Monthly Archives: September 2014

Why Cheat Days Don’t work For Folks with Binge Eating Disorder

slow carb diet binge eating disorder

About seven years ago, Tim Ferris wrote a blog post called How to Lose 20 pounds of fat in 30 Days without Doing any Exercise.  And here in San Francisco, Tim’s Slow Carb dieting became all the rage. Lots of people were finding lots of success on it.

But… Not my clients.

When Tim’s slow carb diet blew up I suddenly had lots of clients who had great recovery and been abstinent from bingeing  for months or years fall back into full relapses. I’m writing about it now because recently, I’ve gotten a lot of emailed questions from people asking me my stance on cheat days.

My stance is this:  Not if you have an eating disorder and not if you used to have an eating disorder. 

I want you to get out of this mindset “It works for everyone else, why can’t it work for me?”

First off, it doesn’t work for everyone else.  Different things work for different people, but for those who are dealing with an eating disorder, having cheat days doesn’t work. Cheat days become binge days. It’s like this, if you were recovering from heroin addiction, would it be okay for you to have one moderate heroin day? When you just shot up maybe three times a day? Probably not. You’d probably OD. Well when you have binge eating disorder, food is your drug and cheat days will probably cause you to binge, to OD. As we know, big binges can sometimes be slippery slopes and they are difficult to shake off the next day.  You know that bingey/bulimia party next day hangover I’m talking about. 

So, although I have a penchant for Tim and all of his eccentricities and his self-experimentation, I’d give cheat days a thumbs down to people who are recovering from EDs. It seems ideal doesn’t it? You get the best of both worlds, but in my experience, I’ve found that many, many of my clients found it difficult to recover from cheat days.

5 Simple Rules for Dealing With Hurt Feelings

keeping your side of the street cleanLast night, I was talking to Sarah, a client of mine who was filled with anger, rage and hurt because she felt that a friend had totally betrayed her. Sarah had told her best friend Angela about a job that she was going to apply to and then, without telling Sarah, Angela went ahead,  sent her resume in, was called in for an interview the next day and offered the position on the spot. All before Sarah had even had the chance to apply.  Angela called her Monday to tell her about the new job. Sarah was shocked, “wait, I was applying to that same job! I told you that.”

“Well,” said Angela, “when you told me about the job, I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring,”

“But you stole that job right out from under me!” Sarah said.

“You didn’t even apply,” Angela said, “If I hadn’t gotten it, someone else would have, it was never yours, I couldn’t have stolen it!”

Sarah was absolutely devastated. She’s not spoken to Angela, her bestie,  all week, and she’s been bingeing pretty much every day since she got the news. So what happened there?

I’m not going to go into who is right and who is wrong. I don’t have an opinion about that one way or another. Life is life and things happen. But what happens when something that someone does totally hurts your feelings or has you feeling betrayed? What is an appropriate way to behave?

Let’s look at what happened to Sarah. She was hurt by what Angela did. And she took personal offense to it, feeling as though it was something that Angela did to her.

Rule #1. DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY.  This was not personal. Angela did not set out to intentionally hurt Sarah. This was something that Angela did without thinking about Sarah at all. It was completely about herself.  But, playing devil’s advocate, what if Angela did want to hurt Sarah’s feelings?  Maybe she did. Maybe she wanted to hurt Sarah by taking the job that Sarah wanted. However, that’s still not personal. If Angela did in fact want to hurt Sarah’s feelings, that’s still not about Sarah. That’s about Angela needing to feel better about herself by doing something to sabotage her best friend.

Sarah then sat there and ruminated about how she’ll never have a good job and how she’s a failure and how she was so irresponsible and how could she have totally blown her chance, why was she so lazy. 

Rule #2. DON’T BLAME YOURSELF.  Sarah’s response was to victimize herself. So she coined Angela as the perpetrator and then turned around and perpetrated herself. She became both the victim and the perpetrator. She became so stuck in this that she was numb and couldn’t take any action to move forward.

Sarah spent the next several days bingeing and even doing some purging after she found out. 

Rule #3. DON’T HURT YOURSELF.  Often, people wind up hurting themselves when they really want to hurt someone else. They will act out in self harming behaviors such as bingeing, cutting, binge drinking, drug using, smoking cigarettes or other self destructive behaviors because someone else hurt them. Just because you were hurt by someone else doesn’t mean you need to hurt yourself. It’s not okay. 

She was also telling anyone who would listen what a sneaky bitch Angela was to go behind her back. 

Rule #4. KEEP YOUR SIDE OF THE STREET CLEAN.  In AA, the motto keeping your side of the street clean means to hold yourself with respect when someone does something that hurts you. Don’t try to hurt them back, don’t try to sully their name and by all means, don’t hurt yourself.  You make your side of the street dirty when you try to retaliate or when you go around saying nasty things to lots of people about the other person. There is no reason to become a toxic person yourself. The best thing that you can do is begin to pay closer attention to yourself, be kind to you, be kind to the people around you, be the kind of person you respect, surround yourself with loving, kind friends and talk to someone who you love and trust about your hurt feelings (mom, husband, sister, brother, therapist). But it should be about you and how you were hurt.

