binge eating

How to Stop Night Eating

How to Stop Night Eating

 

How to Stop Night Eating

How to Stop Night Eating

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 train your brain on how to stop night eating:

1. The first thing I ask people when I know that they are struggling with night eating is “are you getting enough food throughout the day?” and “Are you struggling with trying to be good during the day only to “ruin” all your “good work” from the day with an evening binge? If so, your daytime strategies of morally pure eating might be contributing to your binges. When you loosen the reins during the day and allow yourself to eat what your body wants and needs, you are less likely to binge at night when the guards are tired and asleep at the gate.

                       Make sure that you are getting at least three, hearty and healthy meals each day with snacks                          when you need them.  

                      Definitely make sure to eat breakfast.  This can help to establish healthy daytime eating                                 patterns to ensure that blood sugar and serotonin levels remain steady throughout the day.

Generally, many 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. Just ensuring that you are getting appropriate and proper nutrition during the day can help you stop night eating. 

2.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.  My favorite it Coconut Cream Chocolate Pudding. This has a good mixture of fat and carbohydrates that will stave off sugar cravings and lull you into a nice sleep. To make this put coconut cream into a blender with 3-4 medjool dates and a tablespoon of sugar free cocoa. Blend it all together for 2-3 minutes. You’ll have a nourishing desert that will also prevent binges. 

3. Keep a journal next to your bed and each night, before you go to sleep, write in it.  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. Hot water is good medicine and the epsom salts will relax your muscles to ensure restful sleep. 

5. If you wake up in the middle of the night, before you get out of bed, grab for your journal and write in it. You might write your dreams, your thoughts, your anxiety… whatever it is, just get it out and then lay back down. 

6. 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.

7. 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 large BREATHE sign on or in your refrigerator so that you can remember to stop, take a breath and think about what you’re doing, think about whether you are hungry or just doing this out of habit. 

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. 

11. Talk to your doctor, acupuncturist or Naturopath about taking a supplement such as Magnesium Gluconate, LOW DOSE melatonin, tryptophan5-HTP, Relora or GABA at night to increase calm, decrease night eating behaviors and help with sleep.

12. Try this guided meditation for insomnia. 

Learning to stop 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.

Q & A Friday- How Do I Stop My Urge To Binge Eat?

The Urge To Binge Is Making Me Crazy

 

Today’s Q&A Friday is from Jessica in Memphis!!! 

Dear Leora, 
I’m so overwhelmed by my urges to binge. How can I stop them?

*The urge to binge eat doesn’t have to dictate your behaviors. 

 

Hi Jessica, 

That’s a really good question. In recovery, we don’t really “stop” urges, learn how to react differently to them. In addiction, when you have an urge or a craving, you believe that you have to act on that urge or craving. However, when you learn to recover, you learn that the urge is just an urge and that you don’t have to follow it down the rabbit hole. Urges are nothing to be afraid of or to be worried about, everyone has them. The difference between someone who is compulsive and someone who is not though, is whether or not they choose to act on all of their urges. When an urge comes up, it feels like there is no choice,  but there actually is.  

The very first thing to do is to look at your urge to binge and ask yourself, “am I actually hungry?” If you are, then ask your body “and what is it that we need to give you to nurture you?”  If you’re not hungry, you can remember, “okay this is an urge, I don’t have to let the urge lead me, I can choose to use the wisdom of my intact adult brain.” This meditation can help you with that too. 

As you begin to react to your urges in  a way that feels appropriate, you don’t have to be afraid of them. As you become less afraid of them, they will have less of a charge.  Once the urges are less charged, you will begin to notice them less and then they will begin to fade.  

*You get to choose your own reactions to your feelings.

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? Send an email to leora at bingeeatingtherapy  dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location. Are you interested in individual therapy or online coaching sessions  to deal with your binge eating? Please contact me to discuss getting started.

Q & A Friday – Help My Boyfriend Eats Too Much Fast Food

My Boyfriend Eats Too Much Fast Food

My boyfriend eats too much fast food and I’m sick of it.

My Boyfriend Eats Too Much Fast Food…

Today’s question is a very common issue that many people go through when they get into a new relationship.

