emotions

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. 

How about Sexy Einstein for Halloween This Year?

Halloween is challenging for people with eating issues for the obvious reasons- all the candy and partying everywhere. But there is also the fact that for many women, Halloween is a time to put on their sexiest outfits and throw on some horns and be a “sexy devil,” or a “sexy cat,” or a “sexy cop” or a “sexy cheerleader,” or a “dead hooker,” or a “slutty nun,” or something else provocative. My own personal belief is that Halloween is a great time for people to embrace their shadows, and have fun with their sexuality within the safe containment  of the holiday.  However, this can also be incredibly challenging for many women. It’s a time when some women feel more free with their bodies and displaying more skin and some women begin to compare themselves and feel badly about themselves. Although many women with food and body image issues tend to make unfair comparisons between  themselves and other women, Halloween can create a scenario where the comparative thinking is extremely magnified.

Here are some tips for dealing with the feelings that might come up around that Catholic schoolgirl.

  • Find a Halloween costume that you love and that is fun and you feel comfortable in.
  • If you notice that you are comparing yourself to someone else, tell yourself to stop immediately and to just not go there. Just because someone looks good, doesn’t mean that you look bad. This is called compare & despair. You compare yourself to someone else and you immediately then beat yourself up. Remember that you are great, even if someone else is great too.
  • If you notice that someone’s outfit is triggering you, don’t berate them, even silently to yourself. That will create anger or resentment inside. Men aren’t the only ones who are capable of objectifying women. Sometimes women will label other women “sluts”  or “whores” if their appearance triggers comparative thinking or insecurity.  It might be good to talk to them and see that they are human, not someone to be objectified or degraded. They might be just as intimidated by you and your appearance. If this is someone who you’d rather not talk to, simply avoid them. Don’t let their outfit affect your good time.
  • If it’s too hard this year, don’t go out, or just invite some safe people over for pumpkin carving and hanging out. It’s okay to take care of yourself by avoiding a situation that can be potentially harmful.

Have Fun and Be Safe! Happy Halloween!

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. 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.

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.

10 Ways to Get a Healthy Body Now

10 ways to get a healthy body1. Eat mostly minimally processed and whole foods. This means choosing to actually eat a piece of chicken and broccoli that you get from the store rather than picking up a chicken and broccoli Lean Cuisine and having it pass for dinner. You want your food to have as few ingredients as possible. A steak is healthier than a 100 calorie snack pack. A baked potato is healthier than a slice of low fat  processed American cheese. You get what I’m saying. Try to keep it as simple as possible. It’s actually easier and will improve your health a million-fold. Check out these articles on the benefits of eating whole foods.

2. Don’t obsess about it.  So, eat processed foods most of the time, but say if a bag of cheez-its should pass your lips, you’re not going to ruin it all. You don’t have to binge on processed foods all day long and then vow to only eat apples and broccoli and chicken for the rest of your life. You’ve set up a baseline of healthy with eating mostly whole foods. So if you can eat healthy most of the time, you can have a little bit of the not so healthy every so often. It’s okay. It’s fine in fact. This is the way I suggest working it. When you see something that you really want, allow yourself to have it. But, first, go for the whole unprocessed so that you know you’re giving your body something healthy. Like if there is a choice between a fruit salad and a piece of (unhomemade/supermarket bought) cake, opt for both, but eat the fruit salad first, then eat the cake. You get your healthy food in, you don’t forgo one for the other. There’s no deprivation there and you are letting yourself eat for both health and enjoyment.  When you give yourself the healthy food first, there is also less opportunity for bingeing because you’re hungry or depriving yourself.  I differentiate between a piece of supermarket bought cake because I really believe that I homemade cake is healthier. There is less likely to be lots of artificial ingredients and preservatives and more love and whole ingredients added.

Obsessing about eating whole foods is just another diet. You don’t want that. You want to eat for health and for enjoyment — it’s okay to eat for enjoyment!  Obsessing will also set you up for failure. Think of eating whole foods as your way of nurturing yourself, not punishing.

3. Exercise with love- Forget about reading about the best ways to lose weight or how to get a ripped physique and think of exercise as something to bring you pleasure and to help you destress. If you like to run, then run. If you like to swim, then swim. If power lifting is your thing, more power to you.  If you like to take long leisurely strolls, then do that. If  you love yoga, do yoga.  If dance classes bring you joy, do that. You don’t have to exercise hard, you just have to get out and move several times a week. And seriously, you don’t have to power through your exercise, moving can be slow.  It can be a nice walk through the park with a friend or pushing a stroller or listening to a podcast or book on tape. Think of exercise as quality time with yourself rather than something you have to do. If you can exercise outside and get a little vitamin D grade sunshine, it’s a bonus.

