As you might have noted, I’ve not been posting as often as usual lately. I welcomed a new member of the family last month, one who is very demanding of my time. I will continue to post, just not as often. Happy Holidays to all!
This is the first of a series about different levels of treatment.
Unfortunately, most people who suffer from eating disorders don’t get treatment, either because they don’t have the money, the time or they feel that they should be able to heal from eating disorders all on their own, or that their particular issue isn’t severe enough to warrant treatment. What is important to remember is that it’s always okay to get help. Your eating disorder thrives in isolation and reaching out and getting help is what will heal it. Trying to work through it alone often perpetuates the issue. It doesn’t have to get to the point of totally unmanageable before you ask for support. You don’t have to hit bottom. You don’t have to be vomiting all day long, or starving yourself down to nothing or eating constantly all day to get help. It’s really common for someone to come in and feel embarrassed that they’re asking for help because they feel that they’re “not sick enough” or even “not skinny enough” to qualify for an eating disorder. If food feels hard for you, if you find that you’re simply overthinking eating, if you’re uncomfortable in your body, or you just want someone to talk to in order to suss out your situation and figure out if you even need help and what kind of help you need, it’s okay to call someone. Going to therapy or to treatment doesn’t mean you’re crazy or that you “need help.” Therapy is a place for you to take care of yourself. It gives you time and space to think about your needs and to act on them. It’s a way to take care of yourself.
You can choose to see a Psychologist (Psydoc), a Licensed Social Worker, (LCSW), a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, (MFT) or a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LPC) or a Psychiatrist (MD). Psychiatrists are the only ones who can prescribe medication, but many psychiatrists don’t do counseling. If you need meds, your therapist will usually consult with your psychiatrist, so that you are getting med management one place and therapy elsewhere.
Before a therapist becomes licensed, she or he must see patients a certain amount of hours (usually 3000) and then take some exams in order to be licensed in their state. This process can take anywhere from 3-6 years after finishing from graduate schools. Before getting licensed, these interns are supervised by licensed professionals while seeing clients. If you would like to see an intern, they usually charge much less than those who are licensed.
When you go in for eating disorder treatment with a therapist, they will often want to treat you along with a nutritionist and sometimes a psychiatrist.
So what happens in therapy? That’s difficult to say. First off, a therapist will not fix you. Therapy isn’t a magic cure, but it’s an open space that gives you the opportunity to think about your situation and strategize ways to improve it. There are a million different ways that therapists work to heal eating disorders. My own personal brand of therapy is eclectic integrative, which means I draw from many different modalities of psychotherapy to create my own brand. I most often utilize a mixture of psychodynamic therapy – which is more of the classic Freudian approach- where we discuss your family dynamics and past events in your life and how they have contributed to your current ways of existing in the world. This is incredibly helpful because it makes the unconscious conscious. It allows you to understand why you are behaving in ways that you’re behaving rather than purely reacting as you always have. It gives you some perspective and the ability to step outside of yourself so that you can make better choices about your behaviors. This goes well with cognitive behavioral therapy– which then takes your unconscious that you have now made conscious and enables you to make a choice by giving you options of different ways to think about your situation and react toward your situation. I also utilize somatic therapy and mindfulness which both make you more aware of the feelings that you are holding in your body so that you can work with the actual feelings that you are having rather than hiding from them by acting out with food. I also utilize hypnotherapy which is another way of increasing mindfulness and making you aware of your behaviors and the choices you have.
When you start with a therapist you will begin by education your therapist about your specific eating issues, how long you’ve been suffering, what your behaviors are and the severity of them. They might take your weight and find out how many times a day, week, or month you’re bingeing or bingeing and purging. Understanding the severity of your eating disorder is key to understanding what kind of treatment you will need. You might need weekly therapy sessions as well as sessions with a nutritionist and/or group therapy and a psychiatrist, or weekly sessions might be enough. It’s also possible that you might need a higher level of care, such as an IOP, a PHP, residential treatment or hospitalization. But your therapist can help you to assess that. Sometimes, if you don’t seem to be on track with your healing, you might need a higher level of care as therapy goes on. With eating disorder treatment, the first course of action is working to reduce the behaviors, as those decrease, you then begin to work on the feelings or the issues that trigger the behaviors. Often, as the symptoms decrease, challenging feelings increase. I personally believe that it’s very helpful to stay in therapy after the symptoms (eating disorder behaviors) end in order to work deeply on the underlaying issues. This helps to prevent relapse and also helps you to continue moving forward in your life and achieve the things that you couldn’t before because your eating disorder was taking over.
