting, but the client is not ready for work with her at this time. The Head Mistress wants to maintain her role, but in a softer way. The system nicely re-organizes itself and comes to a new, more peaceful status quo. This session is an excellent introduction to the IFS process.


B26-Working-with-a-Foggy-Part-NEWA Foggy Part that Protects Shame

This is an interesting demo with a client who has a lot of eating disorder treatment experience. She is still struggling with a dissociative foggy part. The turning point in the work is my helping her to take a stand with a Shaming Part that arises as the exiles are telling their stores. She arrives at an important clarification about the difference between facing internal struggles and feeling incapacitated. As she feels stronger and clearer, she is able to stand up for her exiles for the first time, and her credibility in the system is solidified. We see the dramatic changes that occur when she is present with courage and vitality in her internal system.


Eating Behaviors: Two Parts That Fight the Food Controller

The Food Controller is an inner critic part that tries to regulate your eating behaviors and other health-related behaviors. It believes that without its efforts, you would be out of control and ruin your life.

It can be hard, cruel, and demeaning—often resulting in depression and low self-esteem. It can lead to…

  • Being obsessed with what you eat or don’t eat
  • Constant worrying about your weight and your body image
  • Feeling bad about your eating habits
  • Going on fad diets
  • Making behavioral resolutions
  • Feeling shame about lapses in meeting your eating goals.

When we have an Inner Critic part operating to make us feel bad about ourselves, it is natural to also develop parts that try to fight off its impact. Generally these parts are not coming from a grounded place of self-care and nurturing (the IFS Self). They are usually more immature–mimicking a child or adolescent’s reactions to a controlling parent. They function as protectors; trying to keep wounded inner child parts (exiles) from being reinjured.

Clients have often found it helpful for me to identify these parts so they can channel their energy in a positive, self-supportive ways to promote healing.

The RebelThe Rebel is the part that behaves in direct opposition to the Food Controller. Naming it always helps people clarify previously mysterious eating behavior. The Rebel bristles at the commands of the critic and refuses to be bullied or bossed around (overtly or covertly). Because of its knee jerk reaction to being controlled, its actions may not be in our best interest. In trying to deflect the impact of the critic, it often behaves in direct opposition to the Controller’s demands. It fights the rigid controls with an attitude of, “Oh yeah, you can’t tell me what to do.” or “Oh, you say I can’t eat that cookie, watch me eat the whole box!”

Inner-DefenderThe Inner Defender reacts to the criticism of the food controller by coming to your defense. It can’t tolerate the injustice of the criticism and tries to plead your case. It enumerates all the good things that you have done and how hard you’re trying. The Defender wants you to get credit for your efforts and be appreciated for what you are trying to do.

Sometimes your Inner Defender tries to argue with the Food Controller. If the Food Controller says that you are worthless, the Defender tries to prove that you are a good person. If the Critic says you are fat and lazy, it will give evidence of how you were able to stay on a diet yesterday. The Defender may the critic to “Leave me alone,” but it often doesn’t feel powerful.

Eating Issues Story

by: Bonnie Weiss, LCSW, and Jay Earley, PhD

This is the story of one person with eating issues.

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 about herself!

She always heard a nagging voice inside, her Food Controller Critic. It said, “You are so fat and lazy, and oh 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.

Upcoming Teleseminar

Introductory Teleseminar: Beyond Eating: Dealing with Food Addiction
Bonnie Weiss, LCSW
Monday, October 6
4:30-6:30 PM Pacific (7:30-9:30 PM Eastern)
Click here to register

This will be followed by a six-week phone course.

Visit  Self-Therapy Journey  and find out how it can help you with eating issues.


Hunger and Eating Issues

We can’t begin to Women overcoming eating issuestalk about eating issues unless we talk about hunger.

Hunger is one of our most primary needs. It is one of the earliest ways that we interact with our environment. It is what brings us back to our caretakers and how we learned about the nature of the world we were born into. Through our hunger we learn if we are safe, if our needs will be recognized, if our caretakers will respond to us appropriately and in a timely manner, if our satisfaction will be respected, and what love is.

In my years of working with people, the hallmark of the psychological issues behind problematic eating is the conflict people have regarding their needs. Something is awry in the cycle of need recognition and satisfaction.

