zen of recovery

How does mindfulness help binge eating?

mindfulness binge eating

You know how sometimes it’s not even noon but you know that you are going to have a binge when you get home from work that night? You begin planning it, thinking about what stores you’re going to go to, what foods you’re going to get, where you are going to eat it, what you’re going to do when you eat it, what it will feel like in your mouth, what you will be doing while you’re bingeing (will you be watching television? will you be searching the web? will you be on the phone? or will you just be sitting alone with the food?) You begin to get excited and your amygdala (the part of your brain responsible for emotional reaction) lights up with excitement. Just the anticipation and desire of a binge creates activity in your brain that basically brings you to the binge. So your actual binge starts about 6-8 hours before the binge starts. It’s those first thoughts about it, the anticipation which just carries itself and basically makes you feel as though you don’t have a choice. The thoughts of bingeing carry you straight to your binge.

 

So that’s where mindfulness and meditation come in. When you first have those thoughts and the pleasure center in your brain begins to light up with anticipation (it’s not unlike the process of flirting, or hooking up with someone pre-sex or orgasm), it feels as though it’s over. You’re going to binge. However, when you check in with yourself and say, “oh yeah, there are those thoughts again, I’m planning my binge…” you can slow yourself down. You can tell yourself that just because you are planning your binge, doesn’t mean that you have to go through with it. Just because the process part of the addiction has begun does not mean that you have to go through with it. Remember, this is the SAME EXACT function that cocaine addicts go through before they score their drug, it’s the same process that sex addicts go through when they are looking for a prostitute, it’s the same process that gambling addicts go through when they are selling their wedding ring for money to put in a slot machine.

So what we want to do here is slow your brain waaaayyyy down. Even though it’s just noon and you are at work in front of your computer, your mind is at home in the refrigerator.

So what can you do?

1. First, recognize “oh, I’m having THOSE thoughts again…”

2. Remind yourself, “I’m not in the middle of the binge yet, I’m right here at my desk.”

3. Ground yourself, look at your feet on the floor, look at your hands, put your hand over your heart and breath into your belly. Be where you are, not where your mind is taking you.

4. Remind yourself why you don’t want to be on the other side of the binge

5. Think about alternatives, think about what it would be like to wake up the next morning without a binge, let that process excite your mind

6. Plan something equally relaxing for that evening ie: date with friend, bubble bath, taking a long walk outside while listening to music or podcast

7. Call someone and tell them that you have a binge planned and you don’t want to go through with it.

8. Get on this forum and ask for support.

9. Remind yourself that you have a choice. It doesn’t feel like you do, but you do, the thoughts and the desire can’t make you binge, they are just thoughts and desire. You have thoughts and desires a million times a day that you don’t act on.

10. Calm your brain down and slow down your thinking with deep breathing and meditation. 

Eating disorders are notoriously rough because they hit you on lots of different levels, process addiction, food/sugar addiction, trauma relief, bad habit… there are a million different reasons that people binge, but if you can bring some mindfulness into the equation, you have a great chance of recovering.

How to Slow Down

how to slow downThe other day, one of my clients and I were discussing her impulses. She vibrates at a very fast level. She’s got a lot on her mind, a lot on her plate and she does everything fast. Like really fast. This includes eating too much too fast and letting it turn into a binge, having sex with people without getting to know them, drinking too much too fast, and falling in love with people before getting to know them and then being stuck in heart-wrenchingly painful one-sided relationships with people who don’t love her the way she thinks she loves them. Now don’t get me wrong, her impulsive side has helped her to be very successful in life. She’s smart, she’s beautiful, she’s successful and she’s got lots of great friends who love her. However, she sometimes finds herself in the middle of something that she doesn’t quite want to be in because she leaped in too quickly. Certainly this happens with binge eating, she will kind of snap out of it to find herself in the middle of a binge, but it’s also other things in life, a trip up to Tahoe with people she barely knows, finding herself drunk and in bed with a guy who she met earlier that evening, being $5000 in credit card debt due to the purchase of a very expensive purse that she really didn’t need, but really thought she needed in the moment. This inability to take life slow, though certainly exciting in the moment, makes life more difficult on the other end. There are ways to simply slow down and not get caught in the cycle of undoing a mess that you’ve somehow found yourself in.

