How To Not Binge Eat on Thanksgiving

how not to binge at thanksgivingA long, long time ago, in a lifetime that is so far from the one I’m currently in, I had one of my first major, major forays into deeply disordered eating on Thanksgiving. It was 1986, I was twelve years old (12 YEARS OLD!!!!) and we were having our Thanksgiving dinner at my Grandmother’s boyfriend’s daughter’s house. Said boyfriend’s daughter also had a daughter who was about the same age as I was, only she was a much better person than I was. I knew this because my grandmother kept insisting “why can’t you be more like Allison?”

I didn’t realize it then, but there was no way I could be more like Allison. Allison had a mother and father who lived under the same roof, she lived in a house in the suburbs in Connecticut and money, cool clothes and lots of friends weren’t an issue for her. And, not to mention, she was tall and thin. I lived in a tiny apartment alone with my mother in the Bronx, we didn’t have money for Guess jeans and Swatches and being the total nerd girl that I was, I was more interested in books and my saxophone than boys and clothes. I was also painfully shy, so even if I wanted to make friends and have a cool TV life like Justine Bateman in Family Ties or Rickie Shroder in Silver Spoons.. it just wasn’t in the cards for me. I was too different. I didn’t have the look, I didn’t have the house, I didn’t have the family structure. No brothers or sisters, no two parent household, no house with a yard, no mother baking me cookies when I got home from school, just one totally stressed out Mom who came home after dark totally frazzled, angry and needing a break but not getting one.

Anyway, it was a huge set up for me. We’d go to these people’s house in the suburbs and I’d feel so different. My mother would be annoyed, and my grandmother would be pinching me and whispering to me, “why can’t you be more like Allison?” This particular year, when I was twelve, I remember everyone gushing about how tall and thin and beautiful Allison was. And I felt short and not thin and ugly. So I ate lots of yummy Thanksgiving food to help me feel better. Allison’s mother could cook and cook and cook for days and make the most delicious meals. My mother didn’t have the time to cook those kinds of meals– what we mostly ate at home was brown rice and squash and tofu.  I remember that particular Thanksgiving my grandmother jabbing me when I was on my second piece of pie and whispering “Stop eating piggy… don’t you want to be thin and beautiful like Allison?” All of my shame came flooding into me. I couldn’t win.  I went up to the bathroom and I don’t even know how at age 12 I knew how to do this, but I looked for laxatives in their medicine cabinet. I took a bunch of ex-lax right there in that Connecticut bathroom and that night, after we went home and my mother had gone to sleep, I dragged her bathroom scale into my room and stayed up all night with stomach pain and cramping and using the bathroom. And every time I went to the bathroom, I would note that I was down another notch on the scale. I did this until it was light out and the Star Spangled Banner was on television and then I went to sleep, feeling light, empty and proud of myself for all the great work I’d done. (????)

There were so many things that Thanksgiving that triggered my disordered eating episode. The food was inconsequential in a sense… it was just there to soothe me. There was my shame, my comparative thinking, my family, my sadness/loneliness, my usual restrictive way of eating that was so different from what was being served.. Given this scenario, I was set up for a really bad night.  I can think of a lot of cases where there are a million set ups for disordered eating on Thanksgiving, and it’s not just because the food is there.  

  In my first semester of graduate school, right before we left for Thanksgiving break, one of my professors asked who was headed home for the break. Most of us raised our hands. “Well,” he said, “I don’t care how much therapy you’ve had, I don’t care how much you meditate, I don’t care how much healing you’ve done, when you go home, you are going to be that same twelve-year old kid that you used to be. Same family of origin issues, same role in your family… so be prepared and expect it when it happens.”

I want to support you in having a really fantastic Thanksgiving this year, one without disordered eating, without self-hatred, comparative thinking or severe loneliness. And so what if all of these difficult feelings come up? It’s okay, let’s see if we can create some strategies around not acting out in your eating disorder.

When I think about family systems, I imagine a giant machine with gears that all work together to create one fluid movement. This is what happens in families, we all have an agreed upon role. If one person were to change, it would gum up the works and the machine would begin to move differently… not necessarily worse, just differently. And not everyone has agreed to change so we wind up just back in our old fixed gear position, no matter how many changes we’ve made.

When you are back at your childhood home, or with people you knew from way back or even around food that is old and familiar, you will likely notice  some phantom urges.