Question:

Recently I started dating a guy who really loves going out to eat. And as much as I enjoy spending time with him, I’m sick of of the fast food and unhealthy dinners. My boyfriend eats too much fast food and it makes me  feel as though I’m losing control of what I worked so hard to achieve. Its not just the fear of gaining weight or losing control, I just feel unhealthy in myself with this change in diet. I wanna spend time with him but how do I avoid the dinner thing when its always an unplanned event. Also he doesn’t mind this kind of diet, it works for him. But it doesn’t work for me. I don’t want it to be an issue in our relationship and I definitely don’t want to start resenting him because of it. What do I do?

Mary in Missouri

My answer: 

Hi Mary, 

This is not an uncommon situation. We often tend to do this thing in relationships where we “fuse” with our significant other. As this continues we start to lose our individuality and forget who we are and what choices we actually have. We begin to feel stuck, which then often leads to depression and resentment. It’s important that you remember that you are two individuals with individual separate needs. Let him do what he wants to do but state your own needs as well. For instance “oh your going to grab fast food? That’s fine, I have food at home that I’d rather eat.” And if he questions you on it, just explain to him the way you prefer to eat. Let him know that your preferences have nothing to do with him and you’re not forcing him or even asking him to change his habits or behaviors, and that you too have your own habits and behaviors that make you feel like yourself.  Individuation (being your own person and not just part of a couple) is so important in a relationship in order for you to feel solid, grounded and close to yourself. This is how you stay whole and complete and true to yourself, which always feels better. 

What do you think? Is this something that you can do? 

Related: When Food Is the Third Person In Your Relationship

 Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? Send an email to leora at bingeeatingtherapy  dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location. Are you interested in online therapy or coaching to deal with your eating disorder? Please contact me to discuss getting started, or if you don’t want to meet individually and would prefer to follow a self-guided recover plan, check out Recover From Binge Eating. 

Q & A Friday- Is Paleo the Best Diet for Weight Loss?

Is Paleo The Best Diet For Weight Loss?

Is Paleo The Best Diet For Weight Loss?

 

Is Paleo the Best Diet for Weight Loss?

Dear Leora, 
I’ve been in therapy for the past two months and my therapist sent me to a nutritionist to deal with my binge eating disorder. The nutritionist told me that the Paleo way of eating is the best diet for weight loss, for beating cravings and for having overall health.  I’m curious what you think about that. Is Paleo the best diet for weight loss? I’m torn. – Alicia in New York

Hi Alicia, 

If you’ve been following me for a while, you will know that I take a non-diet approach to healing from binge eating disorder. I do have a lot of thoughts about your nutritionist’s advice because I think it was both well-meaning and there is some wisdom in the approach, but I want to dissect it a little bit so that you can get the most out of your healing journey.  

The Paleo doctrine (yes, I call it a doctrine because some people treat Paleo like Tom Cruise treats Scientology) says that you should eat like a caveman. But let’s think about that. How did cavemen (and women) eat?  Well, they went out, they looked for food, and let’s say they came upon a lion carcass- they ate and ate and ate until they couldn’t eat anymore. Basically they binged. They went days without eating and then when they found food they ate as much as they possibly could since they likely wouldn’t have food later.  Now let’s think about that for a moment. Our bodies were biologically predisposed to binge eat because there would be times when we had no access to food at all.  Cavemen had no 1500 calorie per day diets. Your body was designed to eat more some days and less on others. Fortunately, in this day and age, most of us have unlimited access to food– so going days without eating is not a problem. However, because of our biological makeup, we still have the instinct to binge when we come upon food if we’ve not been eating. So that means if you are on a restrictive eating plan (no cheese or bread for instance- like Paleo) and you come upon cheese and bread, your caveman instincts will likely come in, club your willpower over the head and binge on bread and cheese. Will it happen every time? No, certainly not. However you will always find yourself in a fight. Your inner caveman and your willpower will be at odds with each other. Some days one will win, other days the other one will win. It’s not fun to have a constant internal struggle. You’re always fighting with yourself and you’re never finding peace. You will then look at other people who you believe have been “perfect” in their Paleo-ness and wonder to yourself, “why is it that everyone else can stick to Paleo and I can’t?” and you will beat yourself up for not being good enough. I have a secret to tell you. Nobody is perfect in their Paleoness. Or in their any dietness. As a therapist specializing in treating eating disorders, I can tell you this for sure. I have had rockstar yoga teachers come into my office (in San Francisco there are lots of rockstar yoga teachers) and tell me that on the outside they drink green smoothies and eat kale salads and seeds and do yoga all day every day, that they have a huge following, but at night.. they sit home and can’t stop bingeing and purging. I’ve had doctors, naturopaths,  nutritionists… all the same story, “I show everyone how to eat perfectly and I can’t do it myself. I’m a fraud and a failure…”   And they beat themselves up and feel horrible about themselves. And yet, it’s difficult for them to give up their identities, and the one thing that’s had them stuck in their eating disorder for so long, which is the belief that they should stick to one perfect eating plan. 

