I stumbled upon your website and figured I’d shoot you an email. I’m 24, and my relationship with food is absolutely horrific. I find that for several months I can stick to an eating plan (such as weight watchers) get down to a normal weight for myself, become incredibly happy, until I fall into a hole again. It’s as if I have no consistency with the presence of this disorder. I have been out of control again since August and have gained 20 pounds or so. Nothing fits me, I’m miserable, and mostly prefer to hide in shame. I can’t stick to an eating plan even for a day. I don’t ever remember feeling this helpless with my food issues. Usually I can kick myself in the butt and start making changes, but they never -ever last. My weight has fluctuated my entire life and I simply cannot be happy at this weight. It’s seriously concerning me that I can’t even seem to stick to something like counting calories or Weight Watchers even for a day at this point.
Several months ago I was seeing a therapist, who was treating me for OCD with medication. I have since, under her suggestion stopped the medication because I was experiencing terrible side effects. I haven’t met with her in some months because I can’t afford the sessions right now, and I would really love to learn how to handle this on my own -without medication. I have considered attending an OA meeting for some support because I just don’t know what to do.
I wake up every morning fearing what my food choices will be. It seriously controls my entire life. Right now as I’m typing this email to you I’m wondering what I have in my house. I’m aware of what drives me to overeat, it’s stopping it and making a habit of intervening -a habit to last a lifetime, that out of 24 years I can’t seem to make happen.
What can I do?
Kate, Thank you so much for your question. You put so much feeling and honesty into your question and I can really hear how much you are struggling. I’m sorry that you were not able to manage your OCD behaviors with medication and that there were so many side effects. That can be disappointing- when you think you’ve found an answer and it backfires.
You didn’t talk very much about your OCD and how it manifests, but I suspect that Overeaters Anonymous might be a good place for you to land and settle in. Because they are a very structured group, and because OCD symptoms tend to do well with structure, I imagine it would be very helpful. This is why, it seems as though a group like weight watchers has been helpful for you in the past. However, weight watchers is a group that helps people who have difficulty understanding the right amount of calories in and calories out. Given your history with food, I imagine that you’re not much less of a Phd in calories, carbs and fat. Women who have struggled with their weight and with food issues for a long time don’t need to learn about how to lose weight. They know.
If you cannot afford individual therapy, I’d recommend group therapy in addition to OA in order to have people to talk to about what you’re going through. Having a group process and talking to other women about your issues can be helpful. Check out ANAD for free therapy groups as well as EDReferral for other therapy groups.
I also think that given your symptoms, you might be a great candidate for learning intuitive eating. Try to ritualize stopping before you eat anything, taking a breath and checking in with your body. Figure out whether or not you are hungry. If you are, check in with your body and ask what it needs, then, when you are ready, eat something, but eat it slowly. Taste every morsel, notice the texture, the taste, the way it feels in your mouth. Take breaths in between bites. Check out this post on intuitive eating which explains it in more depth. Get some support from the intuitive eating community. You might also download a hypnotherapy session on how to stop dieting and start eating intuitively.
Thank you for sending your question in and I hope that this was helpful.
Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location. Are you interested in online therapy to deal with your eating disorder? Please see my website or email me to discuss getting started.