Monthly Archives: February 2014

Friday Q & A- I’ve tried everything to stop binge eating but I can’t

i can't stop binge eating and I don't know what to do nextQuestion:

Two years ago I was diagnosed with BED. Since, its only gotten worse. Especially these last 6 months. I’ve gone no more than 3 days in a row without binging. My binges are extreme: I mean eating until the point of illness. Stealing food from my housemates. Eating from a garbage. Spending bill money on binges. And the thing is I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried adding more protein. I’ve tried eating 3 meals a day. I tried eating every 2 hours. I’ve tried yoga, veganism, behavioural therapy, meditation. I’m scared. It’s ruining my life. It’s prevented me from studying, going out to eat with friends, ruined my relationship with my housemate, I even skipped an exam once because I was in bed sobbing from a binge.

What do I go from here?
Kristina
Answer:
Oh Kristina,
My heart is with you so strongly. I can hear how desperate you feel and how it just seems like you’re drowning under the weight of your own life. I can see what you have tried, all the different therapies, all the different ways of eating, but the one thing that you don’t mention is any kind of support group.  Meditation, behavioral changes, nutritional enhancement and yoga can all be helpful, but it might be that you cannot do it alone right now.  I often think that when an eating disorder is as pervasive and all -encompassing as your is, that it’s important to have others around to help you pull out of it. Your eating disorder is a strong  evil dictator. Alone you cannot beat an evil dictator, you need an army to come in and help you overthrow him.  My sense is that you shouldn’t be doing this alone.  You should try to find a treatment program – check Edreferral.  If you are not able to go into a treatment program due to money or time constraints, you should find a 12 step group like Eating Disorders Anonymous or if that group isn’t available, Overeaters Anonymous and really jump in. Go to a meeting, get a sponsor. Alone, it’s easy to fail, but when you have a support group, an army behind you, you can find your strength in others when you feel that you have no strength left. Binge eating is very possible to heal from. But sometimes, it’s hard to do it alone. Once you get some momentum and a whole group of people who want you to win, you might find healing to be a bit more gentle. As for  nutritional extremes such as veganism– when healing from an eating disorder, especially binge eating, it’s best not to put extreme restrictions on your eating as these often lead to binges. So, everything in moderation. No low carb, no going vegan, no extreme anything, just try to find a middle ground. Moderation is the opposite of bingeing.
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. 

How to Support National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

 

large_The War On Women's BodiesIt’s that time again! National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. 

What is NEDAwareness Week and why is it important you ask?

I’m glad you asked.  Bringing focus to eating disorders is more than just showing support for those who are struggling with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder.  The intention here is to show just how pervasive eating disorders are and how much support there is for eating disorders in our culture. Yes, eating disorders are supported, not recovery.   You can see it everywhere. You can see it when you turn on reality television, you can see it in a yogurt commercials or cereal commercials when you are encouraged to give up a meal and replace it with this artificially flavored yogurt or processed cereal to lose weight. You are supporting eating disorders when you sit around with people and talk about how fat you are and what your next diet is or when you start to discuss someone else’s weight gain or weight loss.  All of this behavior supports eating disorders by reinforcing the idea that you are not okay as you are, that you have to do something dramatic to change yourself.

How can you support National Eating Disorder Awareness?

1. Choose not to engage in Fat Chat– that means, don’t base a friendly conversation around how much weight you need to lose or how much weight others need to lose or who looks like what right now. You have better things to do with your time and more important things to discuss. If someone tries to engage you in their own conversation about their body or someone else’s body, be kind and explain to them what you’re trying to do, “I’m trying this new thing where I don’t speak disparagingly about my own body or anyone else’s. And I don’t want to engage in any negative conversation about your body. My hope is to change the conversation and society’s focus on women’s bodies. Are you onboard?”

2. Don’t buy women’s magazines, especially diet magazines that are disguised as health magazines.

3. Check out NEDA’s How to page– to help you support eating disorder recovery

 

Nervous Eating, Right out of the Freezer

i eat my food still frozen

 

Have you ever wanted “to eat” so badly that rather than heating food up, you have stood in front of the refrigerator eating it cold? Have you ever been standing at your kitchen counter pounding a fork into a frozen cheesecake, even though you could have waited for it to thaw until the next day? Have you ever not finished heating something through because you just wanted it now, and even though it would have been more enjoyable with another 15 minutes in the toaster oven? Have you ever cooked something in the microwave because it was going to take 45 minutes in the oven buy only 5 minutes in the microwave even though in the microwave it would come out mushy and unappetizing?  That’s compulsive eating.

