Monthly Archives: November 2013

Friday Q & A- I feel that food is overpowering my life

don't let food be your evil dictator

don’t let food be your evil dictator

Question:

Hi,

I stumbled upon your website and figured I’d shoot you an email. I’m 24, and my relationship with food is absolutely horrific. I find that for several months I can stick to an eating plan (such as weight watchers) get down to a normal weight for myself, become incredibly happy, until I fall into a hole again. It’s as if I have no consistency with the presence of this disorder. I have been out of control again since August and have gained 20 pounds or so. Nothing fits me, I’m miserable, and mostly prefer to hide in shame. I can’t stick to an eating plan even for a day. I don’t ever remember feeling this helpless with my food issues. Usually I can kick myself in the butt and start making changes, but they never -ever last. My weight has fluctuated my entire life and I simply cannot be happy at this weight. It’s seriously concerning me that I can’t even seem to stick to something like counting calories or Weight Watchers even for a day at this point.

Several months ago I was seeing a therapist, who was treating me for OCD with medication. I have since, under her suggestion stopped the medication because I was experiencing terrible side effects. I haven’t met with her in some months because I can’t afford the sessions right now, and I would really love to learn how to handle this on my own -without medication. I have considered attending an OA meeting for some support because I just don’t know what to do.

I wake up every morning fearing what my food choices will be. It seriously controls my entire life. Right now as I’m typing this email to you I’m wondering what I have in my house. I’m aware of what drives me to overeat, it’s stopping it and making a habit of intervening -a habit to last a lifetime, that out of 24 years I can’t seem to make happen.

What can I do?

Thank you,

Kate

 

Answer:

Kate,  Thank you so much for your question. You put so much feeling and honesty into your question and I can really hear how much you are struggling. I’m sorry that you were not able to manage your OCD behaviors with medication and that there were so many side effects. That can be disappointing- when you think you’ve found an answer and it backfires.

You didn’t talk very much about your OCD and how it manifests, but I suspect that Overeaters Anonymous  might be a good place for you to land and settle in. Because they are a very structured group, and because OCD symptoms tend to do well with structure, I imagine it would be very helpful. This is why, it seems as though a group like weight watchers has been helpful for you in the past. However, weight watchers is a group that helps people who have difficulty understanding the right amount of calories in and calories out.  Given  your history with food, I imagine that you’re not much less of a Phd in calories, carbs and fat. Women who have struggled with their weight and with food issues for a long time don’t need to learn about how to lose weight. They know.

If you cannot afford individual therapy, I’d recommend group therapy in addition to OA in order to have people to talk to about what you’re going through. Having a group process and talking to other women about your issues can be helpful. Check out ANAD for free therapy groups as well as EDReferral for other therapy groups.

I also think that given your symptoms, you might be a great candidate for learning intuitive eating. Try to ritualize stopping before you eat anything, taking a breath and checking in with your body. Figure out whether or not you are hungry. If you are, check in with your body and ask what it needs, then, when you are ready, eat something, but eat it slowly. Taste every morsel, notice the texture, the taste, the way it feels in your mouth. Take breaths in between bites.  Check out this post on intuitive eating which explains it in more depth. Get some support from the intuitive eating community. You might also download a hypnotherapy session on how to stop dieting and start eating intuitively. 

 

Thank you for sending your question in and I hope that this was helpful.

 

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. Are you interested in online therapy to deal with your eating disorder? Please see my website or email me to discuss getting started. 

Friday Q&A- Thanksgiving Guilt

Question:

Hi there,

I’m a 20 y.o. girl and I’m on the heels of a Thanksgiving binge. It makes me feel a lot like I’ve failed; I know I went into this holiday hoping to lose a couple pounds (I’m at the highest I’ve ever weighed), and this slip-up makes me feel really bad about myself. I know how illogical it is, but I need some encouragement on this. I felt as though I’d been doing well with my eating before tonight (with a few slipups here and there), but I really want to: a) weigh my target, set-point weight and b) beat binge eating once and for all. I know purging won’t help, so that’s not an issue, but this is hard. How do I get over this guilt? How do I balance losing a couple pounds with fully relearning how to eat normally?
Thanks so much,
Hi Katherine,
Thanks so much for your question. I’ll bet that you’re one of millions of people dealing with Post Thanksgiving Anxiety right now.  Start by forgiving yourself. You just cannot go backward and undo a binge. It won’t work as you know, all it will do is get you into a vicious cycle of bingeing then trying to undo the harm, then bingeing again. You can’t go backward, you can only take a breath, remind yourself that this binge won’t do much harm if you stop bingeing immediately and make your very next meal a healthy one. The guilt won’t help you to feel better, but telling yourself that you have the next meal, the next hour, the next day to just do better, to take control of your binge eating. In 12-step groups, they say, “do the next right thing.”
What is your next right thing? What can you do to go forward instead of staying in the binge? What can you do to move yourself out of this instead of stay in this?
1.First off, let go of it. Thanksgiving happens once a year. It’s the holiday where the whole country winds up in a food coma. You’re not alone. Today should be an exception for you. Try to forgive yourself. Next year you can prepare and make it safer.
2. Tomorrow will be a good day. When you wake up tomorrow morning, make sure you eat a healthy breakfast. If you are just not hungry, have some green tea with lemon, a fruit and perhaps an egg. Eat it slowly and mindfully and allow yourself to eat without guilt and shame. You are eating for heath and nutrition. Drink lots of water throughout the day to help your body process your binge and let go of retained water.
3. Do some light exercise such as a long walk in a beautiful setting to help calm your mind as well as to help your body feel empowered and light.
3. Try some meditation for food and eating issues. It might enable you to slow down and think about food in a less anxious more peaceful way.
4. Check out the following posts that might be helpful:

I hope that this answers your question and you’ve found this helpful.
Warmly,
Leora
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.
On another note, I have an inbox full of Q&A’s that I’ve not gotten to. For that I apologize. I will be answering all your questions soon!

15 Steps to Having a Successful Thanksgiving without Binge Eating

Thanksgiving can be a nightmare for anyone dealing with binge eating, bulimia or other compulsive eating issues.  For many people, being around the stress of family coupled with giant amounts of food can be a recipe for acting out excessively with food.  Be prepared before you go to Thanksgiving Dinner.

1.)Have an intention around food and drinking. Think about what you are going to choose to eat and drink and how much. Making this intention will help you to empower yourself around food and alcohol rather than  letting the food take over.  Share this intention with a family member or supportive friend or a therapist.

2.)If you don’t have anyone supportive at the Thanksgiving meal, see if you can bring a a support resource with you, a friend who might be going through recovery with you or someone you feel safe with. If you cannot do that, have a support person who you can talk to on the phone intermittently throughout the meal.

3.)Make sure that you eat a good solid breakfast before you go to Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t show up hungry. If you do, your hunger might take over and squelch your intention.

4.)Just because there are several new and interesting foods there, you don’t have to eat everything. Make sure that you let yourself have a solid dinner, with protein, vegetables and a starch if you wish. If you just snack or graze on a bunch of different foods, you will inevitably wind up feeling unsatisfied, as though you’ve not really had a meal. This could lead to feeling too full and trigger a binge.

5.)Talk to people in rooms away from food. You don’t have to sit on a couch in front of a giant platter of cheese and crackers and nuts and hors d’œuvres talking to your aunt. Try to concentrate on conversations with  people.

6.)Eat slowly and mindfully. It’s not a race to the end. You can enjoy good food and good conversation.

7.)Don’t compulsively overexercise in anticipation of “eating extra calories.”  It will leave you very tired and hungry, again, unable to empower yourself to hold your intention.

8.)Take walks or time outs. Let yourself leave the situation and take mini breaks. Let yourself get away from the stress of the food and the stress of family that sometimes exists.  If it’s too cold or not realistic for you to leave, take your cell phone into another room and say you need to make an important call and talk to your support person.

9.)Bring your journal with you so that you can sit and relax and process your feelings during the meal rather than stuff your feelings.

10.)Bring your ipod with some mediation music or relaxing music that puts you in a calm mood.

11.)Make a gratitude list! Think about what you are grateful for during the holiday.

12.)If there are children there, spend time playing with them. If there are elders there, spend time talking to and getting to know them. Both things that will be enriching and get your mind off of food.

