How Did I Gain 7 Pounds Overnight?

I Gained Seven Pounds. Oh Sh*t

 

At the gym the other morning, I saw a  young woman hop on the scale, move the weights to a place that apparently she did not like and immediately burst out crying. I was heading toward her to see if she was okay but another woman ran over to her and said, “what’s the matter? are you okay?”  “NO!!!!” She screamed! “I gained seven pounds! SEVEN pounds! Overnight! How did that happen? I’ve been so careful, I’ve been trying to lose weight! How did this happen? How did this happen to me?!!!”  

As you know, this is my territory, this is the population I work with all day, women who are having a really hard time with scales, food, weight, disordered eating, bingeing, purging, restricting, poor self-image and body image.

That scale is evil!

When I walk into the dressing room at the gym and I see it there, I jump away like it’s a snake. I can’t go near that thing. I see other women hopping on and off of it nonchalantly and to me it almost looks like they’re heading to a cigarette machine. For someone with disordered eating, weighing yourself is like an alcoholic walking into a bar. It’s an unhealthy obsession and it will make you feel both crazy and out of control. 

The young woman continued crying, deep heaving wails and sobs. She told the woman who was trying to comfort her that she texted her sister and told her about the seven pounds. That she hated her life. That she didn’t understand why this happened to her…  She then got up and started gathering her things to leave. The woman comforting her said, “wait, aren’t we going to do our workout?” and she said and  “No! Why would I bother? I gained seven pounds!”   and with that, she left.  

She was so upset. She was devastated actually. She had gone to the gym to get her workout in and stepping on that scale ruined a perfectly fine day. She decided not to work out, she went right to black and white thinking.

What do you think would have happened if she hadn’t stepped on the scale? What do you think would have happened if rather than being focused on a specific outcome, she’d just been focused on her day-by-day self care?  I was really sad all day thinking about her, and I wished that I’d had the opportunity to chat with her, but it just wasn’t appropriate. If you are a doctor and someone falls and hurts themselves, you say, “I’m a doctor, let me look at that knee,” but in my case, “I am an eating disorder therapist, I can help you with your cognitive distortion!” As you can imagine,  I really wanted to do that… but it wasn’t appropriate in the moment.  

Later that day, I came across an article about a woman who did an experiment of weighing herself each hour for one whole day to see what happened.   Here’s the general gist of the article. 1. Her weight fluctuated that day by – you guessed it- seven pounds!  And despite the fact that she clearly saw that fluctuation (wait, I haven’t eaten or drunk anything in the past hour, why is my weight up by 2 pounds?) she still started to get really stressed out by the scale!

This is what happens when you start measuring your worth by something that has no use in life other than to measure mass. It doesn’t tell you anything good that you did that day (“I rescued a baby from a burning building!”) It just spits out an arbitrary number. And then you give it the power to make you feel a certain way. This takes you away from having power over your own life. Don’t let a piece of machinery tell you how to feel about yourself. Don’t let it dictate your day. You are worth more than that. I can’t stress enough, the number on the scale has nothing to do with your worth, who you are is perfect, whole and complete at this moment. In another moment your weight might be up five pounds, in another moment it might be down five pounds. But in both those moments, you still are perfect, whole and complete exactly as you are. You haven’t changed. So instead of using this external thing to tell you how you are supposed to feel about yourself, what kind of day you’re supposed to have, instead, do something that makes you have a good day. Buy a meal for a hungry person, dig a sand castle with your neighbor’s kid, plant butterfly fennel in your front yard, say something nice to someone you don’t know… anything else but weigh yourself. The scale is not an accurate measure of your worth, and clearly, it’s not even an accurate measure of your body mass. 

Bingeing on Creme Eggs

It was one of my mother’s ex-boyfriends who introduced me to Cadbury Creme eggs. I was seven years old and I was quickly hooked. Never had my mother let me eat anything that was so…. “junky!” as she would say. Nevertheless, he persisted — he kept talking to my Mom about “how can a child possibly get through childhood without eating creme eggs in the Spring?  You can’t just keep giving her carob covered rice cakes and let her think she’s having a childhood! It’s not right.. it’s just not right.” Eventually, his logic won out and I was allowed a creme egg. And I thought it was the ambrosia of the gods and goddesses. Never had I eaten anything like it (cue the rice cakes). So, as it was, annual Spring Creme Egg binges became a thing.

One summer, while I was living in Boston, one of my roommates who had a job at Store24 brought home a gigantic case of mostly stale Creme Eggs (it was July already). And I even ate those. They were so stale. Creme Eggs were like crack for the binge eating disordered soul. I know that I was not alone because every year at this time, I hear news from my clients that they are struggling with the Cadbury Crack.  Because of that, I’ve decided to share an excerpt from Reclaiming Yourself about this very topic…

 

Diane, a 34-year-old woman, believed that once she started eating chocolate, she would not be able to stop until whatever she was eating was gone. Unfortunately, she had the problem of consistently bingeing on chocolate. During a session that we had during the spring, I asked her to bring in one of her binge foods. What she brought was a bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs.

