Just One Day Without Binge Eating Challenge

can i go just one day without binge eating?One of the many AA mottos is “One Day at a Time”  That just has to be true.  People who binge eat are often very polarized in their thinking. It has to be all or nothing. So,  when people decide to recover from binge eating, they set the bar very high for themselves. “I’m never ever going to binge eat again. I’m only going to eat healthy every day for the rest of my life.” Wow. That’s really way too much to think about. And not only that, but it’s a giant set up for failure. When you decide that for the rest of your life you’re never going to binge, you establish a really difficult task for yourself. And it’s a set up for a binge. “Well, if I’m NEVER going to binge again, I might as well have a really good one tonight. Then tomorrow I’ll be perfect.” That almost never works. You wake up ill the next morning and are unable to eat or feeling too guilty to eat for several hours. When you finally do allow yourself to eat, you are so hungry that… well, you know. The cycle starts again. There are variations on this. And certainly, there are people who make a decision to never binge again or never binge and purge again and never do. But, for the most part, this is incredibly overwhelming for the psyche. And it backfires. However, if you can break the task down into small, manageable pieces, recovery becomes more tangible.  So, make a decision that you are going to choose one day. Just one whole day, where you don’t act out in any eating disorder behaviors. No bingeing, no restricting, not purging, no overexercising. You are going to take one day to act as if you are recovered. Just to see what it’s like. You must do this with the caveat of letting yourself know that this is only a one day experiment. That is what will make it more palpable.

So, here’s how you do it.

1.)Pick out a day that you are going to act as if you are  without eating disordered behaviors.

2.)Remember, it’s only one day, so you don’t have to prepare yourself the day before by bingeing or starving.

3.)Wake up that morning and EAT BREAKFAST!  What I find  incredibly common in binge eaters  and bulimics is the propensity to skip breakfast. The idea for most is to go as long as they can without eating. The belief is that if they skip breakfast, it will set up a “bad” precedent for the rest of the day. But remember, this is the day that you pretend that you have no eating issues, so go ahead and eat breakfast.

So, when I say breakfast, I don’t mean a piece of fruit. I mean a good hearty breakfast. Try to have a high protein breakfast with some fiber and complex carbohydrates. Such as two eggs and a cup of oatmeal with a piece of fruit, or some turkey sausage with whole grain bread and fruit, or if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, a tofu scrambled with vegetables and a side of fruit.

4.)When you make your breakfast, make it with loving kindness. Try to get up a bit earlier than usual. Instead of rolling out of bed and chugging coffee while you’re running out the door, set your alarm for 1/2 hour earlier. Before you shower, before you do anything, give yourself some time to make yourself a nourishing breakfast and really take time and space to eat quietly. Sit down at a table without turning on the television or looking at the internet or reading the paper. Eat slowly. Notice your food. Notice the tastes, the textures and the feeling of eating. Let your body take in the nutrients it needs.

5.)Notice as you shower and get ready for work what it felt like to give yourself some time and space and nurturing in the morning.

6.)As you begin your day, notice what your body feels like. Check in with your body for cues of hunger and satiety. If you did indeed feed yourself a good hearty breakfast, but you feel hungry in an hour, this is probably not physical hunger, but emotional hunger. Are you stressed about something? Are you tired? What else might be going on?  Continue to assess your hunger throughout the day using the hunger and satiety scale.

7.)When it comes time for lunch, again, don’t skip it. Don’t eat lunch in front of your computer. Eat something healthy such as a salad with protein and a broth based soup, or a sandwich on whole grain bread with lots of vegetables and some kind of non processed meat and a piece of fruit. As you did with breakfast, try to give yourself space and time to actually taste your meal. Don’t inhale it. Notice it bite by bite. Allow it to feed your body and nurture your cells.

8.)Check in with yourself throughout the day. Am I hungry? Am I tired? Am I stressed? What do I need? How can I give myself what I need? Do I want to eat? Do I want to eat because I’m hungry or do I want to eat because I’m feeling something else?

9.)If you are finding that you are feeling hungry in the afternoon, let yourself eat something with protein and fiber, such as nuts and fruit together. If you want to eat something with sugar like a cookie, limit yourself to one serving and eat it with some protein such as raw nuts or seeds or a piece of string cheese or even a hardboiled egg or slice of meat.