It is possible to find low-fee therapy. You might want to call a University near you that probably has students and interns in counseling centers. You might call a local hospital or mental health agency. If that fails, call a local therapist who probably knows where to refer you go.
Next up: IOP (intensive outpatient treatment)
Take a breath. Relax. Don’t let it turn into a 4 day binge. Don’t try to compensate today by not eating. Take a nice, long, relaxing walk, drink lots of water and tea today. Eat fruit and salads and make sure that you get all your meals in. Don’t look back. It’s okay! Check out How to Recover from a Binge.
In the spirit of frugality, I’m recycling last year’s Thanksgiving post. Happy Thanksgiving to my Amazing Readers. Prayers and Peace for a wonderful holiday to you all. _____________________________________________________________________________________
Thanksgiving can be a nightmare for anyone dealing with binge eating, bulimia or other compulsive eating issues. For many people, being around the stress of family coupled with giant amounts of food can be a recipe for acting out excessively with food. Be prepared before you go to Thanksgiving Dinner.
1.)Have an intention around food and drinking. Think about what you are going to choose to eat and drink and how much. Making this intention will help you to empower yourself around food and alcohol rather than letting the food take over. Share this intention with a family member or supportive friend or a therapist.
2.)If you don’t have anyone supportive at the Thanksgiving meal, see if you can bring a a support resource with you, a friend who might be going through recovery with you or someone you feel safe with. If you cannot do that, have a support person who you can talk to on the phone intermittently throughout the meal.
3.)Make sure that you eat a good solid breakfast before you go to Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t show up hungry. If you do, your hunger might take over and squelch your intention.
4.)Just because there are several new and interesting foods there, you don’t have to eat everything. Make sure that you let yourself have a solid dinner, with protein, vegetables and a starch if you wish. If you just snack or graze on a bunch of different foods, you will inevitably wind up feeling unsatisfied, as though you’ve not really had a meal. This could lead to feeling too full and trigger a binge.
5.)Talk to people in rooms away from food. You don’t have to sit on a couch in front of a giant platter of cheese and crackers and nuts and hors d’œuvres talking to your aunt. Try to concentrate on conversations with people.
6.)Eat slowly and mindfully. It’s not a race to the end. You can enjoy good food and good conversation.
7.)Don’t compulsively overexercise in anticipation of “eating extra calories.” It will leave you very tired and hungry, again, unable to empower yourself to hold your intention.
8.)Take walks or time outs. Let yourself leave the situation and take mini breaks. Let yourself get away from the stress of the food and the stress of family that sometimes exists. If it’s too cold or not realistic for you to leave, take your cell phone into another room and say you need to make an important call and talk to your support person.
9.)Bring your journal with you so that you can sit and relax and process your feelings during the meal rather than stuff your feelings.
10.)Bring your ipod with some mediation music or relaxing music that puts you in a calm mood.
11.)Make a gratitude list! Think about what you are grateful for during the holiday.
12.)If there are children there, spend time playing with them. If there are elders there, spend time talking to and getting to know them. Both things that will be enriching and get your mind off of food.
13.)Mediate. Sit quietly in the bathroom for five minutes and take deep slow breaths into your belly. Inhale slowly to the count of five and exhale slowly to the count of five. This will calm your body and allow you to let go of any stress or anxiety that your body is holding on to.
14.)Remember that if it seems like it might be too hard this year, you don’t have to go. It’s true, you might let some people down. But you can always explain to them that it’s important for you to take care of yourself in this way this year. If you don’t think that they’d be amenable to this, or you think that they will accuse you of being self centered or self absorbed, don’t offer any explanation that might leave you vulnerable to being shamed or insulted.
For information on how to help a loved one with an eating disorder, please read this article.
