Don’t do a lot. Do a little.

I have this client. This smart, beautiful, funny, compassionate, wonderful client who has been suffering with food issues for a very, very long time. Once every few months, she has a plan. She’s going to cut out sugar, she’s going to do yoga 3 times a week, she’s going to meditate daily, she’s going to go to the gym after work each day.  But in the next session, the one after she comes in and tells me these things, she admits that she’s not done anything different.

She’s not uncommon. Not even a little bit.  Do you ever do this? Do you decide that you’re going to do a total 180? That you’re going to stop eating sugar, that you’re going to exercise every day, that you’re going to keep your house spotless, that you’re never going to drink alcohol again, that you’ll never smoke another cigarette, that you’ll take your vitamins daily, that you’re going to take your eye makeup off every night and start a perfect skin care regimen, that you’re going to stop biting your nails, and you’ll never snap at your mother/father/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/children, that you’re going to read the Sunday Times cover to cover every week,  that you’re going to stop overspending, that you’re never ever going to binge again, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. Fill in the blank.

It’s too much. You set yourself up for failure this way. Choose one small thing and do it for one month. Then, add something else. For instance, if you want to get into yoga, decide that you’re going to do one yoga class a week for 30 days. Then, after the 30 days, move onto 2 yoga classes a week. Then, after those 30 days are over, try for one sugar free day per week, then try for two sugar free days per week.  Decide to floss your teeth every other night for a month, then move to every night, then add in a skincare regimen every other night, then every night.  Just let yourself transform slowly. It’s easier and more sustainable.

Doing a little will set you up for success rather than failure. And you can become what you want to become. Slow is what makes things stick. When you do everything at once, chances are, things will return to the way they were.

What is one little thing that you can do for the next 30 days? I guarantee that doing one little thing will help you feel a lot different.

How To Lose 5 pounds In 2 Days

ahhh I wish I could stop this damn dietThe very best way to lose five pounds in two days is to make a decision to take two whole days to stop dieting and chose to eat very slowly, very mindfully, and very intuitively, giving your body exactly what it needs to thrive.

I know that quitting dieting to get to a healthy weight sounds totally counterintuitive, but overeating is the other side of dieting, which means that when you choose to go on a restrictive diet, there is a very good chance that you are going to lose your momentum, then binge, and put on more weight than you took off.

Healthy, intuitive eating is the opposite of dieting and of overeating. If you really, truly stop dieting, just for a couple of days, and implement intuitive eating,  your body will  begin to settle into it’s healthy, comfortable weight. I know that it sounds unbelievable, but I promise you, it’s true. Quitting dieting is the sure way to find your healthy, natural weight and come to peace with food and your body.

One of my clients and I were discussing the other day how everything she’s done to her body over the past 25 years, all the diets, all the exercise, the thousands of miles she’s run, the millions of crunches she’s done, the bags of cookies she’s eaten, the loaves of bread and boxes of candy she’s binged on, the carbs she’s restricted, the low-fat diets she’s been on, the shakes she’s drank, the detox diets she’s done, the diet books she’s read, the leg lifts, the pilates classes, the workout videos, the gimmicks, the fads, the coconut oil she’s eaten, the kombucha she’s drank, the South Beach, the Weight Watchers, the Atkins, the Dukan, the Ex-Lax, the “as-seen-on-tv” exercise equipment and workout videos, the stress, the anxiety, the not leaving the house on “fat days”,  the depression, all of it… it’s all basically been for something like five pounds either up or down.  That’s it. In all the years she’s been dieting, she’s been either up five pounds, or down five pounds.

This client teeters between 130-140 pounds but hovers around 135. She hates herself at 140, likes herself better at 130 and struggles at 135, where she probably most naturally falls. And she has been at this weight since she was about 16 years old.  And for all these years, she’s been trying to get down to around 125 pounds. Can you imagine how many pounds she’s lost and gained in the past 25 years? And the thing is, she really keeps coming back to the equilibrium of 135 pounds. Sometimes she’s 5 pounds up. Sometimes she’s 5 pounds down. But she’s never happy.  She tries and tries and tries to get to 125 pounds. And she’s been trying and fighting with those pounds for 25 years. There’s no room for much else in her life. Her weight takes up most of her energy. And for just five pounds. Does that sound familiar to you? Is that you or someone you know? It’s not unusual, and for many people,  it’s their whole lives. They strive to be a weight that their body just doesn’t want to be. They struggle with diets, they struggle with food and exercise, and they struggle with self image.

