Author Archives: Leora Fulvio

Dealing with Deeply Ingrained Beliefs

why do i feel so worthless

I was talking to one of my long-term clients yesterday who is just SO. DAMN. TIRED. And she feels like the only thing she can do is stand in front of her refrigerator and binge eat. Of course she is tired, she has a part-time job in the healthcare field and she has a 6-month old baby at home. In discussing ways that she can delegate and get some rest sometimes, what came out is that she is afraid to delegate. She doesn’t want anyone holding her baby, doing her charting, washing the dishes, cleaning her house, anything else. Why? Not because she has control issues, but because she wants to be seen as indispensable. She is afraid that if she were not “pulling her weight” and being the best she could be, that she would be replaced. That she would be fired and replaced at work, that she would be left and replaced by her partner and that she would be rejected and replaced by her baby.  Meanwhile she’s in so much physical pain that she can’t walk and she’s so stressed out that she finds herself bingeing constantly. It’s not rational, right? Obviously her baby isn’t going to find a new Mommy if she lets someone hold him and rock him while she takes a bath. Obviously her partner is not going to leave her if the house isn’t perfectly clean. Obviously as a top provider in her field, she’s not going to be fired if she takes a lunch break.  But core wounds are not rational. This woman’s Dad left her and her Mom, and replaced them with a new family. He did that again to his new family, and he did that one more time. So, somewhere in her brain she felt that she was easily replaced. Clearly this was her Dad’s issue, he was the problem- he was nomadic, didn’t know how to stay put, didn’t know how to be close to those who loved him. But it’s incredible how one person’s problems set off a chain reaction, isn’t it? Even though him being a chronic abandoner had nothing to do with her, in her little girl brain, she believed that it was her fault which somehow made her into a hyperfunctioning adult who has a million balls in the air and never allows one to drop. To the detriment of everything inside her. And obviously this takes a toll not just on herself but on those around her. No one wants a stressed out Mama or wife. Even though she felt like getting a massage would be selfish and taking care of herself and delegating responsibility to others  would be selfish and risky, she has come to understand that it’s not true. It’s her core wound that is telling her that. In reality, if she were to have some self-care rituals, she might alleviate the stress and have more ease to her life. The people around her might also feel more ease. 

So what about you? What core issues do you have that are keeping you from living your life in a more comfortable way? What is your “original myth?” Hers was “I am replaceable…”  
or “I have to be better than everybody else so that I’m not abandoned…” Other original myths I’ve heard are:
“Who I am is not loveable, so I always have to do more. I can’t be a human being, I have to be a human doing…” or
“I am worthless…”
“I don’t have the kind of money that other people have and never will…” 
“No one will ever love me…”
“I am too needy…”
“I am too much for people…”


What we have to remember is that these original myths were formed when we were children because of something that was going on around us that had nothing to do with us. But as children, we can’t step outside ourselves and analyze our world. We see everything as an extension of ourselves and then the stories become ingrained. 

Questions to ask yourself:

“What around me stressful when I was a child?” 
“Who was anxious?”
“Who was angry?” 
“Who said or did hurtful things?” 
“How did that stay with me?”
“How did that create my original myth?”
“How is this still with me?”
“How can I remind myself that it’s not real?”

As you ask yourself these questions, you might come to find that you are able to loosen your grip on certain behaviors that keep you tired and stressed out. 

Will I Always Have Binge Eating Disorder?

you won't always be fighting with food.

No. You won’t. You really, really won’t. You can heal and be free. Seriously.

When people first come into recovery or first contact me, they often say, “I know this is something I’ll have to deal with for the rest of my life…” but it’s not necessarily true. You can be at the point where you stop thinking about it, stop battling, and disengage with the fight. You know what I mean by the fight. The place where you are sitting there and fighting with the urge and analyzing every thought, every instinct and every hunger signal. Yes. We do all of this when we begin to recover, but eventually, you can walk away and you will be safe. It won’t sneak back up on you. You no longer have to be hypervigilant.