It’s weird. Out of nowhere,  you might notice old thought patterns just popping into your head, like, “when everyone goes to sleep, I will turn the television on and sit by myself and binge and purge…” but these aren’t necessarily attached to desire… they are just sort of old passing phantom thoughts and feelings because  you’re being reminded of a scenario that triggered disordered eating back when it all started for you.  It might just be old thought energies popping into your mind triggered by being in an old situation with the same old smells and sights and people and feelings. The phenomena of phantom limbs is when someone feels pain in a limb that has been amputated. This was the same thing- feeling a pain that had no attachments or groundings. In this time of travel and family, you might find yourself having lots of old urges coming up again and again. It’s okay. This is to be expected. Ask yourself, “is this a present day urge or is this old material presenting itself.” It’s like this, let’s say you went home and found your seventh grade diary and started reading through it. You come to the part about your big crush– the boy who sat next to you in sixth period. You read about how he ignored you or never noticed you and how you felt so sad and rejected and how more than anything you just wanted him to notice you. When you read that, you might notice some old feelings of pain and longing come up, but you wouldn’t feel the actually desire to be with this boy. That’s because the feeling no longer exists, it’s just old material. When you go home, you are confronted by a lot of old material that triggers old feelings. Remind yourself, “this feels really real, but it’s old, it’s no longer a valid truth, this isn’t relevant to today’s circumstances…” You might go home and feel like a twelve year old, but you won’t actually be a twelve year old. You are an intact adult who can handle the difficult emotions, even if they are difficult.

Remember to breath and tell yourself that just because the old energy is coming back, you can still bring in the new energy just by breathing it in and remembering that it is there for you. Put your hand on your heart and be kind to yourself. Remind yourself that being human is so, so very messy and human emotions are not rational or linear and that everyone has them, everyone feels completely alone and sad and messy at some point. Tell yourself that i’s okay and that you are perfect and whole and complete exactly as you are in this moment, even if you’re messy, even if things feel out of control, it’s okay… being human is never easy for anyone (I bet even for Allison wherever she is)…

The Thanksgiving meal day itself is something that is always difficult, so I’ve compiled a list of things to help you stay in your recovery during that time:

How To Not Binge Eat on Thanksgiving

1. Have an intention around not bingeing, but not around food. Let yourself eat whatever you want, but tell yourself that you’re not planning on bingeing on it. This is because if you tell yourself no sweets, but then you have one bite of pecan pie, there’s a good chance that you’ll binge on it and not stop bingeing. Know that you can have potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin pie, all of it! Anytime of year, or even the next day for lunch. This is not all or nothing and it doesn’t have to be a binge, it can be a meal where you eat what you want until you feel satisfied. 

2. DO NOT SET UP, CLEAN UP OR COOK BY YOURSELF! Being alone is a huge set up for sneak eating or eating compulsively. Make sure that you either have someone to do this for you or that you at least have help or even someone in the kitchen with you so that you’re not alone. Let yourself get support  too, let the person who is with you know that you’re trying to avoid sneak eating or disordered behaviors around food so you’d feel better if they were with you. 

3. Tell your family about your Eating Disorder recovery. I always encourage my clients to let their family know how their recovery has been going when they go home for holidays. It both gives them accountability as well as love and support from the family. 

4. Get support to manage your social anxiety. One of the more challenging parts of these holiday dinners is being around lots and lots of people and just feeling overwhelmed. One of your instincts might be to dissociate this is where you sort of disconnect from your body so you don’t have to deal with your anxiety and all the people around you. At this point you might find yourself just eating and eating and eating to deal with your discomfort. A good thing to do is to ground yourself and come back to your body. Feel your feet on the floor, look around, see who you see and come back to your body. When you leave your body– you have no one there to to be present and let you know whether you actually want to eat or if you’re just using a coping mechanism. Find yourself physically and emotionally, remind yourself that you might be feeling overwhelmed and shy and that’s okay, (no shame in being who you are) do what you need to comfort yourself. Take a walk, go to the bathroom and breath or drink some water just to feel present again. Find a safe person to anchor you and to help you feel comfortable. 

5. If you don’t have anyone supportive at the Thanksgiving meal, find a support buddy to text or even see if you can bring a a support resource with you, a friend who might be going through recovery with you or someone you feel safe with. If you cannot do that, have a support person who you can talk to on the phone intermittently throughout the meal.

6. Make sure that you eat a good solid breakfast before you go to Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t show up hungry. If you do, your hunger might take over and squelch your intention. Our culture is so entrenched in diet culture that the idea of not eating, doing a “turkey trot” and then bingeing at Thanksgiving dinner has been normalized. But it’s not normal and it’s not good for people with disordered eating as it costs much more than it’s worth. Try to make it into a somewhat normal eating day for you so that you don’t have to take a step back in your recovery.  

