Monthly Archives: November 2010

Friday Q & A– How do I prevent a binge at the airport?

Question: Submitted via email by Isa in Loma Linda, CA

I’m leaving for Vermont to visit my parents for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately I have a four hour layover in O’Hare and I’m really scared. Layovers are  usually  a time when I go from Cinnabon to Pizza Hut to McDonalds to Chilis to Starbucks and eat several full meals at places I would never ordinarily eat.  I am totally freaking out. I can’t even imagine what four whole hours in the airport is going to be like! I feel like I’m going to eat until I burst. What should I do?

Hi Isa,

First off, you are not alone in this. Binge eating at the airport is huge. Airport layovers are recipes for a binge because:

  • Traveling is stressful and binge eating is a stress relief
  • You are bored and it’s a way to fight boredom
  • Although you are traveling among several thousands of people, if you are traveling  alone, you are in a city where nobody knows you and this can feel very isolated and anonymous and secretive.
  • There is a bounty of fast foods and “forbidden foods” in relatively small radius.

Four hours is a long time, but there are many other things that you can do besides binge eat on a long flight.

1.)Make sure that you have a plan.

2.)Figure out how to get your three meals in that day without restricting or bingeing. Know that because you have a long day of flying ahead of you that you need to prepare with snacks. Have a full meal before you get on the plane (breakfast), or if it’s too early, make sure that you bring snacks on the plane. I like to bring nuts and Lara bars. There is also often an option to buy food on the plane.

3.)When you get to the airport, actually have a meal there. You will need to eat lunch anyway, so find a place that you feel comfortable getting a meal at, and have a sit down meal. Eat something that feels safe. Being in a challenging situation is probably not the right time to be challenging yourself with trigger foods.  Eat it slowly and mindfully.

4.)Let some people know that you will have a 4 hour layover and that it’s a good time to chat and catch up. You might have some safe people who you call who know that you are afraid of bingeing at the airport, so you might want to “bookend” your arrival and departure with them.  “Bookending” is calling someone at the beginning of a challenging situation where you think you might binge, and then calling them at the end of the situation. Knowing that someone is there supporting you can help keep you safe.

5.)Find out of this airport has any fun amenities before you go, such as a place to get your nails done or to get a massage and plan on that for your layover.

6.)Bring (or buy!) an awesome book to read. Camp out and read somewhere away from the food court.

7.)Make sure that you’re drinking enough water throughout your layover. It’s important to stay hydrated and it will keep you doing something with your mouth.

8.)Bring something to do with your hands like knitting or beading or sketching.

9.)Bring some movies to watch on your computer or ipad or portable dvd player.

10.)Decide that you’re going to explore all the different terminals. O’Hare is huge. And you’ll even get a little exercise in.

11.)Remember that  cinnabon, pizzeria uno, starbucks, taco bell, tcby, chili’s, et al. will always exist and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and just because you are in the airport, it’s not your last opportunity to eat at them. You can always make that choice when you are empowered to, not when they are seducing you by keeping you a captive audience.

12.)Peruse the bookstore, thumb through magazines, be a window shopper. There are lots of different and fun stores in the airport where you can just look and not have to buy.

13.)Do some personal grooming so that you feel more comfortable after your long flight and before going on another long flight. Brush your teeth, wash your face, brush your hair, try to freshen up a bit. It will generally pull you out of the binge trance.


Good Luck and Happy Thanksgiving!

Does anyone else have any suggestions on ways to kill time at the airport without binge eating? Please share in the comments.

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location.