I would love to know what kind of intentions people are setting to make their Thanksgiving safe and fun this year. Please don’t hesitate to post your Thanksgiving intentions in the comments. If you have any additional ideas on how to make the holiday safe, please post those as well!
Question: I used to have a huge problem with binge eating, restricting, and overexercising, but I’ve been relatively “clean” for the past 7 years. I’ve been exercising 1/2 hour 3-4 times a week, eating three meals a day, everyday, and my incidences of overeating or undereating are relatively rare. I got to a weight and size that I’m very comfortable with and I’ve felt pretty good food and weight- wise for several years. But then I got pregnant. And suddenly I’m binge eating again. And sometimes restricting, and I’m on exercise restriction as per my doctor, so I’m not even allowed to go swimming, like they say pregnant woman should. I have been eating extremely healthy for years, but all of a sudden, I find myself diving into cookies, cake, soda, pizza, bread, etc. I wish I could stop and just eat normally again. I’m going nuts! Can you help me?- Elissa (New Jersey)
Answer: Hi Elissa,
First off, take a breath. You’re in the realm of normal here. Many women who are in recovery for binge eating or other eating disorders might find that they relapse into bingeing behaviors when pregnant. It’s not uncommon at all. Pregnant woman are hungrier than non-pregnant women. And that hunger can be overwhelming. Especially if you’ve been in remission from an eating disorder for a long time, the feeling of not having any control over your own body can be daunting. You might find that you are eating more than you wanted to and then those old ED feelings of guilt and shame come up which cause you to binge eat.
1.)Never, ever, ever restrict or diet when you are pregnant. This is not the time. It’s okay to use your tools to avoid binge eating, but don’t skip meals, don’t count calories, this is the time to become more mindful of what your body says you need. Let your cravings tell you what to eat in a thoughtful way. Think of your body as having infinite wisdom and use your mind to hone that wisdom. For instance, if you are craving potato chips, your body might be needing some extra salt. Find something healthier that might satisfy that craving, like celery or a hard boiled egg or a piece of cheese or some olives.
2.)Eat when you are hungry, but really, really try to slow down your eating. You will find that as you become more pregnant, it’s more uncomfortable to have food in your belly. So eating fast and furiously will hit you 20 minutes after your finish your meal and you will feel sick. You might want to spread your eating out to 6 or 8 smaller meals a day instead of 3 big ones.
3.)Many women lose weight in their first trimester due to morning sickness. In the second trimester, which is an incredibly growth time for the fetus, you might find yourself being very, very hungry. Don’t try to fight it– let yourself eat and gain the weight that you need to for your baby.
4.)Be careful about what you are eating. Don’t worry about portion sizes when you are pregnant, but do be vigilant about the kinds of foods that you are ingesting. Pregnant women tend to crave lots of carbohydrates. Let yourself have carbs. But follow your cravings but in a thoughtful way. If you are craving cake and cookies and soda, try to eat lots of fruit. Your body might be needing the quick energy of glucose. But because gestational diabetes has become so prevalent, try to reduce your intake of sugar and processed foods.
5.)Do Not Go on a Low Carb Diet when pregnant. A lot of women find that they have serious meat aversions and just crave lots of fruits and vegetables in pregnancy. Pay attention to your cravings and take them seriously. They exist for an evolutionary reason. In fact, Loren Coradain— who created the Paleo diet, a low-carbohydrate diet plan explains why you should not eat low-carb while pregnant : “You probably should increase your fat and carbohydrate consumption, and limit protein to about 20-25% of energy, as higher protein intakes than this may prove to be deleterious to mother and fetus for a variety of physiological reasons. In my next book, I have devoted a chapter to maternal nutrition before, during and after pregnancy and why protein must be limited during pregnancy.
My colleague John Speth (an anthropologist) at the University of Michigan wrote a paper on protein aversion in hunter-gatherer women during pregnancy. Listed below is the abstract: (note the 25% protein energy ceiling!!!)