10.)When you get home that evening, if it is a time that you usually binge, remind yourself that this is only one day of not bingeing, it’s just a one day challenge, and see if you can use your recovery tools to do something different.

11.)Again, make yourself a good dinner and eat it peacefully.

12.)After dinner, let yourself unwind. No work, no running around, no gym, no errands. Just a relaxing evening. You might want to take a bath or get into bed with a good book, or talk to a friend that you’ve been meaning to catch up with.

This is just one full day of self care and trying to see what it might be like to be on the other side of this. It’s just an experiment. As people with eating disorders, the days are filled with experiments. Experimenting on how little you can eat, what you can omit from your diet, how much you can eat, this diet, that diet….  Try seeing what it might be like to do this.

Restau- RANTS

Salon recently put out an article about what happens when people don’t get the food that they expect to get at a restaurant. It seems that people go into an emotional tizzy when they don’t get what they expected. It’s no surprise that restaurants can be very emotionally charged experiences for people. They order their food a certain way and when it fails to meet their standards, they then become agitated and angry. This isn’t an unusual phenomenon. Yet, it’s curious. Why is it that people are so incredibly attached to outcome when it comes to food? What is the expectation that food is going to be or do for them and when it doesn’t do that, what kind of reaction do they have?

It is common for binge eaters and bulimics to have a particular binge food, such as pizza or Twinkies or ice cream. For someone who uses food to elicit an emotional response, such as pleasure or calmness or to shut out sadness or anxiety, the Twinkie will consistently do exactly what they want it to do. It’s like taking a xanax. No wonder people become so anxious when their orders are screwed up. They had an expectation of the way the food would make them feel. The food has failed to do that, or the establishment has failed to live up to their expectations. What a let down.

Trying to let go of your expectations as to what food can do for you and trying to let go of  the outcome of your food experiences can be liberating.  Food isn’t xanax. Yes, it’s nice to get what you pay for, but if it’s so emotionally charged when someone gives you regular milk for your coffee instead of skim milk, it’s worth looking at. What am I expecting food to do for me? Am I really that rigid around food? Will two tablespoons of full fat milk in my coffee make a difference in the grand scheme of things?  Watching the anxiety that comes up for yourself, having and observing ego (the observing ego is the part of us that watches what we do and say in some objective manner, while tolerating the anxiety that is produced) as you notice yourself in a restaurant is a great way to let go of some of your issues around food. Letting go of some of the rigidity is crucial.

Free Food! But at what cost?

Then, there’s the free food phenomena. This is a binge eaters Achilles Heel. It sets up not just temptation, but a moral dilemma, “is it okay for me to waste this food?” There are many free food situations that get set up. But you have to look at the real cost in free food. Such as “if I eat this, will it set up a binge later?” “will I binge on this because it’s free?” “Is this unhealthy for me to be eating in quantity?”

There is the hidden cost involved with free food, and one that comes with a price tag that is much higher than the food. What will happen if you begin eating the free food? Ask yourself the following questions before you start.

1.)What is the cost/benefit analysis of eating this food?

2.)If I eat this food, just because it is free will I be happy?

3.)Will I be happier in the long term if I eat this free food?

4.)What are the consequences of eating this?

5.)After I am finished with the food, what might happen?

6.)If I eat this free food, will I be able to eat it moderately or will I begin to eat it compulsively?

7.)Will eating this food trigger a binge?

8.)If so, will I wind up bingeing for the rest of the day/night or for several more days?

9.)Will eating this food cause me to purge?

10.)If  I don’t eat this food, will I feel badly?

11.)Will I feel worse if I don’t eat this food than if I do?

Here are some common free food situations and ways to counter them.

Scenario: Babysitting

Situation: The parents have left tons of ice cream, candy, chips, cookies, cake, and other types of food and  junkfood for you to snack on while you’re there.

