Emotional EatingWeight Issues

Do you head straight to the fridge when ​you’re stressed out or bored? ​

Is a whole tub of ice-cream your response to feeling down?​

Do you switch between overeating and fasting?

Together we can change your relationship with food so it can become a source of pleasure rather than a source of conflict.

Have you ever found yourself standing in front of the fridge searching for something to eat, even though you are not hungry? Do you get cravings for certain foods (usually unhealthy ones, as let’s face it, most people don’t crave a salad!), struggle not to eat them, then give in to your cravings and feel guilty afterwards? Sounds like you maybe be an Emotional Eater.

Why Do I Do This To Myself?

Eating is part of daily life. Our traditions and social activities revolve around it and we need food to survive. There is no getting away from it. However, for some people, food can represent a constant struggle of eating too much, trying to not eat and continuous thoughts and cravings about food.

Most people who have an unhealthy relationship with food tend to find themselves stuck in familiar patterns. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you?

  • You seem to be constantly dieting, trying one type of diet after another in the hope that this will be the one to work. It’s impossible to stick to such rigid eating plans so you begin to “cheat” or maybe give up altogether and gain back any lost. You feel hopeless for a while then hear about the next best way to lose weight and try that.
  • You are trapped in a vicious cycle of eating when you are unhappy then feel unhappy because you eat. Certain foods comfort you…for a short time, then come the feelings of regret, shame and guilt for overeating, again.
  • You turn to food to help you calm down when you feel stressed or angry. An argument with your spouse or boss or feeling stressed and overwhelmed by your kids leads you to the ice-cream tub. You know you shouldn’t but you can’t help it, it provides immediate, if not lasting relief.
  • The pounds keep piling on. You are constantly hungry or eat “all the wrong” things. It’s impossible for you to walk past a vending machine or fast food joint without stopping to “treat yourself”. You know this isn’t healthy, but you can’t seem to stop yourself.
  • You have an unhealthy relationship with food. It could be that once you start, you cannot stop until you are uncomfortable and overly full. Are you stashing certain foods in secret places around the house and then getting them out to eat in private? Maybe you were given unhealthy messages about food when you were growing up. Clean up your plate even if you’re full or was food a substitute for love? If one or more of these scenarios is true for you, please read on. You’re in the right place.Together we can change your relationship with food so it can become a source of pleasure rather than a source of conflict.

These are phrases I often hear at the beginning of treatment:

“If I could only stick to dieting I would be thinner and if I was thin I would be happy, successful, attractive, in control of my life etc…”

“When I give in to my cravings I feel a failure and so might just as well overeat for the rest of the day”

“Self control is good because it is a sign of strength”

“If I stick to this new diet I will feel in control again”

By thinking this way we set ourselves up for feeling guilt and shame because no one can stick to rigid low calorie ways of eating for extended periods of time. You are bound to give in and then over eat because of the feelings of failure that giving in to cravings lead to.

Together we break this vicious cycle.

Treatment that just focuses on healthy eating is too narrow and misses why a person is self-soothing with food in the first place. Whether you have always battled with these issues or they are a legacy of an eating disorder in your teens that resurfaces in times of stress, I help you understand how your own emotional and situational factors contribute to how you are eating now.

Can Talking Really Help Me Overcome Emotional Eating?

I work with people who want to overcome their pattern of emotional eating. There are a multitude of studies that have shown that a type of psychotherapy called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is the most effective way of treating disordered eating and body image. I have been using CBT to help people for 20 years and I have found it a proven way to help people develop a healthier relationship with food and address all the issues that are at the root of the problem.

If you are no longer willing to tolerate the vicious cycle of overeating and the negative emotions that go with it, I am here to help. Together we can begin to uncover and deal the problems that lead to you eating emotionally.

Firstly we will identify your emotional triggers to overeating, and any other causes that have not been properly identified or addressed before such as co-occurrence of mood disorders, perfectionism, relationship difficulties and self-esteem.

We will look at the thoughts you have that are not helpful to you and trigger feelings of distress and of things being out of your control. We will then develop your own personal toolkit of coping strategies so that you begin responding to negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, anger and sadness in a healthy way without guilt and shame.

I will help you gain confidence in your ability to make healthy choices in a reasonable way without being overly harsh on yourself. We will change how you think and feel about food, eating and body image. We will increase your self-confidence in your body and shape and learn how to avoid the thoughts that lead to purging, over-exercise or feelings of hopelessness.

Perhaps I Should Keep Trying To Do This Myself….

One thing I often hear from people struggling with eating issues is that they should be able to control their eating themselves and reaching out for help is a sign of failure. There is also worry and doubt about spending money on themselves for therapy. Many insurance companies cover a portion of out-of-network therapy, which may help offset cost but more importantly, you have been trying to do this alone for a long time. It is okay to reach out for help. It takes courage to acknowledge you have a problem and asking for and accepting support is a strength and means you at now ready to beat this stressful way of living your life. In the long-run, you will be happier, healthier and more able to take on life’s challenges in a more positive and productive way.

emotional eating help

What Can I Do Right Now That Will Help?