 

1. Recognize that the sense of urgency is fake. There is very little in life that has to be done immediately. Is it possible that you will regret for the rest of your life not buying those Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes  that were on sale for only $400.00? Possibly. But probably not. When it’s something like this, walk away for at least 24 hours. If you don’t have 24 hours, if it’s a one-day sample sale, walk away for 2 hours and give yourself some time to think about it. There is very little that you actually need. Most purchases are driven by desire and want, which is fleeting.  Debt however is not.

2. Don’t sleep with someone that you don’t know when you’ve been drinking. Seriously. Just don’t. Get a number give a number and if it’s meant to be, you’ll meet up again when you’re both sober and you can figure it all out in a more clear-headed way. If he or she doesn’t call you later, you can imagine how they’d be if you had slept with them.

3. Take a week to not give any yeses. Instead of saying yes immediately to any requests, give the answer, “give me 24 hours to think about it.” Then, take some time to think about whether or not you actually want to do what is being requested of you.

4. Try to give thanks before eating. This doesn’t have to be about praying or saying grace. It could be as simple as thanking the earth for growing the lettuce you’re about to eat or thanking the salmon that you’re about to eat. Just taking a moment to express gratitude.

5. Slow down while you’re actually eating. Try implementing mindful eating techniques during meals so that you can eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied.

6. Stop your mind from chaining together cause and effects and long stories that aren’t true. Anxiety is caused by taking what ifs, stringing them together and then following the path to a disastrous end. And it all happens in an instant. What if I leave the house, get hit by a car, wind up in the hospital paralyzed for life, have no one to take care of me and die alone?  Your mind can be a very dangerous neighborhood, so tell it to slow down and to help you stay in the present. Imagine a giant stop sign telling you to just stop the irrational thinking.

What ways can you practice slowing down?

101 Positive Body Affirmations

So many reasons to love your body, no matter what size or shape…

Affirmations are statements that you repeat over and over in attempt to change your unconscious beliefs. Pick a few that you like and look in the mirror and repeat several times each day! If you can keep it up, you might find some shifts in the way you think about yourself and your body.

 

1. My body deserves love

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

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

4. I love and respect myself

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

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

7. My body is a gift.

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

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

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

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

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

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

14. I am worthy of love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

27. Self respect is underrated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

35. Balance is the most important.

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

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

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

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

40. Having an eating disorder is not my identity.

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

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

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

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

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

46. I am good stuff.

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

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

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

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

51. Getting older makes me smarter.

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

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

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

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

56. I eat for energy and nourishment.

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

58. I can be conscious in my choices.

59. I am stronger than the urge to binge.

60. I am healthier than the urge to purge.

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

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

63. I can be healthy at any size.

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

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

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

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

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

69. My brain is my sexiest body part.

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

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

72. My body is a vessel for my awesomeness.

73. My body can do awesome things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

84. Thighs, thank you for carrying me.

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

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

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

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

89. Taking care of myself feels good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You might also find some use with:

Hypnosis Download for Positive Body Image

Hypnosis Download to Find Your Inner Wisdom

 

*Photo credit to A Merry Life

How to Be In Your Body

If you are suffering with an eating disorder, you might feel disembodied. Lots of people tend to be in their heads, but those who suffer with eating disorders really avoid being in their bodies and spend lots of time up in their heads. Many try and avoid the feelings that they have in their body and even avoid the fact that they have a body because it’s so fraught. My clients with eating disorders are often very intelligent, intellectual, and constantly going over things in their heads, some would say, “thinking too much.”  One client reported that she feels so wrapped up in her thoughts that she believes she’s missing the world around her. She told me that  people often say “hi” to her in the street or at work, and she doesn’t even notice because she’s so lost in thought– soooo in her head.

