online conference transcript
Dr. Deborah Gross, our guest speaker, is a board-certified psychiatrist and also the president of a company that helps people with compulsive overeating (emotional overeating, binge eating).
David is the HealthyPlace.com moderator.
The people in blue are audience members.
David: Good evening everyone. I'm David Roberts. I'm the moderator for tonight's conference. I want to welcome everyone to HealthyPlace.com. I hope your day has gone well. Our conference tonight is on "Compulsive Overeating: Dealing with the Feelings and How to Treat It". Our guest is Dr. Deborah Gross. Dr. Gross is a board-certified psychiatrist in private practice. She is also the president and co-founder of Sea Star, a company that produces programs to help people deal with compulsive overeating (emotional overeating, binge eating).
Good evening, Dr. Gross and welcome to HealthyPlace.com. We appreciate you being here tonight. Can you give us your definition of what "overeating" is?
Dr Gross: Overeating is eating more than you meant to, or more than what is healthy for you. Compulsive overeating is a different thing. A compulsion is anything we feel driven to do in spite of knowing that it is harmful
David: What causes someone to compulsively overeat? Is it brain chemically oriented or is it more of a psychological thing?
Dr Gross: The head bone is connected to the rest of the body, therefore, usually both elements are involved. Compulsive overeating, in one sense is an addiction, like alcoholism or drug addiction. It's not a weakness or a moral issue.
David: So, are you saying that some people have a propensity to compulsively overeat?
Dr Gross: Yes. Newer research is showing that the rate of compulsive overeating is much higher with blood relatives who have other compulsive or addictive disorders.
David: With many addictions, like drugs or alcohol, the addict finds it almost impossible to help himself stop using the substance and therefore self-help is really ineffective. Does that hold true for compulsive overeating?
Dr Gross: Good questions. Relapse happens in all compulsive disorders and it is important to have help, like a coach or a whole team of helpers. Many of the same tools used in AA, for example, can be used to help yourself with compulsive overeating. (Overeaters Anonymous)
David: What about the emotional tie-in to compulsive overeating? I'd like you to address that, and then we'll have some questions from the audience.
Dr Gross: Feelings influence food behavior. It starts in the cradle. Baby gets hungry, baby cries, mama feeds and cuddles, so the connections is really strong. You must learn to emotionally nourish yourself well in all ways, because not all hunger is for food. Ask yourself "is it my stomach that is hungry or my heart"?
David: How would you suggest one do that-- nourish yourself in other ways?
Dr Gross: The first thing you have to do is, learn what your triggers are for emotional overeating. For example, if you are extremely stressed out at the end of the day, before you go to the fridge and eat everything in there, try doing things that are relaxing for you, like take a walk, a bath, call a friend. I tell my patients to move the body, feed the mind and lavishly indulge the sprit.
David: Here are some audience questions:
DrkEyes2 A: What is behind the addiction to compulsively overeat?
Dr Gross: All of the research indicates that the biological part of the problem lives in a place in the brain called the mesolimbic system. This place is very deep inside our brain, and it's very primitive, so it doesn't listen to reason. There are also some brain chemicals, like serotonin, which maybe involved, although there is a lot we don't know. Depressive disorders and anxiety disorders are problems for some people as well.
mazey: I want to get control over my food intake but it saddens me as I continue to eat foods that make me real sick. I have the intellect but my emotions take control. Having Borderline Personality Disorder, will I ever be able to get a grip?
Dr Gross: Where there is breath there is hope. Most people with Borderline Personality Disorder, have had lots of losses, and so it is tempting to try to fill the empty place with food. Working on making your relationships more healthy will probably be very key to you.
David: Is there any medication out there that can help block the "feeling of wanting to eat" or is it all on the emotional level?
Dr Gross: Numerous medications have been studied for this purpose. Meridia has helped some people.
kateviennaoh: I have been fighting my overeating and bingeing for most of my life, with only temporary success. At this point, I can't see any way of being successful long term. I don't see or feel any hope. I don't know what to do except give up and eat. Thanks, Kate
Dr Gross: Don't give up. You're worth more than that. A person worth is not measured in pounds. I have a chapter in my upcoming book about this and I call it "Priced by the Pound". Society does that to you, but don't do it to yourself, please.