It’s been more than a week since I’ve returned from the International Academy of Eating Disorders annual conference (though returned is really a silly word as it was only 12 miles from my house this year), and I’m finally able to sit down and gather my thoughts about it. If you’ve never been, even if you’re not a clinician, I highly recommend. There is a lot of advocacy and research there and many things to learn. Next year it’s going to be in Prague! I certainly won’t be able to go, but I was psyched to have an opportunity to go this year as it was in San Francisco. With two littles at home, big travel is hard.
There were a few main themes ICED 2016 (International Conference of Eating Disorders) that were floating around:
Eating disorder research and treatment vs. obesity research and treatment. Wow. There was serious, serious controversy there. This is because obesity researchers as well as state funded grants (think NIH) are still using ideas such as food restriction, caloric restriction and BMI to measure recovery. All eating disorder clinicians and researchers have evidence that all of this, dietary restriction, BMI, “weight management” and dieting all lead to disordered eating patterns. Obesity researchers believe that obesity has to be treated because it leads to heart disease, Type II diabetes, etc. But Eating Disorder researchers and clinicians (and me too!) believe that when you focus on the obesity as the health problem, you are doing a disservice to the patient – you should be focusing on health and treating the specific disease. “Treating Obesity” continually leads to failure. Obesity isn’t a disease, but heart disease is.
Next off we discussed ADVOCACY a whole lot. People often think of eating disorders as a white woman’s disease, but the truth is that EDs hit not just white women, but women AND MEN across all races. In fact, Latina women have a higher incidence of eating disorders than white women. But most people of color or folks who aren’t cisgender tend to shy away from treatment – for many reasons. It’s not accessible (affordable), it’s not relatable- treatment is geared toward one gender and one race, and it’s stigmatized and unsupported by family and community. For instance, many years ago I had a client who, despite the fact that she had a horrific case of bulimia, her family would not support her treatment because they said it was a “white women’s disease.” She did come in for treatment and got great support from our treatment center and the treatment community but not from her family or her own community. This is not an uncommon situation. The fact that she came in for treatment is really fantastic, but most people don’t. The conference spoke a lot about getting it out there that EDs strike everyone everywhere and nobody should be ashamed to try and get help. And, as a community of ED professionals- we have to provide more help in different and more accessible ways. So lots to do there. And a note, if you are a human being who is not a white woman and you are suffering from an ED- please do reach out (you can even reply to this post) and I’ll point you in the right direction for treatment- thanks to this conference I have some really great resources now.
I met some of my heros of Eating Disorders, like Deb Burgard – and I was really seriously starstruck and took a selfie with her- it was more exciting to me than meeting say Johnny Depp (but honestly that would excite me too). If you don’t know about Deb, please click her name above and check out her work. She is a brilliant Psychologist, speaker and advocate for size diversity and Health at Every Size. I also got to meet Lizabeth Wesely-Casella from Bingebehavior.com – (have you read that blog? It’s awesome). And that was really exciting as well. Such amazing people do this work – it’s good work, and it’s hard work.
Body Positivity – A lot of people ask me why as a a clinician treating Eating Disorders I advocate for Health at Every Size and why it’s important. The answer is easy- almost every eating disorder started with a diet. If we can eradicate people being told that they are not good enough and they need to diet, we can deeply change the internalized messages that dieting is the only way out – we then allow people to live in bodies that were meant for them. Those bodies might be big or they might be small- but what we want them to focus on is their true health. True health isn’t about getting on a scale to measure your health. It’s about giving your body what it needs- good healthy food and good healthy movement (where you can), but of course movement and exercise can be difficult for those in larger bodies because of the social stigma. So it’s all very challenging and there needs to be a lot more kindness and acceptance out there. And the obesity paradox actually says that people in the “overweight” BMI category live longer and are healthier. So there you go. There’s no good science around these debates yet.
Body Image – The body image part was interesting. I talked to a lot of different experts on it. The consensus is really that body image is deeply ingrained and that we should be working on prevention more than anything else. The body project is a good example of that kind of early intervention.
I went to a ton of neuropsych panels that were fascinating, but I’ll metabolize them into a different and accessible post soon enough.
Eating disorders are notoriously difficult to both treat and understand, but people are working really hard to make it happen and to find help for those suffering. Fortunately many people have gotten to the other side of their EDs and recovery is possible. If you need help, please reach out, you can reply to this post, email me directly or go directly to NEDA or call 800-931-2237.
(Trigger warning- weight, BMI and numbers discussed here)
When someone over the Internet promises you that they can help you lose weight, click away. Click FAR, FAR AWAY!
There is not one person who can guarantee you weight loss. Do you know why? Because they don’t know you and they’ve never seen you and they have no idea what is going on with your body.
