recovery

I’m Really Impressed by The Blond Vegan

Courtesy of www.theblondevegan.com

Courtesy of www.theblondevegan.com

If you’ve been following eating disorder news or blogosphere foodies at all, you know the story about the blond vegan. If you don’t, I’ll give you a quick recap. A young woman, Jordan Younger, who has been a prolific instagrammer and blogger had spent a year photographing her beautiful vegan meals, her exercise feats, and her shopping trips.  Her photographs and eating became an obsession. Not just for her, but for her 70,000 instagram followers. Ms. Younger then began to get ill. She lost her period, became fatigued and her skin dried up. She then came to the conclusion that she had an eating disorder and despite the fact that she had close to 100k followers, decided to work on letting go on her obsessions and let go of Veganism. Holy fuck that’s brave.

 

The symptoms that are described are very typical of of anorexia.  Ms. Younger discusses having orthorexia, which is basically the obsession with healthy eating.

Her story is very close to my heart. As I describe in my book, I too was a vegan– for many, many years. My mother and I were both vegetarian from the time that I was 10 years old and then we became vegan when I was 20. My mom remained mostly vegan until she passed away when I was 28. It was then that I chose to begin  integrating new foods.  Were we orthorexic?  Mom was, I was more about trying to reject a whole bunch of foods in order to control my eating. I mean, I was smoking and drinking diet coke like it was going out of style. So, I probably wasn’t vegan for health or environmentally responsible reasons. But, having been a vegetarian/vegan for almost my whole life, 18 years, it was very difficult for me to change. It was my identity- both to myself and to others. I was pained about what I believed was contributing to the suffering of animals, I was depressed about wondering who I was.  But you know what, I wasn’t what my eating dictated I was. That wasn’t my identity. And that’s the problem with eating disorders, isn’t it? They become your identity to you. If you are anorexic this is who you believe you are. And everyone knows you as “tiny,” and you want to be that. You don’t want to change who you are to people. If you are bulimic- you have this secret identity, this huge secret that is so hard to let go of because what would you have when you were alone without your binges/purges?    It’s interesting how we allow the way we eat to give us identity and shape the way people see us. I mean, look at Gwenyth Paltrow and her whole Goop cult.  People become obsessed with the way they eat and then other people become obsessed with the way they eat.

Your identity isn’t what you eat or how you eat and it’s none of anyone else’s business.  Which is why I’m so impressed by Ms. Younger’s bravery.  She not only had to make a decision to change her eating to save her health (which is rough) she had to do it to a hundred thousand followers- people watching her and looking to her for guidance on how to be healthy. She did a great thing by admitting to all those people that she was not balanced. I think she will help many, many people who think that they have to be perfect. She made it alright to let go of an eating disorder.

Jordan, if you read this, I want you to know that I think you are so awesome. You have totally gotten the word out there that recovery is okay and possible. You sent an amazing message. You have done a great thing for the eating disorder recovery community. I’m so impressed! And I know that recovery is difficult, and changing and letting go of obsessions is extremely difficult. I hope that you have a great supportive community to support you through this transition.

Is it Possible to Recover From Binge Eating Disorder on Your Own?

Overeaters Anonymous Support Groups

Overeaters Anonymous Support Groups

I received an email from a woman who is currently reading my book and she asked me the question, “do you think it’s possible to reach recovery on my own?”

It’s a really good question and one that I thought should be discussed in more depth on the blog. I know what the reader means by that, she means is it possible to stop binge eating without dealing with a therapist or a twelve step group, can I just read a book and recover. The simple answer is yes of course. In fact, when you read the rational recovery material, they discuss how every day, active alcoholics put down their drinks and make a choice never to drink again and they don’t. Many people who smoke cigarettes  quit cold turkey and never pick up the habit again. So yes, it’s certainly possible. In fact, one would argue that everyone recovers on their own- by their own will and with their own strength.

But you don’t have to. And that’s what you should know. Just because you can recover alone, doesn’t mean that you have to recover alone. Eating disorders thrive in isolation. You do your eating disorder all alone, so when you recover, it’s nice to get out of the shadows of the disorder and have someone their to hold your hand, support you and be there if you need extra support. My friend and colleague Nicole Laby (producer of Erasing Ed, which you should totally see if you can) always says, “eating disorders don’t form in a vacuum and so you shouldn’t have to recover in a vacuum.” What she means by that is that there are a million varying factors that come together to make an eating disorder. There is family, there is society, there are your friends at school, there are traumatic events, there are food manufacturers creating and marketing unhealthy substances that we seem to feel addicted to and use like drugs, all these things come together as a perfect little recipe for a dysfunctional relationship with food. Awesome. So because of this, it is often very comforting to have people around you who are on your side instead of on the eating disorder’s side. These are folks who understand what you are going through and who have been there themselves and want to help you and need support too.