People spend so, so, so much time trying to lose weight, and all that work, all those years, for many it’s just for a few pounds.  They’ve run 100 marathons, gone on a million diets, eaten 10 billion oreo cookies, spent hundreds of days fasting and dieting miserably,  and yet… their bodies aren’t all that different.  I call it the 5 pound paradox. All the work spent and, it’s usually around five pounds either way. Wouldn’t… acceptance be easier? By quitting dieting for 2 whole days and eating intuitively, there’s a chance that five pounds would drop off your body. But it would definitely drop from your mind, and that’s where it weighs the most.

If you didn’t have your weight to obsess on all the time, what else would you be thinking about and doing? Sometimes dieting and thinking about getting to a certain weight all the time is easier than dealing with what’s underneath, what you’re really trying to cope with. Dieting is a way of gaining control and coping with challenging feelings and situation.

What if you took the next two days and made a decision. No diets. No bingeing. Just for two days:  “I’m going to eat slowly and mindfully,  I’m going to implement intuitive eating, I’m going to eat what my body needs to be healthy, three solid meals per day. Whatever looks good. Whatever I want. No over the top thinking about it.  Just giving my body what it needs three times both days.”  After those two days, reassess. What is it like not to diet? What is it like not to obsess? Can you handle it for another day? Are you ready to let go of control? If not, that’s okay. But just give yourself two days. No weighing yourself, no measuring. This isn’t a free-for-all binge. This is, “pretend I’m a normal eater.” Think of the most normal eater you know. Your friend who eats three meals a day, orders what she or he wants without remorse, regret or overthinking it,  Eats till she or he’s not hungry any longer, then stops.  Try to embody that attitude for a two day experiment and just see how it goes for you. You might be surprised and you might feel liberated.

You can sit quietly and talk to your food or try meditation, breathe deeply before every meal,  or try some downloadable hypnosis sessions on intuitive eating and mindful eating to help you.

 

How To Recover From A Binge

HOW TO RECOVER FROM A BINGE

How To Recover From a Binge

How To Recover From a Binge


“How do I recover from a binge? How long will it take me to recover from three days of binge eating? How long will it take me to recover from a week of binge eating? How do I start over after a binge? Can you tell me how to recover from a binge?”

These questions come usually as someone begins to “wake up” and find that they’ve been in a day long (sometimes weeks long) binge coma.  Sometimes it can be as serious as spending days alone in your flat, bingeing or bingeing &  purging and not getting out of bed to do anything besides eat, use the bathroom or pick up food. Other times it can be a solitary binge one evening or one afternoon.

Exactly How to Recover from a Binge:

  • Forgive yourself. Usually, if you are bingeing, it means that there is something going on for your emotionally.  Beating yourself up is the last thing that you need at this point. Binge episodes are wrought with shame and frustration. But you don’t need that right now. What you need is self-compassion. Be kind to yourself. Know that you can’t go backward, but you can go forward and learn from the binge. 
  • The rule of thumb is to try and stop as soon as you can. If you realize that you are bingeing in the morning, this doesn’t mean that the whole day is shot. You still have the whole day to to recover. Try to step away from the food and get outside and walk around the block, breath, relax, call a friend. We often think that a morning binge has to last the whole day.  Just look at the clock and know that in a few hours, after your body processes the food and you’ve digested, you will feel much better. Take some time to get away from the food and know that in 3-5 hours, your body will feel much better. 
  • Don’t try to compensate for the binge (ie: don’t vomit, don’t try to exercise the amount of calories that you think you ate, don’t starve yourself). This will set up a cycle of bingeing and compensating. The goal is to end that cycle of craziness immediately, or else it will continue. The other side of the binge is the compensation and the other side of the compensation is the binge. They go hand in hand. You can’t go backward you can only go forward. Trying to go backward will hurt you because you will just stay stuck in the binge and the vicious cycle. 

How to recover from a binge when you’ve had a bad binge at night and you wake up in the morning feeling ill, ashamed, depressed and uncomfortable…. 