Here’s the thing- I’m putting this blog post right out there to the billions of people in the world who might happen to read it. But what if I were to guarantee that I could help you lose weight? Or what if I told you the opposite, that there was no possible way you’d ever be able to lose weight? What if I told you I had all the answers? If I told you any of these things, I’d be wrong.
But then, why would I do that? Why would I possibly tell you that I had all the answers to your weight loss woes? What would make me think that I could promise or even guarantee you weight loss?
Well, perhaps I’d lost weight and I thought I could help you too, or maybe I’d read a lot about weight loss and I thought I was an expert -except for the fact there are no actual experts on weight loss, if there were, well then we wouldn’t all be out there spending millions looking to lose weight, it’s all very mysterious. The real truth is, I don’t know what you weigh, I don’t know what you’ve tried but most of all I don’t know what your body wants to be like. So I can’t promise you weight loss (I mean, not that I’d even want to, I think you’re perfect Love!)
Let me give you some concrete examples here:
Example 1: Kristi & Alison
Kristi is a client of mine who desperately wants to lose weight but also can’t seem to stop obsessing about food. She eats an egg and an apple for breakfast, a small green salad with some chicken for lunch and broiled salmon fillet with green beans for dinner and maybe a small glass of red wine. She can’t seem to get her weight under 145 pounds. She’s 5’2″ and according to the (very flawed) BMI – she’s considered “overweight.” Every day for years- Kristi has been eating basically the same thing. She’s petrified of cheese, she won’t touch bread and she spends at least an hour a day at the gym. She really wants to lose 20 pounds. She’s met with multiple trainers and weight loss gurus who explain to her what she’s doing wrong, “you need less carbs! you need more kettle bells!” Sometimes eats just steak and water for like 2 weeks straight. She loses maybe 1/2 pound but pretty much stays right around the same weight, she blames herself. She feels guilty, she feels ashamed, she feels like she’s doing something wrong. Kristi’s best friend Alison eats a bowl of honey nut cheerios every morning for breakfast. Later she’ll have a latte and a cookie, lunch is usually a burrito or some Pad Thai or whatever is easy takeout around her office and dinner is pizza or pasta or nachos or whatever. Allison exercises once in a blue moon, but it’s really not her jam. Allison also weighs 145 pounds, but she’s 5’7.” Which puts her BMI in the “normal” range. Kristi wonders why she has to work her ass off to be “slightly chubby” (her words not mine) while Allison does virtually nothing to stay at a weight that feels comfortable to her.
What happened here? Let’s dissect this. Kristi’s body type was and always has been more curvy. The truth of the matter is that Kristi could probably eat the same way as Allison and her weight would not change dramatically. Kristi’s extremely healthy body wants to be 5’2″ and 145 pounds. I say extremely healthy because LOOK THERE, look at what her miraculous body did for her- her metabolism slowed waaaayyyyy down so that she would maintain the weight that is healthy for her. Now Alison’s body is also most likely at the weight that is healthy for her and so despite the fact that nary a green vegetable passes her lips (really get that girl some broccoli) she still maintains a weight that is “socially desirable.”
So this is the big problem – when someone promises you weight loss, there is just no guarantee that your body will comply. Your body might also need more calories than someone else’s body or more carbs so when you dramatically reduce these things– what happens? You binge- you don’t want to binge- you just. cant. not. Your body really needs more because you were meant to be who you are.
Example 2: Stacy & Lori
My friends Stacy and Lori are identical twins. Real identical, not that Olsen Twin fraternal twin business, these girls used to be ONE ZYGOTE. Anyway, Stacy does Tae Kwon Do three days a week, she’s a second degree black belt and she can do like 500 push ups in a minute. She bikes all over San Francisco and has two kids that she pushes up and down those hills in a double stroller. She’s vegan too, did I mention that? Her sister Lori is different. She’s not a vegan, and she lives in the suburbs, so the most strength training she gets is lifting her kiddos up into their SUV. There’s no bike, there’s no pushing strollers up hills for her- she shleps her kids around town in a Honda Pilot, they go to pizza parties (Lori eats pizza). So the verdict? What are Stacy and Lori’s bodies like?
They are exactly the same.
They share clothes. They go shopping together and one tries something on for the other and then turns around so she can see how her butt would look in it. Their bodies are EXACTLY the same, because they have the same DNA. And Stacy is always exercising and fills up on mung beans and raw foods. Lori is never exercising and eats a lot less restrictively. But they look the same.
Summer Inannen recently wrote a post on Refinery 29 about how Paleo basically stole her life. And that’s really the thing, Someone can tell you that they have all the answers to your woes, that they can help you lose weight, that they can help you be naturally thin, that their answer is the best answer, that the food they are telling you to eat will give you tons of health, vitality, energy, help you lose weight, feel amazing and look years younger. But really, the answer is in your DNA. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t eat well. You should try to eat well. You should eat lots of yummy, high density nutrient foods that your body wants and that feel good in your body. But only you know what that is. So eat, see what feels good in your body. Give your body lots of love and respect.