7. Eat whatever you want, no food is bad, but do try to  incorporate a solid nutrient dense meal, with protein, vegetables and a starch. If you just snack or graze on a bunch of different foods, you will inevitably wind up feeling unsatisfied, as though you’ve not really had a meal. This could lead to feeling too full and trigger a binge. I really like the one plate theory for big buffets and dinner. Decide that you are going to just have one plateful of food and choose whatever it is that you want to eat on that plate. But when that plate is done, you’re done. That should take the stress away from the after effects of eating and the bingeing that happens when you are uncomfortable and unsure after you eat your meal.

8. Take breaks.  Go into the bathroom and breathe deeply while you’re eating. This will help you digest your meal and to stay calm. Suit up for winter and get outside into the cool air for a walk around the neighborhood. Change your environment a bit so you don’t get lost in it or in your reaction to it. Let yourself get away from the stress of the food and the stress of family that sometimes exists.  If it’s too cold or not realistic for you to leave, take your cell phone into another room and say you need to make an important call and talk to your support person.

9. Talk to people in rooms away from food. You don’t have to sit on a couch in front of a giant platter of cheese and crackers and nuts and hors d’œuvres talking to your aunt as it might take away from your conversation. Try to concentrate on conversations with  people and really engage, really make connections with people who you’ve not spent time talking to in a while.

10. Eat slowly and mindfully. It’s not a race to the end. You can enjoy good food and good conversation.

11. Don’t compulsively overexercise in anticipation of “eating extra calories.”  It will leave you very tired and hungry, again, unable to empower yourself to hold your intention.

12. Bring your journal with you so that you can sit and relax and process your feelings during the meal rather in case you are feeling like you need to stuff down your feelings with food.  

13. Listen to mediations or relaxing music that puts you in a calm mood before you go. 

14. Make a gratitude list before you go.  Think of 10 things that you are truly grateful for. Research shows that creating gratitude lists can decrease anxiety, increase positive relationships, improve physical and psychological health, increase empathy and compassion and increase self esteem. 

15. Engage with the very young and the very old.  If there are children there, spend time playing with them. If there are elders there, spend time talking to and getting to know them. Both things that will be enriching and get your mind off of food. 

16. Mediate. Sit quietly in the bathroom for five minutes and take deep slow breaths into your belly. Inhale slowly  to the count of five and exhale slowly to the count of five. This will calm your body and allow you to let go of any stress or anxiety that your body is holding on to.

17. Remember that if it seems like it might be too hard this year,  you don’t have to go. It’s true, you might let some people down. But you can always explain to them that it’s important for you to take care of yourself in this way this year. If you don’t think that they’d be amenable to this, or you think that they will accuse you of being self centered or self absorbed, don’t offer any explanation that might leave you vulnerable to being shamed or insulted. Creating boundaries with people is important. You don’t have to worry about letting people down wben you need to do things that preserve your SELF. Your sanity is the most important thing to keep you safe and at peace. 

18.  Create loving boundaries for yourself. Think of your inner child and think about how you would help your child if they wanted to eat all the pie and all the mashed potatoes. You would be kind and understanding but explain to them that you didn’t want them to get a bellyache! So of course they are allowed to eat pie and mashed potatoes, but in moderate amounts. A good rule of thumb, keep portion sizes for your Thanksgiving treats to about the size of the palm of your hand. Don’t try to restrict desert because that can be a setup for a binge. Instead, tell yourself that you can sample 2-4 different deserts but take smaller pieces, so that you get to eat some of everything!  Whatever works to put on one desert plate. It’s so important that you let yourself have what you want so that you don’t leave feeling deprived and wanting to binge later. 

19. Consider refraining from taking home leftovers if you feel they will trigger a binge. That doesn’t mean not to take home leftovers, but ask yourself, will I be safe with this food or not so much? You know yourself best.  

20. Plan for what you will do for the rest of the evening– feeling full can trigger a binge in many people – so plan to do something relaxing (conversation with good friend, watching a good movie on Netflix, etc.) when you get home that night and be done eating. 

21. Listen to last year’s Recovery Warriors podcast where Jessica talks to me about Thanksgiving! 

22. Be kind and gentle with yourself. In most people with BED, being too full triggers a binge. Remind yourself that getting too full on Thanksgiving is what most of America goes through and not to beat yourself up and that it doesn’t have to trigger a binge. 

23. And what if you do all these things and you still wind up bingeing? Forgive yourself. It’s okay. The last thing I want for you is to continue this binge for the rest of the week and into December. See How To Recover from a Binge.

But I’m all alone on Thanksgiving- what should I do? 

Being alone on Thanksgiving is isolating, lonely and challenging. But there are many things that you can do to counter that. 

1. Volunteer to serve meals at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen

2. Get away- get out of the house and travel and spend the day doing something you love, hiking, or exploring. 

3. Go out and see a movie marathon

4. Get online and see if there are any meet-ups for people alone on Thanksgiving

5. Spend the day doing things that feel organizing and energizing, cleaning and organizing your house, giving yourself a facial or hot oil treatment, relaxing and catching up on your favorite movies or podcasts. 