But when you’re up in your head… who’s minding the store? If you’re constantly in your head, when do you get to be in your body.   Are you avoiding your body? How can you you take care of a body when you’re not present for it?

I was talking to a client  who said that she didn’t want to be in her body until her body is perfect. “But your body is perfect and needs love and support now,”

“No, after I lose 50 pounds, then my body will be perfect… then I can let myself meditate, do yoga, be in my body, but I don’t want to be in my body now. Yuck.”

And that’s the irony. She believed that she couldn’t be in her body until it was perfect, but unless you loved and respected your body, at any size, then how could you treat it well? How could you nurture and treat something with respect that you avoid, neglect, and hate?  You can’t change something in order to make yourself like it. You know that with people, partners, and you know that with yourself. But unlike toxic people, you can’t avoid your body. It’s there, it’s yours. It’s important to embrace it. Or just be in it, not avoid it. Your body needs to be cared for and treated with love and respect.

So here’s a little exercise for you to learn to be more in your body.

1. Take 5 minutes, close your eyes and breathe. Notice the position that you’re in. Notice your feet on the floor, the bend of your knees in the chair that you’re in, the way your head feels… really let yourself feel what it’s like to be in your body. Stretch if your body wants to stretch, bend if your body wants to bend, roll your wrists, your neck, your ankles, whatever you need…

2. Next, do a body scan- Start by noticing the bottoms of your feet and slowly make your way to the top of your head  feeling into each part of your body and noticing what’s happening. Itches? Cricks? Muscle tightness? aches? soreness? tingles? See what feeling (physical) is screaming out to you, trying to get your attention,  and just be with that feeling for a few moments, without judging it, without trying to change it. Name it. For instance, your nose is itching, breathe into it and say, “itchy nose.” If your shoulders are tight breathe into them saying, “tight shoulders,” and just breathe for a few moments into whatever part wants your attention.

3. Then ask your body, “what do you need?” Your body might say, “more water,” or “more kindness,” or “more vegetable,” or “more fresh air…” whatever. When you are in your body, you know exactly what you need.

When you are in your body, you are more likely to nurture and care for it rather than treat it poorly with bingeing, restricting, too much exercise, too little exercise…

Try to do this a couple of times each week and see how your view of your body changes. All bodies deserve love, no matter what.

 

Other ways to be in your body:

  1. Dance!
  2. Go for a sensory walk– touch things around you, smell the smells, notice what you see… use all five senses.
  3. Get a massage
  4. Walk up a hill or go on a hike and feel your muscles working
  5. Drink a glass of water and feel the water going down through your digestive tract.
  6. Rub lotion into your hands and feel the sensation of rubbing your hands. Use scented lotion and smell your hands.
  7. Smell essential oils
  8. Give yourself a foot rub
  9. Give yourself a scalp massage
  10. Take a bath and close your eyes and feel the warm water on your body
  11. Jump into cold water. Jump into hot water. Jump into cold water.
  12. Touch your face and feel your hands on your face, massage your jaw. Your jaw is the strongest muscle in your body. Because of that it tends to hold a lot of tension. Sometimes people binge eat to relieve that tension.
  13. Brush your hair.
  14. Jump up and down on your bed

What are some things you do to be in your body?

 

 

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 Be More Patient

What even is patience? We spend so much time quoting the virtues of patience, yet most of us find ourselves extremely impatient.

According to wikipedia, patience is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, and is studied as a decision making problem, involving the choice of either a small reward in the short term, or a more valuable reward in the long term. When given a choice, all animals, humans included, are inclined to favour short term rewards over long term rewards. This is despite the often greater benefits associated with long term rewards.

No wonder it’s so difficult to avoid compulsive behaviors when we are evolutionarily inclined to choose instant gratification over long term happiness.

But how much better would our lives be if we were all patient? Compulsivity is mixed with this primal fear of “I’ll never have this opportunity again. It’s now or never…”  Which is why so many people fall prey to compulsive spending, compulsive eating, compulsive sexual behavior, get rick quick schemes and all sorts of compulsivity. This is a very  animal behavior.  Patience is a learned, newer, evolved behavior that is not instinctual.