Don’t let anyone else tell you that you’re not doing it right or that you’re not doing enough. Anyone who tells you that has no idea about what your body needs. It’s not that I think people have nefarious intentions or that they even believe that they’re lying to you- but case after case has proven that even the most famous, highest ranking, highest paid, smartest weight loss guru can’t force your body into submission and make it lose weight if it’s where it wants to be and it’s healthy. You know what I’m saying, right Oprah?
Your body knows what it wants to be and it will tell you what it wants and what it needs. Listen to it, focus on feeling good and feeling healthy rather than changing the way it looks. So go now, eat, be strong, be happy, be kind to you.
Related Articles: If I Can’t Diet, How Can I Lose Weight?
Have you been in that place before – that place where you have a wedding, or a reunion, or a birthday party, or any big event coming up and the first thing that comes up for you is, “Okay, I’ve got about 72 days to lose about 20 pounds. I can do that… cakewalk…” but then things become rough. 72 days becomes 60 days, becomes 40 days, becomes 2 weeks. The big diets come out- the no carb, no fat, big visits to the hairdresser, the esthetician, maybe the dermatologist for a shot of Botox, anything… everything! You’re feeling stressed out, the most important thing is that YOU LOOK GOOD. And you worry, “but what will people think? what will they think of me when they see how much weight I’ve put on? What will they think when they see my wrinkles? What will they think? I just have to look perfect this time…”
When you want to know how to stop caring what other people are thinking about you- just remember that what people are most likely thinking is, “I wonder what she’s thinking about me? I hope she’s thinking that I look good, Maybe she notices the weight I put on, maybe she notices my new wrinkles, maybe she…” And it stops you, and it stops everyone around you from going forward and having fun, and living your life for the few months before that event.
So when you start to get caught up in, “I have to LOOK GOOD,” remember that looking good is not looking different. You can still do lots of awesome self care rituals without going on lots of diets or trying to lose weight. You can still buy a dress that you love, find makeup that you feel great in if that’s your thing, and get your hair done in a way that feels awesome. But try really hard not to get caught up in the lose weight before the event trap.
What would you do if you were only focused on doing things that made you feel really, really good about yourself and in your body? What would you do? Stop and think about it for awhile… I’ll wait.
What kinds of things would you do for yourself if you had no worries about losing weight or worrying about what people would think about you or your size? What kinds of things would you do if you just wanted to make yourself feel awesome without worrying about others?
Would you, go to yoga class? Go hot tubbing? Go swimming? Go dancing? Take guitar lessons? Take Karate? Become a Real Estate agent?
The superfluous energy that we all spend worrying about what other people think of us keeps us away from our passion, and when we are truly engaged in our passion, when we are really, truly, enjoying our life- well then who cares what anyone else thinks- it doesn’t matter. So your focus, rather than being on what others think of you should be on what you think about yourself and what brings you joy. I mean, after all, you only get your time here for a certain amount of time- enjoy it.
It’s difficult because we’ve been taught that others opinions are a metric of our worth- but if everyone worries like that- then what’s the point? Life would be so boring if we all sat in a room wondering what everyone else was thinking about us– no one would have anything to talk about.
So here are a few quick tips to help you stop worrying about what other people are thinking and reclaim your life.
Remember that other people’s thoughts are none of your business. What people are thinking about who you are is rarely the objective truth, they can only see you through their own lens of experience. So you can be as saintly as Mother Teresa, but if you look like the mean girl that someone went to high school with, she might have some pretty skewed ideas of who you are. And that really doesn’t matter.
Accept that you cannot control what other people think of you. Trying to lose weight is an attempt to control other people’s perception of who you are based on what you look like. Remember that you have no power to control other’s thoughts as no one has the power to control your thoughts.
Remember that most people aren’t sitting around thinking about you. Sad but true. We are all pretty self absorbed, I mean we have to be to survive, right? The truth is, most people will have merely a passing thought about you, and it might be one thought out of the 50,000 thoughts that each person has per day.
Focus on your personal values. Think about what is important to you. Is it honesty? Integrity? Kindness? Intelligence? Being well read? Doing volunteer work? Think about what your true values truly are and refocus on those things- once you do, and you feel strong in your convictions as to who you are as a person, then other people’s beliefs (and beliefs are subjective) are really arbitrary.
Just Do You. Remember that people don’t like people who they are impressed by, people like people who are impressed by them, so working hard to impress people will just be more painful than it’s worth. So, just be the you who YOU like the best.
Other people’s thoughts can’t hurt you. What if someone does have judgmental or unkind thoughts about you? Honestly, it doesn’t hurt you anymore than your thoughts about them hurt or help them. It doesn’t matter, you’ll never REALLY know what other’s think of you, so don’t worry too much about it.