“These do it to me every time!” she told me. “Someone keeps them in the office and I can’t have just one or two; I have to eat until the bowl is gone. It’s so embarrassing. I always have to run out to Walgreens to refill the office bowl.”

She brought them in a small plastic bag. There were about a cup of them in the bag.

“How many do you think is an appropriate serving for you?” I asked her.

asked her. “Maybe about five,” she said.

“Okay, take five out of the bag and put them in your hand.” She looked at me suspiciously. This was not an easy exercise. Diane was letting me in on a very intimate moment; she was with her binge food, her lover, the thing that gave her comfort and safety and I was intruding in their space. She took five mini eggs out of the bag and put them in her hand.

“Now,” I said, “take one and smell it.” She held it up to her nose.

“What are you feeling?” I asked her

“Angry at you. You’re staring at me and judging me and you’re invading my private space. I want to eat this right now. But I feel like you’re not letting me.”

Anger is not an uncommon sensation when someone begins engaging in mindful eating. Depression is said to be anger turned inward. Many of us reclaiming3believe that it’s not okay to be angry. We push anger down with food and turn it in on ourselves. It becomes depression, inner turmoil, pain, and self-loathing. When we stop eating mindlessly and using food to push the anger down, it begins to surface and that is very uncomfortable.

“It’s okay for you to be angry, Diane. Do you know what you’re angry about?”

“I’m angry that you aren’t letting me eat this.”

“Anything else?”

“I had a crappy day at work today.”

“What happened?”

“My boss yelled at me for something I didn’t do, and I just sat there and took it, accepted her rage because there is no use in defending myself. I’ll just come off looking bad.”

“So now you want to crunch down on these chocolate candies and let all the rage melt away.”

“I guess,” she told me.

“Okay, Diane, go ahead and close your eyes. I will close my eyes too so you don’t feel that I am watching you eat, and just take one bite of the egg.”

We both closed our eyes as I heard her crunch down.

“Now as you chew,” I told her, “chew slowly. Notice the feeling of the candy in your mouth. Notice the tastes on your tongue. Notice the thoughts and emotions that come up for you. Let me know after you swallow, but don’t take another bite.”

“Okay, I swallowed,” she told me.

“What did you notice?” I asked her.

“Well,” she said, “it was funny. Even though I was eating and tasting my food, I just wanted to hurry up and swallow so I could take another bite and keep eating. I was barely able to enjoy what I was eating because I just wanted to chase the taste. I just wanted more.”

“What do you think about that?” I asked her.

“It’s definitely interesting,” she said.

“Okay, go ahead and close your eyes, and finish the candy.”

We both closed our eyes and she put the rest of the candy in her mouth. She chewed slowly and swallowed.

“What came up for you?” I asked her.

reclaiming“Well,” she said, “I started thinking about my Aunt Meryl. Every Easter she would have an Easter Egg hunt for us kids. Me and all my cousins would spend the day outside playing and running around and looking for eggs. The days had just started getting longer and I knew that summer was around the corner. We would play until dusk then sit around and have a gigantic Easter feast. Of course then, it took my father forever to get me into the house to eat. Back then I loved to play… now, it’s all about the food… now I’d be waiting impatiently for the food to be served. Anyway, back then I just loved being away from my dad and my stepmother’s house. My aunt was so warm and loving. I loved to play with my cousins. Then she’d send me home with a giant Easter basket, back to the lonely dysfunction of my dad’s house. I’d sit alone in my room sad that the day was over. The candy in my basket gave me comfort.”

Diane realized at that moment how much her food and her eating were connected to her feelings. I asked her to take another egg, close her eyes, and put it in her mouth. As she did, I reminded her to really taste it in her mouth, feel the texture on her tongue, the flavors on her taste buds and the sensations of chewing on her jaw and in her teeth. After she swallowed, she opened her eyes and said, “It didn’t taste that great.”

“What do you mean?” I asked her.

“Well, it wasn’t really anything. I feel like I’d go ahead and keep eating to try and recreate the first bite, but when I really pay attention, I didn’t really need any more than the initial bite to receive the pleasure. Anything after that, I was just chasing the flavor.”

I asked her if she wanted any more. “No,” she said, “I’m good for now.”

 

To read more of Reclaiming Yourself from Binge Eatingorder it here. 

