surviving the holidays

10 New Years Resolutions that Will Change Your Life (And Not One of Them Involves Losing Weight)

 

Did you know that each year 62%  of Americans make New Years Resolutions and of those 62% only 8% are able to stick to them? That means that almost 197 million people make resolutions and 140 million of those people give up on those. This makes setting resolutions a pretty big set-up for failure and unhappiness.  

Do you know what the number one most common New Years resolution?

I’m sure you can guess that one easily — lose weight!

Unfortunately though, despite your best intentions for improving your life, New Years resolutions tend to make people miserable as people usually fail at them by the second week in January. 

Let’s not do that same game again. Let’s forget about any resolution that has you thinking in terms of all-or-nothing.  Instead,  I want to you to 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. Stop following Instagram and Pinterest Fitspo folks who just wind up making you feel bad about yourself.

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 magazines and websites 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…

  1. 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.

  1. 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 you can afford. 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.

  1. Resolve to let go of gossip and criticizing other people

How to do it:  So, this means that 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 more at peace. 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.

  1. 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 “Wow you lost so much weight…”  Make a choice to not engage with any talk about other people’s bodies or your own.  

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.

  1. 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 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.

  1. 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 [http://www.volunteermatch.org/]

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. 

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

What do you think, can you make a few of these changes? You don’t have to be perfect or do them all the time, but I’m betting that if you chose even just one of these, it would make significant positive changes in your life. Try it! Let me know how it goes. 

“We cannot, in a moment, get rid of habits of a lifetime.” -Mahatma Gandhi

I love this quote of course because it is so illustrative of what we tend to believe- that we should be able to snap our fingers and be done once and for all with whatever habit (of the cognitive behavioral kind or physical behavioral kind) that we’ve been doing our whole lives. Patience is a wonderful trait to cultivate. Patience with yourself will get you the furthest along. It will keep you peaceful, calm, protect you from self-loathing and anger at yourself and bring your closer to achieving your most important goals.

Happy New Year!!!!

new years resolutions

What to Do About All the Halloween Candy

how-to-deal-with-halloween-candy-when-youve-got-binge-eating-issuesSo all of you living in the United States are undoubtedly being bombarded by Halloween candy. There are giant, larger than life displays at every store you walk into, and most likely, it’s sitting in giant bowls in your house as you get ready to pass it out to little ghouls and goblins and witches and Batmans and Wonderwomans etc…

And, if you have kids, you will have bags and bags of candy in your house for months. If you don’t, the candy will be at your office in bowls as people bring in all their leftovers.

Not easy for someone dealing with Binge Eating issues.

Halloween is usually binge day. You tell yourself that this day, today, you get to eat as many of those little Twix and Almond Joy bars (and everything else that looks interesting) until you’re sick to your stomach and then you’re done- never again until next Halloween.

But of course with BED it’s not and never is that simple. You’re going to eat those candies and you’re going to feel guilty, you might even purge, you might wake up tomorrow morning feeling sick to your stomach and depressed. You might see more candy laying around and just lose control completely – and this might last for weeks, going into months.

Here is my quick guideline for Halloween candy.

1. Eat what you want. But limit it. 2-3 of those candy bars equals one serving. So limit yourself to 2-3 little fun size treats.

2. HOWEVER– don’t limit yourself to just Halloween day. You can have 2-3 servings of those candy bars every day. This way you will get to enjoy everything without feeling deprived and without bingeing on candy. You can eat a couple of pieces of Halloween candy every single day for the rest of the year if you want. I do suspect that you’ll get sick of it after a few days or weeks though– but don’t even think about that or worry about that- let yourself enjoy it each day for as many days or weeks as you are enjoying it.

3. The most important thing is that you give yourself permission.

4. You don’t beat yourself up.

5, You plan for what you really want to eat that day and you tell yourself that tomorrow you get to eat the next thing. This way you will feel satisfied and you won’t set yourself up for a binge.

6. When you’re done, let yourself be done. You might eventually become sick of Halloween candy. Don’t let your black and white thinking make you finish something that you’re not actually interested in. Sometimes we eat because we think we have to eat even if we don’t want to. If it’s harming you and you’re eating because you think you have to or you should, then just pack it up and give it away. No reason to have it if you don’t want it. My dentist does a Halloween candy buy back from neighborhood kids and sends it to the troops. Be creative. You can donate it or give it to someone for a birthday party or leave it at work.