Are you traveling for Thanksgiving? Please read HOW TO AVOID BINGEING AT THE AIRPORT

Sign up for our newsletter to get tips on how to stop bingeing and receive an email every single day during the month of December to help you get through the month without binge eating.  This is a rough time of year.  The Fall is always difficult for people with any kind of dysfunctional relationship with food… It starts with Halloween which is a super scary holiday for binge eaters and emotional eaters because candy is all over the place and then it lingers for weeks and months afterwards. I remember once having a client who was still bingeing on her kids’ Halloween candy in January!

That brings us to now, Thanksgiving the full out binge holiday – it brings with it family drama, mashed potatoes and phantom urges, and then there is December. December is the worst! There are constant parties, constant drinking, there are cookie swaps, latke feasts, gift baskets full of peppermint brownies sent to the office every minute, baked goods in the staff cafeteria almost daily… and then there’s that “well just screw it, I’ll go on a juice fast starting on January 1st and then after 3 days I’ll go Paleo…” and then you binge your way through December feeling awful, sick to your stomach, uncontrollable, uncomfortable and holding on to the promise that 2018 is going to be different. It’s going to be your year and then by January 2nd- you’re back on the cycle and you already feel as though you’ve ruined the whole year!

LET’S NOT DO THAT THIS YEAR!

Let’s have a peaceful, calm, easy and moderate Fall this year. I want to support you in being kind to your mind and body. No crazy diets, no intense binges. And if you slip up, I want reach out to help you stand up quickly and not slide down that slippery slope of end of the year madness.

I invite you to join for LIFETIME ACCESS to the 5 week program so that you can get the support you need for the holidays.

Here’s what you get –

  • The FULL 5 Week Step-by-Step Program to Stop Binge Eating For Good and everything that comes with it for a LIFETIME! It’s always yours.
  • The Facebook support group that comes with it.
  • Holiday Buddy support. So during the holidays, I help people match up with buddies so that they have extra support and someone (or a group) to text with so they can get help to stay safe and moderate and comfortable with their eating.
  • I will be doing weekly Facebook lives which are interactive all through the Fall until New Years. With these you can ask and answer questions.
  • A few “group therapy sessions” online. Those will be small groups available on a first come first serve basis.
  • An email every single day in December to help you stay focused on your goal of self-kindness, self-compassion, eating with kindness and love, not over-eating, not restricting, but enjoying your food and not beating yourself up over what you might have done or not done with eating and your food.
  • I want you to start 2018 strong. I don’t want you to start 2018 thinking “this is the year I finally tackle my food issues,” I want you start 2018 feeling calm and relaxed and not feeling like you have to make any big changes. I want you Fall to be lovely, peaceful, enjoyable and full of joy instead of angst over food.

 I do hope that you will join the program. Feel free to check out the testimonials to learn more!!!

How to Stop Hating Your Body

How To Stop Hating Your Body 

My mother was a skinny woman, with a tiny body ribs and shoulder bones that stuck out everywhere, a 23 inch waist and big ass Kardashian thighs and booty. But this was not 2018 when tiny waists and giant booties are all the rage. This was 1968 when TWIGGY was all the rage. My Mom believed that to be loved and loveable, she had to look like the societal ideal. Oh this wasn’t her fault. She was doing what the media told her to do and she didn’t quite believe (because of a totally physically abusive Father and an emotionally abusive mother) that she was worthy on her own. So she had to do something else to deserve to be loved and respected. 

Twiggy

Twiggy

Twiggy began the era of the waif which set women out on a  a quest to be waif like. Cute little elves with big eyes and golden hair, all eyes and eyelashes and cute little damsel in distress like. 

No BING BAM BOOM there! When my mother saw that I too was developing her sexy Kardashian-like body, she freaked out (it was the 80’s we were still all about the waif). She said that boys wouldn’t like me if I had big thighs, she was a divorced single mom with no husband… my Dad’s new wife my (amazing) stepmom was waif-like with skinny little thighs, so I figured she was right. Men liked women who were waifs. The rest of us were worthless. I was worthless. So she sent me to Weight Watchers, she restricted my food, we gave out raisins for halloween and when I was good, my treat would be a rice cake with weight watchers margarine. What do you think? Do you think I developed a huge eating disorder and a hatred for my body? You bet! I HATED my beautiful curvy body. I thought it was disgusting. I starved it constantly, then fed it too much, then starved it again. But no matter how much I starved it, those slammin’ Kardashian thighs were still there.

But wait! It was the 90’s. Kim Kardashian was like in 5th grade. But who did we have instead? Kate Moss!

