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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. 

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Most recent quote from community member: "Unbelievable progress. I had a slice of cake, wasn't that fussed about it and moved on. Cake is just cake! I never thought I'd get to this place. I keep thinking back to an earlier meditation when all the negative energy left down through my feet. That was really powerful. I'm planning to play it again. I've also drawn up a weekly meal plan of healthy balanced meals. This just helps to give me a bit of guidance and planning and eliminates any need for impulsive decisions when I often feel stressed after work. Amazing, thank you so much. I always hoped for hope, but n ow I feel like I'm living hope! I'm so grateful Leora. Thank you."