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Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Emotional Maturity and Emotional Overeating

Emotionally distraught  Woman hammer computer trying not to emotionally overeatAnyone ever tell you that you need to do a better job of managing your emotions….and your immediate reaction is to explode?

Over the years, in response to some of the emotional management skills I teach, I’ve heard clients say, “I know. It’s time to put on my big girl pants and just get it done.” Well, when it comes to overcoming emotional overeating, it’s a lot more complicated than just making a decision to be more emotionally mature…more than just saying, “I will no longer use food to avoid feeling emotionally churned up”.

Recovery from emotional overeating requires we learn effective emotional management skills we may have missed during our “formative years”. (Growing up, if you had parents in your life who did a great job of modeling how to manage uncomfortable feelings, thoughts, and situations, you were very lucky!) Emotional maturity and overcoming emotional overeating require access to new skills and tools, a willingness to grow and mature in areas that require emotional regulation. By that I mean, how calmly and rationally we respond to people, circumstances, our own thoughts and feelings.

How good of a job are you doing at managing “Life”.

In my mail last week, I received a note from a contact person at The Menninger Clinic. Inside the envelop, she enclosed a book mark with a wonderful description of emotional maturity. Here it is…

“The Criteria of Emotional Maturity”

  • The ability to deal constructively with reality
  • The capacity to adapt to change
  • A relative freedom from symptoms that are produced by tension and anxieties
  • The capacity to find more satisfaction in giving than receiving
  • The capacity to relate to other people in a consistent manner with mutual satisfaction and helpfulness
  • The capacity to sublimate, to direct one’s instinctive hostile energy into creative and constructive outlets
  • The capacity to love

(By William C. Menninger, MD (1899-1966), cofounder of The Menninger Clinic, Copyright 1966)

What do you think?  Are you where you want to be emotional maturity-wise?  If not, is that driving any of your emotional overeating? What are you willing to do about it? Please know that any action you might take, in a healthy direction, is a step toward more emotional maturity and likely less emotional overeating…


Ellen Shuman is a pioneer in the field of Binge Eating Disorder; a Life Coach who specializes in helping people overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), A Founding Member and Past President of BEDA; The Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”. For information about Coaching Services, contact ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.


  1. patricia sabatier says

    i like the list of criteria for emotional maturity. i only disagree or feel the need to qualify the one that says this maturity depends on ones ability to find more satisfaction in giving than receiving. i find that i have spent a lifetime with the focus of giving and i find many people in my profession, (a care giving profession.), with this motivation, especially among women. it seems it should be qualified somehow by the next criteria of mutual satisfaction and helpfulness. this seems to be a prerequisite for mature giving over receiving. just my thoughts pertaining to my own search for emotional maturity. if one is not well developed in receiving from others openly without resistance or defensiveness, then what one gives seems a little out of self centered needs or focus rather than a genuine mature generosity. i have had a hard time going out and getting what i need. i have the habit of taking the easy route of food consumption rather than identify and seek out fulfillment of my own emotional/spiritual needs. i am great at providing for myself in these areas but when i must find what i need from others, i am not so good at asking for someone to be generous to me. i think this is an area i need to grow in.

  2. Ellen Shuman, Emotional Eating Recovery Coach; A Weigh Out says

    I have seen the same, Patricia. I think the tendency to give, to a degree where we don’t care for ourselves, may be a pattern common to people with binge eating issues. With everything “healthy”, balance is the key!

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