‘During seasonal or inter-annual periods of food shortage and restricted total calorie intake, ethnographically and ethnohistorically documented human foragers, when possible, under-utilize foods that are high in protein, such as lean meat, in favour of foods with higher lipid or carbohydrate content. Nutritional studies suggest that one reason for this behaviour stems from the fact that pregnant women, particularly at times when their total calorie intake is marginal, may be constrained in the amount of energy they can safely derive from protein sources to levels below about 25% of total calories. Protein intakes above this threshold may affect pregnancy outcome through decreased mass at birth and increased perinatal morbidity and mortality. This paper briefly outlines the evidence for the existence of an upper safe limit to total protein intake in pregnancy, and then discusses several facets of the issue that remain poorly understood. The paper ends by raising two basic questions directed especially toward specialists in primate and human nutrition: is this protein threshold real and demographically significant in modern human foraging populations? If so, does an analogous threshold affect pregnant female chimpanzees? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, we can then begin to explore systematically the consequences such a threshold might have for the diet and behaviour of early hominids.’2
The physiological basis for this aversion stems from a reduced rate of urea synthesis during pregnancy that is evident in early gestation1 as well as increases in the stress hormone cortisol3. Hence, pregnant women should include more carbohydrate and fat (i.e. fattier meats) in their diets and limit dietary protein to no more than 20-25% of their total caloric intake.”
Your brain contains cannabinoid receptors, which are specialized proteins that react to particular stimuli to produce results such as pleasure, pain relief, and hunger. The THC in marijuana is the number one stimuli that acts on cannabinoid receptors. Your body produces endogenous cannabinoids, receptors inside your body which send a signal to your brain that it’s time to eat. Those endogenous cannabinoids are abundant in your hypothalmus, which is the part of your brain that regulates appetite. So, when you smoke marijuana, you don’t just think you’re hungry, you are really, really hungry and you really want to eat. And, because your inhibitions are suppressed, using your tools to deal with binge eating is close to impossible.
So, that being said, you might want to limit or quit your marijuana use. As with binge eating, you might want to look at why you are choosing to smoke. Is it because you are trying not to deal with some very difficult feelings? Are you hiding from something? Is it recreational- done for fun? Is it social- something that you do to bond with friends? Is it something that you believe you need for a medical purpose?
So, the quick answer is, if you want to prevent the binge eating that comes with smoking pot, you should probably not introduce the binge eating trigger. Some triggers are hard to avoid, ie: talking to you Mom on the phone, passing by a certain bakery that’s right next to your apartment. Some are easy, ie: smoking marijuana, looking at your ex-boyfriend’s facebook page. If you decide that you want to stop using marijuana, but are finding that it’s hard to avoid it, even if you want to, you might want to check out an MA meeting and get the support that you need from others who have gone through it.
Magically, I have several clients who suffered terribly with binge eating and found that as soon as they quit using weed, the bingeing just stopped. They later realized that it wasn’t the binge eating that was a problem, it was the marijuana. Best of luck to you.
This article,Why Dieter’s Tend to Regain Weight showed up in yesterday’s LA Times. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine has proven that certain hormones stay active in dieters to keep them exceedingly hungry for at least a year after weight loss has been achieved. 500 people were put on a very low calorie diet. After a year, most of the dieters had a rebound in weight gain. ” 52 weeks after subjects had completed their crash diets and were struggling to maintain their loss, that cacophony of hormones was sending a single message, loudly, clearly and after every meal: Eat more.”
It’s funny because there have been several different studies out there that disprove the efficacy of dieting, and for so many reasons, diets trigger binges, they trigger eating disorders, they slow down metabolism, they limit nutrition, they create food obsession and psychological distress… but this study proves that they actually work against your body and cause rebound weight gain, so the dieting cycle becomes vicious. It becomes addictive. You wind up right back where you started.
But so then what should you do if you feel that you need to lose weight for health reasons? Seeing a board certified nutritionist to help you learn proper nutrition and appropriate portion sizes is a start. Working with a group or therapist to help you deal with stress eating and emotional eating issues can also be helpful. Read through this blog for several tips on dealing with binge eating, emotional eating, stress eating, etc. Give your body love and respect without trying to punish it for simply being what it is. Care for it and nurture it without depriving or punishing it with either restriction or bingeing.