So, ideally, Paleo type diets seem great, but in practice, most people are not able to stick to them in the way they believe that they should be.  

So what is good about Paleo? Paleo takes a whole foods approach and recommends that you eat food in their purest form. So instead of apple sauce from a jar made with preservatives, eat an apple. Instead of eating high protein, high fiber cereal with milk for breakfast, eat some eggs and fruit. These are great ideas. However people tend to take ideas to the extreme. People like to interpret things to the most literal minutia and then beat themselves up when they cannot stick to it.  For instance, the bible. There are people who reject it completely and people who follow it to the letter. But what if everyone just took the parts of it that made the most sense to them, like “be kind, do unto others, don’t hurt people…” well then we wouldn’t have wars.  Dogma creates war. And when it comes to diets and eating,  it creates wars within you. You believe that you should eat one way and then you attack yourself when you don’t. 

What if you could take the parts of Paleo that did make sense to you and not call it Paleo? There are things that I do like about Paleo. I like that it encourages whole foods and lots of good fats from animal and vegetable sources. I don’t like that it restricts dairy, grains and legumes. I don’t like that if you happen to eat a piece of cheese that you believe you’ve messed up your whole diet and then you figure “whatever, I don’t care…” and you spend the day bingeing or beating yourself up for being a failure.  What if you could eat more whole foods more of the time?  I have also found some kick-ass recipes though Paleo cookbooks. They tend to have hearty, nutritious meal ideas.  

The other diet that we hear about being great for health all the time is the Mediterranean diet. Well that diet has you eating mostly beans and grains and not very much meat at all! The opposite of Paleo.  So really, what’s right?

The best thing to do is find what works for your body. If you find that your skin breaks out in eczema when you eat dairy, then maybe you should avoid dairy. But that doesn’t mean that everyone should avoid dairy. Do you hear what I’m saying? There is no “plan” that is right for you that your body hasn’t told you about. You need to listen to your body and let your body inform what is right. A good nutritionist should be helping you to listen to what your body needs and encouraging you to follow those cues. 

I believe that your nutritionist was very well meaning. But I also think that she likely doesn’t have a lot of experience treating eating disorders. If you ever go to a nutritionist who tries to have you restrict foods (even if you’re not allergic to them) then it’s best to find a nutritionist who specializes in treating eating disorders. I really like the nutritionists over at Be Nourished. They wrote a great article on the paleo diet last month.  I also really like Summer Innanen’s article on What Going Paleo Did to My Body. 

That was probably a very long answer to a short question. But in a word, no, to answer your question, “Is Paleo the best diet for weight loss,” I’m going to have to say that I don’t believe that Paleo is good way to lose weight or to decrease cravings. Yes, you might find that it is effective in the short term (one-three weeks) but in the long term, I know that a strict Paleo “religion” type diet is actually a good way to gain weight and increase cravings.   There is a way to include lots of yummy Paleo recipes and great Paleo ideals without “going Paleo,” and killing yourself to follow the diet to the letter. You can eat more whole foods more of the time, not be afraid of fat and complex carbs and learn some really amazing recipes. But to follow the doctrine as though it’s religion is absolutely not a good idea.  

Check out Dr. Janet Tomayama from UCLA who talks about diets and weight loss. 

I really hope that this helped to answer your question: Is Paleo the best diet for weight loss? Please don’t hesitate to write back and let me know what you think. 

Warmly,

Leora

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location. Are you interested in online therapy or coaching to deal with your eating disorder? Please contact me to discuss getting started, or if you don’t want to meet individually and would prefer to follow a self-guided recover plan, check out Recover From Binge Eating. 

Q & A Friday: I’m Always Hungry – Help!

I’m Always Hungry- Why? I Eat Regular Meals!

I'm always hungry

I’m always hungry. What’s wrong with me?

 

Question: This week’s question comes from a member of the 5 week program – and I think it’s a great one, and very relevant to everyone. 

