Monthly Archives: August 2012

Tips on How to Stop Binge Eating Quickly

I’ve been a therapist treating eating disorders since 2005 and I’ve been keeping this blog since 2007, and I continue to get emails from people, almost daily asking how to stop binge eating.  All I can say is that I have so much compassion and empathy for you. And I share in your frustration. I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave at you that would cure you from your binge eating. I wish I had a cure that was easy. I wish it were as simple as taking a pill or doing one thing differently.

But it’s not. It’s a process of mindfulness, self care, and patience. Lots of patience.  Let’s think about this, if you wanted to run a marathon, but you’d never run before, you wouldn’t expect that you could wake up one morning and run the Boston Marathon. You’d have to start by running a block, then two blocks, eventually a mile, then each week you’d do more and more and more. After 4-6 months, you might have the endurance to do it. That’s what healing from binge eating disorder is like. It takes endurance and strength and you have to build that.

That being said, there are a few things that you can do to help this process go a little bit quicker. There are some props that you can use to help you. Start by looking at the calendar and pick a day to quit bingeing and dieting. Know that even though you’ve picked this day, even if you binge again, you’re going to be kind and patient with yourself and remind yourself that this is a process.

1. Add a little more protein to your diet.  If you find that you are about to binge or that you want to eat something that you’re going to binge on, try to eat something with some protein in it first, like a hard boiled egg or two, or or some Greek yogurt.

2. Don’t go on a no-carb diet, but try to keep your carbohydrates low by eating unprocessed and whole carbs (beans, fruits, dairy with fat in it). Let yourself eat something like 1-2 squares of chocolate or cookies each day, but not until after you’ve had a full meal with lots of protein in it and not in the morning.

3. Eat 3 meals a day no matter what. This is so important!  So many binge eaters skip breakfast and lunch or skip other meals. Try it for one week at least to see how much of a change it makes. If you can’t commit to that, try to at least eat a good healthy breakfast every morning. Something like spinach and eggs, or whole fruit in plain yogurt. Then, try to give yourself at least three or four hours between meals.

4. Consider Amino Acid and mineral supplements: Ask your doctor or nutritionist before following this advice. That said, taking 500- 1500 milligrams of  L-gulutamine a few hours after you wake up, and then later in the afternoon (like around 2-3pm) and taking 200 mg of Chromium with each meal and before bedtime can help with decreasing binge cravings. Chromium is supposed to help stabilize your blood sugar levels which will keep your cravings for sugar and carbohydrates at bay.  Glutamine is an amino acid that  squelchs sugar cravings quickly. It gives your brain quick energy which can help you calm down a bit when you’re feeling like you REALLY need to binge. If you open the capsule and put the powder under your tongue, you might find that the urge to binge just stops. Taking GABA can help your mind and body find some peace so that you have the ability to let go of the binge.

5.Try hypnotherapy for quitting binge eating.  Listen to it more than once, listen to it often. It helps your body and mind relax and it helps you to remember and become conscious of what you’re doing. Binge eating is a largely unconscious act and this brings mindfulness to the process. It really does work!

7. Start an endurance training exercise program such as Team in Training or AIDS Lifecycle. Doing these training programs will help with black and white thinking around exercise.

10 Ways to Like Yourself More

Lucy (not her real name) came into my office telling me that she really just didn’t like herself and she never had. No matter what she did, she couldn’t find any sort of compassion or fondness for who she was. She worked really hard all through school, she was an excellent employee, she was the best party hostess and the best friend, but no matter what she did, she still felt that she wasn’t good enough.  She had an overwhelming sense of total worthlessness. Every time she reached a specific goal, lost a certain amount of weight, fit into a certain size, made a certain amount of money, she would ask herself, “can I like myself now?” And the answer was always the same, “no, you’re still not good enough, you’re totally unworthy.”  In her book Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach refers to this as the Trance of Unworthiness– the belief that you don’t belong in the world, that you are not good enough to exist.

We have a road map that we create that tells us how to be, feel, and live our lives, and there are ways to reroute that map. The following are things that you can do to help you like yourself more and reroute those behaviors that perpetuate self disdain.

1. Give up the belief that you need to change in order to like yourself. The trick is to accept who you are at this very moment. Telling yourself that you can like yourself when you are different or better will never work because there will always be more work to do. This doesn’t mean that you cannot have goals, but isn’t it easier to meet those goals and you will be happier when you do when you start off by feeling good about yourself. You are perfect, whole and complete right now at this very moment. Take a breath, be still and just for 30 seconds be with the essence of who you are. You can accept that person without changing. Meeting goals and evolving is what we naturally do as humans, that won’t change if you self-accept. In fact, you might find that you are more efficient because you are not bogged down by thoughts of worthlessness.