This is really the same for those pumpkin spice lattes. If you find them interesting, then go for it. However, you might want to put some limits on it, for instance getting a small and eating it with some protein (like a salad with chicken/eggs or some cheese) rather than with a pastry. This is because your blood sugar rises and drops when you eat lots of sugar on an empty stomach and that can often trigger a binge as your body searches for more sugar to keep your blood sugar (and mood) elevated. The protein sort of helps to keep you steady.

Pumpkin spice latte season is sort of a psychological trap. This scarcity thing happens where people see something ‘for a limited time’ and feel that they have to get as much of it as possible. Remember that the holidays are famous for doing that to consumers and ask yourself, “would I want this anytime or am I being manipulated with scarcity marketing?” For most of us, it’s possible to buy the ingredients to make any of these things any time that we want, so think about how much you actually want it. As I said, if you want it, get it as the restriction and repression is what triggers a binge.

The Fall is always difficult for people with any kind of dysfunctional relationship with food… and October seems to be in full swing now with Halloween looming. It’s a super scary holiday for binge eaters and emotional eaters because Halloween brings candy all over the place and then it lingers for weeks and months afterwards. I remember once having a client who was still bingeing on her kids’ Halloween candy in January! After Halloween, Thanksgiving comes which is a full out binge holiday – it brings with it family drama, mashed potatoes and phantom urges, and then there is December. December is the worst! There are constant parties, constant drinking, there are cookie swaps, latke feasts, gift baskets full of peppermint brownies sent to the office every minute, baked goods in the staff cafeteria almost daily… and then there’s that “well just screw it, I’ll go on a juice fast starting on January 1st and then after 3 days I’ll go Paleo…” and then you binge your way through December feeling awful, sick to your stomach, uncontrollable, uncomfortable and holding on to the promise that 2018 is going to be different. It’s going to be your year and then by January 2nd- you’re back on the cycle and you already feel as though you’ve ruined the whole year!

LET’S NOT DO THAT THIS YEAR!

Let’s have a peaceful, calm, easy and moderate Fall this year. I want to support you in being kind to your mind and body. No crazy diets, no intense binges. And if you slip up, I want reach out to help you stand up quickly and not slide down that slippery slope of end of the year madness.

Please join the 5 week program so that you can get the support you need for the holidays.

Here’s what you get –

  • The FULL 5 Week Step-by-Step Program to Stop Binge Eating For Good and everything that comes with it for a LIFETIME! It’s always yours.
  • The Facebook support group that comes with it.
  • Holiday Buddy support. So during the holidays, I help people match up with buddies so that they have extra support and someone (or a group) to text with so they can get help to stay safe and moderate and comfortable with their eating.
  • I will be doing weekly Facebook lives which are interactive all through the Fall until New Years. With these you can ask and answer questions.
  • A few “group therapy sessions” online. Those will be small groups available on a first come first serve basis.
  • An email every single day in December to help you stay focused on your goal of self-kindness, self-compassion, eating with kindness and love, not over-eating, not restricting, but enjoying your food and not beating yourself up over what you might have done or not done with eating and your food.
  • I want you to start 2018 strong. I don’t want you to start 2018 thinking “this is the year I finally tackle my food issues,” I want you start 2018 feeling calm and relaxed and not feeling like you have to make any big changes. I want you Fall to be lovely, peaceful, enjoyable and full of joy instead of angst over food.

 I do hope that you will join the program. Feel free to check out the testimonials to learn more!!!

How Not To Binge Eat on The 4th of July

7-4-09-0There are certain holidays that I call Binge Holidays. Oh yeah, there are all the typical ones, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Eve… But then – there are those sneaky Binge holidays that come up to bite you in the ass.. like Memorial Day, Superbowl Sunday, Labor Day, 4th of July, Superbowl Sunday…  Those holidays where people start drinking beer and eating potato chips and hotdogs at 11am and then pass out at 8pm and wake up the next morning for work feeling disoriented, bloated, hungover and all around crappy. 

Well Monday is one of our big American Binge Holidays. So here are some tips on how NOT to binge on the 4th of July.