Dear Leora,

I have a problem. I’m always hungry. Here is something that often happens to me:  I have just finished eating–  I had a nice breakfast. 2 eggs, small piece of toast, 1/2 a small grapefruit,and coffee with a little cream and now an hour and a half later I am hungry. This is often when I feel hunger which seems inappropriate given that I’d just eaten. I have given it a chance to go away, it doesn’t feel like appetite, just seemingly unjustified hunger. I have used all the tools that you have taught us in the course –  and I’ve figured out that this is not emotional hunger and this is not a binge urge, but I’m actually hungry, this is real physiological hunger!  How is it possible that I’m hungry when I’ve eaten such a solid meal?   Sorry if it seems like I am beating a dead horse, but I just want to understand why I’m always hungry. What’s wrong with me?  -Geraldine

My Answer:

Dear Geraldine, 

Thank you so much for this important question.  

Diet mentality has taught us for so much of our life not to trust our bodies, that when we start to tune in to out actual hunger and satiety cues, we are surprised and angry when we begin to notice that our body’s have real needs that have nothing to do with what we are taught by the diet dictocrats! The breakfast that you mentioned sounds balanced, but also very light and low calorie, so it makes sense that your body would be needing more calories 90 minutes later. That’s normal and okay!  When we diet, we learn not to trust ourselves.  Now that you’re tuned into your actual physiological hunger, you are surprised to see that you are hungry after eating what has been drilled into you as a healthy breakfast. The truth is that what you are eating would be considered a “diet” breakfast. You could add a little more to it (like an avocado or some cheese or an extra egg or some sausage) or you can keep the same breakfast and let yourself eat 90 minutes later when you are hungry again.  

Diets teach us that we can’t trust ourselves to know what and when to eat, but when we choose to truly listen to our bodies and give our bodies what they need, we can’t go wrong. Your body doesn’t want to be unhealthy. That means it doesn’t want to be uncomfortably full or eat more calories than it needs, but it also doesn’t want to be constantly hungry.    It doesn’t want its hunger to be denied.  It needs food and nutrition to carry out its basic functions and will tell you what it needs when you listen very carefully.  It’s very easy to hear your body and not trust it because it contradicts the conventional diet paradigm. You believe that you shouldn’t be hungry and that a small meal should keep you satisfied for hours on end. That’s not realistic. 

When I was a little tween girl and starting to “develop,” my mother, who was a devout follower of the Weight Watchers doctrine, brought me to a dietician. He asked why we were there and she said, “well, she won’t stop eating. She eats all the time!” He said to my mother “she must be hungry.” And my mother said, “yes, she’s always hungry, what’s wrong with her?” and the nutritionist said, “Nothing, she’s hungry! she needs to eat! Look at her, she looks fine.” And my mother said, “but she’s going to get fat,” and the dietician said, “no, let her eat, she’s fine,” and my mother argued with him. So he put me on the scale and weighed me. Then he showed my mother the height/weight chart (ick)  which showed that my body was within normal limits. He refused to put me on a diet or tell my mother that I needed to lose weight. But this was against her strong beliefs and so she took me to Weight Watchers where I learned how not to trust my body.  Because of that and many other experiences, I never thought that eating when I was hungry was okay and that I had to deny my appetite. This is why I had to re-learn to trust my body. This is not unusual. Any one of us who went on a diet at some point learned that our bodies couldn’t be trusted. But when you learn to tune in and really listen to what your body wants and needs, it will never steer you wrong. 

Take some time to think about how to trust your body– listen to it, feed it with kind words and gratitude, thank it for carrying you and caring for you, send it love and ask it to support you and tell you what it needs. So the next time you think “I’m always hungry!” Smile to yourself and say, “yes, I’m always hungry because I’m alive and well and my body wants to be fed, nourished and cared for and I’m going to do that!” 

I hope you found this helpful! 

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location. Are you interested in online therapy or coaching to deal with your eating disorder? Please contact me to discuss getting started. 