4. Sleep at night. - Seriously get your sleep in order.

One of the ways to begin to encourage good health into your life is to start with your sleep.  Sleep and mood go together. When your sleep is off, your mood is off. When your mood is off and your sleep is off, your immune system is compromised and your emotional stability is off. You then become more susceptible to colds, flu, disease, as well as anxiety, depression, and car accidents. Sleeping too much or too little sleep can both be hazardous to your health. Healthy adults need 7-8 hours each night. My husband, who lived for years with chronic insomnia was helped greatly by this book.

Make your bed a welcoming place.   Go out and buy a nice, comfortable set of sheets and a new comforter and lots of fluffy pillows. Make your bed someplace that is inviting and luxurious. If you can’t afford new sheets right now, wash your current sheets and bedding and fluff it up, spray it with some lavender and try to give it a little bit of new life. At night, an hour before you think you should go to sleep, get into bed. Let’s say you want to be asleep at 11, get into bed at 10. Don’t turn your TV on, don’t bring your computer into bed with you. Bring a book, or a magazine, or your iPod. Listen to some relaxing music with your eyes closed or listen to a guided visualization, and just begin to let yourself relax. This isn’t about sleep, this is about relaxing your body. Sleep is a natural biological process that your body can do once you begin to relax your body and your mind. You might also want to get into the bath about 90 minutes before you want to be asleep. A hot bath with Epson Salts is a great way to relax your muscles and calm your mind and warm your body up for sleep. Try to think of a nice bedtime routine that you can do every night that will help you fall into a restful sleep. You might draw for 1/2 hour before you get into bed, you might bathe, you might write in your journal, but find something that works for you and do it nightly.

If you find that sleep is impossible, there are lots of natural sleep solutions such as taking extra magnesium supplements at night or checking out herbal sleep aids out there such as valerian, chamomile and skullcap as well as amino acids like 5-HTP and L-Tryptophan or a synthetic hormone of melatonin. Definitely ask your doctor or Naturopath about supplementation for help with sleep before you take anything. There are also over the counter solutions as well as prescription solutions that your doctor can help you sort through. There’s no shame in finding something to help you sleep. Being sleep deprived leads to poor decision making, especially around food choices. It also leaves you looking for more energy and many people use caffeine and sugar to achieve this.

5. Floss Your Teeth- Did you know that having good oral hygiene is a way to keep your heart healthy? Gum-disease-causing bacteria can contribute to cardiovascular disease. This may work through inflammation; people with more gum disease bacteria also had more white blood cells circulating in their blood because white blood cells are part of the body’s response to infection.  So floss daily!

6. Hug Someone-Believe it or not, hugs can reduce stress. Hug your Mom, your Dad, your Rabbi, your Pastor, your Son or Daughter, even hug your dog or you cat. Human love, compassion, and touch can be so healing.  In fact, A University of Virginia neuroscientist has found that women under stress who hold their husbands’ hands show signs of immediate relief, which can clearly be seen on their brain scans.

7. Stop drinking, or cut down dramatically if you are drinking daily-  I’m sorry to report that drinking alcohol daily dramatically increases your risk for cancer.  A new study shows that even as little as 1 drink per day increases your risk for breast cancer, mouth and throat cancers and stomach cancers. I wasn’t super surprised to hear this. I have a close friend who is an oncology nurse, who told me that what she often sees on people’s assessment forms is that they drink excessively. She said that it’s the one thing that is confirmed to her over and over and over again, that alcohol use and cancer have a very strong correlation.  Sorry folks. If you’re trying to quit drinking, I highly suggest checking out an AA meeting or a Smart Recovery. You might even try hypnosis to help you stop drinking.

8. Take a vitamin D3 supplement- We are super vitamin D deficient. If you don’t want to take something without getting first checked, ask your doctor to run a lab to check your level. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to infertility, breast cancer, depression, colon cancer, anxiety, heart disease, obesity, recurrent miscarriage, and all sorts of other crappy things. Studies also show that folks who have higher vitamin D levels have lower risk of disease in general and better immune function.  However, the best way to integrate Vitamin D is with sunshine, so get out into the sun and soak up some vitamin D. Mushrooms are also a great source of vitamin D, so don’t be shy about your fungi.

9.Have Lots of Sex- You will be happier, calmer, you will sleep better and you will reduce your risk of heart disease, depression and anxiety. Now, if you don’t have a partner, going out and having sex with strangers probably won’t improve your health (or self esteem). However, there are proven benefits to having a healthy sexual relationship with yourself! 