Ultimately, as we talked, Sarah realized that the pain was more about feeling as though she didn’t know how to step up to the plate and get things done and how Angela’s ability to easily send in a resume and get a job illuminated Sarah’s shortcomings to her and made her feel bad about herself. 


Don’t make it about the other person, because just like their act wasn’t about you, your feelings aren’t about them. And you shouldn’t give them that space, this is about you healing your own wounds. Often when someone does something that hurts you, you get hurt because old wounds are opened, not because of the actual event. So your hurt feelings are often an opportunity to heal some old wounds.

Free Binge Eating Coaching Call


Due to popular demand, I’m going to start doing some group coaching calls to help people heal from binge eating and bulimia.

For a limited time, these will be free!

The first one will be in the month of September, I will announce a time and date in the next few days.  If you are interested, please signup here. Even if you can’t make the call, a recorded copy will be sent to you afterwards.

Please take this binge eating survey

This is a totally confidential survey to help create better and more efficient treatment for Binge Eating Disorder. Unless you provide your email address for further discussion, your answers will be totally anonymous and untraceable to you.

Top 5 Causes of Binge Eating Disorder


Originially published on

Someone asked me yesterday why people have binge eating disorder,  as if there is one answer, she said, “is it trauma? or is it the media’s preoccupation with being thin? or what?”

Okay, so clearly there is no one answer, there are like 100 or one million reasons and they’re all mix and match. But let me tell you here the ones that I’ve come across most often: 

1. Backlash from dieting- A long time ago, somebody said that you were unacceptable. Maybe it was your Mom, maybe it was a teacher, or maybe in fifth grade, the boy you had a crush on said that you had a big butt, maybe in seventh grade your five best friends all decided that they didn’t like you anymore and you ate lunch all by yourself on a bench for the rest of the year and then everyone else followed suit and stopped talking to you. Maybe you couldn’t figure out why and so you blamed it on your body.  Whoever or whatever caused you to think that you were unacceptable, you blamed it on your body, and so you decided to do something to change it. You decided that if you lost weight, you couldn’t get hurt anymore. You could hide, be invisible. But one day, you went off your diet because there was a big piece of  birthday cake in front of you. And then, eating that birthday cake symbolized everything that was wrong with you. All the hurt, all the bad things everyone ever said about you. That birthday cake told you that you were going to be abandoned, alone, lonely for the rest of your life. And it was too much to take. So you ate more to make the pain go away. And then you hated yourself. And so you ate more. The next day you ate nothing. And you were hungry. But still you ate nothing. The day after that, you were so hungry that you ate 5 bowls of cereal for breakfast. Bam. There’s your Binge Eating Disorder. 

2. There was abuse– Someone, along the way, did something that hurt you. Hurt you so much in fact that you decided that you needed to hide. And so you covered yourself and protected yourself by eating and putting on weight. The weight kept you safe and the food kept you sane. It was your coping mechanism and the way that you protected yourself physically from being abused or hurt by people.

3. Depression– You weren’t the type to use alcohol when you were sad, and drugs weren’t your thing. But you could free-base sugar and snort lines of white flour like Grandmaster Flash. Food became your anesthesia, it became your prozac. Bingeing on starchy, sugary foods raised your generated a dopamine response  which lit up the pleasure center in your brain. But the dopamine signal regulated and you became depressed again and more concentrated sugar and processed carbohydrates were needed to make you happy, although ultimately, your depression got worse because you didn’t want to be binge eating. The cycle became vicious. 

4. Overstimulation- Used to be that food was hard to get. I don’t even mean back in the paleo times, I mean like, when your Mom was a girl. You went to the fish market for fish, the fruit stand for fruit and the butcher for meat. There wasn’t a bodega on every corner with cheap processed food for grabbing and eating on the run. Food became less food like and more chemically, addictive substances that your body became addicted to.  Food became so processed and so concentrated that it was no longer food, it was your chemical laden drug. Funyuns and Hohos got you high. You began going on benders and felt that you couldn’t stop. You were addicted to the chemicals and to the high. 

5. Perfectionism- You were trying to be perfect, look perfect, act perfect, eat perfect. And you did this perfectly… in front of everyone. But when you were home and alone, you just cracked. You had to stop being perfect even for a moment. You sat by yourself bingeing in peace and for a moment, you could drop that perfect facade. And it was a relief. 

Q & A Friday – What Should I Do with My Boyfriend Besides Eat?

Things-to-to-with-boyfriend-instead-of-eating1-e1408656376847This question comes from a reader in Ann Arbor, MI.