How To Be Confident

How To Be Confident: Even if You’re Scared Out of Your Mind

how to be confident

How to Be Confident

 

Have you ever felt like there was something that you wanted to do, but couldn’t do, that you shouldn’t do until you lost weight, until you became more confident? You couldn’t take swimming lessons until you like the way you look in a bathing suit, you couldn’t apply for a job until you lost 25 pounds, you couldn’t write a book until you took more write classes,  you couldn’t sell your handmade jewelry  on Etsy until you had a giant collection, you couldn’t invite people over for dinner or a party until your house was spotless… so many things that had to wait…

If only you had the… the confidence. Have you been trying to learn how to be confident? As though gaining the ever elusive self esteem was something that eventually came over you if you repeated enough mantras and enough affirmations…

The only problem was that you were waiting for it to come, and while you were trying to figure out how to be confident life kept moving forward…

 

“It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking, than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.” –Millard Fuller

 

We try so hard to learn how to be confident that we can do the things that we want to do. But honestly, confidence is overrated. Some people will tell you that doing 100 push-ups in a row is how to be confident. But the truth is, you don’t need confidence, you need courage. Courage comes first and confidence eventually follows. Confidence comes from being so terrified that you are frozen but still trying something and failing again and again and again and again until you finally succeed. Confidence is not inherent, but fear is. We are all afraid, we are all terrified. But if you can feel the fear and not let it stop you, that’s how you  gain confidence. Fear is crippling, terrifying, and paralyzing. But when we know that  it’s going to feel that way no matter what and we understand that everyone has fear, then we can just allow it to come with us wherever we need to go. 

When I first started my private practice, I decided that I wanted to have a bulimia/ binge eating therapy group. I advertised all over. I put flyers all over San Francisco, I put ads all over Craigslist (it was a long time ago 🙂 ),  I couldn’t wait to have a giant group where I could really help people heal from BED and Bulimia.  Eventually, two people signed up for my group. Two. I was devastated. My first inclination was to cancel the group. But I decided to just do it, to just push myself. I was a young therapist, and the groups that I had done up until then were at Eating Disorder facilities and I had been leading with a co-therapist. This was to be my first group alone and I believed somewhere that nobody had any faith in my abilities. Nobody had ever heard of me and maybe I was just a fraud.  Each Wednesday, I felt a pit in my stomach before group. And I’d pray that my two clients didn’t show up. I literally had to drag myself to my office to see them. This went on for months. But as I continued to go, leading the group became easier, more enjoyable and more intuitive. Eventually the group grew until I couldn’t let any more people in and I wound up having a wait list.

My fear didn’t go away in order for me to gain confidence, my fear stayed. But eventually, after doing this group week after week and seeing that people were finding peace and healing I just allowed it to be there. I let it be there and eventually I began to feel confident in my abilities.

If you let your fear tell you what to do, you won’t get to the place that you want to be in life. Do things before you’re confident, do things when you’re scared and terrified and you have so much anxiety that you think you might pass out. Do that again and again and eventually the confidence follows.

When I was writing my book, each day I had to drag myself to my computer to write. Again, I kept asking myself, “who am I to write a book?”

One day I stopped writing and started my application process to UC Berkeley’s PhD in Neuroscience. I was talking to my husband later and he asked me how my day was, how my clients were, how the book was going.

“Oh,” I told him, “I’m applying to get my PhD in Neuroscience”

“Um, why?” he asked me?

“Oh well, I thought I would know more after I got my PhD so then I could write the book.”

My husband looked at me and said, “write the fucking book.”

“But I need to learn more!” I told him.

“You’re a licensed psychotherapist who’s been treating binge eating disorder for more than ten years, you know a s**tload…” he told me, “sit down and write the book. You’re not writing the book for a bunch of scholars, you’re writing the book for a group of people who need help, and I don’t think they want to wait another seven years while you get your next PhD. Go write your book, people need to hear what you have to say… you can go get your PhD in neuroscience if you want, but don’t wait to write your book, just do it now. You have what you need inside of you.”

So I took all my fear and I wrote my over 300 page book. I guess I did have a lot to say!

But I was so nervous that I didn’t tell anyone that I wrote a book! Not my friends, not my Dad, not my family…

And then one day, after my book was released in 2014, I finally put a small note on my personal Facebook group. “Hey guys, guess what, I wrote a book! It was released today.”

And then I closed my computer because I was so nervous for putting myself out there…  I didn’t look at my Facebook page for many days because I was having a vulnerability meltdown. 

A few days later, I finally looked at Facebook and saw that so many of my friends had made these really positive comments, they shared my posting and they were all happy for me. I realized that this was just something that I had to practice, I had to push myself to get out there. As an inherently painfully shy person, putting myself out there is not something that comes easily, but the more I practice, the less difficult it becomes.  