I wrote Reclaiming Yourself to be like a pocket therapist for people who didn’t have the means for psychotherapy. However, in the book, I do suggest finding your own support network, be it a best friend or an online network, or a group. It doesn’t need to be a 12 step group, it can be a group of people you form yourself to just give each other love and support around not bingeing.  When you recover all by yourself, you miss out on the accolades and the love that you get from other people who are supporting you. When you recover with support, if you should fall down, you always have someone there with an outreached arm to hold your hand and perhaps pull you up rather than you being left to climb up and out on your own.  That being said, there is more than one way to recover. You have to find your recovery style and choose what works for you.  I recommend trying several different things, 12 step groups, rational recovery groups (SMART recovery), online support groups, blogs, tumblrs, meditation and mindfulness groups,  whatever. There are a billion ways to find help. Or try it alone and see how it goes. You don’t have to make a decision and then stick to it, experiment and figure out what works for you.

What worked best in your recovery?

How to Raise Your Self Esteem

how to raise your self esteemI always explain to my clients that raising  or gaining your self esteem isn’t about harnessing some unknown force or creating something that doesn’t exist or gaining something new– rather than gaining something new, it’s about letting go of something old– old messages that tell you that you’re not okay, that you have to be better than you are, that there is something wrong with you. Self esteem is about being kind to yourself, accepting and loving yourself even if you’re not perfect. It’s about going toward greatness and allowing yourself to evolve, but loving yourself in that process. It’s about holding yourself with integrity to the best of your ability, always being kind, thoughtful, compassionate and loving to the people around you and to yourself.  So, when you hear the voices telling you that you’re not okay, telling those voices that there is no room for them or that you don’t have to engage with those thoughts as you strengthen those that serve you.

In 1994, Nathanial Branden wrote The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem which is considered the definitive work on Self-Esteem. Branden believes that to have self esteem, you need both self-efficacy and self- respect. Having self-efficacy is the knowledge that you have everything inside of you that you need to survive no matter what. Self-respect is being aligned with your values and knowing that because you are, you deserve to be loved, respected and cared for and to be happy no matter what.

When you have self-efficacy, you’re not afraid of being alone, you’re not afraid of being left because you know that you have everything that you need inside of you to survive. You have confidence in your own abilities to navigate life rather than fear of being in the world. When you have self respect, you know what your values are (for me they are always being kind and treating everyone around me with respect and compassion and consideration, not gossiping or spreading rumors, not judging or criticizing and living with integrity) and you do your best to live in alignment with those values. When you live a life aligned with your values, you feel better about yourself and being in the world.

Branden identifies six philosophies that he believes are integral to living with self esteem. They are: living consciously, being self accepting, taking responsibility for oneself, being assertive, living with purpose and holding strong personal integrity

Living Consciously  is about being aware of your body, being aware of your choices, your environment, being mindful or your choices, your enviornment, your bodily sensations, your thoughts, your actions and your fears.

Those who have eating disorders don’t live consciously. They either binge or starve themselves, they don’t honor their appetites, they hate their bodies because they believe that there is something wrong with them. They completely reject themselves.

Check out guided visualizations on eating mindfully and loving your body and letting go of negative body image.

Being Self Accepting: When you accept yourself, you stop trying to be someone else, you embrace your strengths. Rather than comparing what you don’t have to what other people do have, you celebrate and strengthen what you do have. Check out these great tips on being self accepting. 

Taking Responsibility for Yourself: This is about not blaming other people for choices you made. Understanding that you have power and that you are not stuck and that just because you made a bad choice, you are not stuck in it because you have the power to constantly be rethinking and recreating your life.

Being Self Assertive: When you are self assertive, you stand up for yourself. You always treat other people with respect and you do not allow other people to talk down to you or to treat you poorly. If you have a boss, for instance who is verbally abusing you or yelling at you, it’s okay to look at them and say, “it’s not okay to talk to me that way.” It’s about standing up for others who might not have the ability to voice their own needs.

Living with Purpose: 

When you live with purpose, you take care of yourself, but your main purpose in life isn’t about getting thin or getting pretty or making money or trying to impress or look good to other people. It’s about having goals that feel purposeful, meaningful to you.

