Monthly Archives: January 2014

Friday Q & A- Cheat Days Have Turned into Binge Days

i binge on my cheat daysQuestion:

My name is Elizabeth. I am from Australia and have been struggling with binge eating just over 6 months now.
It started when I competed as a Fitness Model– I was on a very restrictive diet and was allowed “cheat meals” once per week- these cheat meals became binges. After my comp the cheat meals/binges became more regular now they are just a way of life. I get stressed out easily and am often alone- my partner works away, I look forward to eating & get enjoyment & a thrill out of it. I can’t go into the city without visiting my favourite chocolate store and that leads me to a binge. I can’t seem to find any help or anywhere that doesn’t cost a fortune! My binging is affecting my self esteem, my career and my relationship.
What should I do to stop this cycle?

Answer:

I want you to begin by looking at semantics here. When we begin to use words such as “cheat” to describe food and what is essentially giving ourselves nourishment and keeping ourselves alive, we begin to think of eating as a game. Eating is not a game and it’s not a competition, it is one of the ways that we stay alive, along with breathing and elimination. Eating and cheating should not be in the same realm. You eat to stay alive, you cheat to gain an advantage over someone dishonestly  or deceptively. So how is eating cheating?

It is not. You are never cheating by eating. You are working to stay alive and ultimately healthy.

 

Given that change in definition, let’s begin to look at how your mind has formed an expectation around your eating. You think that you are only supposed to be eating a certain way, however, you then begin to think of food as a competition, as something you need to get ahead in. That makes sense given the fact that you compete with your body for a living. You then have to “cheat” to get ahead, you believe that have to cheat in order to give yourself appropriate nourishment.  In order to begin healing this, I’d like you to begin to not think of food in terms of cheat foods or safe foods. All foods should be allowed, however, you need to learn to put boundaries on them. So instead of one day a week having a cheat food, telling yourself that you are allowed to have chocolate every single day, but not a binge amount, an appropriate serving. An appropriate serving is 1-2 squares. Tell yourself that you can have one square at lunch and one at dinner, or whatever is deemed appropriate. Your food should be mostly for nourishment and healing, but indulging in foods that are pleasurable is always okay. It is okay to eat for pleasure!   But pleasure and bingeing are two different things. Eating for pleasure is mindful eating. You sit down, you put that piece of chocolate in your mouth and you really taste it. Try a mindful eating meditation. You feel the sensation of the chocolate on your tongue, you let that taste sensation go to your brain. You allow your senses to take it in. You breathe into it. Binge eating would taking that chocolate, shoving it in your mouth, barely tasting it and scavenging for more in attempts to escape feeling a certain way.  Try to reframe your thoughts around food to healing and nurturing and nothing is off limits or cheating. However, there are some foods that would not be nurturing to you. For instance, perhaps things made with  gluten give you a stomach ache. Before you eat something, ask yourself, “is this nurturing or punishing?” then, depending on the answer, decide what you’re going to do. Chocolate might be nurturing in some instances and punishing in others. For instance, if you know that you are going to eat chocolate in an abusive way (ie: binge, then beat yourself up for bingeing) it’s punishing. But you might be able to eat chocolate in a way that is nurturing, (ie: sitting, savoring and enjoying a small amount then walking away from it.)

The way you talk to yourself about food is the first step in healing.  I hope that this was helpful to you. Please do comment and let me know how you’re doing.

 

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. 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’m trying to diet for my graduation, but I can’t stop bingeing

want to lose weight for graduation

Question:

I’ve been trying to be on a diet under 1200 calories a day so that I can look good during my graduation which is two weeks away. For the past few weeks I’ve been exercising on an average of  four days a week and trying to keep my calorie intake in check. But this  this week, things just got way out of hand. I began  craving junk food more. I started buying ice cream bars, muffins, chips and eating it alone all at once. I felt really stuffed and uncomfortable and very guilty afterwards.  I though then that maybe I would binge for one day and then from tomorrow onward, I would start eating clean again. I didn’t work. I ate more  junk. The more I eat, the more I  crave.  It has been about 3 days of bingeing on junk already. i feel like i am totally out of control and i really want to get out of this vicious cycle. My exams are starting tomorrow and i am constantly thinking about food, and i am unable to focus on my revision at all. Please help me.

Answer:
Stop! Take a nice deep breath and try to relax.
I know that you want to “look good” for your graduation. But as you’ve experienced, obsessive dieting is going to push you right into a binge cycle.
The immediate answer is to  stop trying to  get back to where you were and decide from this moment to go forward in emotional and physical health, that doesn’t include obsessive dieting. This will help to stop the obsession so that you can think about something other than food. Recover from your 3 days of bingeing. Tell yourself that you are allowed to eat sweets or what you call “junk,” but only one serving each day and at the end of the day, after you’ve eaten a healthy dinner. Legalizing treats will help you to keep from obsessing and take the aura of mystique and shame away from them.
Remain calm, drink water, drink tea.  Wake up each morning and fix yourself a good healthy breakfast– don’t count calories. Something like 2 eggs, 1-2 pieces of fruit and maybe some cheese or a piece of toast and a cup of tea or coffee.   Lunch should be something like a salad or roasted vegetables with protein like chicken plus some beans, plus a fat, like olive oil or full fat salad dressing and some cheese. Or a nice sandwich made with protein and a fruit to go with it and a drink. Dinner could be protein, like a filet of salmon or steak or chicken, a lot of cooked vegetables or winter squash, a sweet potato or yam with butter. Then have a desert. A cup of ice cream or one cupcake or whatever it is. If you are hungry, eat. But ask yourself before you eat, “am I really hungry or do I just want food?” If you don’t know the answer, wait for one hour and then ask yourself again. As far as exercise is concerned, keep exercising, but it doesn’t have to be four days a week of extreme cardio, it can be long walks, water aerobics, swimming, hiking, dancing, anything that you find enjoyable, not punitive.  Care of the self is about loving the self, not punishing the self.