Question: I’m 34 years old and have been suffering with bulimia on and off since I was 18 years old. I’ve been married for the past 7 years and we have two kids, my husband doesn’t know that I binge and purge. I am really good at hiding the evidence. I can go weeks sometimes months, and in one case over a year without bingeing and purging. I’m afraid that if my husband knew he would look at me differently, and I don’t want him watching over me or monitoring me. At the same time, I feel like I’m living a double life and I hate it. I’m miserable and I feel like a liar. What should I do? -D
Answer: Hi D, I’m sorry that you’re struggling so much. I understand what a challenging position you are in. There’s a lot at stake here, by telling your husband you might potentially:
1.)Change the image that he has of you.
2.)Leave him to feel betrayed and depressed.
3.)Have to give up your eating disorder because he will know.
These are all valid points, but, in my opinion, not enough to warrant keeping this secret. First off, if you are in a loving, sharing relationship, you are there to support each other. Ideally your husband will to help you through your recovery process. We all enter marriages in sickness and in health and allowing him to support you is important not just for your recovery but for the long term health of your relationship. Many people want to try to recover by themselves without telling their partners, however, eating disorders thrive in isolation. By keeping them secret, you keep the fire going that continues to ignite the eating disorder. Think about some of the reasons that you don’t want to tell him. Perhaps you are afraid that by telling him, you will no longer be able to hold onto your eating disorder any longer. Perhaps you are afraid of the way he will act around you or that he will monitor your food intake. You might want to bring him into couples counseling with an eating disorder specialist to help you explain to him what’s going on. He might have the instinct to fix it. It’s your responsibility to let him know that it’s not his issue to fix, but to tell him what you do need. Getting this secret out will help you to feel less anxious and stressed out about it. Often, partners do know that something is going on and the longer it goes on, the more it can drive a wedge between the two of you.
If you don’t have faith that your relationship is loving and supportive and you don’t believe that it would survive this disclosure, I would definitely recommend couples counseling.
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.
Quick Tips on How to Stop Binge Eating
Here is a quick little round up of different tips on how to stop binge eating and how to heal from binge eating disorder. Several of these tips are longer posts in other parts on this blog, so you can bookmark this page and come back and read more when you are ready or just go through the tips quickly. Enjoy!
1.)Eat a balanced, healthy breakfast with protein every morning. Starting your day off with a solid meal will stave off hunger and mindless eating during the day that can trigger binge eating.
3.)Get Support. Binge eating is a disease of isolation and secrets. When you attempt to recover in private, you perpetuate the isolation that drives the disorder. Getting support helps you to be accountable and helps you to talk it out with other people who are going through the same issues. Good places to go to for support: A therapist, a 12 step group, an online support forum, online or telephone meetings or the Recover From Binge Eating online program to help support and teach you how to stop binge eating.
4.)Don’t let yourself get very hungry. When you let yourself get very hungry, your blood sugar drops which in impairs cognitive skills. Your body just needs glucose and it needs it now, so instinctively, you will start to grab for anything you can to raise blood sugar. Instead, use the hunger and satiety scale to help yourself eat what your body needs. One of the tricks that people use when they are figuring out how to stop binge eating is to eat protein first, at least 30 minutes before a meal to help stabilize their blood sugar.
5.)Learn intuitive eating. This is the opposite of dieting, where your body is the wise one that lets you know what, how much, and when you need to eat. Your body wants to be healthy, so learning to listen and respond to it, will help you to find peace with food and with your body.
6.)Exercise Daily. This doesn’t mean spending arduous hours at the gym or running 5 miles a day. This is about moving your body. The more you move it, the more aware of it you are, and the better you begin to treat it. This can mean anything from 30 minutes of walking each day, to doing yoga, or going on a jog, or lifting weights or even just window shopping. But moving and being out in the world is crucial. Need some motivation to exercise? Try this.
7.)Learn Mindful Eating. Mindful eating is the act of slowing down and actually noticing, tasting and being with your food. Mindfulness is about being in the here and now. Binge eating is about chasing the taste. You don’t necessarily taste your food when you’re bingeing because your waiting for the next taste, the next bite, and this hunger is insatiable. When you incorporate mindful eating, you learn how to stop and interrupt a binge. Mindful eating is peaceful, yet it is an amazingly effective tool in fighting binge eating. If you would like a free mindful eating meditation download, click here!