  1. Know that you, like every other American will be susceptible to a binge on Monday, so going into it with consciousness and an intention not to binge will help you to remember that you are holding an intention inside of you. 
  2. Try to eat like it’s a regular day. Eat your breakfast, eat your lunch and eat your dinner. If you are at a barbecue, don’t graze– make one plate for yourself and fill it up with every interesting food that you want to eat. But then you’re done after your one plate. If desert is served- the same thing, one cupcake, one slice of water melon, etc. Just give yourself what you would give yourself for a “normal meal,” rather than an eat all day holiday meal.  If you are at an all day event– each lunch at lunch time and dinner at dinner time. 
  3. Limit your alcohol intake. Binge Holidays are also Binge Drinking Holidays. And when people binge drink, they don’t eat much when they are out and about- but they do when they get home — alone and away from everyone. 
  4. Don’t restrict. Often people will use restriction to keep themselves safe, but then they go home and binge after the barbecue. 
  5. Really focus on connecting with people at the barbecue, talking to friends, etc. Look people in the eye and try to focus on them rather than the food or your beliefs about what people might be thinking of your body. 
  6. Have fun! Try not to think of it as an eating holiday, but as a social holiday.  

How do you keep yourself safe on Binge Holidays? 

How to Get Through December Without Bingeing

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.

And here’s another December list to consider.

Please share your surviving the holidays tips!

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How to Get through the Halloween Season without Bingeing

bingeing on pumkin spice lattesI walked into Target last week and was blasted by the obscene display of mini candy bars up and down the aisles, everywhere I  looked.  I don’t even like candy bars- that has never been my jam, but still, I found myself thinking, “gosh, an almond joy would be pretty good about now…” It’s October. Which means that all of a sudden all the comfort foods are making their way into your hearts and bellies.

The leaves are falling, the apple orchards and pumpkin patches are being picked over, the kids are back into the swing of back-to-school, and Starbucks is offering its limited time Pumpkin Lattes.

It makes sense that binge eating behavior would start to surface. Scarcity creates demand. And the idea that these special coffee drinks will only be around for a limited time can drive anyone toward a full on binge.

It’s totally okay to eat mini almond joys and Pumpkin Latte’s, but let’s discuss how to make October a safe month for you without falling prey to the now or never binge mentality. 

1.)Understand whether you really want the food or if you are being manipulated by scarcity marketing. Ask yourself “would I eat this if I could have it any time?” 

2.)If you feel good about it – go for it! But definitely set some loving boundaries around it and enjoy it, it it mindfully.  For instance, decide to let yourself have that latte’, but rather than a tall or a Grande, order the short. If you want a pumpkin pie, don’t buy a whole pumpkin pie yourself, see if you can buy a slice and save it for desert after dinner. Or you can even bake a pumpkin pie and have people over for it. When you eat it, don’t eat it impulsively but sit down and ENJOY it! Really let yourself smell it, enjoy the aroma, taste it and digest it. 

3.) If you truly believe that eating this food will set up a binge, then tell yourself that it’s okay not to have it right now, either not today or not this week or maybe not even this year. If you are feeling wonky in your recovery and know that it’s not the right time, honor that with compassion. You don’t have to eat it or drink it if you are nervous about it. 

4.)If you find that you are very anxious about bingeing on mini candy bars and Halloween candy, choose not to have it in the house this year. That’s totally okay to keep yourself safe when you need to. If you were a cocaine addict in recovery, you wouldn’t have piles of cocaine in your kitchen. It’s the same with food. It’s okay to not keep something around that makes you anxious. My mom used to give out little Halloween goody bags with boxes of raisins, spooky pencils and pennies on Halloween. It was totally embarrassing for me as the kids would look in there bags and say, “Oh Man! Raisins and pennies!” Back then I thought that she was forcing her health food paradigm on the world, but now I understand why she did it. She didn’t want the binge food on hand and she didn’t feel right contributing to unhealthy eating. A lot of it for her was about integrity as well as protecting herself and her family from junk food.