How to Deal: No matter how old you are, babysitting can be a trigger. You are at home alone, with very little to do and a whole open refrigerator full of free and new food. Before you go to babysit, have a plan. You might put a boundary on yourself saying that won’t eat anything there at all and eat a healthy nutritious dinner before you go. If it’s an all day thing or a time that will coincide with your dinner, you can pack healthy meals to bring with you. If the kids are eating meals that you are likely to binge on, or are likely to trigger a binge (most often I hear mac-n-cheese or pizza) simply decide that you are going to have something different. While you are there, make sure that you have a great book, or a great movie for after the kids are asleep. You might even ask the parents if it’s okay for you to have a friend over. If so, bring a safe friend who won’t engage in binge eating behaviors with you and bring games to play after the kids go to sleep.  If not, let someone know that you want to avoid binge eating have a friend to talk to and check in with while you are there. Bring something to do with your hands, like crafts to do with the kids, or knitting or jewelry making. Make sure to set your intention before you go there that you are not going to engage in binge eating there. The intention you set and the strategies that you set up will help you to refrain from acting out in eating disorder behaviors.

Scenario: Upgrade to First Class

Situation: You are fortunately upgraded to first class on a  long flight. With that comes unlimited drinks and food and as many snack packs as you want. Even though you ate a good meal before you got on the flight, you find that it’s hard to refuse the free food, despite the fact that you are not hungry.

How To Deal: Check in with yourself to figure out whether you are hungry or not. If you are not, let the flight attendant know that you are not ready to eat yet and ask if you might be able to save your meal for later in the flight when you are hungry. If you do choose to drink, don’t have more than one drink. People tend to drink a great deal on long flights and this can be dangerous. You might become dehydrated and get a headache, then feel miserable when you land. Think about what might happen if you choose to overeat or drink a lot on the flight. If you do, will you land feeling ready for your visit or to come home and get back to work/school? Again, this is a cost/benefit analysis. Will eating and drinking make you feel better or worse in the long run? There are many other ways to make a long flight pleasurable besides eating and drinking, and it’s nice to land feeling strong and healthy rather than uncomfortable, bloated, headachey and sick.

Scenario: Food Basket

Situation: Christmas, Get Well, Easter, Thanksgiving… whatever! Someone has sent you a basket full of binge foods.

How To Deal: Be honest with yourself about whether or not you will be able  to have them in your house to eat moderately. If not, regift it. Give it away, donate it, bring it to a homeless shelter, or a homeless person, or a friend.

Scenario: Free Pizza Party

Situation: You arrive at work/school and find that your class or team has won a free pizza party for whatever, but you know that pizza is either a binge food or a trigger food for you (a trigger food is one that you eat that you won’t necessarily binge on, but will trigger a binge later).

How To Deal: Again, think of the cost benefit analysis. Will you feel better or worse if you eat the pizza. Can you eat one or two slices and stop? Can you eat one or two slices without bingeing afterwards? Can you stop at one or two slices? If the answer is no to these questions, refuse the pizza and instead stick with lunch that you had planned. Is saving $5-$10 for lunch worth the way you are going to feel if you trigger a binge?

Scenario: Home to visit the parents

Situation: Parents house is completely full of junkfood. You are stressed out being at home– all the old feelings of your childhood have come up. You want to binge after they go to sleep.

How To Deal: Remember that you are no longer a  kid and that you do have control. You can choose exactly what you want to eat, whether you want to binge or not, and what time you go to sleep. The food in their house won’t make you feel better, but it will trigger the old binge cycle. Tell yourself the first night that you are not going to touch the junkfood, but if you want to the next night, you can.  See how you feel when you wake up the next morning. If you remember waking up in the past feeling full and uncomfortable and full of shame, notice how nice it is to wake up feeling well rested and comfortable in your body. If you choose to eat the junk food that night, make sure that you have a healthy dinner and choose one or two small things to eat. When you eat, do it slowly and mindfully. Check in, are you doing this to shut down? If so, try to stay conscious. Try to eat slowly and actually taste what you are actually eating. You will find that you are more satisfied with a small bit of the food than you are when you binge on it or compulsively stuff it down your throat.

Scenario: Someone is taking you out to dinner

Situation: You are invited out to dinner by a friend who wants to take you to a place where the food is unhealthy and triggering. They urge you to order foods that you know will trigger a binge.