You won’t always be grappling with this. You will eventually find peace with food. 

I know that sometimes it feels like you will always be engaged with this battle with food and your eating disorder, but in truth, when you win the fight, you will eventually have freedom.

Recovery kind of sneaks up on you. If you’ve ever been a smoker, you probably remember how hard it was to quit, but now, ultimately you find that you rarely have cravings, and even if you do, they are not enough to go out and buy a pack of cigarettes. It’s the same thing with binge eating. Even if you have the urge, it’s an itch. A passing reminder that maybe you need to give yourself something more. Some sleep, some love, some attention. Maybe you’re anxious, stressed, etc and your mind goes to food. That’s okay, you won’t be fighting tooth and claw to resist. You will just notice with curiosity, possibly annoyance and hopefully compassion.

How to Make a Difficult Decision

 

 

Do you ever feel just totally lost?

Do you ever feel just totally lost?

I was with a client this morning who has a really big decision to make. She is deciding between two jobs that have been offered to her or alternately staying in her current job. She is a wreck. She can’t sleep. She’s been bingeing non-stop on anything she can get her hands on. She’s depressed, she’s anxious and she’s not sure what impact each decision will have on her life. And ultimately, though she doesn’t really love her job, she is comfortable there- and change is just so freaking hard. So, all that has been making her a total nervous wreck with very little ability to be grounded and centered.

So what do we do when we are in this space?  When we don’t know what to do and when we find ourselves knee-deep in chips and ice cream instead of in the bounty of our choice.

 

 

How to Make a Difficult Decision:

 

1. Remember that choice is a privilege and be grateful for that. It doesn’t necessarily make your decision any easier, but it’s always good to remember that when you have options, you have liberty.

2. Get out of your head and into your body. When you are trying to make a difficult decision, you spend so much time ruminating and stressing about it. You are literally up in your head and not inhabiting your body. This makes you tired, foggy,  not present and more likely to find yourself in front of the refrigerator without your permission or knowledge. Put your feet, feel the ground beneath you and take five deep breaths in and out. Do it right now! You will be amazed at how much of a change you can make in 60 seconds. You might check out this old article on 17 ways to be in your body. 

3. Ask yourself this question, “if I weren’t scared, if I had no fear, what decision would I make?”

4.Think about your needs, your life and let go of anybody else’s energy that might be in your space. Your decision will impact you the most, so try not to think about what other’s might think about the decision you make. You can’t be a mind reader and you can’t please everyone. You don’t have to. You only have to decide on a path that is right for you.

5. Try to think about each possible path and think about how you would feel on the other side of it. If you can find a place of relief, that is where you belong.

6. Ask yourself, “am I afraid of making a poor decision or am I afraid of change?” change is incredibly difficult and we all have trouble with it. But fear of change shouldn’t keep us stuck in circumstances that don’t work for us.

7. Ask your deep inner wisdom. Put you hand over your heart and ask your wise self what you should do. Your higher self knows.

As a gift to you, I am offering my all time favorite guided meditation for free. This offer lasts through the weekend, so download it now. Even if you don’t have a big decision to make, this is an extremely soothing and calming meditation that helps you connect to your deep inner self and find relief and calmness.

Use the coupon code CALM and click here to get it for free. 
 

How does mindfulness help binge eating?

mindfulness binge eating

You know how sometimes it’s not even noon but you know that you are going to have a binge when you get home from work that night? You begin planning it, thinking about what stores you’re going to go to, what foods you’re going to get, where you are going to eat it, what you’re going to do when you eat it, what it will feel like in your mouth, what you will be doing while you’re bingeing (will you be watching television? will you be searching the web? will you be on the phone? or will you just be sitting alone with the food?) You begin to get excited and your amygdala (the part of your brain responsible for emotional reaction) lights up with excitement. Just the anticipation and desire of a binge creates activity in your brain that basically brings you to the binge. So your actual binge starts about 6-8 hours before the binge starts. It’s those first thoughts about it, the anticipation which just carries itself and basically makes you feel as though you don’t have a choice. The thoughts of bingeing carry you straight to your binge.