Having Strong Personal Integrity: 

What is it to live with integrity? In my opinion, it’s to be as honest as you can without being hurtful. Being honest doesn’t mean telling someone that they look fat in their new dress or that they’re acting like a jerk. That’s not honest, that’s your subjective opinion. Being honest is more like telling someone that your feelings were hurt when they didn’t answer your phone calls or respond to your messages. Being honest is not stealing, not lying, not purposely saying things to hurt people, not spreading hurtful rumors, and not using other people to achieve your own means. It’s about being kind, being helpful, but also not sacrificing yourself or your own needs for the sake of others. Personal integrity is about knowing what your values are trying to live up to them. What are your values? When you identify your values and do your best to live up to them, you will always know that you are okay and you won’t have to worry about what other people think about you.

For more help on improving self esteem, check out some of Nathaniel Branden’s sentence completion exercises.

Try this guided meditation download to help you to let go of those old non-serving thoughts and bring in higher more function feelings about yourself.

How To Recover From A Binge

How do i recover from a binge? How long will it take me to recover from three days of binge eating? How do I start over after a binge?

These questions come usually as someone begins to “wake up” and find that they’ve been in a day long (sometimes weeks long) binge coma.  Sometimes it can be as serious as spending days alone in your flat, bingeing or bingeing &  purging and not getting out of bed to do anything besides eat, use the bathroom or pick up food. Other times it can be a solitary binge one evening or one afternoon.

How to Recover from a Binge

  • Forgive yourself. Usually, if you are bingeing, it means that there is something going on for your emotionally. Beating yourself up is the last thing that you need at this point. Be kind to yourself. Know that you can’t go backwards, but you can go forward and learn from the binge.
  • The rule of thumb is to try and stop as soon as you can. If you realize that you are bingeing in the morning, this doesn’t mean that the whole day is shot. You still have the whole day to to recover. Try to step away from the food and get outside and walk around the block, breath, relax, call a friend.
  • Don’t try to compensate for the binge (ie: don’t vomit, don’t try to exercise the amount of calories that you think you ate, don’t starve yourself). This will set up a cycle of bingeing and compensating. The goal is to end that cycle of craziness immediately, or else it will continue. The other side of the binge is the compensation and the other side of the compensation is the binge. They go hand in hand. You can’t go backward you can only go forward. Trying to go backward will hurt you.

The morning after a binge:

  • Drink a Glass of Water with some lemon squeezed into it and maybe a few slices of cucumber if you can stomach it.
  • Don’t weigh yourself– you are probably retaining water from salt and overeating. Weighing yourself won’t give you an accurate measure of your weight and will probably agitate you.
  • If you are not hungry, drink some tea, preferably something soothing to your stomach, like chamomile or ginger or peppermint.  You might be nauseated or uncomfortable. Give your body some time to recover. Make sure to be gentle with it. However, don’t wait too long to eat. You don’t want to swing the pendulum to starved. If you are not hungry by lunch time, eat something light like some broth, or miso soup or vegetable juice, or fruit and a bit of protein (such as an egg or a chicken breast).
  • If you are hungry, drink some tea and prepare yourself a proper breakfast with fruit or oatmeal and some protein. It’s important to prepare yourself a nice breakfast and to make it appetizing and lovingly for yourself. Set the table, eat off of nice plates, and put on relaxing music. This is so if you are tempted to continue your binge, you might find that a mindful and quiet breakfast helps you to reset.
  • After eating breakfast, leave your home immediately so that you are not tempted to continue your binge.  Continue to drink water and herbal tea throughout the day to help your body process the extra food. But don’t drink too much, you don’t want to feel too full and have that trigger a binge. Just sip slowly and try to pay attention to what your body wants.
  • Don’t wait too long for your next meal. Check in with your body and when it is beginning to feel hungry, but before you are feeling too hungry, try to sit down and feed it leafy greens, protein, and some fat such as olive oil and cheese or nuts. Try to make sure that you are eating unprocessed whole foods.
  • Make sure that you get a good nights sleep. The next morning you will feel much better and in a few days your body will feel back to normal. Try to stick with this binge detox for at least three days to really let go of the binge and get back on course with your recovery.

How Long Does it Take to Recover from a Major Binge?

It can take anywhere from a few hours to several days. There is no set rule on this. If it was an isolated binge, usually, after a day of reclaiming yourself, you will begin to feel better both physically and emotionally. If it was a weekend of bingeing (friday through sunday), you will begin to feel better by Wednesday if you start taking care of yourself on Monday.

Food can affect your body for body for three days, that’s how long it takes for some food allergies to show up. So, you should be feeling much better by 72 hours after your binge.