How to Deal: Don’t go to the restaurant very hungry. Understand that you don’t have to eat to make anyone else happy. You eat to feed yourself. You don’t have to eat something that will make you feel uncomfortable or trigger a binge later. It’s okay to say, “no, actually I don’t want to order the macaroni and cheese or the s’mores pie…” or whatever your mate wants you to order that you know will hurt you. Tell them that because they are so excited for you to try that,  you would love a sample of theirs, but you really are in the mood for something different. You never have to eat something to make someone feel better. You are not responsible for other people’s reactions, only your own.

Scenario: Happy hour- free bar snacks with drinks

Situation: You go for drinks after work with your friends and they are giving out free wings, mini eggrolls, chips, dips, ribs, pizza rolls, whatever! It’s free so it’s enticing, but you also know that it isn’t a proper dinner and if you get started you won’t stop.

How to Deal: Really, stop after one drink and have soda water. It’s very difficult to turn down free salty food when under the influence. Don’t stay too late and remember that you will feel better if you don’t drink or eat too much. Think about how free food is not necessarily good food. It’s unhealthy, and probably not prepared very well. It’s probably nothing more than microwaved or deep fried boxed foods, worth very little money. Again, let’s say you eat $$8.00 worth of free food. Then you feel yucky afterwards, did you actually save $8.00? Not really, the cost of feeling ill is much more than you saved. Decide that you are going to save your appetite for a proper dinner.

Scenario: Expensive All You Can Eat Buffet

Situation: You are in Las Vegas and it’s suggested that you go to the Bellagio for their Brunch Buffet. You pay $60 for the all you can eat buffet, but once you get there, you realize that all you really want is an omelet and some fruit salad. You become upset because you realize that you are going to have to pay all that money for a very small amount of food. What do you do?

How To Deal: This is a tough one. It’s really challenging to know that you paid that much money for a couple of eggs and a piece of melon. So here’s where you have to begin to think. What is my $60 worth here? Is it worth the company of my friends? Can I tell my friends that I’ll meet them afterwards and to enjoy their brunch? If not, can I enjoy the company without without bingeing? Can I eat slowly and moderately? If I pay $60 and I binge, is that okay? Did I pay all that money for yummy food or did I pay all that money to do something that made me feel horrible? These are things to think about carefully. If you feel horrible after the buffet, than that was not worth the $60.  You can sample some things, but eat slowly and really taste and appreciate your food. Don’t turn it into a race to make back your money. Try to enjoy the environment, the company, and the food.

The Grief Of Recovery

Saying goodbye to an eating disorder isn’t easy– that’s an understatement. There is a giant grieving process that goes along with it. When you decide to let go of binge eating, you are letting go of something that you feel has been a best friend, a lover, an ally, always there when you need it, always consistent. Letting go of that is certainly challenging. There will be a big part of you that just doesn’t want to give that up. Food can be more reliable than people. It will always elicit a similar  response, it’s always there, it’s always comforting. Of course, you know that these comforts are no more than temporary, and sometimes not even that. So, being ready to let go of binge eating and bulimia can be a humbling experience as you begin to delve into your recovery and understand more about who you are outside of this eating disorder.

These changes won’t just be challenging for you, they will be for anyone around you. There will be a mourning period when you let go of your old ways of being. As you go through the stages of grief you will find that the people around you are going through their own grieving process as they don’t want to let go of the “old” you.

For you, the grieving process might look like this:

  • Denial: I don’t need to do anything different. My issues with binge eating have nothing to do with anything other than willpower. I just have to stop eating and I’ll be fine. Once I lose the weight, my life will be better.
  • Anger: This is ridiculous. Life seems really hard all of a sudden. I have all these uncomfortable feelings. I don’t know why I had to stir up all of these emotions. There was no reason to do it. I hate this. Bingeing is better than sitting with these emotions.
  • Bargaining: I think that I can reasonably go back on a low carb diet and lose the weight without having to go through all of this recovery bullshit. If I just start now, I’ll lose the weight and everything will be fine.
  • Depression: This is never going to be better. I’m always going to be stuck in this disease.
  • Acceptance: What I’ve been doing for all these years, dieting and bingeing and purging and starving and eating my emotions hasn’t worked. I’m in the same exact place as I was when I began. Maybe even worse because now I have to deal with my eating issues too.   I’m going to try and let go and surrender to my recovery and take care of myself emotionally in a way that I haven’t done before. It will be challenging, but in the long run, my life will be better for it.

