bulimia

How to Support National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

 

large_The War On Women's BodiesIt’s that time again! National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. 

What is NEDAwareness Week and why is it important you ask?

I’m glad you asked.  Bringing focus to eating disorders is more than just showing support for those who are struggling with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder.  The intention here is to show just how pervasive eating disorders are and how much support there is for eating disorders in our culture. Yes, eating disorders are supported, not recovery.   You can see it everywhere. You can see it when you turn on reality television, you can see it in a yogurt commercials or cereal commercials when you are encouraged to give up a meal and replace it with this artificially flavored yogurt or processed cereal to lose weight. You are supporting eating disorders when you sit around with people and talk about how fat you are and what your next diet is or when you start to discuss someone else’s weight gain or weight loss.  All of this behavior supports eating disorders by reinforcing the idea that you are not okay as you are, that you have to do something dramatic to change yourself.

How can you support National Eating Disorder Awareness?

1. Choose not to engage in Fat Chat– that means, don’t base a friendly conversation around how much weight you need to lose or how much weight others need to lose or who looks like what right now. You have better things to do with your time and more important things to discuss. If someone tries to engage you in their own conversation about their body or someone else’s body, be kind and explain to them what you’re trying to do, “I’m trying this new thing where I don’t speak disparagingly about my own body or anyone else’s. And I don’t want to engage in any negative conversation about your body. My hope is to change the conversation and society’s focus on women’s bodies. Are you onboard?”

2. Don’t buy women’s magazines, especially diet magazines that are disguised as health magazines.

3. Check out NEDA’s How to page– to help you support eating disorder recovery

 

Vitamins and Supplements to Help With Binge Eating

Vitamins and Supplements to Help With Binge Eating

Vitamins and Supplements to Help with Binge Eating


There are some ingredients that go pretty well together. Those ingredients are: Anxiety,  stress, insomnia, and sleeplessness. Put them all together and you have a great recipe for binge eating. 

Why is that? Well, there are several reasons. First off many people try to mitigate their stress and anxiety with food. Lots of women hold the feelings of anxiety in their bellies and their stress in their jaws. What helps? Eating. Chewing helps to release the stress that you’re holding in your jaw and having food in your belly keeps the anxiety from presenting itself. It stays “pushed down.” 
Another reason is that many women (and men) cannot sleep without pushing themselves to sleep by eating themselves into a food coma. The natural serotonin boost from bingeing helps to calm down your brain and help you sleep. 
However, there are some natural remedies to deal with anxiety, stress, sleep issues and urges to binge and sugar cravings.
 Definitely check with your physician before  starting a supplement regimen, and if you are on any other medications, please discuss possible interactions or problems with taking these particular supplements. Here is a great list of alternative remedies for stress, anxiety, depression and vitamins and supplements to help with binge eating.  Many people consider several of these to be natural alternatives to Xanax!

 

B-Vitaminshelp regulate serotonin levels to elevate mood and decrease binge episodes

Chromium -200 mcg per day – when needed for sugar cravings. Helps insulin to get into your cells to regulate glucose so that your hormones stop sending messages to your brain that you need more sugar.

Manganese– 10 Mg per day helps the transport and metabolism of glucose. It stabilizes blood sugar to reduce sugar cravings.

Magnesium Glycinate– 500 mg in the evening- calms the body and the brain while stabilizing glucose levels which can wildly fluctuate when a person is binge eating.  When magnesium levels are stable, cravings decrease. This is also great for night time sleep. 

Zinc– 15mg- per day- helps to regulate appetite

5-HTP– 200 mg per day in the evening- or whenever you have the urge to binge. The precursor to serotonin will suppress your appetite and relax you to take the anxiety away from the binge.

L-Glutamine– 500 mg when needed no more than 3 times per day. When you are having a strong sugar craving, take 500 mg of L-Glutamine or open a capsule and put the powder on your tongue. L-glutamine is an amino acid that is converted into food for the brain.

Fermented Cod Liver Oil To help with anxiety, stress and for immune support and strength.

Ashwaganda–  Ashwaganda has been found to be very helpful to calm anxiety.

Relora Decreases stress related eating 

Kava Kava Kava has been traditionally used in the South Pacific (I first found out about it on my Honeymoon in a Kava Bar in Hawaii). It has a calming effect that relieves anxiety, insomnia and stress-related symptoms such as muscle tension or spasm. It  may also relieve pain. When taken for insomnia,  kava promotes deep sleep without affecting REM sleep.