Remember that you HAVE to take risks. If you worry too much about what other people are thinking of you, you will have a lot of trouble moving forward on your path. Worrying about other people’s thoughts is paralyzing and it keeps you from moving forward. When you stop giving other people that power, you give yourself the freedom to live your life.
A really amazing woman shared this with me. She wrote it on her wrist to remind her that it was within her power to decide her next move. I love it.
I went on my first diet roughly at age 10. I loved dieting… it made me feel powerful, it made me feel in control and it made me feel like I was starting out fresh, like anything was possible if I could just stick to my diet. Each new diet opened a door of new possibilities. I loved to eliminate, to cleanse, to fast, to restrict, to feel pious and mighty because I could abstain like a mofo. For me, every day was lent from age 10 until my Mom died when I was 28. My mother shared my passion for everything calorie counting and fasting and trendy food restriction and diet fads. We even did the master cleanse together in 1995- when Beyonce was a mere 14 years old.
After my Mom died, I lost my will to diet and to restrict. It was like– I just didn’t have the desire anymore, I had different things to think about and I didn’t want to die knowing that I never hit my goal- or that my goal was an arbitrary number on a scale. My mother had been an extreme dieter for 40 years and didn’t “hit her number” until she was dying. Did I want to spend my life obsessing on this one thing that I couldn’t possibly achieve without illness? And so I stopped. I stopped dieting, I stopped restricting, I stopped eating artificial sweeteners, I ate ice cream when I wanted to, bread, mashed potatoes, pasta, red meat, tacos, tortillas, fruit… all of it. Nothing was off limits. But a funny thing happened along the way…my body changed. I stopped craving food all the time, my mind started thinking about other things, more interesting things, I began to read books that weren’t about food or nutrition, my energy balanced out and the foods that I believed I had an addiction to, like sugar- well they lost their mystique. Food was just food. It was neutral. I ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was done. And, truth be told, I lost weight. My body evened out and came to a place that I really like and feel comfortable with.
That being said, I want to share the top ten stupidest diets that I did. DON’T DO THESE DIETS They’re stupid.
1. Diet: This was the fruit and sushi diet. All you can eat is raw tuna or salmon and fruit. I did this for about two weeks.
Result: I was dizzy all the time because I wasn’t getting enough protein, my blood sugar was most likely completely out of wack, I was tired and I couldn’t sleep because I was so wired from the constant fruit. And, my wallet took a huge hit -because sashimi every day? Not cheap. Oh and when I was done, the weight that I lost came back like crazy.
2. Diet: The egg and cottage cheese diet. I lasted a couple of weeks on this- weirdly enough. Self explanatory. I just ate eggs and cottage cheese.
Result: Severe constipation, no energy. My immune system took a huge hit and I got extremely sick. Like- the worst flu ever. I wound up in bed and not able to go to work for 3 weeks. And yeah, I lost weight because I couldn’t move to go eat. But when I got better and ate again, it all came back. Of course.
3. Diet: The raw food diet. Vegan, raw, just fruit and vegetables. I was vegan for a long, long time- and the raw food part was easy to integrate.
Result: No energy ever. I felt like I was falling over most of the time. Didn’t lose weight because I couldn’t do it long enough to refrain from bingeing.
4. Diet: Food Addicts Anonymous/Grey Sheets- Grey Sheeters and FA members will tell you that this isn’t a diet. But mostly it’s an eating disorder cloaking itself under the guise of a support group. It gives you 3 meals a day mostly consisting of vegetables and meat, and makes you weigh and measure all your food, and puts your character into question if you take a bite of anything off the plan (including a sip of tea or coffee with milk in it).See OA The Good, The Bad and the Crazy and Why Overeaters Anoymous Doesn’t Work.
Result: I dropped out because I didn’t believe that having an apple between lunch and dinner was a character flaw, my “sponsor” disagreed. Thankfully I realized how oppressive and insane this was.
5. Diet: The Master Cleanse. This is the lemonade diet where you drink nothing but lemon water mixed with cayenne pepper and maple syrup for 10 days. This was trendy maybe like 10 years ago, but my Mom had been experimenting with this sh*t since the 1960’s when the original book came out. We did it together in 1995.
Result: I passed out on day 3. Wound up in health services.
6. Diet: Atkins. You know what Atkins is.
Result: Pooping Never. Bingeing Always.
7. Diet: Juice Fasting. This is super popular now, but I did it in the early 90’s when I was in high school. I got my first juicer as a birthday present. It was one of those late night infomercials – a Jack La Lane Juicer.
Result: I developed a penchant for green apple, cucumber spinach juice. Still good – after all these years. But I didn’t want to clean out the juicer because I was in high school, and of course, no energy and I binged a ton after one day. Didn’t stop me from trying almost every day for like two months to stick to this. Nope. Never worked.