13.)Mediate. Sit quietly in the bathroom for five minutes and take deep slow breaths into your belly. Inhale slowly  to the count of five and exhale slowly to the count of five. This will calm your body and allow you to let go of any stress or anxiety that your body is holding on to.

14.)Remember that if it seems like it might be too hard this year,  you don’t have to go. It’s true, you might let some people down. But you can always explain to them that it’s important for you to take care of yourself in this way this year. If you don’t think that they’d be amenable to this, or you think that they will accuse you of being self centered or self absorbed, don’t offer any explanation that might leave you vulnerable to being shamed or insulted.

15.)Create loving boundaries for yourself. Think of your inner child and think about how you would help your child if they wanted to eat all the pie and all the mashed potatoes. You would be kind and understanding but explain to them that you didn’t want them to get a bellyache! So of course they are allowed to eat pie and mashed potatoes, but in moderate amounts. A good rule of thumb, keep portion sizes for your Thanksgiving treats to about the size of the palm of your hand.

For information on how to help a loved one with an eating disorder, please read this article.

I would love to know what kind of intentions people are setting to make their Thanksgiving safe and fun this year. Please don’t hesitate to post your Thanksgiving intentions in the comments. If you have any additional ideas on how to make the holiday safe, please post those as well!

HAPPY HOLIDAY!

What to Do if you Binge in the Morning

all day long food bingeNow that the holidays are rolling around, all day binges start to happen. You know how it goes, you’ve woken up with the best intentions. You get your coffee and then you spy the box of Christmas cookies on top of the refrigerator. You grab two to dip in your coffee. Then another, then another. Then, before you know it, you’ve eaten the whole box. You’ve had a full-on binge and it’s only 7am. What next? How do you stop yourself from having a binge that lasts the rest of the day?

 

Stop now. No more eating. Don’t finish up your healthy meal. Don’t continue eating the cookies. Just stop. Take a glass of water and get into the shower and take a deep breath. You’re fine. You can get back on the right track. Tell yourself that you won’t eat until you’re hungry again. If you don’t know when that is, look at the clock and plan for 5 hours from now.

Get dressed in something that you’re comfortable in. If you are bloated from your binge, put on loose clothing, nothing that feels uncomfortable, restricting and makes you feel worse about yourself. Drink tea and water throughout the day throughout the day to help you deal with the bloat.

When lunch time rolls around, if you’re still not hungry from your binge, it’s okay to skip it. I don’t usually advocate for skipping meals, but if you’ve binged that morning and you’re still stuffed, a meal is just going to trigger more of a binge.   When the five hours that you’ve scheduled rolls around, check in and see if you’re hungry. If you are, let yourself eat something healthy and light like a salad with some protein or a snack of hummus and carrots. If not, let it go until 4pm.  At 4pm, have something  chock full of protein, but light,  like some two hard boiled eggs, a can of salmon or tuna, or a small grilled chicken breast.  When you get home that night, have a healthy sensible dinner.

You can tell yourself to stop. You can wait until you’re hungry. You can stop a morning binge from turning into an all day binge. If you binge in the morning, you’ll have a rough 3-5 hours. If you binge all day, the whole day will be difficult and you’ll wake up the next morning feeling even more horrible. It might even continue into that next day. It’s much better to deal with a rough few hours in the morning rather than going for several days or weeks bingeing.

Good luck!

Friday Q & A- Help, I’m obsessed with food

eating disorder therapyQuestion: Help! I saw your blog and realized that a lot of my odd habits have to do with my unhealthy association with food, but I do not know how to stop it. I am constantly thinking about food, looking for food, and seeing where I can get free food. When I’m at work, I look for places where there is free food available, even if it is not on my floor/department. When there are samples, I can’t help but take more than one. I sometimes even go to places like Costco, just to get the free food samples. At times I have fallen so low as to “try” other people’s food from the fridge without asking. I managed to stop this for a while, but now I have started to feel the urge again.

