Book Review: Emotional Overeating by Marcia Sirota, M.D.

Never dieting again? I need to know the secret!

A transforming and impactful read, Emotional Overeating: Know the Triggers, Heal Your Mind and Never Diet Again by Marcia Sirota, MD, is for anyone who is changing their life. She is upfront and honest about what is causing the pounds to pack on, why we feel the need to stuff our emotions down with food and, most importantly, how to change it.

The sheer amount of tidbits that I want to share with you would require me to send out the book to everyone that is sincere about working through their thought processes around overeating. This book is a key tool to changing your mind, which will change your body.

“The more we try to fill the spiritual void within ourselves with materialistic solutions, the more empty and unhappy we are, and the more hopeless and enraged we’ll become.” (pg 17)

Empty? Enraged? Not understanding? Unhappy? Hopeless? It’s likely that you could be feeling these things as you try yet another diet, another shake, another way. Identifying my emotions first was a starting point. I felt attached to the scale, a prisoner of the pounds and I obsessed over what to eat. I was at a point of weighing myself multiple times a day. Not great.

“People who have the power to improve their own lives and the lives of others are a lot happier than people who try to have power over others.” (pg 20)

 

Reading non-fiction helps me to pick up ideas on how to improve my life in ways that work for me.

I focus on constantly improving my methods and habits because I’m not perfect either and I love to hear what others are doing and to help others when they’re ready for it.

This book is chock full of empowering methods to improve yourself. Sirota explores the true root of overeating issues, mainly to do with childhoods, parental impacts and unresolved issues. There are visioning exercises that I tried and they were extremely helpful to breaking through my barriers with weight loss.

“If you’re berating yourself for old mistakes or carrying a grudge against someone who hurt you, you can’t be happy now…If things aren’t the way you want them to be today, it’s your responsibility to change them for the better.” (pg 23)

This passage may not be new news and you are likely nodding at the truth of your responsibility. However, Sirota doesn’t put it all on you:

“It’s your parents’ responsibility, whatever they experienced in their own childhoods, to discover and resolve their own emotional issues prior to starting a family.” (pg 30)

Yep. Your parents have something to do with it too (surprise, surprise).

This is how cycles continue and why some find themselves listening to their parents’ instructions on what they should or shouldn’t do even decades later. Along with pieces of wisdom like this, Sirota works the reader through the roles and relationships of the Inner Child (ID), the Healthy Adult (Ego), and the Criticizing Parent (Super Ego). It is the first time that I have done significant work to meet and work with my Inner Child to understand what she needs. The result for me was a better understanding of my base needs to feel love, have someone listen to me and understand me. The cavaet? I’m that someone. I need to love, listen to and understand myself more. An unexpected result was that cravings have very little power over my actions now. When I have a craving, it is much easier to ask “what do I really need?” and, most of the time, it is reassurance and the craving passes.

Another reason that I read non-fiction books is to learn. Sometimes it all doesn’t speak to who I am but it may help someone else.

“The victim feels like she’s been hurt, wrong and hard done by. She’s the “adult child” of an alcoholic; the “survivor” of abuse or trauma. This is her primary identity, more than any other role she inhabits in her adult life. She’s overly invested in seeing herself as wounded and in need of compensation for her wounds.” (Pg 72)

Sirota explains the victim role and behaviour beautifully and objectively. I know individuals who fall into this category and have this as their primary identity. In trying to understand these people in my life, it was clarified:

“By identifying herself as a victim, a woman can never escape this role and she’ll live her adult life being the wounded child, pursuing child-like solutions to her wounds.” (PG 72)

The word never in this passage struck me. Hard. This was a moment of clarity for me. I cannot help others who identify primarily as a victim and it is likely that I am dealing with their wounded child in many of our interactions. Since reading this book, seeing the inner child within my interactions has guided my actions towards others and has helped in some cases. In others, the child has won out over the Healthy Adult.

Overall, my experience with this book was downright HARD!

In many of my reviews, I write how the pace of the book was for me.  I would like to mention that this book was insanely difficult for me to digest (pun intended). My usual reading pace can range from 40-100+ pages a day, depending on the topic. I could barely read 15 pages of this book because of the impact to my thought processes and realizations. I would read, reflect, talk over and come to terms with the immense amount of discovery in this book. “It’s simple, but it’s not easy” and that’s how I feel about my process in reading Emotional Overeating.

“Real love isn’t given in the hope of receiving something in return but from the experience of emotional fullness.” (pg 152)

“Self love is the experience of being full and fulfilled, with love to share.” (pg 152)

Emotional Overeating is an act of love. From Sirota to readers, from readers to themselves and from readers to others. I feel absolutely blessed to have come across this work and to have received the gifts of discovery. I highly recommend it to anyone who struggles with weight loss, addiction, and would like to discover something about themselves.

 

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