 

So that’s where mindfulness and meditation come in. When you first have those thoughts and the pleasure center in your brain begins to light up with anticipation (it’s not unlike the process of flirting, or hooking up with someone pre-sex or orgasm), it feels as though it’s over. You’re going to binge. However, when you check in with yourself and say, “oh yeah, there are those thoughts again, I’m planning my binge…” you can slow yourself down. You can tell yourself that just because you are planning your binge, doesn’t mean that you have to go through with it. Just because the process part of the addiction has begun does not mean that you have to go through with it. Remember, this is the SAME EXACT function that cocaine addicts go through before they score their drug, it’s the same process that sex addicts go through when they are looking for a prostitute, it’s the same process that gambling addicts go through when they are selling their wedding ring for money to put in a slot machine.

So what we want to do here is slow your brain waaaayyyy down. Even though it’s just noon and you are at work in front of your computer, your mind is at home in the refrigerator.

So what can you do?

1. First, recognize “oh, I’m having THOSE thoughts again…”

2. Remind yourself, “I’m not in the middle of the binge yet, I’m right here at my desk.”

3. Ground yourself, look at your feet on the floor, look at your hands, put your hand over your heart and breath into your belly. Be where you are, not where your mind is taking you.

4. Remind yourself why you don’t want to be on the other side of the binge

5. Think about alternatives, think about what it would be like to wake up the next morning without a binge, let that process excite your mind

6. Plan something equally relaxing for that evening ie: date with friend, bubble bath, taking a long walk outside while listening to music or podcast

7. Call someone and tell them that you have a binge planned and you don’t want to go through with it.

8. Get on this forum and ask for support.

9. Remind yourself that you have a choice. It doesn’t feel like you do, but you do, the thoughts and the desire can’t make you binge, they are just thoughts and desire. You have thoughts and desires a million times a day that you don’t act on.

10. Calm your brain down and slow down your thinking with deep breathing and meditation. 

Eating disorders are notoriously rough because they hit you on lots of different levels, process addiction, food/sugar addiction, trauma relief, bad habit… there are a million different reasons that people binge, but if you can bring some mindfulness into the equation, you have a great chance of recovering.

Why Cheat Days Don’t work For Folks with Binge Eating Disorder

slow carb diet binge eating disorder

About seven years ago, Tim Ferris wrote a blog post called How to Lose 20 pounds of fat in 30 Days without Doing any Exercise.  And here in San Francisco, Tim’s Slow Carb dieting became all the rage. Lots of people were finding lots of success on it.

But… Not my clients.

When Tim’s slow carb diet blew up I suddenly had lots of clients who had great recovery and been abstinent from bingeing  for months or years fall back into full relapses. I’m writing about it now because recently, I’ve gotten a lot of emailed questions from people asking me my stance on cheat days.

My stance is this:  Not if you have an eating disorder and not if you used to have an eating disorder. 

I want you to get out of this mindset “It works for everyone else, why can’t it work for me?”

First off, it doesn’t work for everyone else.  Different things work for different people, but for those who are dealing with an eating disorder, having cheat days doesn’t work. Cheat days become binge days. It’s like this, if you were recovering from heroin addiction, would it be okay for you to have one moderate heroin day? When you just shot up maybe three times a day? Probably not. You’d probably OD. Well when you have binge eating disorder, food is your drug and cheat days will probably cause you to binge, to OD. As we know, big binges can sometimes be slippery slopes and they are difficult to shake off the next day.  You know that bingey/bulimia party next day hangover I’m talking about. 

So, although I have a penchant for Tim and all of his eccentricities and his self-experimentation, I’d give cheat days a thumbs down to people who are recovering from EDs. It seems ideal doesn’t it? You get the best of both worlds, but in my experience, I’ve found that many, many of my clients found it difficult to recover from cheat days.