8. Diet: Sugar busters. No sugar ever.
Result: I’ve never been much of a sugar person. I’d almost always choose a baguette or chips or cheese over ice cream or cookies. But telling myself that I could not eat sugar ever? Well that just made me want it like crazy and then all of a sudden I believed I was a sugar addict and started bingeing on ice cream and cookies. Because I thought, “if I eat it once, I can’t stop, because I’m addicted.” But if I’m not restricting it, I can take it or leave it. Put it in front of me and I’m like, “meh.”
9. Diet: Intermittent Fasting. I didn’t eat all day, until dinner time. I called it the “only dinner” dinner diet. This was before the 5:2 diet or the intermittent fasting fad.
Result: Can you say night time binge party? I had headaches all day and woke up each morning with a food hangover
And… The stupidest diet I ever did…
10. Diet: The smell food diet. Don’t eat food, just smell it.
Result: Well this was a disaster.
There is a theme in my practice this week. All of my clients came in telling me that one of their biggest problems in healing from binge eating is that they feel like they NEED food to just…shut…down. Sheila, an extremely busy attorney explained to me that in the evenings, after working a 12-14 hour day, she looks forward to coming home, sitting in front of the television and being able to eat, it’s the way she shuts down after a crazy day. Lindsey, a mom of twin 3 year olds told me that at night, after she gets the kids to sleep, but before her husband comes home, she just NEEDS to sit down with a pint of ice cream and Netflix to shake off the day, that the thought of it is the only thing that keeps her going throughout her evening. This is not new, I’ve been hearing this from my clients fo decades. Food serves a very important purpose- it is soothing, it’s calming and it helps signal the end of the day. It gives you that much coveted self time that you were missing all day.
IT IS SOOOOOOOO important to soothe yourself after a long day of work and kids and stress and everything that you do. You need to be calmed, you need to be soothed, you need a separation between you and the day. Food is what has been doing that for you. But there are some other things that you can do at end of the day that are not binge eating and will help you shut down.
And, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites for you:
Take a hot bath with Epsom Salts. Hot water is good medicine. And the magnesium in Epsom salts will relax your muscles and allow you to get the peace you need between work and sleep. It will also lull you into a deep and lovely sleep.
Read a book that has nothing thought provoking in it. Remember, this is about shutting down. Really turning your mind off, so get into bed with a book that is fun, engrossing and captivating. No books on tape. You need to be using your hands to hold the book- this integrates your tactile senses and satisfies your sensory needs to eat.
Meditate or do a guided visualization. No need to silence your mind or take too much effort. Close your eyes, lay down and breath in through your nose for 10 seconds, hold it and breath out through your nose for 10 seconds. You can also check out wellness hypnotherapy to find specific guided meditations for different subjects (binge eating, relaxation, anxiety, etc.)
Do a Savasana- the most relaxing yoga pose (also called corpse pose) usually done at the end of a yoga class to help you take space between your yoga practice and getting back to your day. It’s so easy. The Savasna pose is really lovely because it just relaxes your whole body. You can use a bolster or a lavender scented eye pillow as shown here- or if you don’t have those things, you can bunch up some towels to put under your knees and heat a wet wash cloth in microwave to put over your eyes. But you really don’t even need all of that, you can just lay on the floor with your arms out, your legs separated, relax your jaw, relax your forehead, just let your body find peace. Make sure that the lights are dimmed, your eyes are closed and even have some quiet music on. I do however, highly recommend the eye pillow. I use this with all my hypnotherapy clients and I find it helps them to relax very, very deeply. (Photo credit to Suza Francina)
Take a restorative yoga class or do some restorative yoga. Restorative yoga is ecstasy grade relaxation. It’s not power yoga, it’s not about fitness, it’s about really relaxing your body and releasing very, very deep tension both in your muscles and in your mind. You don’t have to be a yoga guru to do it either. It’s for every level, even someone who has never done yoga before. When I was in graduate school, I took a one-credit weekend long class on how to relax with restorative yoga poses. A French Psychologist yoga teacher flew in to teach the class- which was about six of us in a big studio in Mill Valley. We each had a big collection of bolsters and pillows and some rope around us that we used to drape ourselves over and around. After getting into each pose, we’d meditate for about 45 minutes to an hour. This was for 9 hours each day. When the weekend ended I felt like my body was jelly and there was no way any worry could ever get into my mind or body. I felt like I was levitating. I don’t even know how I drove home- I think I might have floated. If you can dim the lights and light some candles and have some nice smelling aromatherapy around you- even better. In San Francisco they offer some evening restorative yoga classes and I’m sure they do in other parts of the country and in certain parts of Europe- but if that’s not an option, definitely check out YouTube and see if you can find some good classes.
Get Body work. I know you can’t go get a massage every day before bed, but you can every once in a while- and if not, try some self massage.