The Most Important Piece of Nutritional Advice You Need

There are a lot of “nutrition experts” out there. Everyone fancies themselves a nutrition guru. I see these folks all over the Internet, amateur nutritionologists- they give weight loss advice, they tell people what to include in their diets and what they should absolutely NEVER eat. But here’s the thing. They’re not really nutrition experts. I’m sure that many of them have read everything they possibly can on the Internet about nutrition, I’m sure that they are avid readers and self-experimenters (I won’t say researchers, researchers are in labs) many have taken classes on nutrition, or have a certification in health coaching from an online coaching school…  and I’m sure that they truly believe that they are nutrition experts.

The truth is though, that the highest, highest level researchers in the field of nutrition, molecular biology and metabolism– I’m talking people with multiple PhDs and years of research– those people know that they are not nutrition experts either. This is because the fields of nutrition and metabolism are largely mysterious and untapped as of right now.  The people with the highest degrees and research backgrounds are the ones who are most willing to admit how little they know about nutrition. 

If you are dubious, let’s do a comparison. Here is a list of the classes needed to become a PhD in nutrition and metabolism at Boston University, and here is a list of the classes needed to get a degree from Health Coach Institute. Of note, the PhD in nutrition is a six year program and the coaching certification is a six month program. In looking at the curriculum of the coaching program, only one of those modules is dedicated to actually learning about nutrition, the other five months are coaching and business skills. I don’t necessarily think that health coaching is a bad thing;  there are people who can certainly benefit from learning to eat healthy whole foods, how to shop for them, and how to look inside themselves with a support person to help them understand what foods will help them feel their most optimal. But nobody can actually tell you that. That’s because nutrition and metabolism are extremely complicated.  For instance, there are some foods that are considered anti-inflammatory that will interact horrifically with one person’s constitution and will be great for another person’s constitution. Not even someone with a PhD in nutrition can tell you what foods are best for your body and how specific molecules will interact with different molecules given any particular time in your cycle, or given how much or little exercise or sleep you’ve gotten, where in the world you live, what genetic components your Grandmother was made of… etc. There are a billion different variables that make up how you will react to a certain food at a certain time. Don’t look outside yourself for nutritional advice, look within.

Here’s what inspired me to write this post.

My client (we’ll call her) Jenny. Jenny’s boyfriend is super into bulletproof coffee (hey we’re in the Bay Area, it’s a thing here..) anyway, her boyfriend swears by drinking his coffee with yak butter and coconut oil and raw cocoa every morning. He swears that it gives him mental clarity and that he can run 15 miles without eating anything other than his coffee drenched in high quality fats. He keeps on convincing Jenny to drink bulletproof coffee with him so that she too can lose weight and feel great. So Jenny keeps drinking bulletproof coffee… and she hates it. It makes her have diarrhea every.single.morning.  But she continues to drink it because of what the “experts” on the bulletproof forums say. She feels that she is not doing the right thing by being miserable drinking it, she feels bad about herself. The experts on the forums keep tell her to push through this “break-in” phase where your body has to get used to the coffee and eventually it will habituate. You know what else does that? Laxatives. That’s why laxative dependent bulimia sufferers keep upping their dose of laxatives. Jenny’s body is telling her something pretty significant, yet she’s ignoring it and listening to the advice of “experts.” She doesn’t trust herself or her body, she trusts strangers who don’t live inside of her body. 

My other client (we’ll call her) Debbie.  Debbie was told by her health coach that if she gave up gluten, grains, sugar and dairy that she would feel amazing. So Debbie gave up all those things and she did in fact feel amazing. Wanna hear another thing about Debbie? She’s a recovering anorexic. So being restrictive in her eating complements her psychological schema of feeling amazing when being totally in control and deprived of food. Oh and the other thing about Debbie… after four years of recovery, she started bingeing and purging again.  Her health coach keeps telling her that if she stays away from those four things that her system will heal and that her brain chemistry will even out and she won’t binge and purge anymore. The truth is, when Debbie’s not restricting, her eating disorder is fine. It was her depression that led her to look for nutritional alternatives to Prozac. She then started restricting again, which was of course helpful for her depression because she used her eating disorder to manage her depression symptoms. But now she’s bingeing and purging again. It makes sense… depression is super painful and distressing and anything we can do to make it go away quickly feels better than working with it directly. So the eating disorder comes back and we are distracted from the depression because we have to work on the ED symptomatology. See how that happened? 

If you want to work with someone around nutrition, the best way to do it is to start to focus on what your body tells you that you need. Your body knows. YOUR BODY KNOWS!  

When two of my girlfriends came back from being in the Peace Corps in Mali for two years, one came back super curvy and the other came back super skinny. They told me that they were both eating the same things (lots of rice) but one lost copious amounts of weight on a low protein high-carbohydrate while the other gained weight on the same diet. Two different ways of processing nutrients.

Sit with your food after you eat it and see how your body feels. Are you energetic? Does your belly hurt? Do your joints hurt? Do you have rashes? Are you sleepy? Are you anxious? Are you happy? Looking within and feeling your feelings both emotional and physical is the only way to know what foods are helping your body and what foods are hurting you.  Your body wants you to take care of it, and when you listen carefully to it, it will give you the right messages. Let the wisdom of your body be your nutritional expert. 