8.)Add more protein. Nutritionally, protein will feed your brain, keep you feeling fuller longer and it will help your brain to function better so that you can make better choices about what kinds of food to eat. This doesn’t mean eschewing carbohydrates, but eat your protein first so that you can make better choices about the next bite.
9.)Set a timer. When you feel the urge to binge, set a timer for 20 minutes, in that time, do something different other than binge. Let yourself know that you can binge if you still want to in 20 minutes. Often the very act of interrupting the compulsion will stop it.
10.)Meditate. Daily meditation will help you to slow down so that you can think about what you’re doing. You don’t even have to do it every day or make a big deal about having a practice. You can spend a few minutes each day breathing. Even in the middle of a work day, you can escape to the bathroom, close your eyes and breath for a few minutes to help slow down and ward off stress. You might want to download meditations to stop binge eating.
11.)Eat by the clock. If you are too entrenched in binge eating, the when part of intuitive eating might be difficult. So, at the beginning of learning how to stop binge eating, when you are first starting to recover, you might want to set some parameters around when to eat. Example. Breakfast 8am. Snack 11am Lunch 1pm. Snack 4pm. Dinner 8pm. Or whatever feels right for your. Don’t forget to include at least three meals per day.
12.)Give Up Diet Coke. A lot of people who suffer from Eating Disorders are addicted to Diet Coke. There are some theories that postulate that diet drinks cause weight gain. That may or may not be true. But what is true is that many binge eaters attempt to substitute food with diet soda. This causes bloating, discomfort and lethargy, all of which contribute to body disconnection making binge eating more palatable.
13.)Remind yourself “I can always have it later.” Because binge eaters view food as so black and white (this is a special occasion, I have to eat it now) they tend to justify their binges. Just because it’s Thanksgiving doesn’t mean you have to eat Pumpkin Pie. Seriously. You will not stay up all night regretting what you chose not to binge on. This isn’t the last time that you can eat ice cream, it’s not black and white, it’s not all or nothing, that pumpkin pie will always exist. But do you need it right now? Can you have it tomorrow instead? Think about what your body needs in the moment.
14.)Know your triggers. Does going to the movies make you binge on popcorn? Does Halloween make you binge on Almond Joys? Does going to your parents house make you binge on bread? Does looking at Facebook cause you to binge on candy? Does looking at fashion magazines cause you to binge on pasta? Get to know why and when you binge and intercept these events at the pass. Find ways to deal with the binge before it happens. For instance, if you know that going to the movies causes you to binge on popcorn, get there without time to go to the concession stand.
15.)Get more sleep. Being tired can cause binge eating. Again, being more cognizant and mindful of what you are doing can help you to extinguish these behaviors.
16.)Treat yourself with Love. Remember to do nice things for yourself at least once a day. This could be showering, taking care of your nails, your hair, your skin, making your bed. Being self nurturing will remind you of your own value so that you can feel better about yourself.
17.)Don’t compare yourself to others. You have your own path and your own dharma. Comparing yourself to others takes you off your path and stunts you. Try to look forward and move forward on your path rather than stopping yourself by looking longingly at other people’s paths.
18.)Be kind to your body. Learn how to love your body. Don’t say mean things to your body, don’t call it fat. Don’t engage in fat chat with other people. Don’t bond with others by discussing how fat you are or what different diets your going to go on. Don’t talk about other people’s bodies no matter what they look like. When you think about how to stop binge eating, a big part of that is letting go of negativity and bringing more kindness into your world.
19.)Learn how to fight the urge to binge eat. Remember that wanting to binge isn’t enough of a reason to binge. Even if it feels overwhelming. Remember that you are stronger than the urge to binge.
20.)You are not perfect. If you have a slip, just start again. You don’t have to wait for the next day, you have millions of moments to start over. Start over immediately. Wash your hands, wash your face, take a shower and just recover from the binge. You can do that in any given moment.