Success isn’t about never having fear, success is about being able to feel the fear and do it anyway. 

So how do you gain confidence?  You don’t wait, you walk into that vulnerable state, you put that bathing suit on no matter what you think your body looks like, you go to that job interview despite the fact that you don’t have that level of experience, you call that guy/girl even though you don’t think that you are “perfect enough,” for them… because life is too short to wait for confidence to come to you.

And the truth is, you might never be confident, but don’t let that stop you from having the life that you want and that you deserve. 

 

Q & A Friday- I binge eat and sneak eat to rebel

Q & A Friday- My Inner Rebel Doesn't Want to Stop Binge Eating

Question: 

Dear Leora,
I’m starting to identify that I use binging to rebel. I get a high from being sneaky and saying a big F-you to my mom, my husband, anyone who ever commented on my weight, etc. I’m doing what I want when I want with no one’s rules when I binge. I’m sure it comes back to my mom “catching” me eating her Snackwells cookies or crackers or ? … then my finding every opportunity to sneak food that she wouldn’t know about. My adult mind knows it’s ridiculous. I’m not “getting one over” on anyone by sneak binging now. But are there substitutes to get that feeling of doing something only I can do and decide? Most times I have the house to myself, I secretly “plan” a binge.
I also find that I’m struggling with the sneaking thing and find its just habit that I sneak good when I’m alone…even if I don’t crave it, it’s what I’ve always done. 
What’s up with that? Any insight would be appreciated! 
My Answer: 
This is such a good question and one that I think about A LOT.  You are NOT alone. I hear this a lot.  Many of my clients deeply feel that rebellious kick inside them  when they begin to heal. They become angry at at me for not corroborating with their eating disorder mind, but for supporting their healthy mind.
Logically makes no sense, right? They are paying me and coming in to my office weekly for therapy, yet they are angry at me. But why? Why would someone want so badly to stop bingeing and then be angry at me when I work to help them stop?  
There are a few different things going on here.
The first is that ED, the voice of the eating disorder begins to get really loud when your wise self comes in for help.  ED mind and Wise mind start to fight. That rebel is part of ED. It doesn’t want to go away and it will fight. 
The other part of this is that the behaviors are not logical because they are not coming from your intact adult self. They are coming from a very young place. Although realistically you know that it doesn’t make sense, your inner child believes that  someone is trying to take your best friend away. Something that has brought you joy and comfort for so long. Bingeing is your security blanket, it’s your favorite and  best coping mechanism.  So of course you are going to fight against that. It make sense.  Our coping mechanisms do something for us that is very important, they soothe us.  So when you believe somewhere that someone is stealing your coping mechanism, you get angry and try to go behind their back to get what you are being denied.  I think it’s likely very old, but also new in a sense. Is there anything that you’re being denied right now that you feel like you have to steal or sneak to get? (sleep? money? time to do things? affection? sex? etc…)  When you can’t get what you need, food is the easiest way to soothe. 
Sneak eating also is a lot about both habit and shame. It’s a habit that you’ve formed, where you know that the moment you are alone, you are supposed to get in what you can. So just being alone can be a trigger. Even if you are alone for moments, like bringing a pan of leftover food from the dining room table into the kitchen. With typical sneak eating, that 5 seconds alone in the kitchen can be you bingeing on leftovers that you weren’t even hungry for because the habit of eating when you are alone is so ingrained. That comes from being told that you were wrong or bad to eat. It makes you feel shame and then the shame builds on itself. So you feel ashamed for eating, your habit of sneak eating kicks in and then you feel ashamed of yourself for sneaking and then you eat more to deal with the shame. 
 
So how to help with that.
There is only one antidote for shame and that is acceptance. 
 
Bring in your adult intact self to talk to your rebel in the kindest and most loving way and remind her that she is safe and she has choice and she can do whatever she wants, but what does she really think would be the best choice for her? And when you come from a kind and loving place, your rebel little girl and even ED (who is ultimately their to protect you) will both realize that you no longer need them, that you have an adult caring self who will protect you and keep you safe. Make sense?  
The other part of this is to tell people around you that you trust that you have been sneak eating, that it’s an old habit, that it has nothing to do with them, but that because of that, you are choosing to air out this secret so it can no longer mess with you. Once the secret is out, you can ask for support. Like not being alone in the kitchen at night. Or whenever you find that you are being triggered to binge eat. Don’t be afraid to ask for support as much as you need. 