Prebiotics– Yes, that’s prebotics, not probiotics. Prebiotics are pretty amazing. Taken daily prebiotics severely reduce anxiety and depression. I first learned about this at an eating disorder conference within the last few years. The theory is that bacteria living in your gut can affect your brain chemistry and research backs it up.  Anecdotally I can tell you that in the times that I’ve used it, my sense of well-being and feeling complete joy has been extremely palpable. 

Inositol – Inositol has been shown to be extremely helpful for women who have depression, anxiety and mood fluctuations prior to menstruation (PMS). As we know, PMS leads many women to binge eat and have sugar cravings due to increased estrogen levels. However, it has been shown that women who take inositol show clinically significant improvements in PMS symptoms.

Epsom Salt Bath–   A hot epsom salt bath for 20 minutes before bedtime will help relax your muscles and decrease anxiety. This is because the magnesium in the epsom salts is a natural stress reliever. I know that you will sleep like a baby after one of these mineral baths. Hot water is good medicine. 

Gotu Kola–  This herb has been used for more than 2000 years for everything from anxiety to leprosy!  It also has great mental benefits including as the power to improve cognitive abilities, reduce anxiety and decrease severe stress. 

Jarrow Sleep Med-  This is a light little sleep med with a very low does of melatonin plus tryptophan, valerian and GABA.  The low dose of melatonin is much better for sleep than the typical high doses that can often trigger insomnia. 

Self-Hypnosis and Mediation has been shown to immediately decrease anxiety and increase well-being. In fact, it’s the only thing that has immediate effects of well-being and increasing joy. 

A recovery story- Finally choosing to let go of Ed

This amazing and intense recovery story was submitted by April via email.

My name is April and when I was 8 I started having serious body issues. I started my period and didn’t really know why or what it was. My mother was not a very nurturing mother always competing with me about weight and clothes and she would take over my friends so they liked her better. I hated my body. I remember praying to die at 8. I always felt awkward in my skin never comfortable.  I got the message early on that being fat like my aunt Kathy was unacceptable.  I was told fat people were not worthy of love and were failures in not so many words.  I started my first diet at 8 eating just an apple and orange every day for a week and lost weight. I saw the pride in my parents faces when I dropped weight.  The next few years were a blur until I hit junior high. I had friends and I felt like I belonged but my body was an issue.  I hated my body. I hated being in it. I would throw up but it was getting out of hand. Just when I felt stressed. I just sort of hated my body and then it was time for high school.  All my friends went to one school I went to another. I was shell shocked. I had no idea how to make new friends. I hated my body and myself and was in awe of all the pretty girls.  I turned inward. I was sad my old friends left no room for me in their life.  My home life was a little scary as my dad and brother constantly fought.  I would live in my room never coming out unless I had to. I also ate the same thing every day for over a year.  Then that summer I turned 15 and the binging and purging took over. I became a full-fledged bulimic. I lost weight I was like 95lbs and I loved being thin and I was 5’2” and usually 113 to 110. My parents put me in a hospital for kids with behavior issues. This only pissed me off because all they said was get to 100 and you can go home. I got to 100 in two weeks they never put me in with the eating disorder unit they just stuck me with gang members and drug addicts. I was so angry at my parents. I had no control and I felt so alone.  When I got out of high school I started exercising and running. I think started on anorexia. I would eat very little like an apple and glass of milk and then throw it up.  From the age of 19 to 33 I was severely anorexic and bulimic and exercise crazed. I had no life, no friends, and just was waiting to die. My life was sad and lonely.  I did manage to get a college degree, a paralegal certificate cause my dad wanted me to and then a master’s in business management. I quit any job if my weight came in question. I floated between 69lbs and 84lbs for that period of time.  I thought I would die and I wanted to. I somehow married and had two kids.  My kids are healthy but I was starving and binging and purging all through my pregnancies. I lost one but I blame myself cause I purged and was exercising two hours a day. Therapy after therapy couldn’t help me. I was married to a man that ignored me and treated me like servant. I realize now I picked that man because I could continue practicing my behavior because it went unnoticed. I started for some reason reaching out to people through FB. I don’t know why I did it but something in me changed. I saw my daughter being left out by my parents who treated my son like the number one grandchild and I just snapped. I thought I had to get better. I read the book by Portia De Rossi and one night I believe I heard the voice of God tell me to stop. I stopped. I stopped the crazy behavior and I stopped allowing a man to dominate and ignore me. I have had to cut out my parents because they are very sick and controlling and will never get help. I have had to get better for myself for my kids. The sad part is I had to recover alone with the help of God and the support of some friends.  I am getting divorced but it is the right thing to do.  Even if I end up alone forever, I have my health and my mind back. I am sad I wasted all those years and all that time stuck in an eating disorder without knowing how to lift the fog. I have no idea what the future holds for me but I know I am a good mother and I love my children and nurture them and will see they group up with love and self-esteem.  I had to come to terms too with the fact just cause I got sober doesn’t mean I can get everything I ever wanted. It doesn’t mean I can turn back the clock and recover lost time with people. That is probably the hardest part. Letting go of the pain and the hurt that I caused myself is really hard to do but I am trying to and it feels so good not being consumed with starving and exercising or purging. Life is hard enough and surviving an eating disorder for 22 years was hard but I did it, so I think I can pretty much do anything.  I lost so much time.  22 years wasted, and I don’t want to waste another minute, another day, another hour.