I am 26 years old and my boyfriend is 28. We have a pretty good relationship, but I often feel like we eat too much together. Since I’ve been with him, I’ve gained close to ten pounds. We hang out most nights and we usually sit in front of the television and eat nachos together or we go out to eat and usually have burgers or pizza or burritos or something equally unhealthy. We wake up on Saturday and Sunday mornings and go out to brunch. Seriously, I feel like all we do is eat. I’m becoming totally miserable. I’ve talked to him about it and he doesn’t seem to care or he looks at me like I’m nuts. But I feel gross and I’m getting depressed. What should I do?

-Lisa in Michigan



Hi Lisa,

Thanks for your question. I hear what you are saying – your relationship is beginning to revolve around food instead of each other and it’s detracting from the relationship itself. You’re becoming increasingly dissatisfied with your eating habits and your weight gain is making you uncomfortable.

Sometimes in family therapy we talk about triangulation- that is when another person is pulled into the relationship to avoid or disperse conflict.  But triangulation doesn’t always happen with a third person, it can also happen with drugs, food, or alcohol. Is there something that the two of you are avoiding in your relationship? You say that you watch TV every night over nachos, does that mean that you’re not talking to each other? Are there any feelings that you might be having about this relationship that you are not looking at?  Check through this article to assess if there is something more there or if you and your bf are using food to avoid.

But it does not necessarily have to be that complex of an issue. It can also just be more of some bad habits that the two of you have slipped into due to the nature of being in a new relationship. Most people do gain weight when they get into a relationship. They are less active and begin to spend more time nesting and cuddling, which starts out as happiness but ultimately causes you to feel bad.

Use the following suggestions to help you find other ways to deal with this.

1. Explain to your BF that you are not feeling happy with the food situation. Use I statements. “My habits have changed quite a bit since we began dating, I love our time together and I enjoy our cuddly nights and lazy weekend morning so much, but I have gained ten pounds because of how much my eating habits have changed! I’d like to start doing things together that don’t revolve around eating so much…”

2. Make suggestions for things you guys can do in the evenings besides eat and watch TV.

find recipes and teach yourselves to cook healthy meals.

-Cook healthy meals together

-On weekend mornings, explore farmers markets to buy the ingredients for said healthy meals

-While the weather is still nice, go on hikes, either urban hikes or find some nice trails

-Go apple picking

-Go out to see live music

-Go to a comedy club – open mike nights are cheap and fun

-Go out to the movies

-Stay home and read out loud to each other. Choose a book that you’ve both been dying to read and read it outloud!

-Do something crafty like building furniture.

-Go to thrift stores or the Salvation Army, pick out some old grubby furniture, bring it home, refinish it, paint it and sell it or keep it for yourselves

-Do a yoga video together

-Meditate together

-Have sex. Just have a ton of sex. You’re young, no kids, have more sex!

-Go out dancing.

-Stay in and have a dance party alone together

-Make ridiculously funny youtube videos

-Write a story together

-Work on a fun blog together

-Do beach clean up

-Plant a garden

-Go to animal shelters and walk dogs

-Train for a 5k

-Create scavenger hunts for each other

-Go to the gym

-Go to the beach/lake and go swimming

3. If your boyfriend still has no interest in doing non-food related activities, you might consider making plans separate from him sometimes, this doesn’t mean that you are rejecting him or breaking up with him, but it’s important to individuate (be your own person, not just part of a couple) so that you don’t feel resentful and like your life is just going along for the ride of his life.

I hope you’ve found this helpful. Please do feel free to ask anymore questions in the comments or add to this conversation.



Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location. Are you interested in online therapy or coaching to deal with your eating disorder? Please contact me to discuss getting started. 

Join the Community for Support in Healing from Binge Eating!

Hi Everyone!

I’ll be posting a box to my mailing list with a nifty new redesign in the next few days, but for now,  I wanted to let you know that after SEVEN years of writing this blog, I’m pushing it to the next level and turning it into a support community! In the next several weeks, I will begin to let you know more and more about what’s going on and what I’m building here. I’m so excited!

If you are interested in learning more about the confidential support community “Recover and Reclaim Yourself” to help you heal from binge eating, compulsive overeating, emotional eating, food addiction, body image issues and overdieting trauma, please do subscribe to my newsletter and you will receive just one weekly email. No spam. No solicitations. No selling your name or email address to mailing lists.

Your one weekly email will contain: 

1. Tips and advice to help you heal food, eating and body image issues

2. Information on how to access the free and confidential online support community

3. A weekly question and answer section with the opportunity to ask questions

4. Updates on current scientific research about binge eating and related disorders and treatment

5. Information on online groups, classes, courses and workshops

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If you’d like access to this valuable resource, PLEASE SIGN UP HERE.

I can’t wait for us to all move forward together in this next chapter of Recover – I’m really going to become more hands on with my readers. I’ve gotten so many amazing emails from folks telling me how much my blog has meant to them and now I’m going to be more available to help my audience.  YAY!