Kate Moss

And my boyfriend at the time, well he loved Kate Moss. Know why? He told me he loved Kate Moss because she looked like his ex-girlfriend. And he had photos of Kate Moss plastered all over his room. Now, you would think that this would be a clear sign for me with my slammin’ hips and voluptuous booty to get the fuck OUT of  that relationship. But, oh, remember my bad self-esteem? Where my Mom told me that I had to change my body so that boys would like me? So I went back to starving and starving and starving, my ribs sticking out all over the place, my head too big for my body, my brain in a constant fog… but my booty still BAM! Oh where or where was my prince Sir Mix-a-Lot when I needed him? Meanwhile, I was 22 years old and men were very, very interested in me. But know what? I had this eating disorder brain that tells you crazy things, like if a man is talking to you it’s because he’s making fun of you. If he tells you that you’re beautiful he’s lying because he wants to make fun of you, I mean, no man would  like a woman with big thighs and a big booty right? That’s what I learned during the Jane Fonda craze. Meanwhile, I was in my 20s by this point, my boyfriend still wouldn’t take his photos of Kate Moss down and I was totally sick of my eating disorder. Eat starve eat starve eat starve eat starve eat starve… my body alternating between about 30 pounds either way. I was in a size 00 or a size 14. I did have some different sizes in my closet, but fortunately I mostly wore baggy brown corduroys and blue hoodies because it was the 90’s. Nobody really saw my body except for when the bones in my face were jutting out. And my friends pointed out that cigarettes and 40oz of Crazy Horse was not enough to eat in a day. Pshaw! I was 22 and again. It was the 90s!!!!!! 1997 to be exact. The Breeders! The Pixies! We lived in Boston! We didn’t eat! We smoked! And me… still with a booty. A big one. I cried… I worked at Newbury Comics on Newbury Street for $5.00 an hour and used that money (about $575 a month after taxes before my $315 a month rent) to join a gym that cost $78 a month- Do you know how expensive that gym was in 1997? It was like my whole salary. But that booty! I had to get rid of those thighs and that booty. That booty got in the way of me being a real true live Indy Rock record store girl. I was not enough. Kate Moss was enough. Kim Gordon was enough. Kim Deal was enough. But me, I wasn’t a Kim or a Kate. I was a Rikki Lake. So I starved and starved and starved some more. Cigarettes! More cigarettes! No more Crazy Horse, too many calories. Cigarettes and pink wine (this was pre Rose’ all day, pink wine was a bad thing and my taste in wine was quite bad coming from the Bronx and also being basically a child at age 22).

My fight with my booty continued. And despite a steady diet of pink wine and cigarettes (and sometimes my bff Kristi would make me walk down the to the dodgy corner store on the road between Allston and Cambridge where the old Russian proprietor who we called “old one eye” (because she only had one eye) sold rice and mac & cheese filled with maggots. We liked “old one eye.” But it wasn’t a nice name to call her. However, we were only 22, not yet woke and a little uncouth. We would walk into One Eye’s to buy Kit Kats and chips and Kristi told me to just eat chips and KitKats, why the fuck not. And so I did because Kristi was tougher than me and I didn’t want to argue with her.

Anyway, I was starving, my ribs stuck out everywhere. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I got fired from my job at Newbury Comics because I was supposed to be rude to customers but I was too nice and my managers yelled at me and I cried (true story). Anyway… I was not me. I didn’t accept me, I didn’t know who the real me was and I tried everything I possibly could to not be me.

But MEEEEEEEEE! Me was great. I was a nice, kind human being. I was soft and curvy and sweet and loving. And when I looked in the mirror I saw large kind brown eyes, a love and admiration for most people, and deep desire to help humanity. But somehow I thought I was worthless because of the way I was built.

A few years later my Mom passed away. She was young, only 54. She didn’t die from her eating disorder, but she died with it, still believing that her butt and thighs were a deficit, that her cellulite was wrong.

It wasn’t worth it.

A life striving to be something that you are not.

What if you could take who you are and just be that and really, really be you. Be 1 million percent you!!!!!!!!

What if you could take what you were given and be that amazing person rather than the 8% of women who look like supermodels and use Instagram filters?

What if you could look in the mirror and decide what makes you beautiful?

What if YOU could choose your perception of what you think is beautiful?

Who is your social media filled with? I know that most of my patients fill their Instagram feeds with popular models and fitness gurus. But then, we are following women who represent how about 8% of the world can look.