If you have a recovery story that you would like to be published, please send it to bingeeatingtherapy (at) gmail.com

101 Positive Body Affirmations

Positive Body Affirmations

Affirmations are statements that you repeat over and over in attempt to change your unconscious beliefs. Pick a few that you like and look in the mirror and repeat several times each day! If you can find some of these positive body affirmations that resonate for you and really allow yourself to see them, hear them and feel them, you might find some shifts in the way you think about yourself and your body.

101 Positive Body Affirmations

1. My body deserves love

2. I am perfect, whole, and complete just the way I am

3. I feed my body healthy nourishing food and give it healthy nourishing exercise because it deserves to be taken care of

4. I love and respect myself

5. It’s okay to love myself now as I continue to evolve

6. My body is a temple. I want to treat it with love and respect.

7. My body is a gift.

8. Food doesn’t have to be the enemy, it can be nurturing and healing.

9. Life is too short and too precious to waste time obsessing about my body. I am going to take care of it to the best of my ability and get out of my head and into the world.

10. I will not give in to the voices of my eating disorder that tell me I’m not okay. I will listen to the healthy voices that I do have, even if they are very quiet so that I can understand that I am fine. I am fine.

11. Food doesn’t make me feel better, it just temporarily stops me from feeling what I’m feeling.

12. I have everything inside of me that I need to take care of myself without using food.

13. A goal weight is an arbitrary number, how I feel is what’s important.

14. I am worthy of love

15. As long as I am good, kind, and hold myself with integrity, it doesn’t matter what other people think of me.

16. Other people are too busy thinking about themselves to care what my weight is

17. When I compare myself to others, I destroy myself, I don’t want to destroy myself so I’ll just continue on my journey, not worrying about other people’s journeys.

18. I am blessed to be aging. The only alternative to aging is death.

19. It’s okay for me to like myself. It’s okay for me to love myself.

20. I have to be an advocate for me. I can’t rely on anyone else to do that for me.

21. A “perfect” body is one that works, no matter what that means for you personally.

22. It’s okay for me to trust the wisdom of my body.

23. Just because someone looks perfect on the outside, doesn’t mean they have a perfect life. No one has a perfect life, we all struggle. That’s just what being human is.

24. If I spend too much time trying to be and look like someone else, I cease to pay attention to myself, my virtues, my path, and my journey.

25. When I look to others to dictate who I should be or how I should look, I reject who I am.

26. The last thing I should be doing is rejecting myself. Accepting myself as I am right now is the first step in changing, growing and evolving. When I reject myself, I cannot grow.

27. Self respect is underrated.

28. I can only go forward, so although I can learn from it, I refuse to dwell on the past.

29. ALL images in magazines are airbrushed, photoshopped, and distorted.

30. If people actively judge or insult me, it’s because they feel badly about themselves. No one who feels good about themselves has the need to put someone down to elevate themselves- they have better things to do with their time.

31. I have no need to put someone down to elevate myself.

32. I can be a good person if I choose to be.

33. It’s my life, I can choose the way I want to live it.

34. When I smile, I actually make other people happy.

35. Balance is the most important.

36. If I binge today, I can still love and accept myself, I don’t have to beat, berate and starve myself right afterwards, and I still have the very next moment to jump right back into recovery.

37. Recovery is an ongoing process that is not linear in fashion. If I slip up, I’ll take the opportunity as a learning experience and get right back to my recovery goals/program.

38. Progress is not linear. It’s normal for me to go forward and then backward, and then forward again.

39. I enjoy feeling good. It’s okay for me to feel good.

40. Having an eating disorder is not my identity.

41. Being skinny or fat is not my identity. I am identified by who I am on the inside, a loving, wonderful person.

42. I choose health and healing over diets and punishing myself.

43. My opinion of myself is the only one I truly know and it’s the only one that counts. I can choose my opinion of myself.