5 Simple Rules for Dealing With Hurt Feelings

keeping your side of the street cleanLast night, I was talking to Sarah, a client of mine who was filled with anger, rage and hurt because she felt that a friend had totally betrayed her. Sarah had told her best friend Angela about a job that she was going to apply to and then, without telling Sarah, Angela went ahead,  sent her resume in, was called in for an interview the next day and offered the position on the spot. All before Sarah had even had the chance to apply.  Angela called her Monday to tell her about the new job. Sarah was shocked, “wait, I was applying to that same job! I told you that.”

“Well,” said Angela, “when you told me about the job, I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring,”

“But you stole that job right out from under me!” Sarah said.

“You didn’t even apply,” Angela said, “If I hadn’t gotten it, someone else would have, it was never yours, I couldn’t have stolen it!”

Sarah was absolutely devastated. She’s not spoken to Angela, her bestie,  all week, and she’s been bingeing pretty much every day since she got the news. So what happened there?

I’m not going to go into who is right and who is wrong. I don’t have an opinion about that one way or another. Life is life and things happen. But what happens when something that someone does totally hurts your feelings or has you feeling betrayed? What is an appropriate way to behave?

Let’s look at what happened to Sarah. She was hurt by what Angela did. And she took personal offense to it, feeling as though it was something that Angela did to her.

Rule #1. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY.  This was not personal. Angela did not set out to intentionally hurt Sarah. This was something that Angela did without thinking about Sarah at all. It was completely about herself.  But, playing devil’s advocate, what if Angela did want to hurt Sarah’s feelings?  Maybe she did. Maybe she wanted to hurt Sarah by taking the job that Sarah wanted. However, that’s still not personal. If Angela did in fact want to hurt Sarah’s feelings, that’s still not about Sarah. That’s about Angela needing to feel better about herself by doing something to sabotage her best friend.

Sarah then sat there and ruminated about how she’ll never have a good job and how she’s a failure and how she was so irresponsible and how could she have totally blown her chance, why was she so lazy. 

Rule #2. DON’T BLAME YOURSELF.  Sarah’s response was to victimize herself. So she coined Angela as the perpetrator and then turned around and perpetrated herself. She became both the victim and the perpetrator. She became so stuck in this that she was numb and couldn’t take any action to move forward.

Sarah spent the next several days bingeing and even doing some purging after she found out. 

Rule #3. DON’T HURT YOURSELF.  Often, people wind up hurting themselves when they really want to hurt someone else. They will act out in self harming behaviors such as bingeing, cutting, binge drinking, drug using, smoking cigarettes or other self destructive behaviors because someone else hurt them. Just because you were hurt by someone else doesn’t mean you need to hurt yourself. It’s not okay. 

She was also telling anyone who would listen what a sneaky bitch Angela was to go behind her back. 

Rule #4. KEEP YOUR SIDE OF THE STREET CLEAN.  In AA, the motto keeping your side of the street clean means to hold yourself with respect when someone does something that hurts you. Don’t try to hurt them back, don’t try to sully their name and by all means, don’t hurt yourself.  You make your side of the street dirty when you try to retaliate or when you go around saying nasty things to lots of people about the other person. There is no reason to become a toxic person yourself. The best thing that you can do is begin to pay closer attention to yourself, be kind to you, be kind to the people around you, be the kind of person you respect, surround yourself with loving, kind friends and talk to someone who you love and trust about your hurt feelings (mom, husband, sister, brother, therapist). But it should be about you and how you were hurt.

Ultimately, as we talked, Sarah realized that the pain was more about feeling as though she didn’t know how to step up to the plate and get things done and how Angela’s ability to easily send in a resume and get a job illuminated Sarah’s shortcomings to her and made her feel bad about herself. 

Rule #5. IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM EITHER

Don’t make it about the other person, because just like their act wasn’t about you, your feelings aren’t about them. And you shouldn’t give them that space, this is about you healing your own wounds. Often when someone does something that hurts you, you get hurt because old wounds are opened, not because of the actual event. So your hurt feelings are often an opportunity to heal some old wounds.