For people around you, the grieving process might look like this:

  • Denial: Great! She’s starting another diet again. I’m sure that it will fail miserably the way all of her diets do. Whatever, there’s no reason for me to be scared, nothing is going to change. She’ll be eating nachos with me the second I see her.
  • Anger: What’s wrong with her? When I asked her to do me this favor, she refused. That’s not fair, she has always done the things that I’ve asked her to do. But now that she’s in recovery she’s trying to take care of herself? That feels really bad. Where am I? Why is she neglecting me? If she is taking care of herself, then who will take care of me?
  • Bargaining: Maybe I’ll take her out to dinner to a meal that I know she usually binges on. I know that she won’t be able to refuse and then things will be the way they used to.
  • Depression: Things will never be the same. I lost my best friend. I’m alone and lonely and I have no idea who I am.
  • Acceptance: Just because she’s taking care of herself doesn’t mean that I can’t take care of myself. If she’s really my friend, I will feel happy for her, not threatened and jealous. I understand that it has been a hard transition and change for me, but as I support her in her recovery, I can also support myself in being more independent. Without food and favors and resentment between us, our friendship can be more pure and deeper.

Hopefully this won’t happen, but unfortunately, there is a possibility that  you might lose one or two friends in the process of recovery. Those are the friends that were so invested in you being sick because it gave them a sense of who they were or even made them feel better about themselves. They are unable to accept that you are getting better. Those friends who you lose deserve  compassion because they are uncomfortable in their skin and need you to be sick to feel better about themselves rather than working from within and taking care of themselves. Though you can feel compassion, you don’t need to take care of them. That’s an inside job.

Think about what your grieving process around recovery looks like. What are you leaving behind? How will you cope with that?

The Zen of Recovery– Using Meditation to help Binge Eating Disorder

 

You’ve probably heard before that there are many, many benefits to meditation. If you are currently in therapy, chances are your therapist encourages you to consider a meditation practice or even has you sit for short time during your sessions. She or he  might even do some guided visualizations (a type of mediation) with you. You might know that meditation is particularly effective to help people heal from binge eating and bulimia. Getting started is pretty simple.

How to Get Started with Meditation:

There are several different ways to meditate and there is no wrong way to meditate. People tend to get very stressed out over doing it right. Many people say that they can’t empty their minds. That’s not the point. As human beings we really can’t empty our minds. People who have very serious meditation practices can get very close. However, it is a practice and a discipline and it takes time.

Try not to be black and white about it. Many people decide that they are going to wake up every morning at 5am and begin a meditation practice by sitting for an hour every morning. Some people can do that, but if you’re not able to, no big deal. You can do it at any time of day and you can do it for 4-5 minutes. Just that amount of time twice a day will have a big impact on you. As you continue, you will find that you can increase the amount of time that you sit. If you forget, you can meditate on the bus or the train on your way to work. You can walk into a bathroom stall at work and meditate in the bathroom. You can close the door to your office and meditate at your desk. You can always find 5 spare minutes to do this.  Make it simple so that you’re set up for success.

Here are several different ideas for integrating meditation into your life. There is no wrong or right way. Just find something that brings you peace and relief.