          THE MORNING AFTER A BIG BINGE

  • Don’t panic! It’s okay,  binges happen and your body will recover as long as you get back on track with your recovery quickly. Recovery is not about never falling down, it’s about how quickly you get up. Everyone backslides, don’t let yourself get stuck in it and in the shame of it, let yourself move forward with it. 
  • Drink a Glass of Water with some lemon squeezed into it and maybe a few slices of cucumber to help your body remove the bloat.
  • WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T WEIGHT YOURSELF! —  Weighing yourself won’t give you an accurate measure of your weight and will likely agitate you and keep you in the binge cycle. 
  • If you are hungry, drink some tea and prepare yourself a proper breakfast with protein and fruit or oatmeal. It’s important to prepare yourself a nice breakfast and to make it appetizing and lovingly for yourself. Set the table, eat off of nice plates, and put on relaxing music. This is so if you are tempted to continue your binge, you might find that a mindful and quiet breakfast helps you to reset.
  • After eating breakfast, leave your home immediately so that you are not tempted to continue your binge.  Continue to drink water and herbal tea throughout the day to help your body process the extra food. But don’t drink too much, you don’t want to feel too full and have that trigger a binge. Just sip slowly and try to pay attention to what your body wants.
  • If you can’t stomach eating breakfast because you are feeling ill from the binge,  drink some tea, preferably something soothing to your stomach, like chamomile or ginger or peppermint.  You might be nauseated or uncomfortable. Give your body some time to recover. Make sure to be gentle with it. However, don’t wait too long to eat. You don’t want to swing the pendulum to starved. If you are not hungry by lunch time, eat something light like some broth, or miso soup or vegetable juice, or fruit and a bit of protein (such as an egg or a chicken breast).
  • Don’t wait too long for your next meal. Check in with your body and when it is beginning to feel hungry, but before you are feeling too hungry, try to sit down and feed it leafy greens, protein, and some fat such as olive oil and cheese or nuts. 
  • Make sure that you get a good night sleep. The next morning you will feel much better and in a few days your body will feel back to normal.
  • Know that in two days or so, you will feel back to normal. You did not harm yourself with one binge.  
  • Be kind to your body, make sure you are eating three meals a day and let yourself come back to balance so that you can get  to really let go of the binge and get back on course with your recovery.

How Long Does it Take to Recover from a Major Binge?

It can take anywhere from a few hours to several days. There is no set rule on this. If it was an isolated binge, usually, after a day of reclaiming yourself, you will begin to feel better both physically and emotionally. If it was a weekend of bingeing (friday through sunday), you will likely feel back to yourself by Wednesday if you start taking care of yourself on Monday.

Food can affect your body for body for several days- it can even take up to three days for some food allergies to show up. But you should be feeling much, much better by 72 hours after your binge. Definitely sit with it, be kind to yourself and allow healing to happen. This is a big part of how to recover from a binge, but the part that stays with you is the ability to move forward and not let yourself get stuck in it and to remember to keep moving forward. 

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Play in the Dirt for Good Mental Health

I grew up in New York City and still live in a big city, so I start this post with a disclaimer that this is not something that I have personal experience with. However, I have heard many of my clients discuss how much they enjoy gardening and how meditative and wonderful it is.  Today I came across this article which explains how a certain bacteria called Mycobacterium, which occurs naturally in soil, has the same effect on your brain as anti-depressant medications.

It makes sense!  A lot of city dwellers tend to find peace and refuge out in nature. Gardening is something that can also help you to bond with food in a healthy way, watching it grow in its purest state in small batches rather than buying or consuming it in large batches.

If you have the ability to garden, I say go for it, if not, why not get out and play in the dirt? Might be something to do  to pass the time and help you to find some peace instead of binge eating.

 

Wedding Weight Loss, Eating Disorders, Self Harm, and Those Who Encourage It

A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times posted an article about brides going to extremes to lose weight before their weddings. One doctor charges healthy women $1500 to insert a  feeding tubes in their noses for ten days so that they can   receive nutrition while they starve themselves to knock off a few pounds in time for the big day. How is it that it has become socially acceptable for a doctor to support self mutilation and eating disorder?

Of course we want to look pretty on our wedding days. But at the expense of our health? Are we willing to pay someone to monitor and encourage our eating disorder? Sadly  I can’t say that I’m particularly surprised by this.  People have been profiting off of other people’s desperation since the beginning of time.  But a doctor? This is what’s so outrageous here. What has happened to our ethical standards?  As a medical professional, how is it that this person not only supports, but encourages these self harming behaviors?  Is this doctor blatantly ignoring the Hippocratic Oath because doing so is lucrative?