I hope that this response was helpful for you. Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location. Are you interested in online therapy or coaching to deal with your eating disorder? Please contact me to discuss getting started. 

I know I shouldn’t want to lose weight, but I still do…

I consider myself a feminist but I still want to lose weight. Is there something wrong with me-

In Binge Eating Disorder recovery, one of the most common topics that comes up is weight loss.  People learn to take the focus off of weight loss and put the emphasis on health and healing and self-love, but that feels both wrong and uncomfortable. After all, the pursuit of weight loss is something that they have been doing most of their lives.  When I ask people to try to refocus their direction away from the scale, they often tend to get anxious or unhappy. That’s totally normal and I expect it. 

If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know that I have a weight neutral approach to healing. Weight neutral is idea that health isn’t tied up with your weight. The common dialectic states that when one loses weight, their health will improve. The weight neutral approach states that when the weight is focused on, it takes attention and focus away from actual real health concerns and that people die from diseases that were ignored because they were told, “lose some weight and this will resolve…”  The other part of the weight neutral movement recognizes that when people primarily focus on their weight for health reasons, it only makes things worse by causing binge eating and rejecting other parts of life and certain foods that would increase  healthfulness. In fact, in a study done last June, it was shown that a weight neutral approach to healing actually increased health (by measurable standards such as lowering cholesterol), reduced stress and  increased life satisfaction more than simple weight loss programs.  We know that focusing on weight and weight loss increases frustration, increases binge eating, and ultimately increases weight, yet so many of us still just want to lose weight… 

Oprah lost 67 pounds after completing a liquid diet. Two days after this show was aired and she stopped the liquid diet, she admitted that she could no longer fit into those jeans.

Oprah lost 67 pounds after completing a liquid diet. Two days after this show was aired and she stopped the liquid diet, she admitted that she could no longer fit into those jeans.

So let’s discuss that. If  Oprah Winfrey, one of the most powerful women in the world, a billionaire, if she still hasn’t been able to let go of this notion, than you can know that you are in good company. But Oprah. Oh how I love Oprah and I love how human she is and I love how she’s publicly been sharing her struggle for all these years. I can use her struggle to illustrate why and how weight focus is so damaging.

1985

Oprah, (despite the fact that she has more resources than 99% of us) still has not let go of her desire to lose weight. She is not immune to it. And this doesn’t make her a bad person.  However, it does make her someone who has been fighting the same frustrating fight for at least the 30-40 years that we know of. And it’s likely been longer than that. Wanting to lose weight doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you superficial and it doesn’t make you unlikely to recover from your eating disorder. But the desire to lose weight, just like the desire to binge is a desire that would perhaps be better left to sit with than to follow down the rabbit hole to satisfy. Because like the desire to binge, when you follow and take action on the desire to lose weight, you will more often that not, wind up feeling uncomfortable in your body. Why? Because the pursuit of weight loss can make one feel very unstable and is almost never long-lasting.  It sets us up for failure. This is illustrated to the left by one of the most powerful women in the world. 

So let’s talk about acceptance. I don’t just mean body acceptance and body love, but accepting yourself as a whole. Accepting that you have these feelings, thoughts and desires that are directly opposed to everything you might have learned or believe in.

Maybe you think that the pursuit of weight loss is a waste of time and maybe you believe that it will get in the way of your recovery. Maybe you see how damaging it is. And maybe you still want to lose weight. That is okay, because you are human. And you have to balance and accept these very real human desires and feelings inside of you. 

I know you still want to lose weight. I know it. And I accept that and I accept you. You are human and all your feelings are important and valid. And, just because  you want to lose weight, that doesn’t mean that the pursuit of weight loss is necessarily a positive thing for you. 

So what can you do? You can be your own most powerful ally. You can do your best to fully accept that despite the fact that you have the knowledge and the understanding that dieting is not good for you that you still want to lose weight. You can know that part of self-acceptance is accepting the confluence of emotions and desires that are diametrically opposed to your beliefs and morals.  You can know that your desire to treat your body with love and respect and to feed it, nurture it and treat it with the utmost of kindness is in direct conflict of the messages that we get from the media and the medical community- messages that skinny is best, that if you had more discipline that you could be skinny, that you have to lose weight to be healthy. As we have seen, all those messages are not just wrong, but damaging.