Watching television can be rough because lots of people binge in front of the TV- however, if you can do something else while you’re watching tv, like give yourself a manicure, pedicure, hot oil treatment, face mask- something loving and self nurturing that occupies your hands and mouth.
Adult coloring books – can be more relaxing than meditation. It calms your mind and gives you a very similar effect that you’re looking for with food- it gives you another way to shut down after a long day.
Make jewelry. Seriously, making beaded necklaces or bracelets is an extraordinary way to occupy your hands, relax your mind, and feel that high that you get from your reward centers lighting up when you accomplish a goal or task. It’s easy to do, just have your beading kits right there so you can grab them, sit down on the floor, put on some relaxing music and make some pretty jewelry. Give it as gifts, wear it, or sell it on Etsy.
Knit. Knitting is actually used by occupational therapists to help people alleviate stress, relax, and focus their brains.
So what about you? Can you add to this list? What are some positive ways you shut down without going to food?
Do you ever feel like you can’t go to sleep unless you eat a ton of food even if you’ve had a balance dinner? Do you lie awake thinking about food, unable to relax until your belly is so full that you pass out into a food coma? Do you find yourself up late at night grazing through cupboards, or even waking up in the middle of the night and finding that you can’t go back to sleep without eating something? If so, you’re not alone.
Night Eating Syndrome (NES) affects millions of people in this country. Although it can be similar to binge eating- it can also differ in that there is not always a gigantic binge, but several episodes of grazing throughout the night. NES often corresponds with anxiety and insomnia. There are theories that for people with NES, serotonin levels decrease in the evening causing snacking on heavily carbohydrate laden foods to help the body relax and get ready for bed.
Though it’s challenging, the following steps can help you stop night eating:
1. Eat breakfast! This can help to establish healthy daytime eating patterns to ensure that blood sugar and serotonin levels remain steady throughout the day.
2. Establish regular eating patterns throughout the day including big, hearty and nourishing lunch, dinner, and snacks. People with NES are afraid to eat normally during the day since they get most of their calories at night. The irony is however, that if you eat during the day, you might find that you need less food in the evenings.
3. Before you go to sleep at night, write in a journal. Write about your day, your fears, anxiety, anger, sadness, joy, excitement, whatever, just write and move your emotions through you.
4. Relax in a hot bath with Epsom salts for about 20 minutes prior to bed.
5. Keep your journal next to your bed in case you wake up in the middle of the night. If you do, write in your journal.
7. When you go to sleep at night, turn off all the lights and television. Sleep with a sleeping mask and earplugs in order to ensure deep sleep.Put a piece of duct tape across your bedroom door so that you don’t unconsciously get up and walk to the kitchen. The tape will snap you out of your trance so that you can bring some consciousness to the choice to get up and go eat.
8. Put a STOP sign on or in your refrigerator so that you can remember to think about what you’re doing.
9. If it makes you feel safer, consider a lock or timer on your refrigerator or cupboards. This is not to restrict you, it’s to help you feel safe- if you know that you don’t have access to food, you might just stay in bed and get the sleep you need rather than spending time rummaging through the refrigerator or cupboards for food. If it feels restrictive or punishing, don’t do it. This is not to punish you, this is to help you find safety in your house.
10. Consider a high fat, high protein snack such as full-fat Greek yogurt or a glass of whole milk in the evening to quell sugar cravings and increase tryptophan levels.
11. Talk to your doctor, acupuncturist or Naturopath about taking a supplement such as Magnesium Gluconate, LOW DOSE melatonin, tryptophan, 5-HTP, Relora or GABA at night to increase calm, decrease night eating behaviors and help with sleep.
Night eating is challenging because it is so unconscious, but helping your body and mind relax while increasing consciousness of the behavior can help quell it.
Want some New Years Resolutions that can actually change your life? Not one of them involves losing weight.
New Years resolutions won’t make you happy. In fact, the way they are most commonly created- they’ll make you miserable by the second week in January. Cheated on that diet? Your whole year is ruined. Picked up that cigarette? Can’t quit again until 2017. Oh well you’re screwed. Forget about any resolution that has you thinking in terms of all-or-nothing. Instead, try to think about increasing happiness and joy and kindness to yourself. Here are ten ways to do that:
1. Resolve to stop supporting a media that devalues women.
How to do it: Stop buying fashion magazines and “health and fitness” magazines that tout the same tired articles on how to lose 10 pounds this month or how to torch 500 calories in one workout, and how to get rid of cellulite for good and those that use diet pills, powders and potions as their sponsors. There are only so many diets and so many workouts, yet these magazines seem to be able to repackage the same information over and over again for years on end.