10. Drink Honey and Cinnamon- Each morning, make a mixture of raw honey and organic cinnamon in a cup of warm water and drink it down for good health. This has long been a folk remedy that claims you can lose weight, decrease insomnia, fight anxiety, ward off cancer and heart disease and keep your skin clear and supple.  Is it true? Maybe a little. Snopes says sort of true.  But, it’s a pleasant morning drink if anything. If you see an improvement in whatever ails you in a few weeks, great, if not, stop drinking 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 Squash your Inner Critic

  You know those voices that pop into your head and tell you that you’re fat, that you need to lose weight, that you’ve eaten too much, that you’re ugly, stupid, boring, or whatever?  A lot of people with eating issues suffer with these voices. They hear them and believe that the voices are right. They get sucked into them.

But you don’t have to engage with those voices. When you hear them, rather than listening to them and believing them and doing whatever you can to change yourself so those voices won’t pick on you quite so much, you can turn to them and just say, “there’s no room for you right now, I hear you, but I’m not going to listen to you. I’m choosing not to engage with your mean words.” Just because you hear these things, doesn’t mean it’s true.  The truth is totally subjective and you can choose your own truth. That truth might be, “You are perfect, whole, and complete, just the way you are.”

These “voices” so to speak is the voice of your eating disorder, or your super-ego, or your inner critic. You might not be able to shut it off, but you can choose not to listen to it or not to let it control you. You can choose to tell it that you are not making space for it right now. You can choose to create a different voice that helps you to feel better about yourself.

What are some things that you do to disengage with the critical  inner voice?

 

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.

Taking Care of Your Inner Child

 

Your eating disorder might feel like a tyrannical dictator, telling you what to eat, what not to eat, pushing you to give in to obsessive cravings, pushing you to purge, pushing you to starve or restrict, but for many  people, that voice is actually a scared little girl (or boy) living inside of you, dressed in adult clothing, trying desperately to get their needs met.

Often, in eating disorders, there is a child inside of you who didn’t get his or her needs met when they were little, perhaps she or he was ignored, or yelled at or abused, perhaps kids at school were mean to him or her, or perhaps she or he was part of a very large family where it was hard to get the attention he or she craved.

What did you desperately need, that you didn’t receive enough of when you were a child?

What helped you then? Was it food? Did you ever use food to make yourself feel better when you were lonely or picked on or ignored? Or did you get attention for not eating? Did you get attention for being the best athlete or the skinniest?  Did putting on weight give you attention?  Did your parents give you food to keep you happy when you weren’t getting enough attention from them or when they didn’t have time to give you what you what you needed?

This can be variable for everyone. But the most important thing is to think about that child who still lives inside of you and desperately needs something from you. Now think about what you would actually give a child who was needy right now. Would you give her a piece of cake if she was sad? Would you tell him to shut up and toughen up and stop crying? Would you sit with her and hold her and give her the attention that she needs? Try to give your child self what he needs. Try to send some compassion to the part of you that feels very angry and mean, but is just trying desperately to get her needs met.

Think about what you needed as a child but you didn’t get. How can you give it to yourself?

Isolation in Eating Disorders

Isolation and eating disorders go together for many reasons. Often people find themselves avoiding situations where food will be involved because they are either afraid of overeating or they don’t want deal with the questions or the looks if they are restricting.  People also find that they begin pushing away friends, family, and partners in order to spend more time with their ED behaviors. Some  women or men  prefer to spend the night alone or away from their boyfriend or girlfriend in order to spend the night bingeing. Some will prioritize gym time at the expense of loved ones. Many bow out of social obligations because they are not comfortable with their bodies and are afraid that they will be judged.

Reaching out is a huge part of recovery. This doesn’t necessarily mean going to an eating disorder recovery group or a support group or 12 step group, although these things can be very important for recovery.  This can be as simple as reaching out to friends, parents, family members or even people who you don’t know very well, who you can just be social with. Being out in the world rather than being alone with your disorder is one of the great ways to find recovery. Connection with people – even when you feel imperfect, even when you’d rather be at home bingeing or running on the treadmill or avoiding food and people- can help you heal. We are interdependent beings. You don’t even have to talk about your feelings or what you’re going through, just being with people who you enjoy, just having contact with others and getting out of the isolation trap is a giant step toward freedom from your addiction.

Next time you have the urge to isolate, try to reach out and spend some time with a friend, or a family member, or even a neighbor or someone you don’t know very well. You can even do volunteer work at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter, or a community garden. Anything that gets you out and close to other humans can be healing.