  • When you are ready to sit, try to find a place where you can sit in peace for a few moments without someone asking for your attention. Don’t worry about external noise or distractions. Those will always be there, even if you’re meditating on the side of a mountain in Kathmandu. Just allow yourself to close your eyes. Some people like to concentrate on their breath. That’s one great way to meditate. Notice the feeling of your breath and follow the steady rhythm of it. If you see that your mind begins to think about your day, that’s okay, gently return to your breath. You might have to do this 100 times. It’s all okay. You might even notice that you are feeling anxious about something. You can even name that feeling in your mind. “Anxious!” you mind say to yourself, and then return to your breath.
  • Another way to meditate is to put your hand on your heart and just be with the rhythm of your heartbeat. Again, don’t worry about emptying your mind. When you notice that your mind says something or feels something, acknowledge it with love, then return to your heartbeat.
  • Meditate on a word or phrase that is relaxing to you. Such as the word “peace,” and picture something calming to you such as the ocean or a meadow or a waterfall. And keep slowly repeating the word peace to yourself as you see picture the scene or imagine yourself in that scene.
  • You can also scan your body and let each body part relax. Start with your feet and progressively set the intention to relax each part of your body from your feet to your scalp and then just allow yourself to breath.
  • Meditate on compassion. As you breath, visualize yourself drenched in love and light and healing. Then, visualize someone you love drenched in love and light and healing energy.  Then, visualize someone who needs help drenched in love, light and healing energy. Then, visualize someone you might be angry with or resentful of drenched in love, light, and healing energy. Then, visualize a nation in trouble drenched in love, light and healing energy. Then visualize the whole planet drenched in love, light, and healing energy.
  • Throughout the day, check in with yourself to see if you can just bring awareness into your day. Incorporate mindfulness into your day to day activities, even washing the dishes. Feeling the soap on your hands and noticing what it feels like to accomplish the task of washing a dish counts as mindfulness. Check in and notice what emotions you are feeling. Check in while you are driving/riding to work. Check in while you are at your desk. Check in as you’re talking to different people to understand how their presence impacts you.
  • Visualize yourself being free from the urge to binge. See yourself in a situation where there is food all around you. You know that food is what you use to nurture your body, not to hurt yourself. In using food to love and care for yourself, you understand that it is not dangerous so being around it isn’t stressful and it isn’t delightful, it just is a fact of life.

A daily meditation practice has been shown in several targeted studies to reduce stress and anxiety disorders, increase attention, mental awareness and creativity, reduce high blood pressure and  decrease the risk for heart attack and stroke.

There are several reasons why meditation can be such a great tool to help with binge eating disorder. First off, according to a study  out of  Maharishi University in Iowa, meditation has a profound effect on stress levels. After studying people who participated in a regular meditation practice for  four months, they found that the participants produced less cortisol (a stress hormone). Because they were so much less entrenched in their stress, they were better able to cope with the daily stressors in their lives.

Because so many binge eaters use food to relax, shut down, and decrease stress and anxiety, they find that when they use meditation to relax and reduce stress and anxiety, they no longer need to use food for that purpose.

Meditation also creates an awareness of your thoughts, feelings, reactions,  behaviors, your compulsions and the actions they precipitate. As you begin to cultivate a practice of being more attuned to the way that your brain is working, you will find that you have more control over your compulsions and behaviors.  For instance, in Vipassana meditation (also called mindfulness or insight meditation), you allow yourself to be with what is without judging it or trying to change it.  If you are practicing Vipassana meditation one morning and notice that you are feeling angry, it’s okay to allow that anger to be there. What often happens is that people feel different feelings throughout the day that they put judgements on, like “I’m angry, that’s bad. I’m sad, that’s bad. I’m anxious, that’s bad.” When you notice your feeling with love and acceptance, remembering that as a human you are dynamic and have millions of emotions coursing through your mind and body at any given time, you won’t be as quick to try and change them, fix them, or make them end. Often, using food is a way to make the feeling go away or change the feeling or simply not feel it. This kind of meditation helps you to increase your capacity to sit with uncomfortable feelings without using food to push them away.

Third, as you cultivate an awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, you will notice before you begin to binge. So often, people don’t even realize that they are bingeing until after they are done. As you become more aware of your intention, you will find that you catch yourself before you act. You will be observing yourself with interest rather than disassociating. Because of this, you will be more apt to notice as you begin to go toward the food. You can then ask yourself, “am I going toward food because I am hungry or am I needing something else?” If you’re needing something else, you can then ask yourself “what am I feeling?” As you begin to notice what you are feeling, you can then understand more what you need. You can choose to nurture with something other than food. If you are actually hungry, you  can then check in with your body and notice what it needs and nurture your body with food. As you do this more and more you develop a healthy relationship with your mind and body and are best able to meet the needs of your mind and body.

click here for meditations to heal binge eating and other eating issues

Here are some other ways to meditate.

Namaste!

Focusing on the Negative

So much of eating disorders is fueled by focusing on the negative. By negative, I mean what we don’t have. There is always this sense of “I would be better if i were thinner, if I had more money, if I had a boyfriend, if I had a baby, if I had new car, if I had a nose job, if I had a big house, if I were popular, if I had better clothes…” etc. etc.

