Volunteers sought for Temple overeating study

June 29, 2010 1:07:42 PM PDT
It's okay to have favorite foods that make you feel better, but when your emotions drive you to overeat, or to eat all the wrong things, it's time to get help.

Fortunately, Temple University now has a study underway to help people over that hurdle.

One of the participants is Janet Williams who says, as a kid, her weight was no problem. But when the emotional complexities of adult life hit, Janet realized she settled into a bad pattern.

"I was inside my house, and being inside, it was me, my television, and the refrigerator, and all the good food," she said.

Frustrated with her weight, Janet joined a study led by Dr. Edie Goldbacher, at Temple University's Center for Obesity Research. Goldbacher is searching for the best tactics for breaking that heart and stomach connection.

Study volunteers first learn how emotions play into their eating by recording what they eat and their moods at the time they eat.

Goldbacher says the relationship varies a lot from one person to the next.

"The emotions seem to run the gamut from things like stress or anxiety, to sadness or boredom," Dr. Goldbacher said. "For some people it's different emotions and for some people it's just one emotion."

During the 20-week study, Janet lost 17 pounds, and learned a lot about herself. She knows that better planning, such as packing her own lunch, keeps her head, not her heart, in charge of her food choices.

"I would normally eat a Snickers bar but now I'll have a Fiber One bar," Janet said.

She's also learned new ways to deal with tough moments.

"I might take a walk, I might call a friend, I might meditate, I might have other thoughts that's going on that aren't the actual problem going on."

She picked up another tool - when you feel overwhelmed, imagine your problems moving away from you on a conveyor belt. When you can think more clearly, bring them back, and deal with them.

The study is still accepting volunteers. For more information, call 215-707-8656.