Throughout my years working with people with emotional eating I saw that certain characteristics and scenarios keep coming up again and again and so I wrote a booklet about emotional eating which you can download below for free.

The booklet starts with two questionnaires; Are You An Emotional Eater? & What Type Of Emotional Eater Am I? It goes on to explain the different types of eating disorders and then I give some useful strategies to help you to begin to learn how to overcome emotional eating. My clients have found it helpful and I hope that you will too.

What Can I Read That Helps Me While I Am Waiting For My First Appointment With Sarah?

Sign up for the Emotional Eating booklet.

Please contact me on 847 791-7722 or at drsfcallen@gmail.com if you have any questions after reading the booklet. If you are experiencing an unhealthy relationship with food that gets in the way of you enjoying your life, please remember you are not alone and support is available and will help.

Ready to break free from emotional eating? Take control of your cravings and reclaim your health! Say goodbye to guilt and hello to empowerment. Let’s start your journey to a happier, healthier you today!

What can you read?

Excellent Therapist!

Dr. Allen is a colleague of mine and she is an excellent therapist. She is warm, caring, and exceptional at her work. I refer clients to Dr. Allen and I highly recommend her if you are looking for a top notch therapist.

Jodi Petchenik, LCSW

I Learned To Cope Beyond the Scale

When I first came to see Dr. Allen, I was sick of struggling with my weight. With her help, I realized that a lot of my eating habits were a way of dealing with the bad relationship I was in. With her support, I made some big changes in my life, increased my self-confidence and found better ways to deal with my stressful job. Now I don’t need to eat my way to feeling better, I have much better ways to cope with life’s difficulties.

Ann C.

Overcoming Emotional Eating

I have always been on a diet and my mood went up and down as my weight did. My internist thought I might be depressed and referred me to Sarah. I was willing to give anything a try but really thought I just needed more self discipline to stick to my diet. By talking things through with her I quickly realized that not being able to stick to a diet wasn’t really about food, although I certainly craved sweets. I learned to notice how different emotions and situations triggered my overeating and Sarah showed me other ways that don’t involve food to deal with how I felt. I have a much better relationship with food now and don’t view it as the enemy. Sarah showed genuine concern and was very encouraging. I would recommend her services to anyone struggling with eating issues.


Dr. Allen Helped Me to Feel More Empowered

Dr. Allen has really helped me find my own voice. When I began therapy I would swing between being passive and doing whatever other people wanted me to do to being angry and frustrated. I have been on antidepressants for quite a few years but it wasn’t really working. Through therapy I have learned to listen to my own needs and to speak up. I used to worry that people wouldn’t like me if I didn’t agree with them but when Dr. Allen gave me the support I needed I challenged my fears. I spend a lot less time feeling angry and depressed now and I have really widened my social network. This is how I have always wanted to be but didn’t know how to get there. Dr. Allen has a very reassuring manner and makes you challenge yourself but by using small steps so you feel ready to do it. I have really come out of my shell and would recommend anyone who is feeling depressed to come and talk with her.

Rebecca F.

Trusted & Knowledgeable Therapist.

When I need to refer any of my patients for talk therapy I immediately think of Dr. Allen as she is wonderful at helping people with severe and complex issues really get to the root of their problems. She is very caring and knowledgeable and I have found her extensive experience really helps people to change their lives for the better.

Dr. Teresa Poprawski

I become empowered and a happier person.

I began seeing Dr. Allen when my first child was around a year old. I had experienced a very traumatic birth, after a difficult pregnancy where I was on bed rest for a good portion of the time. The first year of my son’s life was spent worrying constantly. I also experienced flashbacks to the birth, which was an emergency C-section under general anesthesia. My son was in the NICU for several days following his birth, and I was not given very much information as to why. I remember thinking that he would die, or that something awful was going to happen.

I experienced a great deal of anxiety that first year, and I thought that it was due to being a new mom. I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating as normal, and I remember being worried about leaving the house or taking my baby with me anywhere. I worried constantly about illness, germs, etc.

The first day that I saw Dr. Allen, she gave me some questionnaires to fill out before we started talking. Then we sat down and talked about my experiences with my son’s birth and the early days of his life, and the year or so since then. I remember to this day the relief that I felt when she looked at me and said that I had PPD and PTSD, which was a result of the trauma I experienced during and immediately after the birth of my son. She explained how my brain had reacted to the stress of these events, and related it to why I was feeling the way that I felt. It made so much sense. Then, she described ways that I could get over the trauma, work through the feelings, and recover from PTSD and PPD. I felt so empowered, and so happy that the way I felt had a name, and that it was treatable. It also made me feel so validated in the ways that I had felt and reacted following my son’s birth. I wasn’t going crazy. My reaction was normal and natural. And with the help of Dr. Allen, and the type of therapy that she uses, I knew I could recover.

It is over five years since that first visit with Dr. Allen, and I still use the tools that she taught me today to deal with stress. I credit her with helping me to become a more empowered, happier person.


If you are thinking about getting counseling and you’d like to talk to someone about the things that are troubling you, I am happy to help.