Free Binge Eating Coaching Call

binge-eating-coaching

Due to popular demand, I’m going to start doing some group coaching calls to help people heal from binge eating and bulimia.

For a limited time, these will be free!

The first one will be in the month of September, I will announce a time and date in the next few days.  If you are interested, please signup here. Even if you can’t make the call, a recorded copy will be sent to you afterwards.

Please take this binge eating survey

This is a totally confidential survey to help create better and more efficient treatment for Binge Eating Disorder. Unless you provide your email address for further discussion, your answers will be totally anonymous and untraceable to you.

Top 5 Causes of Binge Eating Disorder

binge-eating-disorder-causes1

Originially published on Medium.com

Someone asked me yesterday why people have binge eating disorder,  as if there is one answer, she said, “is it trauma? or is it the media’s preoccupation with being thin? or what?”

Okay, so clearly there is no one answer, there are like 100 or one million reasons and they’re all mix and match. But let me tell you here the ones that I’ve come across most often: 

1. Backlash from dieting- A long time ago, somebody said that you were unacceptable. Maybe it was your Mom, maybe it was a teacher, or maybe in fifth grade, the boy you had a crush on said that you had a big butt, maybe in seventh grade your five best friends all decided that they didn’t like you anymore and you ate lunch all by yourself on a bench for the rest of the year and then everyone else followed suit and stopped talking to you. Maybe you couldn’t figure out why and so you blamed it on your body.  Whoever or whatever caused you to think that you were unacceptable, you blamed it on your body, and so you decided to do something to change it. You decided that if you lost weight, you couldn’t get hurt anymore. You could hide, be invisible. But one day, you went off your diet because there was a big piece of  birthday cake in front of you. And then, eating that birthday cake symbolized everything that was wrong with you. All the hurt, all the bad things everyone ever said about you. That birthday cake told you that you were going to be abandoned, alone, lonely for the rest of your life. And it was too much to take. So you ate more to make the pain go away. And then you hated yourself. And so you ate more. The next day you ate nothing. And you were hungry. But still you ate nothing. The day after that, you were so hungry that you ate 5 bowls of cereal for breakfast. Bam. There’s your Binge Eating Disorder. 

2. There was abuse- Someone, along the way, did something that hurt you. Hurt you so much in fact that you decided that you needed to hide. And so you covered yourself and protected yourself by eating and putting on weight. The weight kept you safe and the food kept you sane. It was your coping mechanism and the way that you protected yourself physically from being abused or hurt by people.

3. Depression- You weren’t the type to use alcohol when you were sad, and drugs weren’t your thing. But you could free-base sugar and snort lines of white flour like Grandmaster Flash. Food became your anesthesia, it became your prozac. Bingeing on starchy, sugary foods raised your generated a dopamine response  which lit up the pleasure center in your brain. But the dopamine signal regulated and you became depressed again and more concentrated sugar and processed carbohydrates were needed to make you happy, although ultimately, your depression got worse because you didn’t want to be binge eating. The cycle became vicious. 

4. Overstimulation- Used to be that food was hard to get. I don’t even mean back in the paleo times, I mean like, when your Mom was a girl. You went to the fish market for fish, the fruit stand for fruit and the butcher for meat. There wasn’t a bodega on every corner with cheap processed food for grabbing and eating on the run. Food became less food like and more chemically, addictive substances that your body became addicted to.  Food became so processed and so concentrated that it was no longer food, it was your chemical laden drug. Funyuns and Hohos got you high. You began going on benders and felt that you couldn’t stop. You were addicted to the chemicals and to the high. 

5. Perfectionism- You were trying to be perfect, look perfect, act perfect, eat perfect. And you did this perfectly… in front of everyone. But when you were home and alone, you just cracked. You had to stop being perfect even for a moment. You sat by yourself bingeing in peace and for a moment, you could drop that perfect facade. And it was a relief. 