I have clients who are still bingeing on  their kids Halloween candy in January, so I do think it’s better to just get it out of the house. There is a dentist in my neighborhood who has a Halloween candy buy back program. He gives a dollar a pound for Halloween candy to kids and sends out care packages to the troops. You can do something like this with your kids- buy back their Halloween candy from them or make care packages to send out to others. If there is no way that you can get rid of the candy in your house- put it on a high shelf out of reach. This will at least break the compulsion of grabbing mini candy bars all the time. 

Other alternatives to candy for Halloween are:

– Halloween Toys or Stickers

Halloween Pencils

-You can make a bunch of oragami fortune tellers with your kids or your friends or your parents or nieces and nephew and give those out.

-Glow Sticks and Glow Jewelry!

Or, if you can’t forgo the candy, try these more healthy treats.

For many people, buying Halloween candy can trigger a binge. Plenty of people wind up with tons of leftovers that they wind up bingeing on. Kids get enough candy from your neighbors, it’s okay to take care of yourself by giving kids something different and fun.

5.)If you find yourself tempted in stores where all the Halloween candy is out, make sure that you have a plan before you go into those stores. Make a list of what you need to buy and leave your ATM card at home. Bring cash so that you can’t compulsively grab something. And don’t go shopping hungry! Not even at Walgreens or Target

6.)If there is candy sitting in bowls at the office, again, if it won’t trigger a binge and you know that you can eat one or two pieces in a healthy way, then allow yourself a set number in a day (like two pieces of candy). Don’t eat them standing up by the bowl, bring them back to your desk. Eat one and save the other for later. Make sure that you don’t substitute candy for lunch. If you think that eating that candy will trigger a binge, stay away from the bowl. Have a plan and be mindful when you have to pass that bowl.  Keep a bowl of non binge foods available for yourself such as a bowl of apples or almonds or oranges. If the bowl is haunting you, calling to you throughout the day, try to talk back to it. Tell it that you’re trying to prevent yourself from bingeing and the instant gratification that you will get from a Hershey’s Kiss won’t be worth the binge that you will have that night, that you’d rather have long term recovery and get solid in your recovery this year. It doesn’t mean this is forever, but for right now, you are giving yourself some space to stay safe in order to keep the bingeing at bay.

Tell me, what are some things that you do to keep yourself safe around food during October? 

 

photo credit to Delish

Going Home For the Holidays When you Have an Eating Disorder

dealing with binge eating disorder during christmasIn my first semester of graduate school, right before we left for Thanksgiving break, one of my professors asked who was headed home for the break. Most of us raised our hands. “Well,” he said, “I don’t care how much therapy you’ve had, I don’t care how much you meditate, I don’t care how much healing you’ve done, when you go home, you are going to be that same twelve-year old kid that you used to be. Same family of origin issues, same role in your family… so be prepared and expect it when it happens.” Well. I think that was a little harsh, but there is some wisdom in it. When I think about family systems, I imagine a giant machine with gears that all work together to create one fluid movement. This is what happens in families, we all have an agreed upon role. If one person were to change, it would gum up the works and the machine would begin to move differently… not necessarily worse, just differently. And not everyone has agreed to change so we wind up just back in our old fixed gear position, no matter how many changes we’ve made. Being back at my childhood home, I noticed some phantom urges. It was weird. Out of nowhere, I noticed very old thought patterns just popping into my head, like, “when everyone goes to sleep, I will turn the television on and sit by myself and eat…” but it wasn’t an overwhelming urge, nor was it attached to desire. It was just like passing old junk that went through my mind because I was back in the same physical place that I was when I acted out with food more than twenty years ago. It did not feel as though it was anchored to anything and it did not feel threatening or scary. It was just an old thought triggered by being in an old situation with the same old smells and sights and people and feelings. The phenomena of phantom limbs is when someone feels pain in a limb that has been amputated. This was the same thing- feeling a pain that had no attachments or groundings. In this time of travel and family, you might find yourself having lots of old urges coming up again and again. It’s okay. This is to be expected. Ask yourself, “is this a present day urge or is this old material presenting itself.” It’s like this, let’s say you went home and found your seventh grade diary and started reading through it. You come to the part about your big crush– the boy who sat next to you in sixth period. You read about how he ignored you or never noticed you and how you felt so sad and rejected and how more than anything you just wanted him to notice you. When you read that, you might notice some old feelings of pain and longing come up, but you wouldn’t feel the actually desire to be with this boy. That’s because the feeling no longer exists, it’s just old material. When you go home, you are confronted by a lot of old material that triggers old feelings. Remind yourself, “this feels really real, but it’s old, it’s no longer a valid truth, this isn’t relevant to today’s circumstances…” You might go home and feel like a twelve year old, but you won’t actually be a twelve year old. You are an intact adult who can handle the difficult emotions, even if they are difficult. Remember to breath and tell yourself that just because the old energy is coming back, you can still bring in the new energy just by breathing it in and remembering that it is there for you.