I hope that this was helpful for you. Please do comment in the comments sections with anymore follow-up questions.

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. 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- How can I stop this obsession with food?

obsessed with foodFor the next several posts, I’ll be playing catch-up with Q&As. It’s not Friday, but here’s your Q & A!
Question:
This comes to us from a reader named Maureen.
Hello,
I  came across your blog when, after succumbing to yet another binge episode, I took to the internet in the hopes of finding some answers, somewhere. I’ve been dealing with this disease for about 2 years now, and I just can’t do it anymore. It’s exhausting and I hate myself. The thing is, I don’t know what to do. I tried going to a therapist. She was a lovely person, but didn’t really know much about BED. I tried going on anti-depressents, and they just increased my appetite (exaaactly what I needed) and then I tried ignoring the problem… Obviously none of these have worked, so I’m hoping you might be able to guide me.
Here’s my story in a nutshell:
I spent my life not just overweight, but obese. I was 250lbs by 17 (I’m 5’2). The funny thing was, although I always wanted to be skinnier, it never really bothered me and I was pretty confident and happy. When I went to college, I decided to get healthy and dedicated myself to it. At first, it was great. I felt good, lost a lot of weight, and was getting compliments left and right. Then, I became obsessed. I overexercised, calorie counted to the extreme, got too skinny and stressed myself out. At the time, I was also dealing with taking 6 classes, working two jobs, and acting in 4 plays as well as dealing with family problems. Needless to say, I snapped. And, once I slipped down that slippery slope, I never recovered. I ate my way from a 129 lb overworked frame to a 190lb burgeoning one.
Honestly, I hate the body I’m in now. It’s slow, it’s achey. It can’t even do the exercises I love anymore because of the abuses I put it through when I was overexercising. But what I hate most of all, is the daily fight with the voice in my head. The constant obsession over food, the voice yelling at me for being fat, the one telling me not to eat that, to get skinny or I’ll die a crazy cat lady.
Honestly though, I don’t even care about being skinny anymore ( I mean, obviously, it would be nice). I just want to be healthy, in all senses of the word. I just want to be in a place where I don’t find myself surrounded by wrappers and empty containers, wrapped in a blanket of disgust and guilt, while suffering through the stomach aches caused by my episodes.
So, sorry for writing you a novel. I’m just hoping you can give me some advice.

Answer:

Maureen,

Thank you for your very candid question and all your honesty. It sounds like such a difficult place you’re in, feeling uncomfortable in your body, hating yourself both physically and emotionally, being surrounded  by waste and feeling hopeless.

Part I- Forgiveness:

Your first step is to literally take a step out of yesterday. Allow yourself to shed the past. Allow yourself to step away from the things that happened in the past, that you shed more than 100 pounds and that you gained a lot of it back. Let’s attribute a lot of that to living with an eating disorder.  This is a new chapter in your life, one where you are choosing to heal.  A big part of healing is forgiveness. So you need to first forgive yourself for the past. You state that you hate your body. But your body needs love and support right now while it heals. I want you to start by just quietly sitting with your eyes closed and telling your body that you are sorry for all that you’ve put it through, all the bingeing, starving, obsessive exercise, mean thoughts, and that you know it’s been through a lot but from now on you guys are a team, that you are going to begin to treat it with kindness so that it can heal. Then ask your body what it needs. Then just quietly listen and wait. Your body will tell you what it needs.

Part II- The Healing Process:

Instead of focusing on being skinny or healthy, begin to focus on feeling better both physically and emotionally. Sometimes we can trick ourselves into believing that we are focused on health when we are really still being gripped by a desire to be skinny. I suggest starting a mindfulness practice to check in with yourself physically and psychologically. Set an alarm on your phone (or watch or whatever you have) to go off every 2 hours. Every time it goes off, take a break from whatever you are doing. If you can find a quiet place to go, even better, if not, just quietly take a few deep breaths into your belly and ask yourself, “how am I doing?” “what do I need emotionally?” “what do I need physically?”  You might hear that you need a nap, or an apple, or to talk to a good friend on the phone, or to get some air, or whatever it is that you need. The first step in healing is to begin to attune to yourself and figure out who you are and what you need. Being gripped by an eating disorder is the opposite of being attuned to yourself, you are totally separate from yourself because the eating disorder is dictating your behavior instead of what you truly need.  Give yourself a month of this practice before even attempting to do anything else. The next part of your healing process is thinking about helping your body heal. If you are slow and achey, you should definitely go see a doctor to consult, get your blood tested and get an approved exercise plan. Once you are cleared, doing really fun but gentle exercise (things that are easy on your joints like water aerobics) is a great idea. You then can begin to think about getting your food back in order, once you are in a better relationship with yourself. Your relationship with yourself should be number one, not your relationship with food, which is why I’m suggesting that you wait on thinking about food until you’ve spent more time with your own needs. When you are ready, I’d recommend you seeing a nutritionist who specializes in treating eating disorders to support you in getting your food back on track. My philosophy in food is allow everything, but have gentle, loving boundaries. This could look like 3 meals a day and 1-2 snacks that are 80% whole foods and 20% other.

 

I hope that this was helpful for you. Please do comment in the comments sections with anymore follow-up questions.

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