Q & A Friday – What Should I Do with My Boyfriend Besides Eat?

Things-to-to-with-boyfriend-instead-of-eating1-e1408656376847This question comes from a reader in Ann Arbor, MI.

Question:

I am 26 years old and my boyfriend is 28. We have a pretty good relationship, but I often feel like we eat too much together. Since I’ve been with him, I’ve gained close to ten pounds. We hang out most nights and we usually sit in front of the television and eat nachos together or we go out to eat and usually have burgers or pizza or burritos or something equally unhealthy. We wake up on Saturday and Sunday mornings and go out to brunch. Seriously, I feel like all we do is eat. I’m becoming totally miserable. I’ve talked to him about it and he doesn’t seem to care or he looks at me like I’m nuts. But I feel gross and I’m getting depressed. What should I do?

-Lisa in Michigan

 

Answer:

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for your question. I hear what you are saying – your relationship is beginning to revolve around food instead of each other and it’s detracting from the relationship itself. You’re becoming increasingly dissatisfied with your eating habits and your weight gain is making you uncomfortable.

Sometimes in family therapy we talk about triangulation- that is when another person is pulled into the relationship to avoid or disperse conflict.  But triangulation doesn’t always happen with a third person, it can also happen with drugs, food, or alcohol. Is there something that the two of you are avoiding in your relationship? You say that you watch TV every night over nachos, does that mean that you’re not talking to each other? Are there any feelings that you might be having about this relationship that you are not looking at?  Check through this article to assess if there is something more there or if you and your bf are using food to avoid.

But it does not necessarily have to be that complex of an issue. It can also just be more of some bad habits that the two of you have slipped into due to the nature of being in a new relationship. Most people do gain weight when they get into a relationship. They are less active and begin to spend more time nesting and cuddling, which starts out as happiness but ultimately causes you to feel bad.

Use the following suggestions to help you find other ways to deal with this.

1. Explain to your BF that you are not feeling happy with the food situation. Use I statements. “My habits have changed quite a bit since we began dating, I love our time together and I enjoy our cuddly nights and lazy weekend morning so much, but I have gained ten pounds because of how much my eating habits have changed! I’d like to start doing things together that don’t revolve around eating so much…”

2. Make suggestions for things you guys can do in the evenings besides eat and watch TV.

-find recipes and teach yourselves to cook healthy meals.

-Cook healthy meals together

-On weekend mornings, explore farmers markets to buy the ingredients for said healthy meals

-While the weather is still nice, go on hikes, either urban hikes or find some nice trails

-Go apple picking

-Go out to see live music

-Go to a comedy club – open mike nights are cheap and fun

-Go out to the movies

-Stay home and read out loud to each other. Choose a book that you’ve both been dying to read and read it outloud!

-Do something crafty like building furniture.

-Go to thrift stores or the Salvation Army, pick out some old grubby furniture, bring it home, refinish it, paint it and sell it or keep it for yourselves

-Do a yoga video together

-Meditate together

-Have sex. Just have a ton of sex. You’re young, no kids, have more sex!

-Go out dancing.

-Stay in and have a dance party alone together

-Make ridiculously funny youtube videos

-Write a story together

-Work on a fun blog together

-Do beach clean up

-Plant a garden

-Go to animal shelters and walk dogs

-Train for a 5k

-Create scavenger hunts for each other

-Go to the gym

-Go to the beach/lake and go swimming

3. If your boyfriend still has no interest in doing non-food related activities, you might consider making plans separate from him sometimes, this doesn’t mean that you are rejecting him or breaking up with him, but it’s important to individuate (be your own person, not just part of a couple) so that you don’t feel resentful and like your life is just going along for the ride of his life.

I hope you’ve found this helpful. Please do feel free to ask anymore questions in the comments or add to this conversation.

Warmly,

Leora

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? 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 or coaching to deal with your eating disorder? Please contact me to discuss getting started.