44. When I am in my head too much, I can return to my breath, just breath and be okay. There is only this moment.

45. It’s okay to let others love me, why wouldn’t they?

46. I am good stuff.

47. I am compassionate and warm. My presence is delightful to people.

48. My very existence makes the world a better place.

49. It’s okay to pay someone to rub my feet every once in a while.

50. If I am hungry, I am supposed to let myself eat. Food is what keeps me alive.

51. Getting older makes me smarter.

52. It’s okay not to be the best all the time.

53. My well-being is the most important thing to me. I am responsible for taking care of me. We are each responsible for ourselves.

54. No one has the power to make me feel bad about myself without my permission.

55. My feet are cute. Even if they’re ugly.

56. I eat for energy and nourishment.

57. Chocolate is not the enemy. It’s not my friend either. It’s just chocolate, it has no power over me.

58. I can be conscious in my choices.

59. I am stronger than the urge to binge.

60. I am healthier than the urge to purge.

61. Restricting my food doesn’t make me a better person, being kind to myself and to others makes me a better person.

62. Being skinny doesn’t make me good. Being fat doesn’t make me bad.

63. I can be healthy at any size.

64. Life doesn’t start 10 pounds from now, it’s already started. I can make the choice to include myself in it.

65. Food, drugs, and alcohol are not the solution. But they might seem like it at times, but using these things can make more problems. I have what I need inside of me as the solution.

66. There is a guide inside of me who is wise and will always be there to help me on my journey.

67. Sometimes sitting around and doing nothing is just what the doctor ordered. It’s okay to let myself relax.

68. I am a human being, not a human doing. It’s okay to just be sometimes. I don’t always have to be doing.

69. My brain is my sexiest body part.

70. Looks last about five minutes– or until someone opens their mouth.

71. My life is what I make of it. I have all the power here.

72. My body is a vessel for my awesomeness.

73. My body can do awesome things.

74. If I am healthy, I am so very blessed.

75. I won’t let magazines or the media tell me what I should look like. I look exactly the way I’m supposed to. I know because this is the way god made me!

76. What is supposedly pleasing to the eye is not always what is pleasing to the touch. Cuddly is good!

77. I can trust my intuition. It’s here to guide me.

78. Just because I am taking care of myself and being an advocate for myself doesn’t mean I’m selfish.

79. Not everyone has to like me. I just have to like me.

80. It’s not about working on myself it’s about being okay with who I already am.

81. My needs are just as important as anyone else.

82. Body, if you can love me for who I am, I promise to love you for who you are– no one is responsible for changing anyone else.

83. I will make peace with my body, it doesn’t do anything but keep me alive and all I do is insult it and hurt it. I’m sorry body, you’ve tried to be good to me and care for me, it’s time for me to try to be good back.

84. Thighs, thank you for carrying me.

85. Belly, thank you for holding in all my organs and helping me digest.

86. Skin, thank you for shielding and protecting me.

87. Other people don’t dictate my choices for me, I know what’s best for myself.

88. I feed my body life affirming foods so that I can be healthy and vital.

89. Taking care of myself feels good.

90. I can eat a variety of foods for health and wellness without bingeing.

91. There is more to life that losing weight. I’m ready to experience it.

92. If I let go of my obsession with food and my body weight, there is a whole world waiting for me to explore.

93. The numbers on the scale are irrelevant to who I am as a human.

94. Food is not good or bad. It has no moral significance. I can choose to be good or bad and it has nothing to do with the amount of calories or carbohydrates I eat.

95. I am still beautiful when I’m having a bad hair day.

96. My nose gives me the ability to breathe. Breath gives me the ability to be an amazingly grounded, solid person.

97. Being grounded and whole is what makes me beautiful. If I don’t feel grounded and whole, I can get there just by being still, breathing, listening to my intuition, and doing what I can to be kind to myself and others.

98. I am not bad and I don’t deserve to be punished, not by myself and not by others.

99. I deserve to be treated with love and respect and so do you. I choose to do and say kind things for and about myself and for and about others.

100. Even if I don’t see how pretty I am, there is someone who does. I am loved and admired. REALLY!

101. Beauty?… To me it is a word without sense because I do not know where its meaning comes from nor where it leads to. ~Pablo Picasso

You might also find some use with:

Guided Meditation Download for Positive Body Image

Meditation Download to Find Your Inner Wisdom

*Photo credit to A Merry Life

Try talking to your food!

natalie dee drawing archive: aug 2006

What if instead of being afraid of food or trying to control food or yourself, what if you made friends with food? What if he who was once the enemy became your friend?

