Many people use food as emotional insulation to protect themselves from further hurt, or as a drug to dull the pain of a meaningless existence, a broken marriage, or the death of a loved one. When the US government started giving tax breaks for insulating homes to conserve energy, it made environmentalists very happy. Many chronically overweight people have been giving themselves a feeling" break for a long time as they pile on layer after layer of fat in an attempt to insulate their hearts, and guts, and sexual organs from emotional energy loss. But the break is only temporary and eventually leads to something worse. The real needs aren't being addressed. Cindy's story illustrates this.
Cindy gave birth to a beautiful eight-pound boy, only to learn that her child was deaf. Distraught with grief, she began to eat excessively and consequently to gain weight. Fifteen years and an extra eighty pounds or so later, she realized that she hadn't cried since "I can't remember when," her desire for sex had long since died, and her world was shaded in gray. Cindy's body had become her refuge. She had attempted to shield herself from being disappointed and hurt again, but she was far from happy. It had been an unsuccessful and costly strategy that produced new and different problems and had really not alleviated the pain.
It isn't hard to understand the lessons in Cindy's case. At some time in our lives most of us have used food to mask or alleviate pain, or as an unconscious means of punishment and self-destruction. Or we may have denied ourselves food and so diverted our attention to a new pain.