2. Take care of yourself. Make simple changes to help you to be more healthy. Floss your teeth, take your vitamins, groom your nails.  Do things that help you to feel valued by yourself. Show yourself that you are worthy.

3. Put yourself first. When someone asks you to do something, rather than instantly saying yes, tell them that you’ll give them an answer in 24 hours. That way you can think about whether or not this infringes on your boundaries. It helps you to understand whether or not you are sacrificing your own needs for someone else. So often people who don’t like themselves try to be indispensable for others. In the process though, they completely lose themselves. Keep yourself whole by being there for you first.

4. Forgive yourself. You have made mistakes. Of course you have. You are human. We all make mistakes. But being able to say, “okay, I messed up, but I can’t go back, I can’t stay in the past, I can only go forward…” is the way to move on with your life.

5. Let yourself do the things that you want to do. Think about what it is that makes you tick, the things that make you feel alive! Is it knitting? Is it martial arts? Is it cooking? Is it painting? Writing? Gardening? Whatever it is, even if it’s just something that you do as a hobby, allow yourself to follow your passion. When you do, you will find more joy in being you.

6.Let go of wanting. It’s okay to have desires. But when what you want equates to whether or not you are happy, you will never feel satisfied with who you are. When who you are is equal to what you have, you will never like yourself because you can always want and always have more. When you are grateful for what you do have, you can truly find peace. Try making a gratitude list. This is like counting your blessings. Just write down everything that you are grateful for and read it over and over. Feel it. Believe it. When you focus on that rather than what you don’t have, you will find a lightness like never before.

7. Let yourself be totally silly. See what it’s like to let down your guard. Try to let go of what other people are thinking. If you can’t, go into a room by yourself and just do the dumbest dance that you can possibly do, just to let off some steam and find some playfulness within. This is a way to enjoy your own company and just like being with yourself a bit more.

8. Don’t judge other people. Take a day to think of one nice thing about each person you come into contact with. You will feel lighter in your body. Letting go of judgment of others is one of the best ways to stop judging yourself.

9. Spend some time just being. Sit and try to follow your breath. Don’t force yourself to take deep breaths. Just close your eyes, put your hand on your heart and feel the way your breath. Do this for 1-5 minutes. You will find that your mind and body begin to relax. Your thoughts of having to do, do, do will fade and you will just be with you. This is another way to just accept who you are in this very moment.

10. Get help for self-destructive behavior. If you’re dealing with binge eating, bulimia, cutting, alcoholism, compulsive or unsafe sex, anorexia, or whatever behaviors you’re doing that make you feel bad about yourself – get help! Seek therapy or a 12-step group, or a support group, or all three. When you like yourself, you try not to destroy yourself.



Friday Q & A- I think I have Binge Eating Disorder- Help!

Question:

I think I have a binge eating addiction I don’t know who to talk to about this I currently suffer from depression and anxiety I don’t think I am worth anything at all I hate looking at myself in the mirror I am living in a Women’s recovery program for almost a year I’ve been clean from alcohol and opiates for over 15months, praise god!! I struggle with smoking cigarettes and I go from one compulsive act to another I am currently in a relationship for almost a year I don’t know if I really love him or if I am co-depending on  him but eating excessive amounts has always been apart of my life since I was 14yrs old. I eat differently from when I am around people versus being alone just please help me tell me what to do anybody!! I am hurting inside. One of my roommates, who is an ex drug addict realized my weakness for food and she is now disrespecting me and belittling me more than I already feel about myself if this gets to somebody please don’t take my cry for help lightly get back to me as soon as you can I am afraid to talk to anybody else about it.

 

Answer:

I am so, so, so very sorry that you are going through this. First of all, congratulations on 15 months sober from drugs and alcohol, that’s amazing!

I would like to see you really start to find safe people to talk to about this. It seems like you are living in a place of suffering alone, and it doesn’t have to be that way. You are beating yourself for all the things you believe that you’re doing wrong, when you’ve being doing so much right for more than a year.   It also seems like you  believe you have to tackle everything that’s going on all at once and immediately.  Though I think that taking action and taking responsibility for what’s going on in your life with be empowering,  I’m of the mindset that you should slowly tackle things one-by-one. For instance, the most pressing issue at this time is your abusive roommate, so it might behoove you to leave that situation and find a more stable one. Next, I’d probably start to talk to your therapist about your food issues. Because you say that you have no one to talk to, it would be a good idea for you to join a group like EDA or OA. As you begin to gain strength with a core group of women who can help you to feel more stable and more strong, you might be in more of a position to fairly evaluate your relationship. And then, when you are ready, you might want to work on quitting smoking.

Most of all, I hope that you are talking to people about what you are going through. You sound so very lonely and my bet is that if you look around you will find at least one or two supportive people who are willing to listen and be supportive.

 

Good Luck to you.

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location.