According to wikipedia, patience is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, and is studied as a decision making problem, involving the choice of either a small reward in the short term, or a more valuable reward in the long term. When given a choice, all animals, humans included, are inclined to favour short term rewards over long term rewards. This is despite the often greater benefits associated with long term rewards.
No wonder it’s so difficult to avoid compulsive behaviors when we are evolutionarily inclined to choose instant gratification over long term happiness.
But how much better would our lives be if we were all patient? Compulsivity is mixed with this primal fear of “I’ll never have this opportunity again. It’s now or never…” Which is why so many people fall prey to compulsive spending, compulsive eating, compulsive sexual behavior, get rick quick schemes and all sorts of compulsivity. This is a very animal behavior. Patience is a learned, newer, evolved behavior that is not instinctual.
Of course patience (or lack of) and eating disorders go hand in hand. For compulsive dieters who alternately restrict and binge, there is the inherent fear that we only have that one single opportunity to have that ice cream sundae, because come Monday, we can never have anything like that again. And on the flip side of it, comes dieting. The belief is that we need to be thin immediately, so if we do something drastic, like cut out all carbohydrates for 2 weeks, we will lose a dramatic amount of weight in a very short period of time. This is rather than taking time to get to know your body, understand what it needs and cultivate mindful eating and intuitive eating and healthy exercise. This takes patience.
So as animals, if patience is not instinctual, how do we cultivate patience?
1.) Patience is a learned trait, so first off, tell yourself that you are going to be patient with this learning process. It’s not going to come instantly. So every time you lose your patience, forgive yourself and accept that you are working against human instinct.
2.)Decide what patience means to you. How are you choosing to be patient? What does that pertain to? What kind of patience do you want more of in your life?
3.)Try some patience exercises. My favorite is washing dishes. Rather than loading up your dishwasher (if you have one) make a plan to wash your dishes slowly and mindfully. As you do, allow yourself to actually savor the experience of washing the dishes. Feel the warm water on your hands, enjoy the satisfying feeling of completion as each dish is cleaned, try to enjoy the time as it passes. Listen to music, breath, let yourself relax into the chore rather than waiting for it to be done. When you begin to allow yourself to melt into your world in the present and enjoy your time moment-by-moment, you are learning patience. The opposite of patience is trying to quickly reach the end.
4.)REMEMBER TO BREATHE! When you are feeling impatient (either standing online or waiting in traffic, or running late or wanting to exercise or eat compulsively) take a break and turn inward and just breathe. Bring yourself into the present and get away from the future.
5.)When it comes to food and weight, remind yourself of all the diets you have tried and where it’s brought you and all the time that you’ve wasted. Take it day-by-day and even moment-by-moment (rather than saying something like “i’m cutting out all fat, sugar, and wheat for the next 30 days”) and each day make an intention about finding health and well-being. And if for some reason you find that you’ve had a slip, forgive yourself and move on to the next moment. Each moment in your life gives you an opportunity to choose the behavior that you want.
6.)Keep the big picture in mind. Remember that the opposite of patience is impatience and compulsive behavior. When you find yourself ready to act out compulsively, slow down and think about what is really important to you. For instance, if you all of a sudden find yourself wanting to return a text message but you’re driving, either pull over to do it, or wait. The safety of yourself and others around you is more important than reading or returning a text.
7.)Figure out what people and what situations trigger your impatience or compulsive behavior. Try to make it a game. Practice patience around these people or situations.
8.)Visualize the future the way you want it to look and then just let it go. Know that you can have the life that you want but not instantly, that the journey is important as well.
9.)Laugh a lot. Especially when things aren’t going as planned. Having a sense of humor about yourself, life, the world around you can help you to relax into it. Life is too serious to be taken too seriously.
10.)Let go of the impatience and anxiety in your body. When you are feeling tense and impatient, notice where you hold it in your body. Breath into those tight spots and try to let them loosen up.
11.)Eat something delicious very, very, very slowly. Take a half hour to sit and eat this thing that you love. Don’t scarf it down, let yourself savor it, taste it, feel it. Engage all your senses. When you are finished, don’t immediately grab more. Know that you can have more at a later time or another day.