Monthly Archives: March 2016

Recovery is a Choice


A really amazing woman shared this with me. She wrote it on her wrist to remind her that it was within her power to decide her next move. I love it.

Top Ten Stupidest Diets

TOP TEN STUPIDEST DIETSI went on my first diet roughly at age 10.  I loved dieting… it made me feel powerful, it made me feel in control and it made me feel like I was starting out fresh, like anything was possible if I could just stick to my diet. Each new diet opened a door of new possibilities. I loved to eliminate, to cleanse, to fast, to restrict, to feel pious and mighty because I could abstain like a mofo. For me, every day was lent from age 10 until my Mom died when I was  28.   My mother shared my passion for everything calorie counting and fasting and trendy food restriction and diet fads. We even did the master cleanse together in 1995- when Beyonce was a mere 14 years old. 

After my Mom died, I lost my will to diet and to restrict. It was like– I just didn’t have the desire anymore, I had different things to think about and  I didn’t want to die knowing that I never hit my goal- or that my goal was an arbitrary number on a scale. My mother had been an extreme dieter for 40 years and didn’t “hit her number” until she was dying.  Did I want to spend my life obsessing on this one thing that I couldn’t possibly achieve without illness?  And so I stopped. I stopped dieting, I stopped restricting, I stopped eating artificial sweeteners, I ate ice cream when I wanted to, bread, mashed potatoes, pasta, red meat, tacos, tortillas, fruit… all of it. Nothing was off limits. But a funny thing happened along the way…my body changed.  I stopped craving food all the time, my mind started thinking about other things, more interesting things, I began to read books that weren’t about food or nutrition,  my energy balanced out and the foods that I believed I had an addiction to, like sugar- well they lost their mystique. Food was just food. It was neutral. I ate when I was hungry and stopped when I was done.  And, truth be told, I lost weight. My body evened out and came to a place that I really like and feel comfortable with. 

That being said, I want to share the top ten stupidest diets that I did. DON’T DO THESE DIETS They’re stupid. 

1. Diet: This was the fruit and sushi diet. All you can eat is raw tuna or salmon and fruit. I did this for about two weeks. 

Result: I was dizzy all the time because I wasn’t getting enough protein, my blood sugar was most likely completely out of wack, I was tired and I couldn’t sleep because I was so wired from the constant fruit. And, my wallet took a huge hit -because sashimi every day? Not cheap. Oh and when I was done, the weight that I lost came back like crazy. 


2. Diet: The egg and cottage cheese diet. I lasted a couple of weeks on this- weirdly enough. Self explanatory. I just ate eggs and cottage cheese. 

Result: Severe constipation, no energy. My immune system took a huge hit and I got extremely sick. Like- the worst flu ever. I wound up in bed and not able to go to work for 3 weeks. And yeah, I lost weight because I couldn’t move to go eat. But when I got better and ate again, it all came back. Of course. 


3. DietThe raw food diet. Vegan, raw, just fruit and vegetables. I was vegan for a long, long time- and the raw food part was easy to integrate.

Result: No energy ever. I felt like I was falling over most of the time. Didn’t lose weight because I couldn’t do it long enough to refrain from bingeing. 


4. Diet: Food Addicts Anonymous/Grey Sheets-  Grey Sheeters and FA members will tell you that this isn’t a diet. But mostly it’s an eating disorder cloaking itself under the guise of a support group. It gives you 3 meals a day mostly consisting of vegetables and meat, and makes you weigh and measure all your food, and puts your character into question if you take a bite of anything off the plan (including a sip of tea or coffee with milk in it).See OA The Good, The Bad and the Crazy and Why Overeaters Anoymous Doesn’t Work.

Result: I dropped out because I didn’t believe that having an apple between lunch and dinner was a character flaw, my “sponsor” disagreed. Thankfully I realized how oppressive and insane this was. 


5. Diet: The Master Cleanse. This is the lemonade diet where you drink nothing but lemon water mixed with cayenne pepper and maple syrup for 10 days. This was trendy maybe like 10 years ago, but my Mom had been experimenting with this sh*t since the 1960’s when the original book came out. We did it together in 1995. 

Result: I passed out on day 3.  Wound up in health services. 


6. Diet: Atkins. You know what Atkins is. 

Result: Pooping Never. Bingeing Always. 


7. DietJuice Fasting. This is super popular now, but I did it in the early 90’s when I was in high school. I got my first juicer as a birthday present. It was one of those late night infomercials – a Jack La Lane Juicer.

Result: I developed a penchant for green apple, cucumber spinach juice. Still good – after all these years. But I didn’t want to clean out the juicer because I was in high school, and of course, no energy and I binged a ton after one day. Didn’t stop me from trying almost every day for like two months to stick to this. Nope. Never worked. 


8. Diet: Sugar busters. No sugar ever. 

Result: I’ve never been much of a sugar person. I’d almost always choose a baguette or chips or cheese over ice cream or cookies. But telling myself that I could not eat sugar ever? Well that just made me want it like crazy and then all of a sudden I believed I was a sugar addict and started bingeing on ice cream and cookies. Because I thought, “if I eat it once, I can’t stop, because I’m addicted.” But if I’m not restricting it, I can take it or leave it. Put it in front of me and I’m like, “meh.” 


9. Diet: Intermittent Fasting. I didn’t eat all day, until dinner time. I called it the “only dinner” dinner diet. This was before the 5:2 diet or the intermittent fasting fad. 