And it messes with our heads. We believe, because this is the media that we are seeing and exposed to, we believe that this is the only way to be beautiful. But it’s only one small way. But what about the other 92% of ways to be beautiful? What if you’re not tall, white, blond and skinny? What if you’re short? What if you’re Asian? What if your skin is Brown? What if you’re facial features are more ethnic and less Eurocentric? What if you’re trans what if your gender doesn’t follow anything that you’re seeing in the media? Then what choice do you have than to come to the conclusion that you’re not beautiful because you don’t look like these models.

These beauty standards have been fed to us because for so long we have been a captive audience!

But it’s SO DIFFERENT NOW!!!!! You actually get a choice of what your media is!!! You get to change your perception of what is beautiful and the more you see images of women and men and others who pose in beautiful ways and feel beautiful, yet not conforming to the stereotypes of what is beautiful, the more you are able to change your own perception of what is beautiful, the easier it is for you to see yourself as beautiful!

How to Stop Hating Your Body? You can stop hating your body not by changing your body, but by changing your perception of what is beautiful. It’s that simple.

It doesn’t matter what size you are, what shape you are, and even if you fall into the socially acceptable standard of white,  petite and blond, even if you fall into that 8% standard of beauty, still follow people of all different shapes, ethnicities, and genders… it’s imperative that we challenge our perception of what beauty is, not just for the people around us but for ourselves as well. There’s no reason to look in the mirror and grab your cellulite and say “ick, how do i make this go away?” You can’t! 98% of you women have it. Wouldn’t it be amazing if instead of looking in the mirror and scanning for “what is wrong with me?” to look in the mirror and scan for “what is right with me?” Look at my cute nose, look at my long eyelashes, look at my beautiful tight curls, look at how graceful my belly rolls are, they are soft, desirable, squeezable and safe and comforting. Instead of scanning for what you hate, try to scan for what you like. I like my eyes and my eyelashes a lot. Oh and I finally have embraced my booty and my thighs. 

I purposely have my social media filled with images of folks who don’t fit into the typical beauty standard. This is how I start to see all kinds of people (including myself) as beautiful. Beauty isn’t a blueprint, it’s a perception, it’s subjective. And you can change that perception. 

Follow people on Instagram who challenge your perception of what beauty is.

Some examples of people on Instagram who are helping to disprove the dominant paradigm. There are many, many, many to follow:

Ashley Graham 

https://www.instagram.com/ashleygraham/

Tess Holliday
https://www.instagram.com/tessholliday/

Jess Baker
https://www.instagram.com/themilitantbaker/

TransfolxfightingEDs

Trans Folx Fighting EDs 

Laura Delrato
https://www.instagram.com/heylauraheyyy/

Jessamyn Stanley 
https://www.instagram.com/mynameisjessamyn/

Naomi of diet culture sucks
https://www.instagram.com/dietculturesucks/

Corrissa Enneking
https://www.instagram.com/fatgirlflow/

Eff Your Beauty Standards
https://www.instagram.com/effyourbeautystandards/

Sia Cooper
https://www.instagram.com/diaryofafitmommyofficial/ 
(trigger warning, she is a personal trainer and trains in bikinis and sports bras…. and does sell her fit mom guide… BUT… she had a body that is a normal persons body… she’s not extra thin, she shows her cellulite and is like, “guys! It’s okay!” she shares recipes and encourages everyone to eat t good big healthy hearty meals. Her body is that typical pear shaped body and she just rocks it. She is shows all the parts that people could perceive as flaws, and keeps us from thinking that there is something wrong with us because we’re not perfect. She doesn’t alter her instagram pictures for perfection, that’s part of why I like her so much.

Lindy West

https://www.instagram.com/thelindywest/

Nia – The Friend I Never Wanted  discusses her ED recovery

https://www.instagram.com/thefriendineverwanted/

Allison Kimmey

https://www.instagram.com/allisonkimmey/

Mandy Lynn

https://www.instagram.com/mandilynnbbw/

Beyond Binary Boxes

https://www.instagram.com/beyondbinaryboxes/

Disabled Angels

https://www.instagram.com/disabledangels/

What about you? Who do you follow? How have you taken steps to change your perceptions of beauty? 

 

This blog post was originally an answer on Quora to the question: How Do I Stop Hating My Body? 

How Not to Binge on Halloween Candy

How Not to Binge on Halloween Candy

How Not to Binge on Halloween Candy

So all of you living in the United States are undoubtedly being bombarded by Halloween candy. There are giant, larger than life displays at every store you walk into, and most likely, it’s sitting in giant bowls in your house as you get ready to pass it out to little ghouls and goblins and witches and Batmans and Wonderwomans, Trumps and Melanias… (and maybe some Stormies, who knows!) 

And, if you have kids, you will have bags and bags of candy in your house for months. If you don’t, the candy will be at your office in bowls as people bring in all their leftovers. How Not to Binge on Halloween Candy. 