How to Stop Night Eating

How to Stop Night Eating

 

How to Stop Night Eating

How to Stop Night Eating

Do you ever feel like you can’t go to sleep unless you eat a ton of food even if you’ve had a balance dinner? Do you lie awake thinking about food, unable to relax until your belly is so full that you pass out into a food coma?  Do you find yourself up late at night grazing through cupboards, or even waking up in the middle of the night and finding that you can’t go back to sleep without eating something? If so, you’re not alone.

Night Eating Syndrome (NES) affects millions of people in this country. Although it can be similar to binge eating- it can also differ in that there is not always a gigantic binge, but several episodes of grazing throughout the night. NES often corresponds with anxiety and insomnia. There are theories that for people with NES,  serotonin levels decrease in the evening causing snacking on heavily carbohydrate laden foods to help the body relax and get ready for bed.

Though it’s challenging, the following steps can help train your brain on how to stop night eating:

1. The first thing I ask people when I know that they are struggling with night eating is “are you getting enough food throughout the day?” and “Are you struggling with trying to be good during the day only to “ruin” all your “good work” from the day with an evening binge? If so, your daytime strategies of morally pure eating might be contributing to your binges. When you loosen the reins during the day and allow yourself to eat what your body wants and needs, you are less likely to binge at night when the guards are tired and asleep at the gate.

                       Make sure that you are getting at least three, hearty and healthy meals each day with snacks                          when you need them.  

                      Definitely make sure to eat breakfast.  This can help to establish healthy daytime eating                                 patterns to ensure that blood sugar and serotonin levels remain steady throughout the day.

Generally, many people with NES are afraid to eat normally during the day since they get most of their calories at night. The irony is however, that if you eat during the day, you might find that you need less food in the evenings. Just ensuring that you are getting appropriate and proper nutrition during the day can help you stop night eating. 

2.Consider a high fat, high protein snack such as full-fat Greek yogurt or a glass of whole milk in the evening to quell sugar cravings and increase tryptophan levels.  My favorite it Coconut Cream Chocolate Pudding. This has a good mixture of fat and carbohydrates that will stave off sugar cravings and lull you into a nice sleep. To make this put coconut cream into a blender with 3-4 medjool dates and a tablespoon of sugar free cocoa. Blend it all together for 2-3 minutes. You’ll have a nourishing desert that will also prevent binges. 

3. Keep a journal next to your bed and each night, before you go to sleep, write in it.  Write about your day, your fears, anxiety, anger, sadness, joy, excitement, whatever, just write and move your emotions through you.

4. Relax in a hot bath with Epsom salts for about 20 minutes prior to bed. Hot water is good medicine and the epsom salts will relax your muscles to ensure restful sleep. 

5. If you wake up in the middle of the night, before you get out of bed, grab for your journal and write in it. You might write your dreams, your thoughts, your anxiety… whatever it is, just get it out and then lay back down. 

6. When you go to sleep at night, turn off all the lights and television. Sleep with a sleeping mask and earplugs in order to ensure deep sleep.

7. Put a piece of  duct tape across your bedroom door so that you don’t unconsciously get up and walk to the kitchen. The tape will snap you out of your trance so that you can bring some consciousness to the choice to get up and go eat.

8. Put a large BREATHE sign on or in your refrigerator so that you can remember to stop, take a breath and think about what you’re doing, think about whether you are hungry or just doing this out of habit. 

9. If it makes you feel safer, consider a lock or timer on your refrigerator or cupboards. This is not to restrict you, it’s to help you feel safe- if you know that you don’t have access to food, you might just stay in bed and get the sleep you need rather than spending time rummaging through the refrigerator or cupboards for food.  If it feels restrictive or punishing, don’t do it. This is not to punish you, this is to help you find safety in your house. 

11. Talk to your doctor, acupuncturist or Naturopath about taking a supplement such as Magnesium Gluconate, LOW DOSE melatonin, tryptophan5-HTP, Relora or GABA at night to increase calm, decrease night eating behaviors and help with sleep.

12. Try this guided meditation for insomnia. 

Learning to stop night eating is challenging because it is so unconscious, but helping your body and mind relax while increasing consciousness  of the behavior can help quell it.

Q & A Friday- How Do I Stop My Urge To Binge Eat?

The Urge To Binge Is Making Me Crazy

 

Today’s Q&A Friday is from Jessica in Memphis!!! 

Dear Leora, 
I’m so overwhelmed by my urges to binge. How can I stop them?

*The urge to binge eat doesn’t have to dictate your behaviors. 