Most people with a food addiction don’t recognize when they are really hungry, what they are hungry for, when they are full, and what other needs they have that are masked by a desire for food. When people explore themselves, they often find that their constant thinking about food serves only to distract them from other unmet needs.

Exploring food issues unearths more extensive conflicts about how we care for ourselves. This may be related to feelings of low self-esteem and habitual selfless behavior, such as taking care of others instead of yourself, being a martyr, and denying yourself in favor of others. You may develop an elaborate belief system that says you don’t have the time, resources, or permission to adequately pay attention to what you need.

This is just one of the eating-related issues that I explore in my Beyond Eating teleseminar, webinar, and course and that Self-Therapy Journey will help you with.

The Food Controller Pattern

The Food Controller tries to regulate your eating when it thinks it isn’t good for you or might be controller

It believes that without its efforts, you will be out of control and ruin your life. This can result in being obsessed with food, worrying about your weight and your figure, feeling bad about your eating habits, going on diets, making resolutions, or feeling shame about lapses in meeting your eating goals.

The Food Controller may be rigid and punitive. It may have fixed and precise standards for how you should eat. The biggest problem may be that the Food Controller Inner Critic tries to enforce these standards by attacking and shaming you when you fail to measure up to them. Even if the Food Controller wants what’s best for you, it often goes about this in a harsh, punitive way. It may have learned this strategy from the way your parents tried to control you as a child.

Your Food Controller may be activated even if your eating isn’t out of line. You may feel as though you are fighting a chronic battle with someone who doesn’t see you. This kind of Food Controller has an unrealistic view of who you are or the danger of your impulses. It may attack you for really enjoying your food or for occasionally eating too much. Or even if you are somewhat impulsive with food, your Food Controller may react in a way that is much more harsh, punitive, and rigid than is needed. Your culture may have an unreasonable ideal of thinness, and this can result in feeling that you have to rigidly control your normal impulses. In this case, your Food Controller may work against what is natural and healthy for you.

On the other hand, your Food Controller might be reacting to an out-of-control Indulger Pattern that is having a damaging effect on your life. There may be a real need to moderate your eating, for the sake of your health or your appearance, but with the Food Controller Pattern, this is done in a harsh, shaming way rather than a constructive way. It may make you feel really bad about yourself whenever you binge. Paradoxically, this often stimulates a need for self-soothing, which is often done by more eating. So often the judgmental strategy that the Food Controller uses actually backfires and makes things worse.

Self-Therapy Journey  has a module for eating issues which includes the Food Controller Pattern.

Do You Understand Why You Overeat?

Understand your emotional eatingUnderstand Why You Overeat

  • Do you overeat to soothe yourself when you are upset?
  • Have you tried to diet but always gain it back?
  • Do you feel like food is the only love you get?
  • Do you sit down to have a couple of cookies and then finish the whole box?
  • Do you obsess about food way too much?
  • Do you feel ashamed of yourself after going on a binge?

Explore the Underlying Psychology of Your Emotional Eating and How to Change It

This probably means that you are overeating for psychological reasons. The Overeating Psychology Quiz will help you to understand what they are, so you can work through these issues and change your eating patterns.

Your overeating may be driven by fears, defenses, and inner conflicts that you are only partially aware of, which are your psychological motivations for overeating. This quiz will help you to understand these motivations and what to do about them.

Using Self-Therapy Journey to Stop Overeating – Special Amazon Offer

  • Using Self-Therapy Journey to Stop OvereatingDo you overeat to soothe yourself when you are upset?
  • When you diet, do you always gain back the weight?
  • Is food the only love you get?
  • When you intend to eat just a couple cookies, do you finish the whole box?
  • Is most of your day spent obsessing about food?
  • Do you feel ashamed of yourself after going on a binge?

This is most likely because of emotional eating. There is good news! You can transform this pattern and develop healthy eating habits.

Self-Therapy Journey is an interactive online tool for psychological healing and transformation, which has a module for overeating.

With Self-Therapy Journey you can…

  • Stop eating when you are full.
  • Know the difference between your hunger and your other needs.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Lose weight — and keep it off!
  • Be relaxed about food.
  • Be slim, healthy, and attractive

Using Self-Therapy Journey to Stop Overeating shows how this online tool works and how to use it to change your eating—for good!

The Kindle version of Using Self-Therapy Journey to Stop Overeating is free on Amazon June 24-26.