There’s a lesson here about being discriminating and understanding that just because a doctor (or any professional) is willing to support the disordered part of you, doesn’t mean that it’s okay.   There will always be someone who exists who will exploit the parts of you that will exploit you, which is why you need to engage (often) with your wise mind, the part of you that knows right from wrong, the part of you that knows the best way to care for yourself.

So, that’s the bad news. But not everyone is trying to profit off of your dark side.  Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest have all banned self harm sites.  Way to go.

How an apple a day can help you let go of binge eating

The Huffington Post recently had an interesting article by Kathy Freston author of  The Lean about how eating apples can help people lose weight.  I wrote a post similar to this  a few years ago adding something rather than subtracting foods.  According to Ms. Freston, because apples have a fiber called pectin, which is used to bulk up jams and gelatinous foods, once it gets into your stomach,  you will begin to feel more satisfied due to that same filling mechanism, and in a study published in Nutrition, scientists found that  participants who ate  an apple or a pear before meals lost a significant amount of weight.

It’s an interesting study because it goes back to how giving yourself more, more healthy food, more self love, more self care, more good stuff, you will naturally become more healthy. Depriving and restricting leads to deprivation and lots of emotional pain and turmoil. Because it’s so challenging, and because your body wants to be fed, you will be working against yourself. When you work against resistance, you are bound to get slammed.

So, try, just for one day, rather than giving yourself less, to give yourself more good stuff. More kind words, more fresh air, more apples, and more kindness.

Friday Q & A – I’m out of control with food and I feel helpless

Why can't i just get back on my diet?

This question comes to us from Aubrey in Missouri.

Question:

On July 19th this last year (two years after my brother’s car accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury) I decided that I was going to change my life. I was 206 pounds, a *tight* size 15, and completely unhappy with my body. My goal weight was 140 pounds and I couldn’t wait to get started. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I have a rare condition called Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis. The condition makes it nearly impossible for me to exercise since I have it so badly. Whenever I get too hot or exercise enough to get hot I begin to go into anaphylactic shock (my throat and face swell, my skin gets red, and I struggle to breathe). Obviously, I knew that working out probably wasn’t the best choice for me, but I continued to stay on my 1500 calories a day diet. 

Eating healthy wasn’t always easy, but I stuck with it. Finally, I got down to 158 and a comfortable size 11. I was extremely proud of myself and my confidence levels were higher than ever! It was then that things started to get tough for me in my personal life, so I decided that I would take 5 days off of my diet. I continued to eat fairly healthy (outside of my one meal from Mcdonald’s). Although, I have to admit that I was eating an excessive amount of food, even if it was healthier food. Once I got back onto my diet things were so much harder. Suddenly I found myself going back into my old binging habits. I would eat only 1000 calories a day for a week, then I would fall off the wagon and eat 10,000 calories in a day. Now, I’m trying to control it, but it feels like the monster is out of it’s cage. I haven’t lost weight for months, and I’m back up to 170 pounds. 
I feel helpless. The worse I feel, the worse I feel the need to binge. The cycle has started again and I don’t know how to stop it. I want to get back on track and lose more weight, but it feels like I can’t. It was so difficult for me to get this far, and now I feel like I’m just going backwards. I don’t want to struggle with my disorder like I used to. I just want to be beautiful and healthy.