 

Hi Jessica, 

That’s a really good question. In recovery, we don’t really “stop” urges, learn how to react differently to them. In addiction, when you have an urge or a craving, you believe that you have to act on that urge or craving. However, when you learn to recover, you learn that the urge is just an urge and that you don’t have to follow it down the rabbit hole. Urges are nothing to be afraid of or to be worried about, everyone has them. The difference between someone who is compulsive and someone who is not though, is whether or not they choose to act on all of their urges. When an urge comes up, it feels like there is no choice,  but there actually is.  

The very first thing to do is to look at your urge to binge and ask yourself, “am I actually hungry?” If you are, then ask your body “and what is it that we need to give you to nurture you?”  If you’re not hungry, you can remember, “okay this is an urge, I don’t have to let the urge lead me, I can choose to use the wisdom of my intact adult brain.” This meditation can help you with that too. 

As you begin to react to your urges in  a way that feels appropriate, you don’t have to be afraid of them. As you become less afraid of them, they will have less of a charge.  Once the urges are less charged, you will begin to notice them less and then they will begin to fade.  

*You get to choose your own reactions to your feelings.

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? Send an email to leora at bingeeatingtherapy  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 individual therapy or online coaching sessions  to deal with your binge eating? Please contact me to discuss getting started.

Q & A Friday – Help My Boyfriend Eats Too Much Fast Food

My Boyfriend Eats Too Much Fast Food

My boyfriend eats too much fast food and I’m sick of it.

My Boyfriend Eats Too Much Fast Food…

Today’s question is a very common issue that many people go through when they get into a new relationship.

Question:

Recently I started dating a guy who really loves going out to eat. And as much as I enjoy spending time with him, I’m sick of of the fast food and unhealthy dinners. My boyfriend eats too much fast food and it makes me  feel as though I’m losing control of what I worked so hard to achieve. Its not just the fear of gaining weight or losing control, I just feel unhealthy in myself with this change in diet. I wanna spend time with him but how do I avoid the dinner thing when its always an unplanned event. Also he doesn’t mind this kind of diet, it works for him. But it doesn’t work for me. I don’t want it to be an issue in our relationship and I definitely don’t want to start resenting him because of it. What do I do?

Mary in Missouri

My answer: 

Hi Mary, 

This is not an uncommon situation. We often tend to do this thing in relationships where we “fuse” with our significant other. As this continues we start to lose our individuality and forget who we are and what choices we actually have. We begin to feel stuck, which then often leads to depression and resentment. It’s important that you remember that you are two individuals with individual separate needs. Let him do what he wants to do but state your own needs as well. For instance “oh your going to grab fast food? That’s fine, I have food at home that I’d rather eat.” And if he questions you on it, just explain to him the way you prefer to eat. Let him know that your preferences have nothing to do with him and you’re not forcing him or even asking him to change his habits or behaviors, and that you too have your own habits and behaviors that make you feel like yourself.  Individuation (being your own person and not just part of a couple) is so important in a relationship in order for you to feel solid, grounded and close to yourself. This is how you stay whole and complete and true to yourself, which always feels better. 

What do you think? Is this something that you can do? 

Related: When Food Is the Third Person In Your Relationship

 Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? Send an email to leora at bingeeatingtherapy  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, or if you don’t want to meet individually and would prefer to follow a self-guided recover plan, check out Recover From Binge Eating. 

Q & A Friday- Is Paleo the Best Diet for Weight Loss?

Is Paleo The Best Diet For Weight Loss?

Is Paleo The Best Diet For Weight Loss?

 

Is Paleo the Best Diet for Weight Loss?

Dear Leora, 
I’ve been in therapy for the past two months and my therapist sent me to a nutritionist to deal with my binge eating disorder. The nutritionist told me that the Paleo way of eating is the best diet for weight loss, for beating cravings and for having overall health.  I’m curious what you think about that. Is Paleo the best diet for weight loss? I’m torn. – Alicia in New York

Hi Alicia, 

If you’ve been following me for a while, you will know that I take a non-diet approach to healing from binge eating disorder. I do have a lot of thoughts about your nutritionist’s advice because I think it was both well-meaning and there is some wisdom in the approach, but I want to dissect it a little bit so that you can get the most out of your healing journey.  