The next time you find yourself eating something cold that would taste better warm, you have a good clue that you are eating for eating’s sake, not for enjoyment or nutrition. You then you know that you are engaging in a pattern or a behavior that is unhealthy. Try to stop, take a breath and tell yourself that the food will be better and you will enjoy yourself more if you heat it up, even if it takes time. If you don’t have the time to heat it up, wait until you do rather than compulsively eating something that is frozen or unappetizing.   If you eat something cold or frozen or mushy, it will ultimately be unsatisfying and cause you to continue or spiral into a binge behavior– you will be chasing the taste that you are looking for. In the time that it takes to heat up your food, try to sit and breath for a few moments and ask yourself, “am I okay?”  The simple act of heating your food can begin to turn you from a disordered eater to a mindful eater.

Q & A Friday- How do I explain my eating disorder to my daughter?

how do i tell  my daughter about my eating disorder?I know that I have a huge backlog of questions to answer and you’ll forgive me that I pushed this one to the front. I so rarely get parenting questions and I forget how important they really are.
Question:
After many, many years of struggle, I am finally trying to seriously recover from my binge eating disorder.  Your website has given me many important points to take time to think about as I begin.  I do know that I never learned how to deal with feelings of any kind and I binge to numb them away.

My daughter is 11.  As far as I can tell, she (so far) does not care about her appearance beyond being clean. She doesn’t watch herself or her food with a critical eye.

She noticed and asked about my food and feelings journal. I explained that I carry the journal to write down some things to think about later, but that is all.
This leads to my questions: How much should she know about my disorder and recovery?  Should I wait until I am further into recovery instead of at the beginning to discuss it, if at all?

I understand that every child is different and every parent-child relationship is different, so there is no single solution. I guess I am hoping for a bit of guidance from experience on what generally should or should not be shared.

On the one hand, I think it could lead to an important discussion about body image and how NOT to deal with uncomfortable feelings. It could also possibly help us bond further by letting her in to my inner struggles and humanity.  I am her stepmother, but the only mom she has ever known.

On the other hand, I’m worried that I will awaken a critical eye in her just by discussing this. Also, because I don’t know how to deal with feelings myself yet, I won’t have an answer for her about what she SHOULD do when dealing with feelings.

Thank you for any insight you can give me and again, thank you for your resources on the web.
Answer:
I love your question. It’s so insightful and shows that you’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’ve been holding this question and thinking about how to answer it.
Generally speaking, I believe that it’s always important in families to be honest. I also believe it’s important not only to let your children have their own feelings, but to show them that you too have feelings and that you’re not afraid of them. I think it’s important to give children an emotional literacy. To ask them what they are feeling and then to help them contact what feelings they are having. You can give your daughter a feelings list and together you can look it over and discuss what  feelings you might be experiencing in the moment. You might even take it a step further and ponder where in your body you feel specific feelings, for instance, “I am feeling fear in my stomach.” Together, you will learn how to talk about feelings which will create a strong basis for future discussions, openness and honesty.
That being said, I think that your instinct to protect your daughter at this time are probably right. I don’t know that she needs to know details about your eating disorder, your feelings and your recovery at this moment. Especially because they are still eluding you somewhat. It’s important for children to feel safe and held and it’s possible that she might begin to feel like she has to be the mom and she has to take care of you if she begins to worry about you. That does not mean being in denial about what is going on with you. If she asks point blank, be forthcoming. For instance, “Mommy, how come you never used to eat but now you’re eating with us?” you can say, “I was not eating healthy before, but I’m working to be strong and healthy now,” and if she asks you why you weren’t eating healthy, you can tell her that you still don’t know why but you are trying to learn that now by thinking and talking about your feelings, then ask her what she thinks and how she feels about that and what that brings up for her. Make every inquiry from her an opportunity for her to discuss her feelings. And at the same time, it’s important that you do share with her, but don’t share too much. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that pre-teens are younger emotionally than they seem.  What I have seen often in my practice is Moms oversharing with their daughters, making them their confidants, then the girls being parentified daughter. 
In my own family, I  remember my brother trying to control my step-mother’s eating disorder by him refusing to eat. When we sat down to dinner, if she wasn’t eating, he wouldn’t eat and it became a huge fight and was very unpleasant. She never discussed her recovery with us and never really tried to recover. It was definitely very difficult for us to watch. We were both always worried from very young ages.  As your daughter becomes more aware of you and your eating behaviors, I would encourage you to check in with her about her feelings and create an open environment for learning and emotional literacy.   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.