If you have an eating disorder, you probably notice that a lot of what you deal with is fear. Fear of food, fear of parties with food, fear of being out in the world,  fear of what people think of you, fear of how you look or how other people see you, fear of being liked or not being liked, fear of being good enough, fear of pain or emotional hurt, fear of gaining weight, fear of losing weight, fear of fat, fear of eating, fear of not eating…

But what if you disempowered the fear of food by making friend with it?

The other day, a client of mine was telling me that after every public speaking event that she speaks at, she sits down alone  and eats an apple because she is so revved up and the apple helps her calm down. She said, “I know it’s just an apple, but still, I’m using food to dampen my feelings…”  But here’s the thing. Food IS nurturing.  It keeps you alive and nourishes your body. I asked her what it would be like to smile at that apple and say, “thank you for sitting with me and helping me to decompress after my event,” and then enjoy the apple.   We then took that a step further and discussed what it would be like to talk to her food all the time. Like say, “hey brownie, I really want to eat you, but I’m afraid you might lead to a binge…” and then listen to what the brownie had to say. Maybe it would say, “I think that today I’m going to lead you into a binge, so maybe you should just avoid me right now,” or maybe it would say, “Yes, sit down and eat me slowly, I’m not binge food today,” or maybe it would say, “Eat half of me now and half of me later!”  Or whatever it is.

This is obviously another exercise in mindfulness and intuitive eating, but it’s a fun way to embrace your food rather than fear it. It’s a way to think about what you’re putting in your mouth and a way to learn to create limits and boundaries around food.

So, next time you are ready to eat, sit down and check in with your food, “are you what’s healthy for me right now? if not, what do you think I need?”   Food is something that is here to sustain and love you. Your body deserves love and the food that you eat should be loving.  Try it!

 

A recovery story

I’ve been seeing *Emily in therapy for four years. She has written her recovery story and agreed to have it posted.

I actually remember the first time I binged and purged. I was in eighth grade and we were at Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparents’ house. My grandma used to make these huge elaborate meals, with like 5 or 6 different pies and all sorts of mashed potatoes and stuffing. My cousin Jenny, who is a year older than me, was there. She was like, everyone’s princess.  Everyone was soooo excited because Jenny had  made the cheerleading squad at her high school and she was in the homecoming court. Up until that year, me and Jenny had always sat there during Thanksgiving and giggle and eat all the pies together. But this year, she barely paid attention to me.  She wore these tight  jeans and kept her portions small. She was like a real teenager.  My mother looked at her admirably and said she was so proud of how beautiful Jenny had become. She also said that it was smart to watch her figure now that she was no longer a little girl. My mom then looked at me and said nothing as I scarfed down my third piece of pie. I had never really thought about it before. I mean that’s what we did on Thanksgiving. We ate my Grandma’s pies. Even my Grandma turned against me. “Eat less pie Emily! Be more like Jenny. Look how thin and gorgeous she is now!”  I felt horrible. My own (not name brand) jeans were unbuttoned to make room for my swollen belly and I felt how greasy my hair and skin had become.  After dinner, I excused myself to the bathroom and I don’t know how or why, but I began searching through the medicine cabinet. That’s when I saw the chocolate ex-lax. I knew what they did and I knew that I could use them to get rid of the pie. I don’t know how I knew to use them. I guess I’d heard of it somewhere… and so I took three pills. I remember thinking that I should take more than it said on the back, but I didn’t want anyone to notice that they were gone.  The laxatives kicked in that night. I sat up all night running to the bathroom. And although my stomach felt ravaged and I was in terrible pain, after my bathroom  trips, I would step on the scale and see how much weight I’d lost. It was amazing to me that the pounds were just dropping off. And that’s how it started.  Later that week, I made myself throw up after eating a milkshake and onion rings from Burger King.