The Paleo doctrine (yes, I call it a doctrine because some people treat Paleo like Tom Cruise treats Scientology) says that you should eat like a caveman. But let’s think about that. How did cavemen (and women) eat?  Well, they went out, they looked for food, and let’s say they came upon a lion carcass- they ate and ate and ate until they couldn’t eat anymore. Basically they binged. They went days without eating and then when they found food they ate as much as they possibly could since they likely wouldn’t have food later.  Now let’s think about that for a moment. Our bodies were biologically predisposed to binge eat because there would be times when we had no access to food at all.  Cavemen had no 1500 calorie per day diets. Your body was designed to eat more some days and less on others. Fortunately, in this day and age, most of us have unlimited access to food– so going days without eating is not a problem. However, because of our biological makeup, we still have the instinct to binge when we come upon food if we’ve not been eating. So that means if you are on a restrictive eating plan (no cheese or bread for instance- like Paleo) and you come upon cheese and bread, your caveman instincts will likely come in, club your willpower over the head and binge on bread and cheese. Will it happen every time? No, certainly not. However you will always find yourself in a fight. Your inner caveman and your willpower will be at odds with each other. Some days one will win, other days the other one will win. It’s not fun to have a constant internal struggle. You’re always fighting with yourself and you’re never finding peace. You will then look at other people who you believe have been “perfect” in their Paleo-ness and wonder to yourself, “why is it that everyone else can stick to Paleo and I can’t?” and you will beat yourself up for not being good enough. I have a secret to tell you. Nobody is perfect in their Paleoness. Or in their any dietness. As a therapist specializing in treating eating disorders, I can tell you this for sure. I have had rockstar yoga teachers come into my office (in San Francisco there are lots of rockstar yoga teachers) and tell me that on the outside they drink green smoothies and eat kale salads and seeds and do yoga all day every day, that they have a huge following, but at night.. they sit home and can’t stop bingeing and purging. I’ve had doctors, naturopaths,  nutritionists… all the same story, “I show everyone how to eat perfectly and I can’t do it myself. I’m a fraud and a failure…”   And they beat themselves up and feel horrible about themselves. And yet, it’s difficult for them to give up their identities, and the one thing that’s had them stuck in their eating disorder for so long, which is the belief that they should stick to one perfect eating plan. 

So, ideally, Paleo type diets seem great, but in practice, most people are not able to stick to them in the way they believe that they should be.  

So what is good about Paleo? Paleo takes a whole foods approach and recommends that you eat food in their purest form. So instead of apple sauce from a jar made with preservatives, eat an apple. Instead of eating high protein, high fiber cereal with milk for breakfast, eat some eggs and fruit. These are great ideas. However people tend to take ideas to the extreme. People like to interpret things to the most literal minutia and then beat themselves up when they cannot stick to it.  For instance, the bible. There are people who reject it completely and people who follow it to the letter. But what if everyone just took the parts of it that made the most sense to them, like “be kind, do unto others, don’t hurt people…” well then we wouldn’t have wars.  Dogma creates war. And when it comes to diets and eating,  it creates wars within you. You believe that you should eat one way and then you attack yourself when you don’t. 

What if you could take the parts of Paleo that did make sense to you and not call it Paleo? There are things that I do like about Paleo. I like that it encourages whole foods and lots of good fats from animal and vegetable sources. I don’t like that it restricts dairy, grains and legumes. I don’t like that if you happen to eat a piece of cheese that you believe you’ve messed up your whole diet and then you figure “whatever, I don’t care…” and you spend the day bingeing or beating yourself up for being a failure.  What if you could eat more whole foods more of the time?  I have also found some kick-ass recipes though Paleo cookbooks. They tend to have hearty, nutritious meal ideas.  

The other diet that we hear about being great for health all the time is the Mediterranean diet. Well that diet has you eating mostly beans and grains and not very much meat at all! The opposite of Paleo.  So really, what’s right?

The best thing to do is find what works for your body. If you find that your skin breaks out in eczema when you eat dairy, then maybe you should avoid dairy. But that doesn’t mean that everyone should avoid dairy. Do you hear what I’m saying? There is no “plan” that is right for you that your body hasn’t told you about. You need to listen to your body and let your body inform what is right. A good nutritionist should be helping you to listen to what your body needs and encouraging you to follow those cues. 

I believe that your nutritionist was very well meaning. But I also think that she likely doesn’t have a lot of experience treating eating disorders. If you ever go to a nutritionist who tries to have you restrict foods (even if you’re not allergic to them) then it’s best to find a nutritionist who specializes in treating eating disorders. I really like the nutritionists over at Be Nourished. They wrote a great article on the paleo diet last month.  I also really like Summer Innanen’s article on What Going Paleo Did to My Body. 

That was probably a very long answer to a short question. But in a word, no, to answer your question, “Is Paleo the best diet for weight loss,” I’m going to have to say that I don’t believe that Paleo is good way to lose weight or to decrease cravings. Yes, you might find that it is effective in the short term (one-three weeks) but in the long term, I know that a strict Paleo “religion” type diet is actually a good way to gain weight and increase cravings.   There is a way to include lots of yummy Paleo recipes and great Paleo ideals without “going Paleo,” and killing yourself to follow the diet to the letter. You can eat more whole foods more of the time, not be afraid of fat and complex carbs and learn some really amazing recipes. But to follow the doctrine as though it’s religion is absolutely not a good idea.  

Check out Dr. Janet Tomayama from UCLA who talks about diets and weight loss. 