31 Easy Ways to be Happy Right Now

how to be happy1. Practice kindness in every aspect of your life. While you’re driving,  wave someone through who is waiting to get out of a parking lot into the road. Give your leftovers to someone who is hungry.

2. Do simple things to make yourself feel nurtured. File and clean your nails– maybe even get a manicure or pedicure. Take a nap,  clean your sheets and make your bed, shower, wash and condition your hair, shave, and let yourself relax.

3. Face your finances and deal with your debt. Look at how much you owe and how much you have. Make a plan to pay off your debt. It will just make you feel better.

4. Take a long, quiet walk in nature. Being in nature is good for your mind, body and spirit. 

5. Sit down and drink a hot cup of tea. 

6. Rent a funny movie and laugh a lot. 

7. Smile at 10 random people. You will instantly feel bright and joyous and full of love when you infuse good into the world and it will integrate it into your own psyche.

8. If you don’t feel like smiling, force it.  The activation of the muscles used to create a smile actually decrease stress in increase feelings of well-being.

9. Express gratitude.  One of the great tragedies of our psyches is that it is so difficult to appreciate what we have one we are wanting more. It’s important  to want more, but the way to really find happiness is to appreciate and love and be grateful for what you have. Don’t let yourself believe that you’ll be happy when… Be happy now. Be grateful now. Don’t allow your happiness to be held hostage by future events that may or may not happen. Make a list, even in your mind, of all the things you’re grateful for.

10.  Try self-hypnosis to bring joy into your world. This works because your world is created  by the thoughts you think.

11. Spend time with your pet. Being around animals and caring for them make humans happier. 

12. Pray to whatever deity you believe in, even if it’s your own higher self.

13. Jump up and down for 60 seconds. Your endorphins will release and you will feel good!

14. Put music on and dance like crazy. Even if  you think you can’t dance, just dance. My toddler loves to shake his head back and forth to any rhythm and it makes him deliriously happy.

15. Talk to the dead. Just get into a quiet mood and begin talking either out loud or in your head to someone you miss. Having conversations in your head with people who have passed away can be incredibly healing.

16. Compliment someone. Tell someone how beautiful they are, or what a good job they’re doing or how much you appreciate them. It will bring joy to their world and make you happy too.

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

18. Drink a glass of water. Mild dehydration can cause a bad mood and pessimism.

19. Stretch your legs, roll your ankles, your wrists, roll your neck, get your body into a comfortable position. Stretching makes you happy!

20. Play in the dirt!  Gardening can make you feel happy. Mycobacterium, which occurs naturally in soil, has the same effect on your brain as anti-depressant medications.

21. Look at old pictures — for a bonus happiness boost, share them with someone you love.

22. Try to do a push up. If you cannot, try again the next day. Within a week, you’ll be able to do a pushup. Do this everyday and by the end of a month, you’ll be doing 5 push ups a day. After a year, you’ll be doing 50 pushups a day. You’ll feel super accomplished, not to mention strong.

23. Sing a song out loud.

24. Have only 20 seconds? Choose one. 

25. Hug someone. Human touch makes us calm, relaxed and peaceful.

26. Take a bath with epson salts. Magnesium relaxes your muscles and helps you have a sense of peacefulness making you happier.

27. Send wishes for the people around you to be happy, kind and compassionate.

28. Let go of people that make you unhappy. You can choose to let go with compassion of friends who feel toxic. It’s okay to do that.

29. Read the Alchemist. I read this book right after my Mom died and it changed my mood immeasurably. It’s an amazing mood lifting book.

30. Floss your teeth!

31. Take a nap. Being well rested is the best way to be happy. Get your sleep in order.

 originally posted at yourtango.com

Friday (Er- I mean Sunday) Q&A- I can’t stop bingeing- No Matter what I try!