And that was my descent into the dark years of bingeing, purging, taking laxatives, and starving myself. I kept trying to be more like my cousin Jenny who showed up at Thanksgiving every year more and more beautiful, with perfect grades, the captain of cheerleading, with a football player boyfriend. And me, I became more and more isolated. I had put on a lot of weight and I wore all black, smoked cigarettes and had kept my hair dyed black and pierced everything I could. I didn’t really have a boyfriend, though I did sleep with a lot of boys, but no one wanted to get serious with me. I kidded myself into thinking that I didn’t care. But I was depressed. Really depressed. I used to cut myself on the arms and legs sometimes, just so that I could emote because I felt, I believed that I was completely alone. My grandparents seemed to tolerate me, but didn’t have a lot of interest or pride in me. And my mother sort of seemed disgusted by me. She knew about my activities with boys and told me that I had no self-respect.  Food was a lot of what comforted me. I would eat full pizzas on my own after school and wash them down with diet cokes. I’d go days eating nothing, just drinking coffee and diet coke and eating pixie sticks to keep me going. Then I’d collapse, cut school and go to the donut store and eat a dozen donuts in the parking lot, wash them down with diet coke and laxatives, then throw up in the bathroom of the gas station, and then drive around town buying food to binge on and find gas station bathrooms to purge in.  I just wanted to be normal. I wanted to be like my cousin Jenny. I wanted people to love me and I wanted to be beautiful and cared for. I thought that if I could get thin enough, I’d be okay. But my bingeing and purging  continued all through high school, and shockingly, I still was able to get good enough grades to get into college.

I stopped purging in college, but became addicted to diet pills, marijuana, and sometimes even cocaine to keep me from eating. I finally lost all the weight I wanted to, but my body was breaking down. I suffered three fractures by the second semester of my sophomore year. I realized then that I had to stop with my eating disorder. But I couldn’t. I had no idea how to eat normally. I tried to eat three meals a day, but it always ended with me bingeing. I managed to stop purging, but I was still bingeing and then restricting. I did manage to graduate from college, but my grades really weren’t very good. I barely went to class and when I did, I didn’t pay attention or get much out of my classes. I really wasted my mother’s money.

After college, I tried a variety of things to help me lose weight. I tried different diets, I tried nutritionists, I tried a 12 step group with a food plan. But all of those things made me just binge when I fell off my food plans or diets.  Eventually, I decided to start seeing a therapist. I knew I had an eating disorder and was ready for help. It was really hard at first because I felt like my therapist just couldn’t help me with the thing I most needed help with– I wanted to lose weight, I wanted to stop bingeing. I told her to just tell me what to do and fix me. She gave me lots of assignments, many of them were about eating 3 meals a day, whatever I wanted, but I had to eat mindfully. She sent me to a nutritionist who specialized in treating eating disorders, and she also recommended that I see a psychiatrist to help me get some meds that might help with my depression.  I spent a lot of money. A serious amount of money between all those specialists. But I was desperate. 

Talking to my therapist really felt like a relief. We talked through a lot of the pain, depression, and through a lot of my childhood.  I realized that a lot of my eating disorder wasn’t about the food and it wasn’t about me getting thin. It was about me feeling really badly about myself. My Dad left my Mom and I when I was 5 years old, and I always thought it was my fault. The more I began to understand how I felt completely flawed my whole life, the more I understand that it was a myth– a story that I told myself. And that through that myth that I had conceptualized in my 5 year old mind, I began to act the way I believed I was. I tried desperately to get love and attention from men, but ultimately, I felt so worthless, that I let them treat me like crap– letting them have sex with me then ignore me the next day. My mother said I had no self respect, and she was right. But she never taught me how to respect myself. She never quite let me think I was worthy of love and admiration. I wasn’t any less smart or less beautiful than Jenny, I just believed I was. She had a mother and a father at home. I had no Dad and a Mom who was angry and felt rejected and resentful. She came into therapy with me several times as we discussed her own feelings of being worthless after my Dad left her for a much younger woman.   As I began to understand my own sense of worth, I started to try and take better care of myself. I learned to sit with my feelings, I learned to HOLD myself with respect. That was huge. I didn’t have to be super witty, nor did I have to do everything for everybody to make them like me. I didn’t have to be anything. I just had to respect myself. And so as I did, my eating disorder began to have less of a hold on me. As I talked through all those things, I realized that the drive to be thin was really just a drive to be accepted. So I learned to accept myself. It has been really hard for me to accept all those lost years, it’s like my whole teen years and most of my 20s were stolen by my eating disorder. But in learning to accept, I’m just trying to respectfully mourn those lost years.

I’ve been 100% free from any eating disorder behaviors since September 18th, 2010. That was the day before my 28th birthday. I am not afraid of Ed any longer. I know that I have the tools to work through whatever life should hand me. And if I do relapse, I know that I can’t lose the recovery that I have. 

*Name has been changed.

If you have a recovery story that you would like to be published, please send it to bingeeatingtherapy (at) gmail.com

How to Talk to a Loved One with an Eating Disorder

how to talk to a friend with an eating disorder

 

Watching someone that you love being active in their eating disorder is devastating.  It’s so painful to watch your mother, sister, wife or girlfriend (or husband, father, brother or son) either restrict their food, or binge on foods that are unhealthy for them, or to know that they’re purging in the bathroom after they’ve eaten. It’s painful and upsetting and scary.