Answer:
Hi Aubrey. First off, I want to say that I’m very, very sorry to hear about your brother’s accident. What a horribly tragedy. I’m sure that watching him go through this has been incredibly difficult for you and for your family on many different levels.  I do hope that you’re getting support for this.
First off, try to take a breath and calm down a bit. You lost almost 50 pounds, and you’ve only put 12 back on. This is salvageable and you don’t have to go back to where you were.
Sometimes, in an effort to “catch up,” or compensate for a binge, people will do things like reduce calories dramatically. Like you say that some weeks you only eat 1000 calories per day. That’s not sustainable. It’s not healthy and it will lead to one of two things– anorexia and loss of menstruation and eventual organ failure, or binge eating. Binge eating is usually the more common of the two because bodies will do what they can to survive.
In 1944, the University of Minnesota conducted a study  called the Minnesota Starvation Experiment which was done to learn about the effects of starvation and how to rehab those who were victims. For that they created a controlled famine.
Here’s the gist of it:
For 3 months, each participant was give 3,200 calories per day — which helped them to achieve or maintain their ideal weight.
For the next 6 months, each participant was given on average 1560 calories per day– which was considered semi-starvation. This amount of calories caused severe weight loss in people who were at their ideal weights. The idea was to induce people at their ideal weight lose 25% of their weight. So a 175 pound man would go down to 130 pounds. Pretty extreme.
For the next 3 months, each participant was given a controlled amount of calories to help them heal from their 6 months of starvation.
For the next 2 months, each participant was given the ability to eat whatever they wanted in unrestricted and uncontrolled amounts. Which resulted in bingeing and a preoccupation with food.
The results of the experiment showed that the participants experienced food obsession, binge eating,  severe depression, and there was even self-harm when one of the participants  amputated three fingers of his hand with an axe.  Sexual interest was drastically reduced, and the volunteers showed signs of social withdrawal and isolation They also  reported a decline in concentration, comprehension and judgment capabilities.
So, why do I share this? Because I think that this mirrors your process in some ways. You went on a strict 1500 calorie per day diet and lost approximately 25% of your weight on it. You then went off of it and when you tried to go back, you became preoccupied with food.
So, that doesn’t mean that this is hopeless. Your ability to eat healthy is definitely intact.
Right now, in this very moment, make a decision to stop looking back right now and begin to look forward. Don’t try to make up for the weight that you’ve put back on, this will put you on a horrible roller coaster (like the 1000 calories per day some days and 10,000 calories per day on others.)
1.Stop counting calories.  When you do, you put unrealistic constraints on yourself. If you decide to eat 1500 calories per day, and then you accidentally eat 1800 that day, you might find that your mind decides that you “ruined” it and that you wind up eating another 3000-5000 calories.
2.Decide that you are going to begin to love and respect your body and give it what it needs. Give yourself a variety of fruits, vegetable, grains, meats, dairy, whatever it is that your individual body needs.
3.Practice Intuitive eating– give your body the foods that it needs to run efficiently.
4.If you find that you would prefer to continue counting, I say to use a hunger and satiety scale.
        -Decide that you will eat 3 meals per day and snacks if you need them.
        -Rate your hunger on a scale from 1-10-. 1 being so hungry you could pass out,  5 being totally neutral and 10 being so full you    could throw up.
        -Don’t ever let yourself get so hungry that you’re under a 3- try to eat at a 3-4.
        -Before you eat, check in with yourself and see how hungry you are. Write that number down in a journal.
        -Try to eat slowly. Very slowly. In the middle of the meal, stop, put your fork down and see what number you are at. If you are at a 5 or below, continue to eat slowly, checking in with yourself at every few bites. Once you get to 6 (satisfied) put your fork down and be done with your meal. Write down what number you ended at for that meal.
         -Check in with yourself several times during the day to see where your hunger is.
         -Rather than counting calories, your goal is to eat at a 3-4 and stop at 6-7.  You want to eat slowly and give your body what it needs.
         -A guided meditation for mindful eating might be helpful as well.

5. As for exercise, you need to discuss appropriate ways to exercise with an exercise physiologist, an allergist, or sports medicine doctor. You might be able to do gentle things such as long, slow walks, or isometric exercises to help you tone up. Hard core cardio is obviously dangerous for you.
6.Get support. Don’t do this alone. Food issues and eating disorders thrive in isolation. Find a group of women who are learning how to let go of pejorative eating rituals (such as extreme calorie counting) and who want to learn to eat mindfully, intuitively and healthily together.
I hope that this answers your question and you’ve found this helpful.
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.

Friday Q & A – I binge at night – Help!

This question, from Alex was submitted through the comments section in response to a question about binge eating at night. 

Question:

I do have this same problem. I actually use to weigh 280 pounds with a size 48 waist. Then I started taking MMA (mixed martial arts) and got my diet and weight lifting down to a science with one of my great friends who is also a nutritionist. I dieted and worked out perfectly for about 2 years. I ended up getting down to 178 pounds and had a 32 size waist, abs and all. I loved it and i was so happy. Then I tried to take a break from the dieting part but still continued to exercise. I didn’t even diet that poorly and about 3 months or so later I weighed 212 pounds! So i hit the dieting again hard and got back down to where I am at now, about 180 pounds and 32 waist again. But now, its way harder for me to stick to my diet at night. I eat literally only turkey and vegetables all day every 3 hours and keep my calories under control, low carbs, and very high protein. I feel great all day and not lacking any energy even though my workouts take about 4 hours out of my day and they are high intense (lifting plus still taking MMA) But I CANT SLEEP UNLESS I EAT SOMETHING. not just anything, it has to be sweet and completely bad for me. Also anytime through the night I am up and eating or I will literally just lay there and toss and turn. I wake up in the morning feeling like crap. This is EVERY night and easily at least 1000 calories worth of junk throughout the night. I still do have calorie difference though. But working out 4 or 5 hours a day for such small losses of weight is killing me and I know its because of my night eating. It is definitely holding me back and I could really use some help on my problem. PLEASE!