I really hope that this helped to answer your question: Is Paleo the best diet for weight loss? Please don’t hesitate to write back and let me know what you think. 

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, or if you don’t want to meet individually and would prefer to follow a self-guided recover plan, check out Recover From Binge Eating. 

Q & A Friday: I’m Always Hungry – Help!

I’m Always Hungry- Why? I Eat Regular Meals!

I'm always hungry

I’m always hungry. What’s wrong with me?

 

Question: This week’s question comes from a member of the 5 week program – and I think it’s a great one, and very relevant to everyone. 

Dear Leora,

I have a problem. I’m always hungry. Here is something that often happens to me:  I have just finished eating–  I had a nice breakfast. 2 eggs, small piece of toast, 1/2 a small grapefruit,and coffee with a little cream and now an hour and a half later I am hungry. This is often when I feel hunger which seems inappropriate given that I’d just eaten. I have given it a chance to go away, it doesn’t feel like appetite, just seemingly unjustified hunger. I have used all the tools that you have taught us in the course –  and I’ve figured out that this is not emotional hunger and this is not a binge urge, but I’m actually hungry, this is real physiological hunger!  How is it possible that I’m hungry when I’ve eaten such a solid meal?   Sorry if it seems like I am beating a dead horse, but I just want to understand why I’m always hungry. What’s wrong with me?  -Geraldine

My Answer:

Dear Geraldine, 

Thank you so much for this important question.  

Diet mentality has taught us for so much of our life not to trust our bodies, that when we start to tune in to out actual hunger and satiety cues, we are surprised and angry when we begin to notice that our body’s have real needs that have nothing to do with what we are taught by the diet dictocrats! The breakfast that you mentioned sounds balanced, but also very light and low calorie, so it makes sense that your body would be needing more calories 90 minutes later. That’s normal and okay!  When we diet, we learn not to trust ourselves.  Now that you’re tuned into your actual physiological hunger, you are surprised to see that you are hungry after eating what has been drilled into you as a healthy breakfast. The truth is that what you are eating would be considered a “diet” breakfast. You could add a little more to it (like an avocado or some cheese or an extra egg or some sausage) or you can keep the same breakfast and let yourself eat 90 minutes later when you are hungry again.  

Diets teach us that we can’t trust ourselves to know what and when to eat, but when we choose to truly listen to our bodies and give our bodies what they need, we can’t go wrong. Your body doesn’t want to be unhealthy. That means it doesn’t want to be uncomfortably full or eat more calories than it needs, but it also doesn’t want to be constantly hungry.    It doesn’t want its hunger to be denied.  It needs food and nutrition to carry out its basic functions and will tell you what it needs when you listen very carefully.  It’s very easy to hear your body and not trust it because it contradicts the conventional diet paradigm. You believe that you shouldn’t be hungry and that a small meal should keep you satisfied for hours on end. That’s not realistic. 

When I was a little tween girl and starting to “develop,” my mother, who was a devout follower of the Weight Watchers doctrine, brought me to a dietician. He asked why we were there and she said, “well, she won’t stop eating. She eats all the time!” He said to my mother “she must be hungry.” And my mother said, “yes, she’s always hungry, what’s wrong with her?” and the nutritionist said, “Nothing, she’s hungry! she needs to eat! Look at her, she looks fine.” And my mother said, “but she’s going to get fat,” and the dietician said, “no, let her eat, she’s fine,” and my mother argued with him. So he put me on the scale and weighed me. Then he showed my mother the height/weight chart (ick)  which showed that my body was within normal limits. He refused to put me on a diet or tell my mother that I needed to lose weight. But this was against her strong beliefs and so she took me to Weight Watchers where I learned how not to trust my body.  Because of that and many other experiences, I never thought that eating when I was hungry was okay and that I had to deny my appetite. This is why I had to re-learn to trust my body. This is not unusual. Any one of us who went on a diet at some point learned that our bodies couldn’t be trusted. But when you learn to tune in and really listen to what your body wants and needs, it will never steer you wrong. 

Take some time to think about how to trust your body– listen to it, feed it with kind words and gratitude, thank it for carrying you and caring for you, send it love and ask it to support you and tell you what it needs. So the next time you think “I’m always hungry!” Smile to yourself and say, “yes, I’m always hungry because I’m alive and well and my body wants to be fed, nourished and cared for and I’m going to do that!” 

I hope you found this helpful! 

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. 