Of course patience (or lack of) and eating disorders go hand in hand. For compulsive dieters who alternately restrict and binge,  there is the inherent fear that we only have that one single opportunity to have that ice cream sundae, because come Monday, we can never have anything like that again. And on the flip side of it, comes dieting. The belief is that we need to be thin immediately, so if we do something drastic, like cut out all carbohydrates for 2 weeks, we will lose a dramatic amount of weight in a very short period of time. This is rather than taking time to get to know your body, understand what it needs and cultivate mindful eating and intuitive eating and healthy exercise.  This takes patience.

So as animals, if patience is not instinctual,  how do we cultivate patience?

1.) Patience is a learned trait, so first off, tell yourself that you are going to be patient with this learning process. It’s not going to come instantly. So every time you lose your patience, forgive yourself and accept that you are working against human instinct.

2.)Decide what patience means to you. How are you choosing to be patient? What does that pertain to? What kind of patience do you want more of in your life?

3.)Try some patience exercises. My favorite is washing dishes. Rather than loading up your dishwasher (if you have one) make a plan to wash your dishes slowly and mindfully. As you do, allow yourself to actually savor the experience of washing the dishes. Feel the warm water on your hands, enjoy the satisfying feeling of completion as each dish is cleaned, try to enjoy the time as it passes. Listen to music, breath, let yourself relax into the chore rather than waiting for it to be done. When you begin to allow yourself to melt into your world in the present and enjoy your time moment-by-moment, you are learning patience. The opposite of patience is trying to quickly reach the end.

4.)REMEMBER TO BREATHE! When you are feeling impatient (either standing online or waiting in traffic, or running late or wanting to exercise or eat compulsively) take a break and turn inward and just breathe. Bring yourself into the present and get away from the future.

5.)When it comes to food and weight, remind yourself of all the diets you have tried and where it’s brought you and all the time that you’ve wasted. Take it day-by-day  and even moment-by-moment (rather than  saying something like “i’m cutting out all fat, sugar, and wheat for the next 30 days”) and each day make an intention about finding health and well-being. And if for some reason you find that you’ve had a slip, forgive yourself and move on to the next moment. Each moment in your life gives you an opportunity  to choose the behavior that you want.

6.)Keep the big picture in mind. Remember that the opposite of patience is impatience and compulsive behavior. When you find yourself ready to act out compulsively, slow down and think about what is really important to you. For instance, if you all of a sudden find yourself wanting to return a text message but you’re driving, either pull over to do it, or wait. The safety of yourself and others around you is more important than reading or returning a text.

7.)Figure out what people and what situations trigger your impatience or compulsive behavior. Try to make it a game. Practice patience around these people or situations.

8.)Visualize the future the way you want it to look and then just let it go. Know that you can have the life that you want but not instantly, that the journey is important as well.

9.)Laugh a lot. Especially when things aren’t going as planned. Having a sense of humor about yourself, life, the world around you can help you to relax into it. Life is too serious to be taken too seriously.

10.)Let go of the impatience and anxiety in your body. When you are feeling tense and impatient, notice where you hold it in your body. Breath into those tight spots and try to let them loosen up.

11.)Eat something delicious very, very, very slowly. Take a half hour to sit and eat this thing that you love. Don’t scarf it down, let yourself savor it, taste it, feel it. Engage all your senses. When you are finished, don’t immediately grab more. Know that you can have more at a later time or another day.

Hypnosis for Binge Eating

Download Hypnosis to Stop Binge Eating

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a therapist who also utilizes hypnotherapy in my practice, I often receive phone calls for people wanting hypnotherapy to help cure their binge eating.

Many people want long term Psychotherapy to understand and heal the family dynamics and past wounds that contributed to self esteem issues, binge eating issues, or eating disorder issues. I find this kind of work to be very valuable and I do encourage anyone who is grappling with an eating disorder to try and do weekly depth psychotherapy.