Friday Q & A- I can’t stop binge eating at night, help!

please help me stop night eatingQuestion: Submitted via email by Theresa in Marrero, Louisiana

At least once or twice a week, late at night I binge eat.  I feel as if I cannot stop and it’s everything unhealthy that I can get my hands on.  Afterwards I feel horrible about myself, worthless.  I am 50 years old and up until five years ago weight was never really an issue with me.  Going through menopause and making the big “5-0″……is terribly depressing not to mention the unpleasant symptoms of menopause in and of itself.  I often think why bother, I’m old, middle aged, what does it matter anyway?  I realize though that all women, no matter what stage of life they’re in wants to feel good about themselves.  I don’t have to be 20, 30 or 40 again…….I just want this self destructive binge eating to stop completely.  I can go a few days with no binge eating and feel really great about myself, fight those urges, wake up and feel good that I “beat it”.  I’m usually extremely tired when I do this also.  Although not always. I do computer work and often up late at night. It’s embarrassing because very often I have to hurry and replace the foods I’ve completely emptied out, like ice-cream, chips, peanuts.  For example last weekend my husband bought some ice cream.  He ate a small bowl of it. Later on that night, when he was sleeping, I kept eating and eating and eating on this ice cream and realized it was almost all gone!  I had to hurry and replace it even going as far as to make it look like it did when he took some out!  I’m amazed at how my husband and daughter can open a bag of chips and eat maybe five and close the bag up and maybe not even eat anymore for a week or two later. I on the other hand, keep thinking about it……and not satisfied until I’ve killed the rest of the bag! I never realized how very hard it is to actually fight these binge eating urges.  Any tips on how I can fight these urges.  I’m not usually hungry when I do this, sometimes maybe a little hungry but not starving enough to tear into food like I do!

Hi Theresa,

Thanks so much for your question. It sounds like you’re really struggling and adding the symptoms of menopause into the mix can only be compounding your issue.

First off, I think that it’s important for you to open up to your husband about what’s been happening. It’s certainly not his job to control your eating or fix it. However, it’s obvious that you are going through a tough time and getting support around it and talking about it rather than having it locked up inside and trying desperately to hide your tracks is a great way to begin to work through it.

You’ve also identified that you do this at night and often you do this when you are very tired. When you’re tired, it’s really difficult to fight the urges. I wonder if you can perhaps put post-it notes on your computer or on the pantry or freezer that say something like, “remember to rest,” and when you are about to grab some food, tell yourself that you are allowed to eat, but first you have to lay down for 20 minutes and rest your body.

You can also elicit a support team for yourself. Here are a list of Overeaters Anonymous meetings that are online and many are in the middle of the night so they’re right there when you need to reach out get support.

Make sure that you eat a good healthy dinner each night, and make sure that you have adequate amounts of protein (like chicken or beef) at your evening meal. This will keep you sated.

You say that you work until late in the evening. Is it possible that eating is a distraction? A way for you to take a break or procrastinate work? You might try giving yourself non-eating breaks during work. You might stretch a bit or take a walk, or watch tv, or do something enjoyable that gives you a break from working.

Let yourself stop working and do something relaxing before you go to bed, such as taking a shower or bath, or knitting, or reading a fun book. You need some separation between work and bed. That is often difficult to get when people work from home. It’s super important that you let yourself unwind and find non-food ways to do that.

Drink warm milk when you are wanting to put something else in your mouth. It’s an old remedy for sleep and relaxation, but the fat and the protein will help curb your cravings as well. The ritual of sitting and doing something relaxing will help alleviate the compulsive urge. Brush your teeth afterwards and try to let yourself relax a bit. Sometimes just interrupting the binge can help stop it.

You might also consider talking to a naturopath or acupuncturist to learn about some ways to relieve the symptoms of menopause. You can also find some tips here and here and here.

Good Luck!

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.

How to Fight the Urge to Binge Eat

fight the urge to binge eat“Just because I want it doesn’t mean I have to have it. ”

Is a mantra that can be tremendously helpful in fighting binge eating. So often, people believe that they need to satisfy their urges immediately. And why not? We live in a world where instant gratification is the norm. The media sells directly to our compulsive sides because the feeling of wanting can be painful.  It is okay to want. But just because you want, just because you have an urge or an itch doesn’t mean you have to satisfy it. You can be in the wanting. Fortunately, when the wanting is  about food it is one of the easiest wantings to get past.