So here’s the deal– I want to help you be accepting of yourself, of all your thoughts, and of your body. I want you to treat your body with love and respect. I want you to feed yourself when you are hungry and not restrict or reject foods unless you don’t like them or are allergic to them or sensitive to them. I want you to listen to your body. I want you to go toward health and wellness. When you do, your weight will likely land where it’s supposed to. As I’ve said before, that might be thin, that might not be thin, but it will be healthy. When you treat yourself with kindness, your body will come to it’s natural shape and weight. And even if  you still want to lose weight, it’s okay. Wants and desires are okay and normal. But when you redirect those desires, when you think about how you want to live your life and don’t let the pursuit of weight loss get in the way of that, when you do the things that you want to do in life and give yourself what you really and truly need this is where your healing comes from.  

Q & A Friday – I’m Afraid to Eat Fat

How Eating Fat Helps Cure Binge EatingQuestion: Hi Leora!

I got the 100 days of real food cookbooks, and notice that they say to eat full fat cheese and yogurts and things like that, I know that you say we should eat full fat yogurts and things as well. I know they are better for my body, and I can eat less of then to get full faster, but it’s honestly hard for me to not buy nonfat.  It makes me worried about gaining weight. I know it’s silly, but would love any advice you can give!

Thank you! Elizabeth

Answer: Hi Elizabeth, 

Yes, you are right. There is an underlying message out there that all fat is bad- body fat, fats in food, all of it. There is a belief that eating fat makes you fat– which is not only untrue, it’s also the opposite. When you eat more healthy fat, your body weight actually regulates and comes to its healthy place.  At this point, although many of us know from a nutritional and intellectual standpoint that full-fat products are much better for your body- it’s still difficult to integrate that knowledge to day-to-day eating. Fat certainly keeps you fuller longer and is more satisfying but it also decreases your risk of binge eating, and conversely,  avoiding fat increases your chances of bingeing. So much of healing from binge eating disorder is also about increasing your nutritional profile. This is why: 

–Essential fatty acids found in food supply the nutrients that promote growth of our cell functions but our body cannot make on its own. Thus if we avoid fat, we will either get very ill or our body will involuntarily turn to binge eating to meet these needs. 

–Your brain is made up of fat- the myelin sheath (which insulates your nerve cells) is made up of fat. Because of this, it’s important to continue to supply your brain with fat. This helps to increase concentration and uplift your mood.  Depression and anxiety can often lead to binge eating as it temporarily decreases these mood issues (and then makes them a lot worse). By keeping your brain feeling strong and stable, you have more of a chance of avoiding binges. 

–Fat transports essential fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) to your cells.  Your body needs these nutrients to keep its functions going. If it doesn’t have fat to deliver them, you will likely binge (whether you want to or not) because your body is looking to heal itself. 

–Fat helps to regulate your hormones which will keep issues like PMS at bay. When you find that your mood swings are fluctuating less, it decreases your chances of binge eating. 

Because of how essential fat is, your body will seek out ways to get it if you avoid it. Now, your main question is “how can I get myself to eat fat?”  You have to flip the message in your brain that “fat is bad.”

Flip Your Thoughts about Fat: When you see full-fat yogurt or olive oil or milk or cheese, I want you to try to think to yourself, “there is something rich and nurturing for my body, I am dousing my body in nutrients when I feed it healthy fats.   You are changing your thoughts about what fat is. Instead of equating fat with an unhealthy body, start to think about how healthy and strong fat makes your body. 

Take it slow:  This doesn’t have to be a fast all or nothing process. You can start slow. For instance you can tell yourself that you will have one bowl of full fat yogurt in the morning once and see how it goes. Then you can make a list of breakfast foods that are full fat and try one each morning. For instance:

  • Toast with peanut butter
  • Eggs with Avocado
  • Full fat yogurt with berries 
  • Macadamia nuts with fruit 
  • Bacon/Avocado rolls
  • Butternut squash with butter or olive oil mashed in (yes squash for breakfast! very yummy)

And then just let yourself sit with it mindfully and see how it makes your body feel. Usually when I do this experiment with clients, I give them a one week challenge of eating a breakfast with fat and protein each morning. Although they are often scared, they tend to feel so nurtured that they notice their urge to binge decreases considerably and they feel grateful for their new appreciation of nourishing fats. 

Start slow. Try it for one breakfast and see how it goes and then let me know! Thank you for the question.