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Eating for Comfort

By Shelley Riutta, MSE, LPC
January 03, 2008

In this article, Shelley Riutta MSE, LPC, Inner Bonding Facilitator and Holistic Psychotherapist discusses a common inner dynamic that fuels using food for comfort.

Carol was in her 40’s and struggled with her weight since she was a child.  She binged on sweets and couldn’t seem to control herself.  She called me for some phone sessions to address this issue.  In the first session it became clear what the inner dynamic was that was fueling her desire for the sweets. 

Carol was very hard on herself and put pressure on herself to be perfect all of the time.  She felt if she was perfect she would then be loveable and acceptable to the people around her.  This was a reflection of the way her Mom treated her.  When she was young her Mom didn’t see her clearly–and put pressure on her to be perfect—the message was “If you are perfect, then I will love you and accept you.”  Because of the pain of not being loved unconditionally for who she really was and the pressure from her Mom to be perfect– she began to use sweets as a child to comfort herself. 

 This pattern continued into adulthood and was confusing for Carol because her Mom was no longer in her life and she was surrounded by people who truly did love her unconditionally.  Carol was able to realize that she had a wounded part of her that was just like her Mom–putting pressure on her to be perfect and not seeing her own intrinsic worth and loveability just as she was.  This pressure was creating a lot of anxiety within her and to cope with it she overate the sweets to comfort herself. 

 Once she recognized this she was able to shift into being more loving and supportive with herself–much like she was able to be with her own children.  She gave herself messages like “It’s OK to be you, you are loveable just the way you are.”  “It’s OK not to be perfect–just relax and be yourself–you are enough just as you are.” As she gave herself these new messages she felt herself relax for the first time in years and stopped having the intense craving for sweets.  She was able to understand this and heal this long-standing issue in only two sessions!

What I love about the Inner Bonding process is that it helps to gain insight and clarity into the inner dynamic that is fueling our feelings and behavior.  This clarity is about 70% of the healing.  This morning as I worked with a client and we developed clarity about a long-standing pattern of hers—the feeling or incredible relief in the room was palpable.  Now with awareness of the inner dynamic she had a clear path for healing and shifting the dynamic that was causing her so much pain.

Notice a long standing patterns of yours.  What do you think you are saying to yourself on the inner level that is fueling this pattern—can you track the sequence of it.  Example:  I say this to myself—my reaction is this (ex. anxiety)–to deal with this reaction I then do this. 

We are talking to ourselves all of the time—having inner dialogues that are either loving and supportive—or critical and hurtful.  Inner Bonding helps to bring these dialogues to conscious awareness so that you can make decisions to shift these dialogues to being more supportive to you.

Shelley Riutta MSE, LPC is a Holistic Psychotherapist in private practice specializing in Inner Bonding and Transformational individual counseling, presentations, groups and Workshops.  For more information and to get her free workbook “What Do You Really Want: Finding Purpose and Passion in Your Life” visit her web-site or call her at 920-265-2627. 


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Perfectionism is a form of control. "If I am perfect, then I can have control over how others feel about me and treat me." Life becomes much easier and more fun when we let go of having to be perfect and allow ourselves to be human.


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Perfectionism is a form of control. "If I am perfect, then I can have control over how others feel about me and treat me." Life becomes much easier and more fun when we let go of having to be perfect and allow ourselves to be human.



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