Hypnosis and meditation can be a wonderful complement to any recovery program. It is relaxing, peaceful, calming and effective in helping you reach your recovery goals.  Many people find a single hypnotherapy session to be incredibly helpful. They often leave a session feeling  refreshed, relaxed, and feeling more in control of their behaviors.  Even though I’ve been doing hypnotherapy since 1999, I’m still always impressed by how much better people feel when they leave my office after a hypnotherapy session.

Because I’ve seen it help so many people, I want to make it more accessible. I’ve decided to run through what a hypnotherapy session would look like and offer an MP3 of hypnosis for binge eating on this blog.

Okay, so if you were to come into my office for a hypnotherapy session, the first thing I would ask you is to tell me what your binge eating looks like. So, for instance, answer these questions:

1.)When do your binges occur? What time of day?

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2.)How often do you binge?

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3.)What do you binge on? (List your binge foods)

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4.)Are there certain situations that cause you to binge? (You might figure this out as you go along)

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These questions are used to help you bring awareness to your binge eating. So, as we establish patterns, you can begin to think about how to break those patterns. For instance, if you notice that you binge each night after work, create a list of alternatives that you can do each night instead of binge eating. Some people like to go to a cafe and work on their computer, catch up with their emails, or talk to friends, some people take walks, or go to the gym, some people opt to go home, but choose not to have binge food in the house and instead use the time for just relaxing in a hot bath. This post gives some alternatives.  Binge eating often occurs as an unconscious response, almost a Pavlovian response. So if you can bring some awareness to it (knowing that the end of the work day = binge eating) you will have the foresight to create some consciousness. This way you have more of a choice as to whether or not you want to binge. Often it feels as though you don’t have a choice. It’s just an unconscious response. Bringing awareness will create a choice for you.

Knowing what foods you binge on is helpful as well. I’ve had many, many people come in and say, “I’ve thought about just getting rid of all the peanut butter and cereal in my house because I binge on it, but I realized that it’s unhealthy to do that, lots of people have those things in their house and don’t binge on them, I can learn to do that. ”  To that I respond, “No. Don’t keep binge foods in your house right now. Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s about keeping you safe.”  If you were a recovering alcoholic would you keep vodka in your house because other people can drink vodka? If you were a recovering cocaine addict would you keep cocaine in the house?  Of course not.  Don’t compare yourself to others. If there are foods that you binge on, don’t keep them in the house. It’s not fair to you. If there are other people in the house who want them in there, negotiate with them to either keep the food out of the house or put it in a place like high up in a cabinet that you cannot reach, so you’d have to think about it (bring consciousness) to it  before eating it, or you can get a lock for the cabinet that your binge foods are in. This is all okay. It’s important to keep yourself safe. This isn’t for always, this is just for now as you decrease and heal from your binge eating.

There might be certain situations that cause you to binge eat, for instance, visiting your parents, or talking to your boss, or seeing a certain friend put an update of Facebook— think about your binge triggers. Beginning to find connections about what causes you to binge eat rather than just trying to have the willpower not to binge eat will make this journey easier. So, if you know in advance that certain people on Facebook trigger your symptoms–  hide those people. If you know that going to your parents’ house triggers a binge, line up a group of people to call before you go, and after you come back. In 12-steps, this is known as “book-ending.” You talk to someone before you go to your parents’ house and tell them that it’s your intention not to binge while you’re there or after you come back. You call them on your way home from your parents’ house to tell them your intention and ways that you plan on taking care of yourself without food after you come home. If you need extra support while you’re at your parents’ house, you can always call the support person/people that you’ve lined up ahead of time.  If you know that talking to your boss sends you right to the vending machines, either walk outside your office building to go for a walk, or head to the phone to talk to a support person and decompress from your meeting with your boss.

It’s about knowing what your triggers are and making plans ahead of time to not let these triggers bring you to a bad place.