How To Be Confident

How To Be Confident: Even if You’re Scared Out of Your Mind

how to be confident

How to Be Confident

 

Have you ever felt like there was something that you wanted to do, but couldn’t do, that you shouldn’t do until you lost weight, until you became more confident? You couldn’t take swimming lessons until you like the way you look in a bathing suit, you couldn’t apply for a job until you lost 25 pounds, you couldn’t write a book until you took more write classes,  you couldn’t sell your handmade jewelry  on Etsy until you had a giant collection, you couldn’t invite people over for dinner or a party until your house was spotless… so many things that had to wait…

If only you had the… the confidence. Have you been trying to learn how to be confident? As though gaining the ever elusive self esteem was something that eventually came over you if you repeated enough mantras and enough affirmations…

The only problem was that you were waiting for it to come, and while you were trying to figure out how to be confident life kept moving forward…

 

“It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking, than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.” –Millard Fuller

 

We try so hard to learn how to be confident that we can do the things that we want to do. But honestly, confidence is overrated. Some people will tell you that doing 100 push-ups in a row is how to be confident. But the truth is, you don’t need confidence, you need courage. Courage comes first and confidence eventually follows. Confidence comes from being so terrified that you are frozen but still trying something and failing again and again and again and again until you finally succeed. Confidence is not inherent, but fear is. We are all afraid, we are all terrified. But if you can feel the fear and not let it stop you, that’s how you  gain confidence. Fear is crippling, terrifying, and paralyzing. But when we know that  it’s going to feel that way no matter what and we understand that everyone has fear, then we can just allow it to come with us wherever we need to go. 

When I first started my private practice, I decided that I wanted to have a bulimia/ binge eating therapy group. I advertised all over. I put flyers all over San Francisco, I put ads all over Craigslist (it was a long time ago 🙂 ),  I couldn’t wait to have a giant group where I could really help people heal from BED and Bulimia.  Eventually, two people signed up for my group. Two. I was devastated. My first inclination was to cancel the group. But I decided to just do it, to just push myself. I was a young therapist, and the groups that I had done up until then were at Eating Disorder facilities and I had been leading with a co-therapist. This was to be my first group alone and I believed somewhere that nobody had any faith in my abilities. Nobody had ever heard of me and maybe I was just a fraud.  Each Wednesday, I felt a pit in my stomach before group. And I’d pray that my two clients didn’t show up. I literally had to drag myself to my office to see them. This went on for months. But as I continued to go, leading the group became easier, more enjoyable and more intuitive. Eventually the group grew until I couldn’t let any more people in and I wound up having a wait list.

My fear didn’t go away in order for me to gain confidence, my fear stayed. But eventually, after doing this group week after week and seeing that people were finding peace and healing I just allowed it to be there. I let it be there and eventually I began to feel confident in my abilities.

If you let your fear tell you what to do, you won’t get to the place that you want to be in life. Do things before you’re confident, do things when you’re scared and terrified and you have so much anxiety that you think you might pass out. Do that again and again and eventually the confidence follows.

When I was writing my book, each day I had to drag myself to my computer to write. Again, I kept asking myself, “who am I to write a book?”

One day I stopped writing and started my application process to UC Berkeley’s PhD in Neuroscience. I was talking to my husband later and he asked me how my day was, how my clients were, how the book was going.

“Oh,” I told him, “I’m applying to get my PhD in Neuroscience”

“Um, why?” he asked me?

“Oh well, I thought I would know more after I got my PhD so then I could write the book.”

My husband looked at me and said, “write the fucking book.”

“But I need to learn more!” I told him.

“You’re a licensed psychotherapist who’s been treating binge eating disorder for more than ten years, you know a s**tload…” he told me, “sit down and write the book. You’re not writing the book for a bunch of scholars, you’re writing the book for a group of people who need help, and I don’t think they want to wait another seven years while you get your next PhD. Go write your book, people need to hear what you have to say… you can go get your PhD in neuroscience if you want, but don’t wait to write your book, just do it now. You have what you need inside of you.”

So I took all my fear and I wrote my over 300 page book. I guess I did have a lot to say!

But I was so nervous that I didn’t tell anyone that I wrote a book! Not my friends, not my Dad, not my family…

And then one day, after my book was released in 2014, I finally put a small note on my personal Facebook group. “Hey guys, guess what, I wrote a book! It was released today.”

And then I closed my computer because I was so nervous for putting myself out there…  I didn’t look at my Facebook page for many days because I was having a vulnerability meltdown. 

A few days later, I finally looked at Facebook and saw that so many of my friends had made these really positive comments, they shared my posting and they were all happy for me. I realized that this was just something that I had to practice, I had to push myself to get out there. As an inherently painfully shy person, putting myself out there is not something that comes easily, but the more I practice, the less difficult it becomes.  

Success isn’t about never having fear, success is about being able to feel the fear and do it anyway. 

So how do you gain confidence?  You don’t wait, you walk into that vulnerable state, you put that bathing suit on no matter what you think your body looks like, you go to that job interview despite the fact that you don’t have that level of experience, you call that guy/girl even though you don’t think that you are “perfect enough,” for them… because life is too short to wait for confidence to come to you.

And the truth is, you might never be confident, but don’t let that stop you from having the life that you want and that you deserve. 

 

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