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Mike was a 55 year old man who worked in a sedentary job that involved shift work and high stress. As a way of coping with the stress of his job, Mike would frequently buy snacks from a nearby vending machine and munch on chips and lollies during his shift. In addition, Mike was a real foodie at heart and loved nothing better than rewarding himself with a gourmet meal or dessert at home or at a restaurant. After all he worked hard and deserved these rewarding experiences.
Unfortunately the consequence of these indulgences was that Mike was now severely obese and had diabetes. Mike had tried numerous diets with the help of various health professionals and at times even lost 40 kilograms! However each time the weight came back with a vengeance and over time his weight continued to rise resulting in severe depression.
Finally Mike saw a health psychologist who as a result of a comprehensive assessment realised that Mike’s compulsive emotional eating and his high need for reward through eating, stemmed from a combination of unhelpful beliefs about food and eating, as well as some very strong associations with childhood memories. The health psychologist helped Mike develop a range of more healthy stress management strategies as well as guiding Mike to change his unhelpful beliefs about food and eating.
In addition, the health psychologist helped Mike remove the strong associations he had between food and a number of childhood memories. Mike was amazed. Rather than feeling like he was on autopilot with his eating, Mike felt for the first time like he was in control and could choose when and where he ate. Moreover the intense cravings he previously had disappeared. Mike’s depression lifted and his weight remained off once he lost it.