Binge eating can be such an unconscious behavior. What we are trying to do here is make it conscious. Many people say that they feel as though they don’t have a choice in the matter, they just wind up “waking up” in the middle of a binge, almost unsure as to how they got there. The goal of hypnosis is to keep you conscious. For you to be aware of when you’re thinking about binge eating, to know that you are stronger than the urge to binge eat. To know that you are in charge, not the binge. To know that this will just pass. As the days pass, you will find that letting go of binge eating becomes easier and easier.

Next is utilizing an Alternative Choice Journal. Every time you feel the urge to binge, use this tool:

Feelings: Describe what you are feeling right now- happy? sad? anxious? angry? tired? lonely?:
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What led to this feeling? Can you pinpoint the trigger?
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Describe what kind and how much food your are fantasizing about:
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How do you hope that this will make you feel? What outcome are you looking for?
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How do you think this will really make you feel? What are the negative consequences of acting out on this urge?

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Is there something else that you can do that might be able to give you a similar feeling as you are trying to achieve with food?

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Use this device each time you want to use food. By use food, I’m referring to those times when you’re not hungry and it’s not time to eat a healthy meal, but when you want to go and rip into something. Often, it’s hard to catch these times at the beginning, so use this journal every time you do binge. It will help you begin to draw parallels between your feelings, the situations that got you there and the binges.

And finally, the hypnosis. This should be listened to in a quiet place. You can download it to your computer, but I suggest using headphones, or listening to it on an ipod. Find a place where you can have total peace and quiet for 25 minutes. Lay down, relax, close your eyes and allow yourself to listen. Listen as often as you like. Many people like to listen at night before bed because they find that it helps them relax very deeply. Many people find that it’s very easy to fall asleep after listening.  I often receive many emails and phone calls telling me that after a hypnosis session, people really feel as though they just don’t have the urge to binge eat anymore.

Hypnosis is really just very deep meditation. You will close your eyes and relax deeply. It helps you to bring awareness and consciousness to your everyday actions while allowing you to go very deeply inward and find peace and calmness within.

The download is available immediately. Click here to download hypnosis for binge eating

 

For additional hypnosis downloads for eating disorders and body image, click here!

Practicing Slowing Down– How to start mindful eating

 

 

One of the easiest exercises that you can you do to help you let go of binge eating is practicing mindful eating.

The first step in eating mindfully is to slow down.  When you serve yourself a meal, don’t pick or snack until you are sitting down with your plate in front of you. Then, when you go to eat, pay attention to your food. Don’t eat in front of the TV or internet, notice each bite. Notice what it feels like on your tongue, notice what it tastes like, notice what it feels like to chew and to swallow. Pause between bites and allow yourself to enjoy what you are eating in the moment that you are eating it. When you are binge eating, you’re chasing the taste so you barely get a chance to enjoy what you are eating in the time that you are eating it and it becomes a race to finish one food and get to the next.

Today, plan just one meal that you can eat mindfully. When you eat it, slow way down. Taste and savor  your food — no matter whether it’s romaine lettuce or a piece of dark chocolate. Allow your body to integrate the nutrition into your cells. You might find that when you slow down, you become more conscious of your needs and you might even find that you need less food or more food.

As you begin to slow down your meals, you might find that you can even slow down your binges, when you do that, you might find that you are able to make the choice not to binge, that mindfulness and thoughtfulness will win out over the compulsion.

slow. slow. slow. That’s the word of the day when it comes to mindful eating. Slow down and let your body make the choice rather than the binge. You might want to try this guided visualization to help you learn mindful eating.

Life Is Hard

you are not alone

“Life is Difficult.

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.  It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.  Once we truly see that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult.  Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult.  Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy.  They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them, or else their families, their tribe, their class, their nation, their race or even their species, and not upon others.  I know about this moaning because I have done my share…” M. Scott Peck -The Road Less Traveled

I think something that is hard to remember is that life is not necessarily supposed to be easy. It’s pretty hard. It’s hard for everyone because we all have to deal with life, death, pain and suffering on some level.    Sure, there are some people who seem to have it easier than others, but of course it’s all relative.  A client of mine was once discussing how awful it was for him to have depression when people in third world countries were suffering without food, clothes, and water. It’s true, but of course they’re not suffering existential crises. We all suffer, though we all suffer differently. It’s the first noble truth- Life means Suffering.

