emotional eating

How To Be a Better Person

You don't have to run yourself into the ground to be a good person. Save some life for you!

You don’t have to run yourself into the ground to be a good person. Save some life for you!

I have this client who is really afraid that she’s not a good enough person. But here’s the thing, she’s a really good person. But she’s always afraid that she’s not good enough. She’s almost “too good,” she does everything for everyone else,  she covers other people’s shifts when she’s tired, she cooks dinner for her family every night despite having been on her feet for 12 hours (she’s an ER nurse) she takes in strays (people, pets, and projects), she listens for hours on the phone while her friends cry about the pain of life. She’s a perfect mom, friend and wife. She never says no to anyone. She is the President of the PTA, she does every cancer walk, AIDS run, she heads every committee, has big glorious parties, belongs to three different book clubs and she sacrifices her own needs for the sake of others constantly. She’s really that good. And she’s exhausted. She has explained to me several times that she’s not this good out of an altruistic sense. It doesn’t come easily to her. She feels that she has to be that good otherwise she’ll be abandoned, fired, divorced, rejected, cast aside. She wants people to like her and she believes that who she inherently is has no value so she has to constantly do and be better than everyone else to make herself invaluable and indispensable. She fears that without this quality, she would be nothing.

The title of my blog post is more irony, because I have seen in my practice that many people suffering from eating disorders have the co-occurring obsessive desire to be be good. To be better. To be better than anyone else. To be a precious commodity.

It is possible to be a really, really, really good person while still holding yourself and your health in highest regard. So how do you do that? How do you choose to be a good person without sacrificing your own self?

1. Set boundaries. Rather than saying “yes” right away, whenever you are asked to do something let people know that you will see and you’ll get back to them in 24 hours. Then, in those 24 hours, ask yourself the following questions.

a. Do I really want to do this?

b. If so, why do I want to do this? Do I want to do this for the accolades that I will get or for my own personal enjoyment? If it’s for the accolade, if you are trying to control or manipulate what other people are thinking about you, you should experiment with saying “no.”

 

2. Ask yourself this, “If I don’t do it will I feel guilty? If I do do it, will I feel resentful?” If it is a choice between guilt and resentment, go with the guilt. There’s no reason to do something for someone just to resent them afterwards. Sit with and work through your own guilt. This is about you and your need to be better.

 

3. Do things that are in line with your goals and desires for who you want to be. For instance, if you feel as though being kind and non-judgmental and holding yourself with integrity is important, then know that as long as you stick to that goal, you’ll be fine. Getting angry at someone and talking about them behind their back while still driving them to the airport won’t necessarily make you a better person. Telling them that you’re not able to and being an advocate for yourself will. Don’t worry, they will find another way to get to the airport. I promise!   You are invaluable and indispensable for who you are, not for what you do, so when you choose to be aligned with the qualities of high integrity, you just feel strong within yourself. You don’t need to constantly do for others to be better.

 

4. Always be kind. That doesn’t mean always do everything that people ask you to. It means being okay with people’s requests and being kind and compassionate when you tell them you cannot.

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!

 

How to Cope with Hurt Feelings

Do you ever eat when you have hurt feelings? Do you find yourself in the middle of a binge or emotionally eating? Do you ever come home or get off the phone with someone, and feeling sad and lonely, stressed or anxious, angry or overwhelmed, walk over to the refrigerator and unconsciously start eating until you feel badly about that instead of what you had originally felt bad about?

Dealing with hurt feelings through emotional eating is one of the ways that we learn to soothe ourselves. But there are other options. When you notice that you are hurt, know that this is a prime time for you to run to the kitchen. Remind yourself that you are at risk for bingeing and ask yourself if there are other things that you can do. Some ways to deal with hurt feelings or anger are:

1.)talking about them to someone else

2.)screaming into a pillow

3.)going for a long walk

4.)reminding yourself that you’ve done nothing wrong, or if that’s not the case, taking the steps that you need to apologize or correct the situation.