 

How Not To Binge on Thanksgiving

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

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

Thanksgiving is a loaded holiday. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read 15 TIPS TO HAVING A SUCCESSFUL AND BINGE FREE THANKSGIVING


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


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

Going home for the holidays when you’re dealing with binge eating disorder or bulimia

During my first semester of grad school, right before  Thanksgiving break, my Human Development professor asked for a show of hands as to how many people were heading home for the holidays. After about half the class raised their hands, he looked at us and said, “Listen, I don’t care how long you’ve been in therapy, I don’t care how many years of 4 day a week Psychoanalysis you’ve done, I don’t care how many meditation retreats you’ve done, how many Shamanic journeys you’ve been on, how many sweat lodges you’ve been to, or how much family counseling you’ve done… because when you go home, no matter what you’ve been doing up to this point, you are going to be exactly the same person as you were when you lived with your family. You’ll be 12 years old again and you’ll feel it and you’ll behave that way… don’t worry. It’s normal and that’s just the way it is. Just be prepared.”

So, even if you love, love, love your family and they’re very supportive it’s still challenging to be home when you’re working toward recovery. Your internal roadmap, the way you negotiated life, was created in this environment. When you are outside of the environment, it’s a bit easier to change and revamp that roadmap. When you are back in, often your default settings are reactivated.

At your family’s house if you are staying there:

1.)Be prepared. Know that being at home will probably be a trigger.

2.)If your family is challenging, make sure that you have plans to get out of the house. Take walks, get outside their home and call support people, make plans with old friends to go see a movie.

3.)Have a task while you’re there. Have a book that you’re engrossed in, needlepoint or knitting that you’re working on, some kind of project (ie: grading papers if you’re a teacher) that you can be working on. Anything to give you a bit of an escape.

4.)If your family has a lot of triggering food there, make sure to get to a grocery store and have your own supply of food that feels safe.

5.)If there are times when you know that you binge (ie: the middle of the night when family is asleep) make sure that you have an action plan. Something that you might do is let a friend know that it’s a triggering time and call before you go to sleep and when you wake up (bookend your evenings). You might also attend an online OA meeting at night. You can do some meditation and relaxation techniques in bed to help you sleep and avoid bingeing.

6.)If you know that you binge with your family, you will probably need to assemble some big guns of support.Perhaps you can commit to a support person (or sponsor) outside of the family that you’re not going to binge with them and when they get into that mode, you can step outside and call your support person for a reinforcement.

You might tell your family that you’re not doing this anymore. I know that for many people, that is very hard. They feel as though they’re not being a team player or that they’re not being a part of the family if they don’t participate in the acting out with food or alcohol. But love isn’t about sharing in compulsive behavior. Choosing not to participate doesn’t mean you love your family any less. It’s about you taking care of yourself, and you might just inspire some members of your family to follow suit. Most people inherently want to be healthy, even though it’s hard. If they see you trying to be healthy, it might be easier for them to do the same.

Having your own non-binge foods on hand can help to keep you safe from a binge as well.

7.)If you know that it’s going to be too difficult both emotionally and for your ED, you might just opt to stay in a hotel or with an old friend.

At Holiday Dinner

1.)Stay away from heated conversations, such as politics, religion, why you have your eyebrow pierced, why you’re choosing to go to art school instead of business school, why your new boyfriend plays guitar in a death metal band and lives in garage… etc. etc. Of course it’s your prerogative to discuss anything that you want, but often, staying away from potentially emotionally triggering subjects while you are around potentially binge triggering food might be a good idea.

2.)Don’t drink too much alcohol. Keep yourself alert so that you can choose what you want to eat.