But that’s okay, because we don’t suffer alone. We all deal with the very human dilemma of being human.

I bring this all up because I’ve noticed in the past few years,  how many of my clients get really depressed about Facebook. “Everyone is so happy. They have all their pictures up of their dogs and their boyfriends and their girlfriends and they look so good and their status updates sound so exciting…” But they’re suffering.  Most people don’t update their facebook profile with:

Lulu Smith feels like crap this morning because she woke up with a horrible hangover, a gigantic pimple on her nose, hasn’t had a date in 7 months and her favorite pair of jeans are too tight and ripped in the crotch last night while at a bar with her 4 gorgeous co-workers who got hit on while she was ignored the whole night.

It might look something more like this: Lulu Smith thinks raisin bran is a pretty awesome way to start the day. Two Scoops! Woot! Awesome night with my girls last night :)

No matter how Lulu looks or feels, she probably won’t post a picture of herself looking tired, with her hair unruly and gigantic nose pimple and the rip in her crotch. We somehow want people to see us at our best. Even when we aren’t there, even when we’re not in the vicinity. This causes each and every one of us to forget that we are not suffering alone. So many of us feel so isolated in our pain because we feel as though we are the only ones who are having a crappy day (or week or month or year)!

One of the things to remember is that you are not the only person who is suffering. You are not alone. When you feel as though everyone is the world is happy, doing great and you’re the only one who is struggling with food, with work, with money, with a relationship (or lack thereof), with lack of confidence… whatever it is, someone very close to you is suffering as well. It might be the person who seems to have it all, the perfect relationship, perfect body, perfect skin, hair teeth,  tons of money, tons of friends… but each one of us suffers uniquely. It can be so isolating to feel as though you are the only one with problems, but next time you are feeling sad and alone, pick up the phone and call someone you love and trust. They might not be suffering at the same time as you, but trust me, they’ve suffered at some time in their life and want to give you love and support.

Isolation is a huge part of eating disorders, in recovery, one of the best ways to break out of the cycle is to reach out for human contact. You don’t have to be alone with your thoughts, your fears, your problems and food.

Bingeing Consciously

I was reading this post by Chevese Underhill Turner, the founder of BEDA (Binge Eating Disorder Association) and remembered why binge eating is such an incredibly useful coping tool.  Binge eating is one of the quickest, easiest ways to completely shut down without going to sleep or taking a drug.  It’s not that different for many people than getting high or getting drunk. It’s another way to  turn your brain off and keep you from being in the now. But what if you were to binge consciously? What would that do?  What would it be like if you could feel the food in your hand, taste the food in your mouth, feel the food going down your esophagus, your digestive processes beginning to take place… What it would it be like to binge consciously? What do you think you would notice?  Do you think it would serve the same purpose or help you in the same way that it used to? Do you think it would be hard? What emotions do you think you would feel? What bodily sensations would you experience?

If you should find yourself in the middle of a binge, here is a challenge to bring yourself into consciousness. It doesn’t mean you have to stop, just try to be present and see what that feels like.  One of the amazing things about being present is that you become more aware of your feelings and your actions. When you have that awareness, the choice becomes yours. Binges feel so unconscious and so driven by a compulsive desire that feels outside of you.  I hear many people report that they didn’t even know that they were bingeing until they were in the middle of it. They kind of just woke up halfway through an eating frenzy and barely knew how they got there… it just kind of happened. That’s okay. The first step to being conscious is to notice when you catch yourself doing something. Rather than let yourself zone out to continue, pull yourself back and watch yourself with empathy, compassion, and curiosity. Notice what you are doing and what you are feeling. As you continue this level of awareness, you will find an amazing thing… Your bingeing will begin to decrease. Not magically, but because when you are conscious, you have choice, you can choose to use the tools that you have to deal with what you are feeling.