can't stop binge eating no matter what I tryAs I said previously, I’m catching up on several months of questions. I’ve got two babies at home (one very new and one a young toddler) and my new book will be released in less than 3 weeks, so that’s been taking up  any second I have that’s not either nursing a baby or chasing a toddler around. And so all of these things together have made it difficult to answer my Friday Q & As very swiftly. That being said, I’ve not forgotten any of you and if your question is in my queue, it will get answered. Please feel free to send anymore questions.
Question:
Hello, my name is Elisa and I believe I suffer from the Binge eating disorder.
All I think about is food. I’ve been trying to diet for a long time now but have failed every time because I always end up binging. It makes me feel very sad and uncomfortable at the end. My family just believes I cannot lose weight and say I go ‘mad’ eating. They think it’s a joke but I see it as a serious problem. I honestly cannot control myself when I binge. It’s like I’m a completely different person. I don’t know what to do. Once I flop once I binge and binge. I’ve tried so much. I have a food diary and also try to motivate myself but I am simply not able to stick to it and control myself. Please help me. Not to be rude but please don’t reply with advising me to go to the hospital and seek some help from there or to forget my diet and just eat healthily because i’ve been trying that for the longest time and even that does not work.
I saw your blog and it’s absolutely amazing. I feel like I’m safe asking you for help. Thank you so much.
By the way, I am a 17 year old female and weigh 60 kg. Plus I haven’t told any of my friends this and don’t want to either.
Answer:
I hear what you are saying Elisa, you feel as though everything that you try fails. That despite your best efforts you keep ending up binge eating. Fortunately, there are many, many, many different ways to recover. And though it’s frustrating, failure always comes before success. Failure and mistakes are what helps you to learn. Every time you do not succeed in recovery, you have the opportunity to try something different- to learn more about yourself and see what does work for you.
I would definitely encourage you to consider giving up dieting again. But this time, rather than trying to avoid the binge, tell yourself that you are going to learn from this binge. So when you start to binge, you are going to do it differently, you are going to stay conscious during your binge. Keep your eyes open. Notice what you are thinking, feeling, try to slow the binge down, really taste the food. Is it satisfying? What feeling are you chasing as you continue to eat? Is it fullness? Comfort? Peace? Anxiety relief? Are you tired? What is driving the binge? As you begin to figure out why you are bingeing and what is driving the binge, you might begin to have some ideas about what you actually need. Maybe you need a nap. Maybe you need to walk outside.  Maybe you are anxious. Did you know that your jaw is the strongest muscle in your body? Some people binge eat because it relieves all that tension that they are holding. Sometimes closing your eyes, breathing deeply and massaging your jaw can stave off a binge. If you don’t want to keep a food diary, why not keep a binge diary instead. Every time you are about to binge, tell yourself that it’s okay, you’re allowed to binge, but first you are going to write in your binge diary. In your binge diary, write down everything that you are feeling, even if your feeling is just, “I want to binge so badly!”  Just stepping away from the binge will interrupt the compulsion, and sometimes, you might find yourself more conscious of what you are needing and feeling. You then might find that you have a choice as to whether or not you want to binge, that you feel as though you are driving the behavior, not that the binge is driving you. When you do decide to binge, make sure to forgive yourself afterward rather than beat yourself up, remind yourself that you are still learning not to binge and how to take care of yourself without food.
As for your family and friends, it could take them a while to get it. You might want to sit down with them and tell them that you believe you have Binge Eating Disorder and that you can’t “just stop” that you need their love and support.   Show them the wikipedia page that explains it. Explain to them that you don’t need them to criticize you but you need them to check in with you. Ask you how are you doing, ask you what you need, ask you how your day is going, and when you binge, ask you what they can do to support you. You might just need a hug!   I understand that you don’t want to tell your friends, but who can you trust? Is their one friend that you can trust? If not, you might want to get some online support. You can go to OA meetings online or on the phone or in person if you can.  Even if you don’t want to talk to your friends, it’s crucial to get support. This will help you to be bigger than the binge. The binge feels too big to beat when you are alone with it, but when you shine the light on the monster, it loses it’s strength.
I hope this has been helpful.
Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location. Are you interested in online therapy to deal with your eating disorder? Please see my website or email me to discuss getting started. 

Q & A Friday- How do I explain my eating disorder to my daughter?

how do talk to my daughter about eating disorders?I know that I have a huge backlog of questions to answer and you’ll forgive me that I pushed this one to the front. I so rarely get parenting questions and I forget how important they really are.
Question:
After many, many years of struggle, I am finally trying to seriously recover from my binge eating disorder.  Your website has given me many important points to take time to think about as I begin.  I do know that I never learned how to deal with feelings of any kind and I binge to numb them away.

My daughter is 11.  As far as I can tell, she (so far) does not care about her appearance beyond being clean. She doesn’t watch herself or her food with a critical eye.

She noticed and asked about my food and feelings journal. I explained that I carry the journal to write down some things to think about later, but that is all.
This leads to my questions: How much should she know about my disorder and recovery?  Should I wait until I am further into recovery instead of at the beginning to discuss it, if at all?

I understand that every child is different and every parent-child relationship is different, so there is no single solution. I guess I am hoping for a bit of guidance from experience on what generally should or should not be shared.