When  Zen Buddhist Monks work toward detachment, they practice detaching from their wants. When we attach to our wants so vehemently, we leave little space for enjoying what we have. This causes a great deal of suffering. “I am sad because I don’t have __________________ (fill in the blank).”

The problem here is that when you obsess on what you don’t have, you will never be happy. There will always be something that you don’t have. This doesn’t mean not to have goals and aspirations. This doesn’t mean to settle. This means that you can love yourself and enjoy your life as you’re working toward your goals. You can’t wait to enjoy your life.

A great practice is spending a few minutes each morning having some gratitude for what you do have. Some people make a morning practice of writing a gratitude list. This helps to bring the focus away from what you don’t have toward what you do have.

For instance, rather than, I hate my body, I should be thinner. “I am grateful for a body that works.”

Rather than,  I wish I could afford to buy a house. “I am grateful to have a home to live on and I can make it into the home that I choose it to be.

You know the drill!

Choices and Reactions

It’s not what people do that upset us, it’s our reaction to it. It’s not our thoughts or our feelings that upset us, it’s our reaction to it.

One of the things that we rarely remember in recovery is that we actually have a choice. Sometimes, when we have the urge to binge, it feels like we have no choice whatsoever. If we have the urge, we absolutely must do it. But the truth is, you always have a choice. If you are feeling the urge to binge, you can decide not to. Yes, it will be challenging to sit with that uncomfortable anxiety of wanting to and not being able to binge. It can feel like an unscratchable itch, and the only way to relieve it is to binge. However, you can allow yourself some discomfort and some anxiety. Anxiety and discomfort and desire and even feeling the need to binge are just feelings. Feelings can’t kill you. You can sit with these. Some people believe that they can’t. But you can.

Many people react to such feelings as loneliness, sadness, anger, or anxiety with disdain. They feel the need to judge it as bad and make it go away. The truth is that there are no “bad” feelings. You can’t put a moral judgment on a feeling. They just are. God gives us millions of emotions, yet so many of us believe that it’s only okay to feel one or two, all the others are unacceptable. You are completely responsible for your own reaction. It’s okay to be okay with what you’re feeling even if it’s unpleasant. So often people try to push the uncomfortable feeling away which in turn causes more discomfort.

It’s not just our feelings that we react to, but it’s also other people’s actions. For instance, if someone at your office blows you off or is rude to you, you have a choice. You can attach meaning to that which upsets you. You can believe that they don’t like you or that you did something wrong, or that there is something inherently wrong with you, or you can give yourself another rational explanation… they didn’t feel good, they just had a fight with their husband, or maybe they were just in a bad mood. In the end, how other people treat you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. People choose their own actions. People choose their own reactions.

Next time something happens, notice how you react. Is this reaction helpful or harmful? Can you choose a reaction that would feel good in your body? Can you slow down and think about how you want to be with this instance in this instant? This is all about you, no one else.

Routines and Rituals

In working with addiction, one of the most basic things that one can do to help oneself is to change up their routine a bit. For instance, someone who knows that they have a glass of wine each day when they come home from work, will begin to fantasize about that glass of wine a few hours before they leave work. However, if they can put a little break in that routine, they might be able to push through the urge. One way to do that would be to schedule a different activity for after work, like a tennis game or a walk with a friend or something else that doesn’t have to involve drinking or happy hour. Another way is to set a timer when they get home. They will not let themselves pour that drink for at least 30 minutes until after they get home. After 30 minutes, the urge might not be as strong because the ritual of it is broken.

You might have a certain ritual around a particular food or a binge. Although binges almost seem to happen spontaneously, the thing to remember is that a binge actually begins forming several hours before it happens. There is the urge, the activating event, or the knowledge that you are going to be in a situation that causes you to binge, ie: alone in the house, visiting parents, coming home from work, out drinking with friends for happy hour… whatever it is, you know from past experience, this can trigger a binge.