Answer:

Alex, do see the post below this, I can’t stop eating carbs.  Your situation is so similar to this one. You once lost a whole lot of weight using a very low carbohydrate diet, and now you keep trying to get back on it.  There was an experiment some years ago, with rats. I don’t have a link to the study, but the gist of it was: They gave the rats a shock along with a piece of cheese. Then, after a few days, they gave the rats a shock without the cheese. The rats continued to go back for the cheese, but only got the shock. They never received the cheese again, but continued to risk the shock because of the memory of something they once had.   Now this behavior is incredibly human. People get something once or inconsistently and then spend the rest of their lives trying to get it back. This is where addiction models begin, and not just to a substance, but to a feeling, a process, an outcome, a person… It happens a lot with people. Someone treats someone horribly most of the time, but really wonderfully once in a while. The person clings to the once in a while and continues to go back for the possibility of being treated well.  An extremely low carb or restrictive diet is like an abusive relationship with an inconsistent person. There’s a honeymoon period with it. It works incredibly well at first, then you find that you’re never able to recreate those first results. Yet, you keep going back to it because you remember that time when you were able to lose all that weight. You think, “I am at fault here, if only I were able to eat just turkey and spinach and nothing else, I’d be where I wanted to be, I’m going to do it. I’m going to start tomorrow…”

But if you are exercising 4-5 hours a day, your body needs complex carbohydrates. It will be so hard to sleep at night unless you give yourself those carbs, but because your body is starving for them, you wind up bingeing on them. Your body is otherwise eating itself. You say that you are working out more to compensate for more food. But if you worked out less, you would need less food. This cycle seems so hard. Is it challenging to find time outside of your workouts or space inside of your mind that aren’t thoughts about food or resisting food?

You don’t need to binge on carbs every night, and you don’t certainly don’t need to start eating a high carbohydrate low protein diet. It’s not an either or prospect. However, you could be integrating lots more whole carbohydrates into your day. Turkey and vegetables won’t swing it in the long term, and you’ll probably continue to binge. I know that you did it for two years, but your body probably doesn’t want to go back there which is why you find yourself up at night eating.  You might find that you’re able to go back for a week or even a month, but your body will keep on coming back to bingeing as a way to compensate for the lack of calories and carbohydrates. A way to integrate good for your foods is to be having things like sweet potatoes, yams, fruit (lots of fruit), and starchy vegetables during the day. You need to balance your diet out. More carbohydrates during the day means less carbohydrates at night. And, as I said below, no one ever got fat by eating a yam. Or even a baked potato.

1.)Integrate whole carbohydrates during the day. If you are worried about processed foods, shop in the produce aisle. You can have plenty of foods that will help rebuild your body. Think yams, potatoes, mangoes, apples, bananas, peaches, apricots, nuts, beans.

2.)Try to wind down at night. There are things that you can do, such as meditate or take a bath that will calm your body down enough to help you get to sleep. You might want to try a guided visualization to keep you on your game with food.  You might also do something like soak in Epson Salt bath to relax both body and mind.

3.)Stop weighing and measuring yourself and use your milestones with MMA to monitor your progress.

4.)Try to work out less. Unless you are training professionally and have a staff to help take care of your body (physical therapist, sports med doctor, etc.) you might be overdoing it and your body will be begging for more fuel.

5.)Be kind to yourself. It sounds like you’re really harsh with yourself, and at night, when you’re tired and your defenses are down, that part of you that is like a Drill Sergeant, so disciplined and constantly self flagellating, is not on his game, so the part of you that needs to be taken care of and to be treated kindly sneaks out and binges. Try to create some moderation and evenness. Bring more levity and fun into your life. Do things that are fun but meaningless in the long term (like reading a mindless book or magazine). Integrate some kindness and some breaks for yourself into your day. I understand that you love MMA and have been really enjoying your new lifestyle, but I’d encourage you to do other fun things and allow yourself to enjoy your life! Bringing a bit of joy can really reduce stress and just make you overall happier and lighter.

