Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I’ve been dealing with a cluster of health issues for the last several
years, in addition to needing to lose the 20-30 pounds that have crept
on over the decades. My doctor has given me a very limited health
regimen to follow. Not just the usual advice to eat primarily fruits and
vegetables, whole grains and unprocessed foods. But to eliminate, as
much as possible all of the following: wheat, sugar, dairy, caffeine,
legumes, and nightshades. It’s a tall order but I am doing well, about
80% on program. The hardest was giving up real coffee and cream in
the morning, an ongoing struggle. My health and weight are starting to
improve. But I realize that I am getting crankier and crankier, angry at
having to do this, and generally an emotional mess. I’ve always been
an emotional eater. But now that I cannot turn to sugar, salt, or carbs,
I feel worse. Advice?


Dear Detoxing:

Our sign-off’s a big clue: your system is shedding all the crap you’ve
poured into it. Think about all the times you ate when you were
emotional, as in eating when happy, eating when sad, eating when
angry, frustrated, restless, bored. Imagine eating at the joyous
beginnings of relationships and at the painful ends of them. Imagine
all the unresolved feelings you shoved down your gullet ahead of the
food you used to keep them suppressed. I’m not suggesting you didn’t
actually experience the emotions. Rather that when they got you to an
emotional brink that you probably shut down by eating cookies, chips,
ice cream, or whatever your vice of choice was at the time. That’s
what emotional eating means, at least in my understanding. Now
you’re gong to have to go back to that emotional edge and find a
different way of coping.

Congratulations on your progress. That’s the good news part of your
predicament Here’s the bad news. The emotions that you suppressed
still have to come out; you wont be able to keep them down forever if
you want to get healthy. In addition to being in detox, and withdrawal
from certain foods, you are also in withdrawal from emotional eating
to insulate you from life’s bruising. Here’s more good news: as you
learn better coping skills, you wont have to repeat the cycle. So create
a safe place to let up all the old sadness, rejection, anger, etc etc etc.
Do it alone by crying in the shower or on the sofa, or in a counselor’s
office, or a support group. As you empty out all the old emotions you
are making room for a healthier new you.