How do I stop these embarrassing habits? Part of it has to do with the fact that I love to try new things, and a little of different things. Also, I’d like to “sample” some items, but know I don’t want to buy the whole container of it to take home.  However, a part of it, I know deals with the fact that I don’t allow myself to eat some of these foods, like take out, because it is not good.
I feel like these habits have started to interfere with my life, and don’t know how to stop exactly. Any advice would be appreciated.
Thank You,
Nadia
Answer: Hi Nadia, thank you so much for your question. I feel for you. It sounds like food obsession is taking over your life and your mind.
I imagine that there are a few things going on here. The first is that you have these big conflicting emotions about food. One is excitement and curiosity– but the other is fear. So you allow yourself to find ways to keep food limited for you. You don’t trust yourself to set your own limits, so you find places to that will set those limits for you. You go to places where there are free samples so you don’t have to deal with setting your own limits.
The other thing that I am thinking is, I wonder what you would be thinking about if you weren’t thinking about food? Is there something else that’s going on that you might be avoiding? Is obsession with food helping you to look toward something easier than what is really going on?
I think that the answer for you is two-fold, first to practice limit setting and second to figure out what it is that you’re avoiding. For instance, find a safe person and tell them that you are experimenting allowing yourself to buy and eat new foods in a healthy way. Then, think about what it is that you’re wanting to eat. Is it a pretzel? Can you go out and buy a pretzel and bring it home and eat it very slowly, mindfully and allow yourself to enjoy it? Can you stop when you are done? I recommend that you have your safe person there with you so that you have someone to talk to if you feel like bingeing or if you feel out of control. You might want to try a mindful eating download.
When you find yourself obsessing or scavenging for food, ask yourself, “what might I be avoiding? Is there something underneath these thoughts of food that I’m thinking about or needing?”
I do think that eating disorder therapy would be super beneficial for you to help you explore these questions. Check out edreferral.com for a therapist in your area. 
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. Are you interested in online therapy to deal with your eating disorder? Please see my website or email me to discuss getting started. 

Friday Q & A- I am stuck in a cycle of bingeing and dieting

I'm sick of dieting!Question:
My name is Lisa and I live in Texas. I overweight when I was young and went on a diet at age ten and lost 20 pounds. I became super healthy and absolutely loved being in shape and eating healthy foods however it has slowly become more like slavery to me. I never eat anything unhealthy but I tend to binge and go crazy with food before starting like a cleanse or cutting out a certain food because I think it will be my last time to eat that food. My binge consists of tons of dried fruit or several protein bars in one sitting. I get super full and don’t throw up but I feel very guilty and disappointed in myself. I don’t know how to get out of the feeling of deprivation because that’s what leads to the binging..thinking I won’t be able to have that food for a while. What can I do to get free from this problem!!??? Thank you!

Answer:

Hi Lisa,

I’m sorry that you are feeling stuck in the tyranny of bingeing and depriving. But I think that your answer is in your question. You state that you “binge and go crazy with food” before you start a cleanse. You didn’t say what a cleanse means to you. Does it mean a fast or an intense deprivation diet? Whatever it means to you, it is setting up your black and white thinking. Meaning, as you say in your note, that you believe that you will never be able to eat something again, so you binge on it. After the binge, you feel terrible.

I am wondering why you choose to go on cleanses or why you choose to cut out certain foods. Are you allergic to them? Do they make you sick? If the answer is no, then you have answered your own question,  the solution to your problem is to stop depriving yourself. How about allowing yourself to eat the things IN MODERATION that you are cutting out? This will then stop your cycle of bingeing on them. For instance, instead of saying, “I can never ever eat dried fruit again,” tell yourself that you are allowed to eat a handful of dried fruit for desert each night.  Because the prior statement seems to create a lot of anxiety for you. Saying, “I can never _________again…” is triggering your all-or-nothing thinking and making you vulnerable to binges.  You say “I don’t know how to get through this feeling of deprivation because that’s what leads to the binges,” the only answer to that is to stop depriving yourself. You can be healthy and in shape and occasionally eat a protein bar or dried fruit. What’s more unhealthy than including some treats here and there is stress induced bingeing, self-hatred, guilt and shame, etc. It’s just food. People who exercise, eat well 80% of the time, and keep their stress levels down tend to be healthier than people who are either inactive and binge and overeat constantly or people who are so anxious about food that they are unable to enjoy their lives.

Try to allow yourself some more “yeses” and more self kindness and watch how the bingeing decreases.

 

I hope that this answers your question and you’ve found this helpful.
Warmly,
Leora
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.