How it will change your life: You will save money on magazines, you will create more time and space for yourself to think about other things and to enjoy your life. You will get rid of the clutter in your house. You will stop beating yourself up for not following varying and contradictory advice that those magazine give. You will find relief of feeling as though you should be something else, you will stop dealing with the stress of seeing digitally enhanced images that portray an unrealistic version of what a woman is supposed to look like. You’ll be able to relax and just breathe and just be you…
2. Resolve to stop comparing yourself to other people.
How to do it: When you find yourself going to the place of, “”my life would be so much better if I made as much money as…” or “everyone has someone to spend Valentines Day with except for me…” stop yourself immediately. Think of a big stop sign in your mind and say to yourself, “no. I’m not going there.” Remember that everyone has their own path, their own Dharma. When you look to someone else’s path you stop moving along your own. You become paralyzed and you’re unable to allow your life unfold the way beautifully and the way it’s supposed to.
How it will change your life: You will actually be able to focus on going forward in your life given what you have. You will be able to appreciate and enjoy the things and the people who are in your life rather than feeling disconnected to what you do have. You will find that when you look at and enjoy what you do have rather than what you don’t have you will generally be happier. You will also be able to enhance and make more of the good things in your life because you will be moving forward in joy and able to appreciate those around you rather than stuck in envy.
3. Resolve to stop spending buying money on miracle potions.
How to do it: Stop looking for the next miracle skin cream or beauty potion that will make you perfect. Stick to one simple skin care regimen that you enjoy and that’s not too expensive. Keep your diet healthy (lots of fresh fruits and vegetables) and get fresh air and exercise.
How it will change your life: It will take away the stress and anxiety about buying something every time you see a commercial or read an article about how different your skin will look and be when you get this one product. It will reduce waste in your life and it will keep you from spending excessive cash on something disposable.
4. Resolve to let go of gossip and criticizing other people
How to do it: So, that means even if you happen to be present for a conversation where someone starts talking about someone else, you make the decision not to engage in that conversation and you don’t allow someone to chide you into idle gossip. You choose not to criticize people around you either to their faces or behind their backs. You don’t talk about how someone looks, about their life choices, about their parenting skills, you just let people live their lives and you live yours with kindness and integrity. If people start to talk about others around you, you can just say, “I have this New Years resolution to let go of judgment and criticism of others, so I don’t want to go there.”
How it will change your life: Letting go of negativity and criticism will feel better in your body. You will feel lighter and better. You will also find that people around you trust you more. They will know that their secrets are safe with you and that they are able to talk to you without fear of judgement or criticism. It will take a big weight off of you and give you more mind space to concentrate on yourself and your own needs. The people around you might just decide to jump on your bandwagon making your circle more pleasant to be around.
5. Resolve to stop engaging in Fat Chat
How to do it: Stop talking about how fat you are. Stop talking about how much weight you need to lose. Stop talking about diets. Stop talking about who has gained or lost weight. Stop commenting on other people’s weight either to their face or behind their back, even if it’s “omg you lost so much weight…” Just stop. Check out this article on letting go of fat chat.
How it Will Change your life: You are choosing not to participate in a society that judges women for the way their bodies look and for how much they weigh. You create a positive example for those around you and you have done something to change the way people judge people by looking at how much they weigh. When you engage in fat chat, you are contributing to the continuing exploitation of women’s bodies, making it okay for the media to perpetuate the myth of the perfect female form. Change starts with you.
6. Resolve to do the things you love more often
How to do it: Make doing things that you love a priority. Carve out time for them every day. If you love to write, give yourself 1/2 hour a day to write. If you love to knit, or sew, or ride your motorcycle, or take photographs, or garden or play with your cat, or go swimming, or draw, paint or sculpt, or sing, make sure that it is something that you do several times a week. It’s so common that people prioritize cleaning the house and paying the bills and never feel like you never have time to do the things that you love. You have the power to make your life enjoyable. When you go into super-functional mode and stop paying attention to the things that give you pleasure, you feel sad, as though you’re just moving through life crossing things off your “to do” list. Some things should be done not to get them done, but for pure pleasure. Don’t reward yourself by vowing to draw after the dishes are done, make drawing a priority. Put it on your list for sometime during the day, not in the evening after all your chores are done. Do it on your lunch break. Make time for you.
How It Will Change Your Life: It will help you to appreciate and enjoy your life, it will make you an active participant in your life so that you can enjoy the day-by-day, not be bored waiting for the next thing to happen.
7.Resolve to work on letting go of what other people think of you
How to do it: Remember that nobody’s opinion is any more important or any better than your own. So try to have a high opinion of yourself. Hold yourself with integrity– become the person who you admire. When you are holding yourself with integrity (that means being compassionate, kind, not lying or stealing or hurting anyone, holding the highest intention for good), you will know that nobody else’s opinion of you matters because you are a good person. Remember that most people don’t have the time or the energy to spend time thinking about you– they are spending most of their time thinking about themselves. If they are wasting their time thinking about you, well then congratulations, you’ve got lots of power!
How it Will Change Your Life: You will have the freedom to live your life the way you want without the weight of the fear of criticism of others. You will feel lighter and enjoy life more.