On the one hand, I think it could lead to an important discussion about body image and how NOT to deal with uncomfortable feelings. It could also possibly help us bond further by letting her in to my inner struggles and humanity.  I am her stepmother, but the only mom she has ever known.

On the other hand, I’m worried that I will awaken a critical eye in her just by discussing this. Also, because I don’t know how to deal with feelings myself yet, I won’t have an answer for her about what she SHOULD do when dealing with feelings.

Thank you for any insight you can give me and again, thank you for your resources on the web.
Answer:
I love your question. It’s so insightful and shows that you’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’ve been holding this question and thinking about how to answer it.
Generally speaking, I believe that it’s always important in families to be honest. I also believe it’s important not only to let your children have their own feelings, but to show them that you too have feelings and that you’re not afraid of them. I think it’s important to give children an emotional literacy. To ask them what they are feeling and then to help them contact what feelings they are having. You can give your daughter a feelings list and together you can look it over and discuss what  feelings you might be experiencing in the moment. You might even take it a step further and ponder where in your body you feel specific feelings, for instance, “I am feeling fear in my stomach.” Together, you will learn how to talk about feelings which will create a strong basis for future discussions, openness and honesty.
That being said, I think that your instinct to protect your daughter at this time are probably right. I don’t know that she needs to know details about your eating disorder, your feelings and your recovery at this moment. Especially because they are still eluding you somewhat. It’s important for children to feel safe and held and it’s possible that she might begin to feel like she has to be the mom and she has to take care of you if she begins to worry about you. That does not mean being in denial about what is going on with you. If she asks point blank, be forthcoming. For instance, “Mommy, how come you never used to eat but now you’re eating with us?” you can say, “I was not eating healthy before, but I’m working to be strong and healthy now,” and if she asks you why you weren’t eating healthy, you can tell her that you still don’t know why but you are trying to learn that now by thinking and talking about your feelings, then ask her what she thinks and how she feels about that and what that brings up for her. Make every inquiry from her an opportunity for her to discuss her feelings. And at the same time, it’s important that you do share with her, but don’t share too much. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that pre-teens are younger emotionally than they seem.  What I have seen often in my practice is Moms oversharing with their daughters, making them their confidants, then the girls being parentified daughter. 
In my own family, I  remember my brother trying to control my step-mother’s eating disorder by him refusing to eat. When we sat down to dinner, if she wasn’t eating, he wouldn’t eat and it became a huge fight and was very unpleasant. She never discussed her recovery with us and never really tried to recover. It was definitely very difficult for us to watch. We were both always worried from very young ages.  As your daughter becomes more aware of you and your eating behaviors, I would encourage you to check in with her about her feelings and create an open environment for learning and emotional literacy.   I hope that this was helpful to you. Please do comment and let me know how you’re doing.

 

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. Are you interested in online therapy to deal with your eating disorder? Please see my website or email me to discuss getting started. 

Friday Q & A- Cheat Days Have Turned into Binge Days

binge eating and cheat daysQuestion:

My name is Elizabeth. I am from Australia and have been struggling with binge eating just over 6 months now.
It started when I competed as a Fitness Model- I was on a very restrictive diet and was allowed “cheat meals” once per week- these cheat meals became binges. After my comp the cheat meals/binges became more regular now they are just a way of life. I get stressed out easily and am often alone- my partner works away, I look forward to eating & get enjoyment & a thrill out of it. I can’t go into the city without visiting my favourite chocolate store and that leads me to a binge. I can’t seem to find any help or anywhere that doesn’t cost a fortune! My binging is affecting my self esteem, my career and my relationship.
What should I do to stop this cycle?

Answer:

I want you to begin by looking at semantics here. When we begin to use words such as “cheat” to describe food and what is essentially giving ourselves nourishment and keeping ourselves alive, we begin to think of eating as a game. Eating is not a game and it’s not a competition, it is one of the ways that we stay alive, along with breathing and elimination. Eating and cheating should not be in the same realm. You eat to stay alive, you cheat to gain an advantage over someone dishonestly  or deceptively. So how is eating cheating?

It is not. You are never cheating by eating. You are working to stay alive and ultimately healthy.