3.)Don’t let yourself get pressured or guilted into eating more than you want to. Even if your Aunt Zelda has spent the past 27 hours slaving over a hot oven to make your favorite 14 pies, you don’t have to eat anything that you don’t want.

4.)You are not responsible for someone who chooses to base their happiness on what you choose to do with your life. Remember that it is not your responsibility to make anyone happy. If someone bases their happiness on what you choose to do with your life and what you choose to eat, that is their choice. They can’t make you feel guilty for doing what you want to do with your life. We each are given our own lives and have the right to do with those lives what we want. Ultimately, it’s important to be kind, thoughtful and considerate. However, it’s unfair to live your life for someone else or to ask someone to live their life for you.

5.)If there are kids around, play with them! Kids can be fun and exhausting and exhilarating. They can also take you outside of the line of fire as well as snacks, appetizers, binge foods, triggering family feuds, etc.

As for the actual meal itself, check out my Thanksgiving post. It applies here as well.

 

Happy Holiday!

Office Christmas Parties, Gift Baskets, Luncheons, etc.- How to Survive These Things with an Eating Disorder

The whole month of December can be awful for someone with eating issues. First off, there’s the plethora of parties that are going on as well the cookie exchanges and the office luncheon. Then there are gift baskets full of food everywhere, there are chocolates sitting in the office kitchen, bowls of peppermint bark and peppermint hot chocolates beckoning, and not to mention appreciation dinners and luncheons. Couple that with cold weather and craving warm comfort food and you’ve got a recipe for a binge.

All of this food can make someone feel helpless against its allure and a binge can feel inevitable. Often it can feel as though the binge is happening to you and taking over your rational choice rather than you choosing to make certain decisions. It’s not that these are “bad” foods or situations that  you need to avoid. The problem is that sometimes the draw of the food can tap into the compulsive part of your brain– you might feel as though you’ve begun eating without even making a conscious choice to. You might find yourself in a daze munching on Christmas cookies in your cubicle and then, as you begin to realize what you’ve done, you might begin to feel angry at yourself and helpless and spin out into a binge because you did something that you did not intend to. There is also the fact that the  January 1st New Years Resolution date is looming, so you might figure, ‘binge in December, I’ll start fresh in January.’ There are also imminent family obligations that might be a source of stress. Whatever it is, December can be a month for binge eating.

It doesn’t have to be though.

1.)Don’t use the impending New Year as an excuse to binge. No “I will lose 10 pounds” New Years resolutions this year. Each morning, when you wake up, begin anew by telling yourself, “today I will do my best to go toward health and wellness.” And each morning, set a mini goal for yourself.  A mini goal might be, “I will allow myself to sample some office goodies intentionally and consciously, but will not binge on them,” or “I will do 10 minutes of meditation at some point today,” or “I will reach out for support today if I want to binge or if I’ve already begun eating something that I didn’t intend to in order to prevent a binge.”

2.)Don’t engage in black & white thinking. If you find yourself eating something unconsciously, like snacking on chocolates from a bowl in your office or eating too many bagels one morning, don’t let that turn into a binge. Remember that it happens. Just because you ate a handful of Hershey’s kisses, doesn’t mean you have to spend the rest of the day bingeing on cookies and cakes and eggnog or whatever else it is. Stop, take a breath, and be kind to yourself. Take a moment to reorient yourself and bring yourself back to the present. What happened? How did you wind up at the chocolate bowl? Was it a conscious choice or were you putting something off, or were you upset or stressed about something? Think backwards to what might have happened. Forgive yourself and accept that it happens.  Make a plan for something else that you’re going to do to make you feel good about yourself that day. If you think that you might not be able to resist, call a support person and tell them that  you’re feeling shaky because of the unintentional kisses, but your intention is not to binge and you could use a check in call. Let them know that you’ll call them at the end of the day.

3.)Focus on people rather than food. Before holiday parties or luncheons, make sure that you’ve eaten before you go so that you are able to focus on the people around you rather than the food. If you find that you are only focused on food, take some time to breath and try to refocus on someone interesting. Make a goal for yourself at the party, such as, you are going to talk to 3 new people and try to focus on that rather than food.

4.)Don’t drink too much at holiday functions. Binge drinking is a prelude to binge eating. It immediately brings you into an unconscious state which then does not allow you to have a choice around food.