8. Resolve to spend more time with people or animals who have less than you
How to do It: Do volunteer work at the SPCA or your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Find something that you’d be interested in doing at Volunteer Match.
How it Will Change Your Life: Studies have actually found that people who volunteer have lower mortality rates and less chronic pain and heart disease. This is because of the sense of community and sharing volunteer work creates. It also reduces isolation (key in healing from eating issues) and increases self esteem and life satisfaction. Read more about the benefits of volunteer work here.
9. Resolve to take at least one month to go on a “spending fast.”
How to do it: Take 30 days to go on a spending fast where you buy nothing except for true essentials, such as food and hygienic products; no fancy bottled water, no takeout, no fancy meals, no bottles of wine, no fancy soaps, no new clothes, no new jewelry, nothing– just what you really really need.
How it Will Change Your Life: You will find some relief in not having to worry about what dress to buy but knowing that you have a dress at home. You won’t worry about walking into Target for a bottle of shampoo and coming out having spent $150 on razors and lotion, and you won’t have to deal with a late night pizza binge. You will find relief in not having to think too much about what to buy. A spending fast, even for a month is a huge relief.
10. Learn to Recognize Your Emotional State
How to do it: Use mindfulness to check in with yourself throughout the day. Set a timer on your phone to go off once every few hours. When it goes off, stop and ask yourself, “what am I feeling?” If you don’t know, check this list of feelings. Then practice just sitting with that feeling without doing anything to change it.
How it Will Change Your Life: As you learn to be aware of what you are feeling throughout the day, you won’t surprisingly find yourself engaged in activities that you have previously done to avoid feeling, for instance, you won’t find yourself eating when you are anxious because you will know that you have the capacity to sit with uncomfortable feelings.
As we know, December is primo binge time. We roll off of Thanksgiving into several weeks of parties, gift baskets, bowls full of candy at the office, guests dropping in, egg nog, and those are just the food triggers. Holidays trigger all sorts of emotional crises, like being around family, or not being around family, feeling single and sad, missing friends, relatives, or being forced to spend time with people who feel toxic to you.
So, let’s try to make this December a healthy one both physically and emotionally. Here are a list of things that can help you to maintain peace throughout this month:
1.No diets in December and no “I will lose weight resolutions,” on January 1. This December make a vow to try and be healthy and balanced so that you can be “present” for the holidays.
2. Consider staying away from gift baskets that come to your office. Think of them as just something that is not important to you or good for you and create a loving boundary with yourself that they are off limits. Gift baskets are generally filled with old (stale) processed packaged foods that just won’t feel good in your body.
3. If you get a basket of muffins or flavored coffee or chocolate covered candy canes or whatever, just regift it. Give it away. Bring it into the office, put it in the kitchen and don’t go back in. Give it to a homeless person in your neighborhood. Don’t even deal with it or give yourself the anxiety of choice. It’s not worth if it is a binge trigger.
4. Remember that just because things are “limited” you don’t need to eat them. Just because Starbucks has their limited peppermint mocha christmas latte’s, you don’t need to indulge in them daily. Or at all. You can always get one from Starbucks, any time of the year. Seriously. Just because Sam Adams has come out with their Christmas Ale doesn’t mean that you have to drink them. Christmas binge food is just like any old binge food. But it sneaks up on you because it is “limited.” Don’t let that word pull you into a binge. That’s the same black and white thinking that tells you that you have to eat a box of pasta and a loaf of bread tonight because starting tomorrow you can never have carbs again.
5. When you go to a holiday party, make sure that you’ve eaten beforehand. There is always lots of food (that’s fun for sampling) at parties like that. Arrive without an appetite and stick to one plate of food. Choose what you really want to eat, (survey the buffet before hand), put your food on the plate, and sit down to eat. Click here for more tips on Holiday Parties.
6. If you are heading someplace for the holidays, make a plan for not bingeing at the airport. Airports are infamous for binges. If you look around, you’ll see lots of people indulging in too much alcohol, too much food, or spending money compulsively. It’s really a challenge not to. You are in a confined place, anxious and bored, sometimes for way too long, and there are lots of temptations to help make the time go by. Click here for some tips on not bingeing at the airport.
7. If you are going home, even if your family is loving, supportive, and wonderful, you might find that being home (back in the place where your eating issues were formed) can trigger some binge eating behavior. Plan for it ahead of time. Remember that you are home to be with family and that you want your trip to be calm and loving and fun. Think about how you want to feel while you’re there and how you want to feel when you leave. Think about what you need to do while you are there to make this work for you. Click here for some tips on how to make sure that home is a safe place.
8. Give yourself an everyday in December meditation challenge. Just finding some more inner peace will help to give you balance during the holidays so that you don’t have to turn to food to feel better.
Please share your surviving the holidays tips!