 

Given that change in definition, let’s begin to look at how your mind has formed an expectation around your eating. You think that you are only supposed to be eating a certain way, however, you then begin to think of food as a competition, as something you need to get ahead in. That makes sense given the fact that you compete with your body for a living. You then have to “cheat” to get ahead, you believe that have to cheat in order to give yourself appropriate nourishment.  In order to begin healing this, I’d like you to begin to not think of food in terms of cheat foods or safe foods. All foods should be allowed, however, you need to learn to put boundaries on them. So instead of one day a week having a cheat food, telling yourself that you are allowed to have chocolate every single day, but not a binge amount, an appropriate serving. An appropriate serving is 1-2 squares. Tell yourself that you can have one square at lunch and one at dinner, or whatever is deemed appropriate. Your food should be mostly for nourishment and healing, but indulging in foods that are pleasurable is always okay. It is okay to eat for pleasure!   But pleasure and bingeing are two different things. Eating for pleasure is mindful eating. You sit down, you put that piece of chocolate in your mouth and you really taste it. Try a mindful eating meditation. You feel the sensation of the chocolate on your tongue, you let that taste sensation go to your brain. You allow your senses to take it in. You breathe into it. Binge eating would taking that chocolate, shoving it in your mouth, barely tasting it and scavenging for more in attempts to escape feeling a certain way.  Try to reframe your thoughts around food to healing and nurturing and nothing is off limits or cheating. However, there are some foods that would not be nurturing to you. For instance, perhaps things made with  gluten give you a stomach ache. Before you eat something, ask yourself, “is this nurturing or punishing?” then, depending on the answer, decide what you’re going to do. Chocolate might be nurturing in some instances and punishing in others. For instance, if you know that you are going to eat chocolate in an abusive way (ie: binge, then beat yourself up for bingeing) it’s punishing. But you might be able to eat chocolate in a way that is nurturing, (ie: sitting, savoring and enjoying a small amount then walking away from it.)

The way you talk to yourself about food is the first step in healing.  I hope that this was helpful to you. Please do comment and let me know how you’re doing.

 

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. Are you interested in online therapy to deal with your eating disorder? Please see my website or email me to discuss getting started. 

 

Q&A Friday- I want to get pregnant but I can’t stop binge eating

how to stop bingeing

Just a note, I’m working through my backlog of questions. If you’ve emailed me a question and haven’t heard back, please don’t think I’m ignoring you… I’ll get to it! 

Hi,

I have been binge eating for a good 10 years and my weight has fluctuated up and down about 10kgs. I know that might not seem like a lot, but the continuous yo-yo affect is not good physically and emotionally. I cannot pin point what made me start binge eating, but it is definitely an emotional aspect. I do no purge and strangely enough I have an intense fear of vomiting. So I will binge and feel very full to the point I cannot move and it is uncomfortable to lie down and the next day I will be extremely healthy and exercise. The days that I don’t binge are not extreme starvation-I will consume about 1200-1500 calories and on a binge day I can consume over 4000calories, if not more (it’s hard to be honest about that)
I am happily married and I want to start trying to get pregnant so my binging needs to stop. I know it will take a while, but I cannot afford to feel depressed and binge eat when I am pregnant as my baby comes first.

Your help and advise would be so appreciated. I have never seemed advise before because I have been so embarrassed about my disorder, but after doing research I see I am not alone.

Many thanks,
Stephanie

 

Hi Steph,

 

Thank you so much for reaching out, and no you are most certainly not alone or even close to it.

I want to encourage you to reframe your thoughts from trying to lose weight to trying to get healthy. I know that you want your body to be healthy so that you can start your pregnancy from a place of strength.

First of all, it seems like you’re not eating enough calories. You say that the days that you are not bingeing, you are eating 1200-1500 calories a day. That’s not enough. Your body is trying to stabilize by eating more calories those next days. Because you are not giving yourself enough calories on those days, your body goes into fear mode. It fears that it has to “stock up” on calories and then you wind up losing control. What you need to do is stop counting calories and start helping your eating to stabilize.  In order to do that, think about giving your body what it needs every day. Make sure that you are eating three meals each day and giving yourself a protein, a fat and a carbohydrate at every single meal.

That could look something like this:

Breakfast: 2-3 eggs scrambled with cheese and a fruit salad.

Snack: handful of nuts, hummus, carrots, grapes

Lunch: A chunky bowl of beef stew filled with veggies and meat.

Snack: A Lara bar, or some cheese and fruit.

Dinner: A heaping bowl of spinach salad, a yam with butter, a piece of salmon or chicken.

Desert: A bowl of frozen yogurt or ice cream or a fruit salad or something that you enjoy but only one regular sized portion if you can do so without bingeing. A portion of ice cream is 1/2 cup or one scoop. A bowl of fruit is just one soup or salad bowl half filled.