5.)Be cautious about leftovers. If you host a party, either have someone help you to clean up or have someone else clean up for you. Often for hostesses with eating issues, it’s not the party that’s challenging, it’s cleaning up. Leftovers can be a huge binge trigger for many people. If tit is for you, give them away or bring them down to a hungry/homeless person.

6.)Don’t keep trigger foods at your desk at work. Just because the holidays are here doesn’t mean you need to have a bowl of candy on your desk for people. If you must bring it, put it out of reach from yourself so that you need to actually think about what you’re doing every time you get up to grab something.

7.)Eat a breakfast with lots of protein each morning. This will keep you satisfied and your blood sugar stable so that you’re not looking for a pick me up come mid-morning.

8.)Recommend a Wellness program at your office. Instead of junk food, suggest that people bring fruit baskets. Make a suggestion that the food baskets you receive be donated to a homeless shelter nearby. See about starting a lunchtime yoga class for your office.

9.)Stay active. The winter months are a good excuse to hibernate. Don’t succumb. Get out of the house or office. Take a  vigorous walk during your lunch break. Go ice skating! Go window shopping! Move. Activity is a stress reliever. Letting go of stress will help you not binge.

 

Next up: Dealing with stressful family events during the holidays….

 

 

Friday Q&A- Thanksgiving Guilt

Question:

Hi there,

I’m a 20 y.o. girl and I’m on the heels of a Thanksgiving binge. It makes me feel a lot like I’ve failed; I know I went into this holiday hoping to lose a couple pounds (I’m at the highest I’ve ever weighed), and this slip-up makes me feel really bad about myself. I know how illogical it is, but I need some encouragement on this. I felt as though I’d been doing well with my eating before tonight (with a few slipups here and there), but I really want to: a) weigh my target, set-point weight and b) beat binge eating once and for all. I know purging won’t help, so that’s not an issue, but this is hard. How do I get over this guilt? How do I balance losing a couple pounds with fully relearning how to eat normally?
 
Thanks so much,
 
Hi Katherine,
 
Thanks so much for your question. I’ll bet that you’re one of millions of people dealing with Post Thanksgiving Anxiety right now.  Start by forgiving yourself. You just cannot go backward and undo a binge. It won’t work as you know, all it will do is get you into a vicious cycle of bingeing then trying to undo the harm, then bingeing again. You can’t go backward, you can only take a breath, remind yourself that this binge won’t do much harm if you stop bingeing immediately and make your very next meal a healthy one. The guilt won’t help you to feel better, but telling yourself that you have the next meal, the next hour, the next day to just do better, to take control of your binge eating. In 12-step groups, they say, “do the next right thing.”
 
What is your next right thing? What can you do to go forward instead of staying in the binge? What can you do to move yourself out of this instead of stay in this?
 
 
 
1.First off, let go of it. Thanksgiving happens once a year. It’s the holiday where the whole country winds up in a food coma. You’re so not alone!!!
 Be kind to yourself and forgive yourself.  Part of the eating disorder is extreme guilt and shame for doing something normal. Part of recovery is noticing the guilt and shame and naming it as part of the disorder rather than as something to really buy into. 
 
2. Tomorrow will be a good day. When you wake up tomorrow morning, nurture yourself with a  healthy breakfast. If you are just not hungry, let yourself relax and have some green tea with lemon, and a light breakfast like some fruit and eggs. Eat it very slowly and mindfully and allow yourself to eat without guilt and shame. You are eating for heath and nutrition. Drink lots of water throughout the day to help your body process your binge and let go of retained water. Whatever you do, don’t restrict your food on Friday to undo the binge. Trying to undo the binge only keeps you in it. Returning to normal eating as soon as possible is integral to getting back to yourself. 
 
3. Do some light exercise such as a long walk in a beautiful setting to help calm your mind as well as to help your body feel empowered and light.
 
3. Try some meditation for food and eating issues. It might enable you to slow down and think about food in a less anxious more peaceful way.
 
4. Check out the following posts that might be helpful:
 
 

 
I hope that this answers your question and you’ve found this helpful.
 
Warmly,
Leora
 
Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location.
 
On another note, I have an inbox full of Q&A’s that I’ve not gotten to. For that I apologize. I will be answering all your questions soon!