How Shame Contributes to Eating Disorders and Eating Disorders Contribute to Shame

Do you ever feel shame?

Shame for eating too much, shame for eating too little, shame for the way you look, shame for the body you’re in, shame for the things you do, for the thoughts that you have, shame for lying about what you ate, shame for eating out of the garbage can, shame for stealing food, shame for drinking too much, shame for taking risks, shame for flirting, for being rejected, shame for not being good enough, shame for being too good, shame for being too proud, shame for your size, shame for your shape, shame for your job, shame for how much or how little money you make, shame for where or where you didn’t go to school,  shame for your parents, your husband, your wife, your friends, the people you associate with, your home, your judgements, your fears, your sleep patterns, your sex acts or masturbation habits, your messiness, your car, your furniture, do you ever feel shame simply because of who you are?

Renowned shame researcher Brene’ Brown defines shame as “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.”  Because we are human, we want to feel loved for who we are, not for what we do or how we look, yet, somehow, at some point, many of us lose that sense, that we should be loved unconditionally and spend the rest of our lives trying to deem ourselves worthy of love. And for many, the task seems so momentous, that they give up. They believe that they are not worthy of love and figure “why try?”  Well the good news is, you are worthy of love whether you try or not. You are worthy of love if you’re fat or if your skinny, if you’re binge eating or if you’re purging or if you’re using drugs or drinking, or having sex with the wrong people, you’re still worthy of love. You don’t have to do anything to be valuable as a human being.

Yet, so many of us don’t believe that. Shame is a huge contributor to binge eating disorder. We believe that we are so damaged and so broken that we have to fix ourselves.  One of the ways that people try to fix themselves is by losing weight and becoming thin, they believe that if they are thin, they will be impervious to criticism by self and others. However, dieting can become binge eating, which then creates shame, which creates diet, which creates bingeing which creates shame.

Shame + Diet = Binge = Shame. People diet to get rid of shame. It’s almost as though they believe that they can sweat it away or starve it away.

But you can’t get rid of shame by trying to fix yourself.

Fixing yourself because you believe you are broken is very different than self growth and evolution and working to become healthy because you love yourself.  Fixing yourself because you are broken is a task of Sisyphean proportions because you will never be fixed. Mostly because you were never broken. You just thought you were, and you will continue to think you are until you find the antidote to shame, which is acceptance.

Because you believe that you are broken, there’s a part of you who tries to destroy yourself. How many times have you seen people reinvent themselves, “that was the old me, this is the new me!” (Ala Kirstie Alley- over and over and over again).

You’re always you. It’s okay, it’s necessary even to improve and change, but that happens naturally through the course of life experience, self growth, holding integrity and finding yourself. One of the wonderful parts about finding yourself is when you stop trying to fit into a mold that you think you’re supposed to be, you find that the person underneath is truly wonderful. Maybe the things that you do are not wonderful. Maybe the habits that you have are bad, or even shameful. But who you are and what you do are not one in the same. As you begin to accept who you are, you stop trying to destroy that person with bingeing, starvation, purging, excessive dieting, compulsive exercise, abusive self talk, promiscuity,  or other self harming behaviors that have the underlying intention of making you more acceptable.

So how do you accept yourself and find some freedom from shame?  That’s not a simple question.

  • One of the ways is through radical acceptance. Not necessarily liking the things to do, the habits you have, the things you say, the mistakes you make, the feelings you have, but accepting them without judgment.
  • Dr. Brene Brown talks about healing shame through connection and empathy. Having the courage  to share your stories, your mistakes, places where you messed up with someone who will listen and empathize, and also being able to hear others’ stories with empathy and without judgement or criticism. A great place for this is group therapy or 12 step groups.
  • Having integrity. Thinking about what traits you respect in other people and applying them to yourself. Traits aren’t eating carrot sticks instead of pizza. Those are habits. Traits are kindness, compassion, consideration.  Think about who you would want to have as a  best friend and be that person to yourself.  So often I see people come in who have best friends who they consider to be bitches. They hate their best friends. Yet somehow, they keep them around because they want to be like them, “she’s pretty, thin, rich, popular…” etc. They aspire to be like that person, yet they don’t really like that person. Be your own best friend and be the friend to others that you would want for yourself. Holding yourself with integrity helps you to feel good about who you are.
  • Break the binge-shame-binge cycle. Don’t beat yourself up. When you catch yourself beating yourself up, be kind. You are not a bad person because you binged. You binged because you thought that you were a bad person. The irony is, when you have a binge, that’s when you need the most compassion because you were probably having a tough time to begin with. So be kind to yourself.