Not easy for someone dealing with Binge Eating issues.  I have many patients who are already in a daily fight with that bowl outside the secretary’s office, trying to figure out how not to binge on Halloween Candy when it’s absolutely everywhere taunting them. 

Halloween itself is usually binge day. You tell yourself that this day, today, you get to eat as many of those little Twix and Almond Joy bars (and everything else that looks interesting) until you’re sick to your stomach and then you’re done- never again until next Halloween.

But of course with BED it’s not and never is that simple. You’re going to eat those candies and you’re going to feel guilty, you might even purge, you might wake up tomorrow morning feeling sick to your stomach and depressed. You might see more candy laying around and just lose control completely – and this might last for weeks, going into months, trickling into Thanksgiving and then into Halloween. 

Quick guideline for dealing with all the Halloween Candy and How Not to Binge on Halloween 

1. Eat what you want. But think about giving yourself some loving and kind limits. Think about how much would taste yummy without making your body feel bad. I usually can eat about 2-3 of those fun-sized candy bars and still feel comfortable, not full and no sugar headache . If you need a guideline, you can look on the back of the package and see what they consider a serving size.  Across the board, it seems that the serving size for most of these treats is about 3 pieces. 

2. HOWEVER— don’t limit yourself to just Halloween day. You can have 2-3 servings of those candy bars every day. This way you will get to enjoy everything without feeling deprived and without bingeing on candy. You can eat a couple of pieces of Halloween candy every single day for the rest of the year if you want. I do suspect that you’ll get sick of it after a few days or weeks though– but don’t even think about that or worry about that- let yourself enjoy it each day for as many days or weeks as you are enjoying it.

3. The most important thing is that you give yourself permission.

4. You don’t beat yourself up.

5. Plan for what you really want to eat that day and you tell yourself that tomorrow you get to eat the next thing. This way you will feel satisfied and you won’t set yourself up for a binge.

6. When you’re done, let yourself be done. You might eventually become sick of Halloween candy. Don’t let your black and white thinking make you finish something that you’re not actually interested in. Sometimes we eat because we think we have to eat even if we don’t want to. If it’s harming you and you’re eating because you think you have to or you should, then just pack it up and give it away. No reason to have it if you don’t want it. My dentist does a Halloween candy buy back from neighborhood kids and sends it to the troops. Be creative. You can donate it or give it to someone for a birthday party or leave it at work.

Um But What About Starbucks? What About dem Pumpkin Spice Candy Corn Turkey Cranberry Frappuccinos?
How Not to Binge on Halloween Candy

This is really the same for those pumpkin spice lattes. If you find them interesting, then go for it. However, you might want to put some kind and loving limits on them for yourself. Remember, you’re not putting limits on yourself because you’re restricting yourself or because you hate yourself, you’re putting kind and loving limits on yourself because you love yourself, you love your body and you want to help give your body what it wants in the quantities it wants.  For instance get your latte’ along with some protein (like a salad with chicken/eggs or some cheese) rather than with a pastry. This is because your blood sugar rises and drops when you eat lots of sugar on an empty stomach and that can often trigger a binge as your body searches for more sugar to keep your blood sugar (and mood) elevated. The protein helps to keep your blood sugar stable and keeps you feeling steady. 

How Not To Binge On Halloween Candy

Also remember that Pumpkin spice latte season is sort of a psychological trap. This scarcity thing happens where people see something ‘for a limited time’ and feel that they have to get as much of it as possible. Remember that the holidays are famous for doing that to consumers and ask yourself, “would I want this anytime or am I being manipulated with scarcity marketing?” For most of us, it’s possible to buy the ingredients to make any of these things any time that we want, so think about how much you actually want it. As I said before, if you actually do want it, let yourself have it as the restriction and punishment is what triggers a binge.

How Not To Binge On Halloween Candy

The Fall is always difficult for people with any kind of dysfunctional relationship with food… and October seems to be in full swing now with Halloween looming. It’s a super scary holiday for binge eaters and emotional eaters because Halloween brings candy all over the place and then it lingers for weeks and months afterwards. I remember once having a client who was still bingeing on her kids’ Halloween candy in January! After Halloween, Thanksgiving comes which is a full out binge holiday – it brings with it family drama, mashed potatoes and phantom urges, and then there is December. December is the worst! There are constant parties, constant drinking, there are cookie swaps, latke feasts, gift baskets full of peppermint brownies sent to the office every minute, baked goods in the staff cafeteria almost daily… and then there’s that “well just screw it, I’ll go on a juice fast starting on January 1st and then after 3 days I’ll go Paleo…” and then you binge your way through December feeling awful, sick to your stomach, uncontrollable, uncomfortable and holding on to the promise that 2018 is going to be different. It’s going to be your year and then by January 2nd- you’re back on the cycle and you already feel as though you’ve ruined the whole year!