Make a plan to break up your routine or to interrupt your ritual. If you know that when you visit your folks you binge after they go to sleep at night, make a plan to go to sleep early, bring a captivating book that you can read in bed, something that will keep your attention. Have a friend on hand that you can call in the evening. Leave the house! Anything that will put a wedge in that routine. If you know that you binge when you get home from work, don’t go straight home from work, or take a new route home from work where you don’t pass the store that you buy binge food from. Set a timer when you get home. Tell yourself that you can binge after 30 minutes if you still want to. You might find that after the original ritual of coming home and eating is broken, that you’re able to resist a binge and enjoy a healthy dinner instead.

How to Love your Body

For the most part, most of my clients come in really hating their bodies and wanting to do everything they can to change them. Female bodies are exploited. They’re exploited for lust, for sex, for advertising, for humor and just for the sake of exploitation. Photoshopped and digitized porn images flood the internet, causing women to believe that their bodies are not good enough for their husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends or themselves.  Michelle Obama is a brilliant attorney yet she is famous for being the First Lady of best biceps. Janet Reno, the former Attorney General was constantly berated for her less than trendy style. Sarah Palin was referred to as a VPILF and had photoshopped  bikini pictures of herself all over the internet. So, yes, it’s hard to be a woman. As women, we are constantly being told that our worth is tied up in the way we look, in how tight our thighs are and how large our breasts are. And so then, we spend years, lifetimes even, eating, dieting, dieting, bingeing, dieting, purging, exercising, dieting, bingeing, crying, starving, running, lifting, taking potions and pills, smoking, snorting, drinking, stuffing, restricting… it’s exhausting, and it’s not even our problem,  it’s a problem of society. We, unfortunately, live in a time where women are judged by the size of their waists rather than by the size our hearts and our brains.  We can’t change the times that we live in.

However, we can refuse to participate in it. We can only waste so much time, so much of ourselves trying to fit into a mold that someone else wants to stuff us into. We will never fit into that mold. We can however, be who we want to be. We can learn to enjoy ourselves in the body we have. We can participate in sports or outdoor activities, we can play music, we can write books and stories, we can cook, we can love, we can travel. We can do anything. But we can’t wait until we are the right size. You are right, right now. If you wait, you might have to wait forever.

Your body isn’t everything. It’s not the whole of who you are. It’s a container. That’s not to say that it’s not important to keep it healthy and strong so that you can live a long and healthy life, but dieting, starving and bingeing isn’t healthy. Your body  is a safe. It needs to be strong only because it holds all the good stuff. It’s disposable. The good stuff– the warmth, the compassion, the love, the intelligence, the creativity, the kindness, and everything else– stays secure inside of it.  It’s just a body. Weight is just a number on a scale, calories are just a unit of heat, size is just the measure of matter. The meaning that we attach to it has no bearing on who you are as a person. It doesn’t measure your heart, your intelligence, your insight, your warmth, it just measures how much physical space you take up. That’s it. Nothing else. Weight is a fact, not a moral judgment, yet we seem to attach so much more to it.

We have to look at ourselves with our own eyes, not the eyes of others. We have no control over what others see, feel, and how they judge. The judgement of others is only in relation to the way they feel about themselves. That’s something that we absolutely can’t change. We can only look at ourselves and we have to learn to like ourselves.That’s what counts and that’s what matters.

You just can’t  look to the world to tell you who you are. You must announce who you are to the world.

Getting Support

Many people have this thought that they want to come in and get help for their bulimia and binge eating or read a book and cure themselves. Unfortunately, this is a pretty challenging road. Eating Disorders are diseases of isolation. You act out in your behaviors all alone. Because eating disorders thrive in isolation, the more alone you are, the stronger the behavior can become. Yes, of course it’s true that some people are able to heal alone, however, it is a rare and difficult.

I believe that the most important resource in healing from an Eating Disorder is support. Support comes in many forms, friends, parents, partners… but also support groups, people dealing with the same thing that you’re dealing with. There are several different ways to give and recieve support. If you feel as though you are unable to recieve support from the people around you or you don’t have a primary support system, it’s possible to get support through various groups. The internet has online groups and there are several in person groups or even telephone groups.

Online:

(bulimia)

(compulsive eating)

(OA meetings – online or on the phone)

(Eating Disorder Anonymous Phone meetings)

(Something Fishy)

Face-to-Face OA meetings

Smart Recovery

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