binge eating

How Not To Binge on Thanksgiving

Well, that dreaded holiday is back. The one that gives us license to eat and eat and eat and then triggers a binge later that night to boot. Crap. Thanksgiving is here again. 

I think it was perhaps 1986, I was in 6th grade, and I’d been dieting. My world consisted of cottage cheese, cantaloupe and melba toast. Because, you know, it was the 80′s.  Anyway, my Mom and I were visiting some cousins or something, I don’t remember, I think it was my Grandmother’s second husband’s daughter’s husband’s parents house. Anyway, that’s where we were. And we ate lots of pie and mashed potatoes and other things that weren’t cottage cheese. Then, I went to the bathroom, saw a box of chocolated ex-lax, took a few and proceeded to eat more pie. Don’t ask me how at 11 years old I knew about using laxatives to purge, or why it even occurred to me to do so. But I did. Then, that night, after we got home, I stayed up all 
night sitting in the bathroom,and after each “purge” I’d step on the scale and watch it go down. I was so excited by the trick that I’d figured out. That was my first foray into extremely disordered eating.  

Thanksgiving is a loaded holiday. 

So, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions that you can use as ammunition to keep you safe. 

1. Allow yourself to eat what you want. Seriously. Eat whatever you want and tell yourself before Thanksgiving dinner that you are allowed to have whatever you want. However, eat portions within reason. One good way of eyeballing portions is to keep them the size of the palm of your hand (fingers not included) or smaller. The reason for this is that if you deprive yourself at Thanksgiving dinner, you might go back at night and binge. Even if you are at someone else’s house, you might just go home and bingeon whatever is in your house because you felt deprived. 

2. Don’t get too full. Let yourself eat, but do it slowly. Getting too full is of course a huge binge trigger. So keep yourself satisfied within reason. If you do happen to get full, tell yourself that it’s okay. That you are not alone in being full or too full on Thanksgiving. That bingeing because you are full would be like finding that you have a flat tire and slashing the other 3.  Just because getting full can be a trigger for many bingeeaters, even if it does happen, you don’t have let it be a binge. You can sit with that discomfort. 

3. Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, focus on what you can and do have. Focus on what you are gaining by not bingeing… strength, vitality, health, peace. 

4. Feed yourself self-loving thoughts and self-loving activities. If you need to get out of the house, get out. If you need to walk around, walk around. If you need to get away from the food, get away from the food. 

5. Book end your meal before and after. Have someone to call before you leave for your Thanksgiving meal and have someone to call when you get home.

6. If you are doing it at your house, send people home with leftovers or bring food in the morning to your nearest soup kitchen or homeless shelter. 

7. If you are dealing with family issues and discomforts there, make sure that you have a support person with you. Don’t go alone. Have someone loving there for you. 
 

Read 15 TIPS TO HAVING A SUCCESSFUL AND BINGE FREE THANKSGIVING


If you have the hypnosis to stop binge eating download, I would recommend beginning to listen to it tonight and listen to it nightly through the holidays to remind yourself that the urge to binge is nothing more than an urge- and that it’s okay to let it pass through you- though it might be difficult, it gets easier and easier and you become more mindful and stronger as the urges become weaker. 


Good luck to all of you! Happy Thanksgiving, may you find gratitude in all things great and small. Find peace and find healing. If you are healthy and happy, may you stay that way, if you need physical or emotional healing, may that come to you easily and if you are hoping for a miracle, I wish that for you too.

Recovery Is Not Linear

how to recover from binge eating

I talk to lots of people every day who are really anxious to recover from their binge eating. They want to do it now. They want to do it yesterday. They are so angry at themselves. And they keep getting into a place of, “oh I messed up. Oh I ate the wrong thing. Oh I binged…” and feeling like they are no longer in recovery if they binged.  This is not recovery. This is diet mentality. When you diet you are on a rigid plan and if you eat off plan, you’ve messed up your diet. You’ve cheated. You can’t cheat on recovery. Because you are part of recovery. Recovery is not a boyfriend that you cheat on and then hate yourself for. Recovery is not a diet that you go on and then mess up and hate yourself. Recovery is not about food. Recovery is about healing. That’s it.  And healing includes not beating yourself up when you eat something that you didn’t plan to or if you binge. Recovery is not about losing weight, obsessing on numbers on the scale or on your jeans. Recovery is about bringing light to yourself. It’s about becoming expansive. It’s about looking away from food and bringing joy back to your life. It’s about becoming lighter emotionally and not carrying so many burdens. It’s about loving yourself and not hating yourself. It’s about being your own best friend.

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday, another eating disorder therapist who trained at the same ED clinic that I did. We discussed how the focus of losing weight will keep you in the disorder.  The focus has to change to recovery. The focus has to change on gaining, not losing. Gaining strength, gaining health, gaining peace. What would that be like? Can you stop for a moment and imagine what it would be like feel lighter? And by lighter I mean to drop all of those negative beliefs that you have about yourself? Like, “I have to lose weight, I’m bad, I’m fat, I’m disgusting, I’m shameful, I’m a pig…” etc. All those really mean thoughts you have about yourself. Can you imagine what it would be like to just drop them? To take them out of your head for just one minute and be with, “who I am right now in this very moment is fine…” and then just see yourself walking down the street with a glow? Smiling? Feeling good about who you are without having to change first?   Because you know what… that’s what recovery is. It’s about feeling strong and loving who you are.

And the irony is, that when that happens, you will find that you are bingeing less. Why? Because you’re not sitting there and beating yourself up. Because your inner critic isn’t driving you to eat. Because you will have better things to do with yourself than obsess on your calorie count.

When you treat recovery like a diet, each “failure” feels catastrophic and painful and you feel like you slip backward with every indiscretion around food. But when you just keep going forward and continue with recovery activities, which have to be centered around self-kindness, you will find recovery just sneaking up on you. One day you will wake up and say, “Oh, I really want to go out and binge. Interesting…” but you won’t have the drive or motivation to act on that urge because you will have too much love and respect for yourself to harm yourself with food. know that this is the truth. I know because I’ve seen it again and again and I’ve been there.  When you are in recovery, your compulsions are like noise, but not noise that you have to pay attention to, background noise that eventually fades.

Pick one kind thing to do for yourself tonight.
Choose some kind words for yourself.
And if you binge, forgive yourself and move forward. Recovery is one foot in front of the other. Moving slowly, moving kindly and moving with support and love. You are not alone.

Dealing with Deeply Ingrained Beliefs

why do i feel so worthless

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

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


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

Questions to ask yourself:

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

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

Will I Always Have Binge Eating Disorder?

you won't always be fighting with food.

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

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

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

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

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

How to Make a Difficult Decision

 

 

Do you ever feel just totally lost?

Do you ever feel just totally lost?

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

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

 

 

How to Make a Difficult Decision:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

slow carb diet binge eating disorder

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

But… Not my clients.

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

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

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

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

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

5 Simple Rules for Dealing With Hurt Feelings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rule #5. IT’S NOT ABOUT THEM EITHER

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

Free Binge Eating Coaching Call

binge-eating-coaching

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

For a limited time, these will be free!

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

Please take this binge eating survey

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

Top 5 Causes of Binge Eating Disorder

binge-eating-disorder-causes1

Originially published on Medium.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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