It’s heartbreaking to want to be with a certain person who rejects you.

It’s heartbreaking to want a child when you’re unable to have one.

It’s heartbreaking to want your mother to be alive again.

It’s not heartbreaking to want a whole  cheesecake or a gallon of ice cream. That want is fleeting. However, it’s a want that is very, very easy to satisfy.

That being said, of course people often eat when they are wanting something else that they can’t have. For instance, sometimes, when people want something like  money, a partner, a child, love from a parent, they will eat. They can’t satisfy the real want, but the want for food can be easily placated. Unfortunately, after the want of food is satisfied, the other want remains, and you still must learn to live with the pain of yearning after something that you have no control over.

Next time you find yourself in a place of wanting to binge eat or binge and purge, remind yourself “Just because I want it doesn’t mean I have to have it,” and just sit with that for a little while. You might find that it wasn’t actually food that you were craving.

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

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

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

Hi Ronni,

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


Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? Send an email to leora at leorafulvio dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location.

How to talk to your partner about your eating disorder

my girlfriend has an eating disorderIt is so  common that someone comes into my office who is suffering terribly with bulimia or binge eating disorder but they haven’t told their boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife. There are some people who are in new relationships and don’t feel comfortable or ready to disclose that information yet. However,  there are many more people who have been married ten years or more and have been suffering terribly with bulimia or binge eating disorder or other eating disorders the whole time.  If you are in a relationship with someone who doesn’t know about your food issues, you’re not alone. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about, many people feel ashamed or embarrassed, they don’t want to expose themselves as having this big issue or open themselves up to judgments, or even let their partners know that they are not perfect and they’re struggling. Talking about the eating disorder, exposing it, makes it real. If it’s real,  it’s unsafe and unprotected secrecy. Once you expose it, it’s harder to act out with food. You might think that someone is watching over you or judging you. For lots of people, the eating issue is like a secret lover or a best friend and telling your partner about it might force you to give it up.

Here are some tips for talking to your partner about your eating issues.

Explain to them that your eating issues have nothing to do with them.

Explain to them that you don’t want them to “fix” you or to tell you how to eat or what to eat or what not to eat. That’s not their responsibility, nor is it good for the relationship, but they can help by being supportive or available to talk about your feelings with them.

Ask them not to talk about diets, calories, burning calories, losing weight, or what your body looks like.

If there are some foods that you would prefer they not bring into the house, ask them to support you in that way.

If they “catch” you in a binge, it’s not their responsibility to make you stop doing it, nor should they take food away from you. Instead, maybe they can say something like, “hey, is everything okay? do you want to talk? I’m here for you.”

Explain that it’s not about the food, it’s about what you’re feeling inside. Try to talk about what you might be feeling. If you need help, this might resonate for you.

Ask them not to interrogate you or police you.

Give them space to talk about their feelings and what it’s like for them to learn this about you.

Give them the opportunity to ask you questions. If you feel uncomfortable with certain questions, let them know that you’re not ready to answer that yet or that you don’t know the answer yet,  but as you work through recovery, you will let them know what emerges for you.

You can always bring them into your therapist with you or to an OA meeting or EDA meeting to help them understand more about what you are going through. If you don’t have a therapist, make sure that you work with an ED specialist who can help your partner understand through psychoeducation what you two are dealing with.

You are only as sick as your secrets, but secrets are like monsters. They grow and thrive in the dark. After you shine a  light on them, they disappear.

One of the beautiful things about revealing your truth it out is that it increases intimacy and communication with your partner. So many people reject their partners in order to be alone so they can act out with food. When a secret eating issue or addiction is present in a relationship it keeps the relationship distant and decreases love and intimacy. When it is acknowledged, it creates space for a deeper more intimate relationship with one another.