5.)take deep breath/meditate

6.)punch pillows

7.)give yourself a break, forgive yourself.

8.)write about it. get on a forum and discuss what happened with others.

How to beat stress eating– 50 ways to cope with stress without food

If you give a normal person a list of five things to do, they will get started with the first thing on their list. If you give a stress eater a list with five things to do, they will get started by running to the refrigerator. Eating becomes a way to deal with procrastination, fatigue, and powerlessness. After all, a big part of stress is really just a belief that you are completely powerless over a situation. Eating is the immediate response to the stressor. It’s the thing that stress eaters go to when they feel powerless over the stress. So, how to stop stress eating?

In 12 step groups, the serenity prayer says:

grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

  • Stop! Think about the source of your stress. Is this something that you can control?
  • Figure out what  you can control.
  • If there is nothing that you can do about the situation, you might simply have to accept it and all the consequences that come with it.
  • Deal with the consequences of accepting that you cannot change the situation at hand and take care of yourself around that
  • Are you stressing about something that hasn’t happened yet? Stop. Don’t live in the future or in the past. All that exists is the moment. Make the best choice that you can for the given moment.

Here is a list of 50 things that you can do when you’re stressed instead of eating:

(this list won’t have you running to the fridge)

1.)Organize yourself, figure out exactly what to do and execute a strategy for getting things done. If you are not good at this, ask a friend who is good at this stuff to help you.

2.)Take a bath

3.)Go for a walk

4.)Go to the gym

5.)Meditate

6.)Drink tea

7.)Call a friend and talk out what is going on with you.

8.)Write in your journal/blog

9.)Stretch or do yoga

10.)Zone out and watch a movie that you like

11.)Curl up with a good book

12.)Take your dog for a walk, or pet your cat if you have one

13.)Clean your house

14.)Do some volunteer work– get out of your head by helping some other people out. Serve food at a soup kitchen, volunteer to play with kids at a homeless shelter, walk dogs or play with cats at the local animal shelter.

15.)Buy a meal for a homeless person in your neighborhood and bring it to them

16.)Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time

17.)Call a much older relative or friend. The advice of people older than you with so much more life experience can be incredibly valuable.

18.)Listen to music that you can lose yourself in

19.)Get out of your apartment or house and be out in the world with people, don’t isolate

20.)Draw, paint, do something artistic

21.)Walk around the block then attack your to do list.

22.)Promise yourself a non-food reward for every thing you cross off your list, such as 10 minutes to zone out on the internet.

23.)Get a massage

24.)Take a shower

25.)Water your plants

26.)Find something to break, like sticks or branches you find outdoors.Rip up an old tee-shirt. Anything that can feel cathartic and release some tension. Just don’t hurt anyone.

27.)Relax your jaw. Your jaw is the strongest muscle in your body and because of that, you hold a lot of stress in it. Massage your jaw muscles and try to relax them.

28.)Cry

29.)Scream into a pillow

30.)Dance

31.)Go to a spin class, kickboxing class, or to the boxing gym– something that exerts energy

32.)Go for a drive through a neighborhood that you like

33.)Go out to a movie

34.)Smell flowers

35.)Color hard with crayons– releases stress

36.)Garden

37.)Go to the beach and look at the ocean

38.)Think about people you love, call them, tell them your woes or don’t tell them your woes, just connecting can be healing

39.)Paint your toenails

40.)Window shop

41.)Play a musical instrument

42.)Make Love

43.)Write or read affirmations.

44.)Give yourself a foot massage

45.)Go for a good run!

46.)Write kind notes or emails to people for no reason

47.)Walk outside and smile at 10 strangers

48.)Write a letter to your higher self or your higher power or the Universe…

49.)Slowly inhale  to the count of 5 then exhale  to the count of 5. Do this for 5 minutes.

50.)Let it go.

Coming up Next— how to deal with the things that you actually CAN change, but somehow can’t find the will to.