This is just a loose guide of a way to eat that will help you to be eating healthy by getting all of your proper nutrients.  Making sure to eat three healthy meals each day will be stabilizing both emotionally and nutritionally. You will feel more solid.  If that seems overwhelming to you, vow to try this just for a week. Three meals a day plus a snack for just seven days. If you mess up one day, you can just start again the very next day.   I think you might find that one week of steady eating will help you feel more stable.

That being said, you don’t have to be perfect to get pregnant. As long as you are working on it you’ll be fine.

You’re right that it’s important to address the emotional aspects of binge eating as well. You might try to take a 15-60 minute walk each day, just outside by yourself. While you’re walking just allow yourself to slow down and process. Think about your day, think about your thoughts, think about your feelings. Talk to your higher power if you have one (or to yourself, your wise mind, or someone you know who has passed away, or someone alive whom you admire). I also think that setting up some time to talk to a therapist is always helpful to sort through whatever is going on for you emotionally.

I hope that I’ve answered your question and that you’ve found some pieces of help in this post. Happy Holidays to you Steph.

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. Are you interested in online therapy to deal with your eating disorder? Please see my website or email me to discuss getting started. 

Friday Q & A- I feel that food is overpowering my life

don't let food be your evil dictator

don’t let food be your evil dictator

Question:

Hi,

I stumbled upon your website and figured I’d shoot you an email. I’m 24, and my relationship with food is absolutely horrific. I find that for several months I can stick to an eating plan (such as weight watchers) get down to a normal weight for myself, become incredibly happy, until I fall into a hole again. It’s as if I have no consistency with the presence of this disorder. I have been out of control again since August and have gained 20 pounds or so. Nothing fits me, I’m miserable, and mostly prefer to hide in shame. I can’t stick to an eating plan even for a day. I don’t ever remember feeling this helpless with my food issues. Usually I can kick myself in the butt and start making changes, but they never -ever last. My weight has fluctuated my entire life and I simply cannot be happy at this weight. It’s seriously concerning me that I can’t even seem to stick to something like counting calories or Weight Watchers even for a day at this point.

Several months ago I was seeing a therapist, who was treating me for OCD with medication. I have since, under her suggestion stopped the medication because I was experiencing terrible side effects. I haven’t met with her in some months because I can’t afford the sessions right now, and I would really love to learn how to handle this on my own -without medication. I have considered attending an OA meeting for some support because I just don’t know what to do.

I wake up every morning fearing what my food choices will be. It seriously controls my entire life. Right now as I’m typing this email to you I’m wondering what I have in my house. I’m aware of what drives me to overeat, it’s stopping it and making a habit of intervening -a habit to last a lifetime, that out of 24 years I can’t seem to make happen.

What can I do?

Thank you,

Kate

 

Answer:

Kate,  Thank you so much for your question. You put so much feeling and honesty into your question and I can really hear how much you are struggling. I’m sorry that you were not able to manage your OCD behaviors with medication and that there were so many side effects. That can be disappointing- when you think you’ve found an answer and it backfires.

You didn’t talk very much about your OCD and how it manifests, but I suspect that Overeaters Anonymous  might be a good place for you to land and settle in. Because they are a very structured group, and because OCD symptoms tend to do well with structure, I imagine it would be very helpful. This is why, it seems as though a group like weight watchers has been helpful for you in the past. However, weight watchers is a group that helps people who have difficulty understanding the right amount of calories in and calories out.  Given  your history with food, I imagine that you’re not much less of a Phd in calories, carbs and fat. Women who have struggled with their weight and with food issues for a long time don’t need to learn about how to lose weight. They know.

If you cannot afford individual therapy, I’d recommend group therapy in addition to OA in order to have people to talk to about what you’re going through. Having a group process and talking to other women about your issues can be helpful. Check out ANAD for free therapy groups as well as EDReferral for other therapy groups.

I also think that given your symptoms, you might be a great candidate for learning intuitive eating. Try to ritualize stopping before you eat anything, taking a breath and checking in with your body. Figure out whether or not you are hungry. If you are, check in with your body and ask what it needs, then, when you are ready, eat something, but eat it slowly. Taste every morsel, notice the texture, the taste, the way it feels in your mouth. Take breaths in between bites.  Check out this post on intuitive eating which explains it in more depth. Get some support from the intuitive eating community. You might also download a hypnotherapy session on how to stop dieting and start eating intuitively. 

 

Thank you for sending your question in and I hope that this was helpful.

 

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. Are you interested in online therapy to deal with your eating disorder? Please see my website or email me to discuss getting started.