You might find yourself becoming very angry at the person whom you love when you see them taking such poor care of themselves. It’s important to find compassion for the person who has the eating disorder when you choose to talk to them about it.

1.)Although you might feel angry, please try to understand that this is a serious problem that she/he has. They would certainly stop if they could.

2.)When you talk to them, don’t be attacking. If you come at the person and say things like, “you really need to be eating more,” or  “you have to take better care of yourself,” or “I want you to stop purging now,” you’re going to create a face off and a defensive stance. The person is going to be forced to defend themselves against this attack. Instead, talk to them using I statements. For example:

“I have noticed lately that you look very, very thin, and I’m worried. I haven’t seen you eat at all in several weeks. It’s really hard for me to watch this because I love you so much and I’m terrified that I’m going to lose you. I just don’t know what I would do without you. Is there anything I can do to support you? Would you be willing to do some family counseling with me with an eating disorder specialist? Or can we go see a nutritionist together and perhaps I can help you go shopping? I just really love you and want you to be healthy.”

Really contact your own feelings of fear rather than anger in order to get a conversation going.

3.)Don’t try to fix the person. Don’t try to take food away from them or force food on them. Don’t refuse to eat if they’re not eating. Don’t make comments about what they are or are not eating.

4.)Don’t be afraid to talk openly and honestly about how their eating is affecting you.

5.)Remember that this is a very hard topic and the person who you confront will most likely feel embarrassed and ashamed. You don’t want to shame them into recovery. In fact, this can often backfire. Let them know how much you love them and want to be there for them and you’re not going to let them go through this alone.

6.)Understand that recovery takes time, don’t expect them to see a therapist once and then all of a sudden to be cured. Be patient and if you can, try to be an active participant in their recovery.

7.)If this person is completely unreceptive to you, don’t push or get angry. Get help for yourself. You need support when you love someone with an active eating disorder. You might want to check out Al-anon or Codependents Anonymous or seek therapy or a support group for family members of people with EDs.

8.)Even though you might feel angry and frustrated (that’s so normal) don’t give up on someone you love. Let them know that you love them and you will be there for them when they are ready.

Recovery from eating disorders is hard. But watching someone struggle is downright painful. You feel helpless and scared and depressed. Please try to get love and support for yourself as well.

Some further reading and resources:

http://www.pbs.org/perfectillusions/help/friends.html

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/information-resources/family-and-friends.php

http://bingeeatingtherapy.com/?p=277

http://bingeeatingtherapy.com/?p=283

http://bingeeatingtherapy.com/forum/index.php?board=27.0

http://bingeeatingtherapy.com/forum/index.php?board=29.0

http://bingeeatingtherapy.com/forum/index.php?board=35.0

Six Elements of Recovery from Binge Eating

Recovery from any eating disorder takes time, patience, self love, support, and has several layers to it. The deeper you go, the more you find, and the more whole you become as you heal those deep inner wounds.

However, there are six elements to recovery that must be tended to in order to find deep recovery.

1.) Relearn how to eat regular meals.  Eat three healthy meals per day, no restricting, no dieting, no skipping meals, no calorie counting, no carb counting.

2.)Learn to hear and honor the wisdom of your  body. Ask your body what it needs in terms of nutrition and exercise and listen for an answer.

3.)Learn how to distinguish real hunger from boredom, sadness, loneliness,  anxiety and other feelings that are hard to feel.

4.)Learn how to sit with these feelings without judgment and to allow yourself to feel what you need to feel. Understanding that feelings, all of them, are okay can help you to cope with them without using food to  avoid them.

5.) Learn to accept your body the way it is. Understand that you are more than a body. You are a mind, a spirit, a soul, a being, and you have a lot to offer. Your value isn’t tied up in the size of your jeans.

6.)Cultivate interests and hobbies that make you more of who you are, so that your true SELF is who you really are, not the numbers on a scale.

 

 

 

Q & A Friday- How can I avoid binges in the college dining hall?

This one comes to us from a reader in Vermont.