Result: Can you say night time binge party? I had headaches all day and woke up each morning with a food hangover


And… The stupidest diet I ever did…

10. Diet:  The smell food diet. Don’t eat food, just smell it. 

Result: Well this was a disaster. 

How To Shut Down Without Food

15 Ways to Shut Down Without Using FoodThere is a theme in my practice this week. All of my clients came in telling me that one of their biggest problems in healing from binge eating is that they feel like they NEED food to just…shut…down.  Sheila, an extremely busy attorney explained to me that in the evenings, after working a 12-14 hour day, she looks forward to coming home, sitting in front of the television and being able to eat, it’s the way she shuts down after a crazy day. Lindsey, a mom of twin 3 year olds told me that at night, after she gets the kids to sleep, but before her husband comes home, she just NEEDS to sit down with a pint of ice cream and Netflix to shake off the day, that the thought of it is the only thing that keeps her going throughout her evening. This is not new, I’ve been hearing this from my clients fo decades. Food serves a very important purpose- it is soothing, it’s calming and it helps signal the end of the day. It gives you that much coveted self time that you were missing all day.
IT IS SOOOOOOOO important to soothe yourself after a long day of work and kids and stress and everything that you do. You need to be calmed, you need to be soothed, you need a separation between you and the day. Food is what has been doing that for you.  But there are some other things that you can do at end of the day that are not binge eating and will help you shut down.  
And, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites for you: 
  1. Take a hot bath with Epsom Salts. Hot water is good medicine. And the magnesium in Epsom salts will relax your muscles and allow you to get the peace you need between work and sleep. It will also lull you into a deep and lovely sleep.
  2. Read a book that has nothing thought provoking in it. Remember, this is about shutting down. Really turning your mind off, so get into bed with a book that is fun, engrossing and captivating. No books on tape. You need to be using your hands to hold the book- this integrates your tactile senses and satisfies your sensory needs to eat.
  3. Meditate or do a guided visualization. No need to silence your mind or take too much effort. Close your eyes, lay down and breath in through your nose for 10 seconds, hold it and breath out through your nose for 10 seconds. You can also check out wellness hypnotherapy to find specific guided meditations for different subjects (binge eating, relaxation, anxiety, etc.)
  4. Do a Savasana- the most relaxing yoga pose (also called corpse pose) usually done at the end of a yoga class to help you take space between your yoga practice and getting back to your day. It’s so easy. The Savasna pose is really lovely because it just relaxes your whole body. You can use a bolster or a lavender scented eye pillow as shown here- or if you don’t have those things, you can bunch up some towels to put under your knees and heat a wet wash cloth in microwave to put over your eyes. But you really don’t even need all of that, you can just lay on the floor with your arms out, your legs separated, relax your jaw, relax your forehead, just let your body find peace. Make sure that the lights are dimmed, your eyes are closed and even have some quiet music on.  I do however, highly recommend the eye pillow. I use this with all my hypnotherapy clients and I find it helps them to relax very, very deeply. (Photo credit to Suza FrancinaSavasana or -corpse pose- will help you turn your mind off!
  5. Take a restorative yoga class or do some restorative yoga. Restorative yoga is ecstasy grade relaxation. It’s not power yoga, it’s not about fitness, it’s about really relaxing your body and releasing very, very deep tension both in your muscles and in your mind. You don’t have to be a yoga guru to do it either. It’s for every level, even someone who has never done yoga before. When I was in graduate school, I took a one-credit weekend long class on how to relax with restorative yoga poses. A French Psychologist yoga teacher flew in to teach the class- which was about six of us in a big studio in Mill Valley. We each had a big collection of bolsters and pillows and some rope around us that we used to drape ourselves over and around. After getting into each pose, we’d meditate for about 45 minutes to an hour. This was for 9 hours each day. When the weekend ended I felt like my body was jelly and there was no way any worry could ever get into my mind or body. I felt like I was levitating. I don’t even know how I drove home- I think I might have floated.  If you can dim the lights and light some candles and have some nice smelling aromatherapy around you- even better. In San Francisco they offer some evening restorative yoga classes and I’m sure they do in other parts of the country and in certain parts of Europe- but if that’s not an option, definitely check out YouTube and see if you can find some good classes.
  6. Get Body work. I know you can’t go get a massage every day before bed, but you can every once in a while- and if not, try some self massage
  7. Watching television can be rough because lots of people binge in front of the TV- however, if you can do something else while you’re watching tv, like give yourself a manicure, pedicure, hot oil treatment, face mask- something loving and self nurturing that occupies your hands and mouth.
  8. Adult coloring books – can be more relaxing than meditation. It calms your mind and gives you a very similar effect that you’re looking for with food- it gives you another way to  shut down after a long day.
  9. Make jewelry. Seriously, making beaded necklaces or bracelets is an extraordinary way to occupy your hands, relax your mind, and feel that high that you get from your reward centers lighting up when you accomplish a goal or task. It’s easy to do, just have your beading kits right there so you can grab them, sit down on the floor, put on some relaxing music and make some pretty jewelry. Give it as gifts, wear it, or sell it on Etsy.
  10. Knit. Knitting is actually used by occupational therapists to help people alleviate stress, relax, and focus their brains. 

So what about you? Can you add to this list? What are some positive ways you shut down without going to food?