I do hope that this has answered your question a bit and you’ve found this helpful.

 

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.

I Can’t Stop Eating Carbs!

CARBOHYDRATES ARE NOT EVIL (1)“Help! I can’t Stop Eating Carbs!!!!!!!!!”

Because you shouldn’t.

“But carbohydrates make me fat!”

I’ve had several clients over the years come in believing this very thing, that eating carbohydrates would make them fat. So, what they would do was go on these all high-protein and high-fat diets, eating only eggs, bacon, butter, steak, water, vodka, and whatever else had very low or no carbohydrates in it for a few days, sometimes a week or two, then having a carb binge, only to beat up on themselves again and again, hating themselves for doing “the wrong thing.” Have you ever done this, or some variation on this?

Well, the truth of the matter is this, you can lose weight very quickly on an extremely low-carb diet. To say that’s not true would be a lie. However, it’s a bad idea. And it almost never works. And I know that because if it did, people would go on a very low-carb diet once, lose all the weight they wanted in a few weeks or months, and never look back.

Your body wants carbohydrates. It really does, and it runs more efficiently on carbohydrates and protein than on protein alone. Which is why starving yourself of carbohydrates will inevitably result in a carbohydrate binge (not to mention the strain it will put on your organs), and for most people, this isn’t usually a binge on garbanzo beans and yams, but on processed boxed foods (think Chips Ahoy, Twinkies, and Ben & Jerry’s).

Let’s look at why very low-carb diets result in quick weight loss. Your body relies on carbohydrates as quick energy, when you starve your body of carbohydrates, it’s going to have to go into your fat stores to burn for energy. Theoretically this sounds great. But, most people don’t get there. This is later on, after a few days when your kidneys have let go of all the water in your body. The initial dramatic weight-loss you experience is water weight, which is why if you eat like one potato chip, and knock your body out of ketosis (a state that very low-carb dieters strive for), and you will hold onto water again and feel as though you’ve gained all the weight back that you lost. This creates a really intense cat & mouse game between you and carbohydrates.

People tend to feel extremely grumpy, depressed and many experience some feeling of a cognitive decline when they are on very low carb diets long term, they have trouble with word recall, experience memory loss and battle with insomnia.  If they are unable to stay on their low carb diet (not unusual) they start bingeing and feel grumpy because they’re bingeing… this is because your brain runs on glucose and depriving your brain of glucose in the form of a low carb diet can make one feel foggy, depressed, lethargic, and all around distressed. Because your brain is running less efficiently and your brain is foggy, it makes you more vulnerable to a binge. And what happens? You binge on lots simple carbohydrates – which then makes you more depressed and more apt to binge more.

When you don’t supply your body with any carbohydrates, it needs to slow down to preserve energy.  This is why when people dramatically  restrict their carbohydrates, they find that they are unable to exercise very much at all,  they find that they are constipated due to lack of fiber, and they often become nauseated from ketosis.  Because glucose stabilizes serotonin levels,  some folks might find that they are depressed.   Because your body runs so inefficiently on a very low carb diet, you will probably find yourself rebounding at some point with a carbohydrate binge.  This sets up a cycle, again and again.

 

I had a client come in telling me, “I once lost 10 pounds in two weeks eating just steak and red wine, I know I can do it again…” and despite how much we worked on integrating healthy carbohydrates into her diet, her belief was that all carbs, in any amount were bad. So if she woke up in the morning and “accidentally” had a piece of toast with her eggs, she believed that her whole day was ruined and would continue throughout the day by eating ice cream, cake, cereal, pasta, whatever she could get her hands on, then use that as proof that carbohydrates were the problem. She would then hate herself. It wasn’t that one piece of toast that started the binge, despite the fact that she told herself that she couldn’t eat any carbohydrates because she was addicted.  It was the belief that she couldn’t eat any carbohydrates and the black and white thinking that triggered the binge. She got so angry at herself every time she ate anything with carbohydrates in it and she got so angry at herself for the binges. Each time she started her diet again, she believed that this time it would be different. This time she could stick to it. Her body didn’t want her to stick to it. And when she didn’t, she blamed herself and her lack of willpower.  Finally, after many, many years of this cycle, she agreed to try something different. She saw that she’d been doing this for so long and now weighed more than she ever had. She agreed that for just one month, just 30 days, she’d work in some balance.  “I’m still not eating pasta or bread!” she told me. “That’s fine,” I told her, “but what about some apples, some sweet potatoes, some onions and peppers, some beans…” She agreed and began bringing unprocessed carbohydrates into her regimen. She decided that for the month she would “eat anything that grew,” which was something that she’d read in Louis Hay’s You can Heal Your Life. Not forever, just for 30 days.