Question:
I am a junior in college and struggled with bulimia last semester. It got pretty bad but over the holidays I was able to recover and am now doing much better. However, now that I am back at school, I am finding it difficult to avoid binges in the dining hall. It is an ‘all you can eat’ system, with many many options at every meal. I usually find that I eat a healthy meal, but then fall to temptation for desserts, and end up eating a lot of chocolate chips or oreos or other desserts even when I am not hungry, just out of greediness. I am afraid of falling back into my old habits and I really want to avoid that since I feel so much better now. I have found several things that help with binges outside of meal times (drinking tea, water, making sure I get a protein-filled breakfast, etc.) Do you have any tips or advice on how to avoid dining hall binges, and how to avoid getting up for seconds or thirds out of greediness instead of out of hunger, particularly for desserts and sweets?
Thank you so, so much I really appreciate your help!

D

Hi D,

First off, congratulations on your recovery from bulimia. It’s awful to go through and challenging to recover from.

You’re certainly not the only person suffering from dining hall overwhelm. With an amazing amount of choices, and long leisurely meals that accompany the college lifestyle, it’s hard not to have some trouble with bingeing in school if you are prone to it.

1.)Before you start your meal, set your intention about what and how much you are going to eat.

2.)Make sure that when you make your meal, you eat enough. Don’t skimp or restrict.  This will set up a binge. Have a good amount of protein and a lot of vegetables and salad and perhaps a cup of soup, food that will take you a long time to eat so that you have food on your plate for a while.

3.)When you go up for desert, grab some fruit, an apple or an orange, or a grapefruit,  something that is relatively labor intensive so that it takes you some time to unpeel and to eat.

4.)Make sure that you have some healthy snacks in your dorm room or apartment so that you don’t have that sense of “I have to eat as much as I can now.” I went to a tiny liberal arts college in the middle of the woods in Upstate New York in the 90s. There was no way to get food between meals as there were no stores around or public transportation to get off of campus to get food. If you didn’t have a car, you were screwed. This kind of set up a hoarding mentality around food where we would eat as much as we could at each meal or make loads of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to keep in our rooms in case it was too cold or snowy to walk to the dining hall later.  Making sure that you  have  a good supply of healthy food in your room will save you from thinking that you have to be full or that you have to eat as much as you can in the moment because you might not have food later.

5.)Don’t restrict yourself. No “I can’t have any desert or any chocolate” because that line of polarized thinking can set up a binge. Instead, say something like, “If I want it I can have it.” Before you get up, ask yourself if you really want it and if you really need it, if the answer is no, try to sit through it and let it go. If the answer is yes, get yourself one or two cookies or one small serving and eat your choices slowly and mindfully, savor them. Tell yourself that you can have another serving tomorrow, so that there is not a feeling of, “I have to eat all these cookies now because as of tomorrow, no more cookies ever again.”

6.)Whenever you get up, always have your tea cup with you so that if you find you are getting up compulsively because you are anxious or fidgety,  you can refill with herbal tea rather than compulsively getting food.

7.)Don’t stay in the dining hall that long. Go in for a short amount of time, eat a healthy meal, then get up and leave when you are done.  If you feel you’re missing out on social time, just tell people that you’ll catch up with them later. It’s important to take care of yourself implicitly. Your social life will suffer more if you are dealing with an eating disorder or an obsession with food as will your studies. Taking care of yourself around food will help you all around, even socially and academically.

8.)Make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. Not sleeping enough can make one reach for sweets for energy and alertness.

I hope that this is helpful. Does anyone else have any good tips for dealing with the dining hall? Please post in the comments!

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.

Friday Q&A– How do approach someone who I think might have an eating disorder?

my best friend has an eating disorderQuestion: Submitted via email by Ronni in Boca Raton, FL.

I have a friend who I’m pretty sure is bulimic. She lives in my dorm and I know she’s bingeing and purging, but I don’t know what to do about it. I’m afraid that she’ll get mad at me if I say anything. I used to binge and purge all the time, but I haven’t done it since high school and I’d die if anyone knew, so I think that if I talk to her, she’ll stop being my friend.

Hi Ronni,

You’re right to be concerned about your friend. As you know, bulimia is incredibly addictive and deadly. Congratulations on recovering from your disease. This is a really good opportunity for you to maintain your recovery by beginning to talk about your own process. Rather than talking to your friend about her bulimia, it might be a good idea to tell her about your eating disorder. Perhaps the two of you can take a walk and you might disclose to her that part of what has been an important challenge for you in school has been staying clean from your bulimia symptoms.  It’s always easy to go on the defensive when being accused. However, when you speak from your own experience and talk about your own battle, it allows someone space to open up. Even if she doesn’t open up to you immediately, she will know that you are there to talk to about this.  It’s not your responsibility to cure her from her bulimia, however, keeping it a secret can only be harmful to her, so you should probably tell an R.A. or administrator what is going on so they can intercept.

 

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? Send an email to leora at leorafulvio 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.