From Obesity & Frustration to Health & Self Esteem

by Dr. Simcha Sheldon

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From Obesity & Frustration to Health & Self Esteem

By Dr. Simcha Sheldon

Have you been trying for years to lose weight – diets, reading self-help books, exercise – you name it, but it’s the same old story an elevator ride of ups and downs on my scale.

I offer effective interventions to eat healthfully and get to your desired weight.

Israel’s National Institute for Health Policy Research recently reported that obesity costs the Israeli economy 6 billion NIS a year. That’s a lot of people suffering from frustration, low self esteem and a variety of health risks. I hope to, in this brief column, offer some ideas and advice that may be helpful to you.

The next time you are at a party or restaurant or Bet Knesset Kiddush, look around at the people who are eating. Chances are you will notice that many -probably most – people are doing at least one of the following: talking while there is food in their mouths and therefore eating quickly; putting more food on their fork, before swallowing the food that is in their mouth; hardly chewing; drinking at least a quarter of a glass of liquid at once; not putting their fork down; taking very few breaks from eating; and hardly breathing. Before we even consider the emotional and psychological issues of over eating, the above behaviors are sufficient, in of themselves, to cause obesity.

There are many reasons why we eat – some are healthy and many are not so healthy. It is important to provide oneself with good nutrition. it is appropriate to enjoy eating with friends or enjoying the special tastes and fragrances of a Shabbat se’uda (or any meal). These do not cause obesity.

The problems arise when one either does not eat properly or eats for the wrong reasons. (Some people are obese due to metabolic and other medical dysfunctions. These will not be discussed here. For such situations a qualified Medical Doctor should be consulted.)

You may have experienced feeling physically full – even stuffed, yet did not feel satisfied. What makes us feel physiologically satisfied from an eating experience, is not the quantity of food that we swallowed, it is the amount of stimulation our brain experienced from sensory input from the taste buds in our mouth. It is really the amount of time that food stays in our mouth that counts. Chew slowly and chew the same mouthful a lot (this is better for your digestive system as well!.

The Psychology of Eating 

Here are a number of problematic reasons that people eat. Notice if you can identify with any of them.

Eating makes me feel better when I am lonely or bored (food as companionship and something to do). I often eat when I feel emotionally empty inside or that something is missing (food as an attempt to feel satisfied, when the truth is that I need something else entirely to help me to feel better); I eat when I feel emotional, psychological, or spiritual pain or discomfort (food as an anesthetic). I use food to avoid intimacy or sexuality (if I am overweight I will not feel my own sensual feelings as much, and others won’t ‘come on to me.’  I have decided to be overweight to prove to myself that my spouse or others accept me or want me for who I am and not how I look (food for avoidance).

If you, or somebody you know and care about, can identify with the above reasons, then ordering caring, effective, professional help from the menu of life may be the best thing to do.

My approach to helping people who suffer from these issues includes helping to facilitate the development and maintenance of conscious, healthy, loving and respectful relationships with themselves, their bodies, God, and the food they bring into their bodies; to know what is missing in their lives, that food is failing as a substitute for; and to engage in and enjoy a deep, meaningful, healing journey throughout life. Interventions include empathetic counseling, Ericksonian hypnosis, education, and behavioral strategies.

Eating can be not only a functional activity, but a joyous celebration of life, as in a Se’udat Mitzvah, or just simply being able to acknowledge and enjoy the miraculous complexity of the eating experience, from the rains that help food to grow, to the spiritual nutrients that energize you through the spiritual eating of physical food.

May we all be blessed to experience “and you shall eat, and be satisfied, and bless the Lord” because we truly feel real satisfaction from healthy eating.


Dr. Simcha Sheldon

Please feel welcome to call me regarding any questions that you may have or to schedule an appointment.

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