Our start date for her experiment was April 1st of last year and she agreed to go until May 1st without succumbing to the lure of a no-carb diet. Despite the fact that she was allowing herself to eat more, each day was a struggle because she really wanted to give in to her desire to reject carbs. As we discussed it over the month, she realized that a huge part of her wanting to control her carbs so intensely was also a desire to have some control in her life. When she gave that up, it opened up more space for us to discuss in therapy what was actually going on in her life that felt totally out of control, such as her career, her relationship, and some of her friendships. As carbohydrates stopped being the center of her focus, her real life, which was admittedly difficult, became something that she was actually able to focus on in therapy.  Each day in April she let herself experiment with different whole food carbohydrates, such as potatoes and sweet potatoes, yams, apples, bananas, avocados, sushi with the rice, and she even ate pasta once or twice without bingeing on it, which shocked her.

The magic that happened in that month was the letting go. As she was able to work on what was really going on inside of her and allow herself to eat really healthy whole foods, she began to let go of bingeing.  Those ten pounds that had been haunting her for years didn’t magically fall off in a month, but about 2 or 3 pounds did. No, it wasn’t the ten pounds in two weeks that she was hoping for, but the promise of that was what kept piling the pounds on year after year after year.

As of right now, she’s not on a no-carb diet, and she’s not on a high carb diet. She is just trying to be nutritionally savvy. She eats whole foods, and exercises and has recently began to feel at peace with her body. She has certainly lost weight and come to a comfortable place for herself physically,  but that’s not what makes this important, what makes it important is that when she stopped obsessing, she was able to come home to herself.

That doesn’t mean that taking care of yourself by choosing not to eat certain refined carbohydrates is a bad thing, however it might be good to reframe your thinking not as a “low-carb” diet but as a “whole foods” way of eating. Allowing yourself healthy whole foods will do nothing but nourish your body. And if you wind up eating a piece of cake or some pasta once in a while, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed miserably, you haven’t knocked yourself out of ketosis and you don’t have to binge. This is just about being good to your body by choosing to bring in healthy whole foods rather than reject carbohydrates totally.

Most people find that they are able to fend off bingeing much more effectively when they reintegrate both carbohydrates and proteins into their daily meals.  So go ahead, eat that potato and let go of the guilt. Carbs are not the enemy, in fact they will make your brain happier, calmer and you will begin to find more peace when you are integrating whole protein, fat and carbohydrates all generously back in to your daily diet.

 

Top Ten Online Resources for Binge Eaters

All Bodies Are Beautiful From around the web, different wonderful resources to help you with eating and body image issues.

1.) Recovery Warriors – Wonderful Pro recovery site with podcasts, resources, and online directory of Eating Disorder professionals.

2.) ED Referral – Not all therapists know how to treat eating disorders, and not all know how to recognize binge eating disorder. If you are looking for someone who understands your needs, this is a great resource.

3.)National Eating Disorder Association– A non-profit group aimed at healing EDs. Lots of inspirational stories, as well as posted research and events.

4.)Binge Eating Disorder Association– An organization aimed at helping people heal from Binge Eating Disorder using a non-diet approach

5. )Pale Reflections– Online support Community

6.) National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders–  A non profit that provides free support groups as well as informational pamphlets and literature.

7.)Association of Professionals Treating Eating Disorders– This is primarily a Bay Area resource that provides low fee treatment for EDs.

8.)Health at Every Size– A group aimed at improving your self love and body acceptance as well as encouraging healthy  eating and exercising habits without dieting or idealizing a different body size or shape.

9.)The Body Positive– An organization aimed at love and positivity toward yourself and your body. It’s aim is to help you gain self love, happiness and good health without telling you that you need to diet in order to get those things.

10.)Beauty is Contagious– Not a resource, but a wonderful Tumblr with lots of images of beautiful bodies in every size and shape.

Bonus 11.)Recover- Shameless Plug! Blog with lots of different article and posts geared at helping you find ways to heal from binge eating and body image issues.

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