RelatedGet Through Halloween without Bingeing

How Not To Binge On Halloween Candy

LET’S NOT DO THAT THIS YEAR!

Let’s have a peaceful, calm, easy and moderate Fall this year. I want to support you in being kind to your mind and body. No crazy diets, no intense binges. And if you slip up, I want reach out to help you stand up quickly and not slide down that slippery slope of end of the year madness. I am here to support you. If you have not signed up for newsletters, please do sign up below to receive supportive emails until January 1st! 

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5 Ways to Change Your Environment for Binge Eating Recovery

I really love bugs. I don’t know what it is about them. I just find them fascinating. When I was a little girl, I used to collect them.

I know. Gross. But I was a big nerd — so there you go.

Anyway, one dusk in late spring, my Mom and I went to a park down the street from our building so that I could watch the fireflies.  I caught several, brought them home in a mason jar with leaves and water and holes nailed into the lid. When I got home, I watched the fireflies until I fell asleep. When I woke up in the morning, they were all dead and I cried for days.

The lifespan of a firefly is approximately 60 days and I don’t think that I perchance had collected all geriatric fireflies. I mean I could have, maybe that’s why they were so catchable, but it’s unlikely.  The fireflies died because their environment wasn’t hospitable to their livelihood. 

You get where I’m going with this, right? How can you make your environment more hospitable to recovery and take away the elements that make it hostile for you. The most important thing is to either remove your binge triggers or to combat them before they overwhelm you. 

1. Deal with food triggers

This is always controversial. My feeling is that no food is bad and you should be able to eat whatever you want. However, if there are certain foods that you just believe that you can’t not binge on, it’s okay to get them out of your house. Your house should be a safe place for you, not a scary place where you are in emotional turmoil as to whether or not to take a bite of something. I always say, if you were a cocaine addict in recovery, would you keep piles of cocaine on your kitchen counter? It probably wouldn’t be a great idea. I couldn’t keep boxed cereal in my house for many, many years. Once my disordered eating was very well behind me and it was safe to do so, I was able to keep it in the house again. If you just cannot do this due to having family members or roommates who need these things in the house, ask them to either keep it in a high cupboard, or in a locked area, or hidden. 

2. Change what kind of social media you are looking at

When I was 22, my very serious boyfriend had a very serious thing for Kate Moss. He had pages and pages of black and white Calvin Klein Kate Moss ads plastered  all over his bedroom walls. Kate Moss with her cheek bones and her hip bones and her ribs sticking out all over the place. It made me feel totally unworthy and unhappy with my own soft (not pointy or bony) body. It made me go days and weeks living on nothing but cigarettes and chardonnay and diet coke instead of food.  But what if he’d instead had pictures of Sophie Dahl or Emme or even Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Janet Reno? Maybe I wouldn’t have felt so crappy about myself. I mean, I probably would have in certain ways, but it definitely didn’t help my self-esteem.

Things are crazy now with Instagram. It’s really important to challenge your perception of what you think is beautiful. We are so bombarded with images of what the perfect woman is supposed to look like, that we forget that there are many ways to be and feel beautiful. In order to change that environment, fill your IG feed with models who challenge the thin ideal. People like Tess Holliday or Joni Edelman or Ashley Graham. Check out the hashtag #effyourbeautystandards or follow the actual @effyourbeautystandards on Instagram. 

I believe that challenging your own perceptions of what is beautiful can truly help you to look at yourself differently. My favorite Instagram accounts that are doing this are: 

Laura Delrato  – I also love her because she’s from the Bronx like me. 

Diet Culture Sucks This youngin has recovered from her ED and posts amazing photos of herself and her friends just being.

The Militant BakerJes Baker, author of Land Whale and  Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls: A Handbook for Unapologetic Living

3. Deal with Environmental Triggers

Environmental triggers are having things in your environment that feel unchangeable that cause you to binge. For instance, a kitchen at work that is always filled with free snack foods, or everyday on your way home from work you pass a certain bakery or coffee shop or supermarket or the fast food place that you stop at on your way home from work every day or eating in your car…  Doing things that challenge these environmental triggers are a big way to feel more relaxed and less beholden to things and urges that feel beyond your control. Take a new route home from work, move your cubicle to the opposite side of the office… figure out ways to deal with the triggers that keep you stuck in your automatic thinking patterns. When I quit smoking, I had to quit drinking coffee for awhile because cigarettes and coffee always went together. I ungave up giving up coffee because really I love coffee more than I love most things in the world. 

4. Notice your mental environment

Your mental environment has to do with your cognitive behaviors. That is, the way your thoughts take over your mind. It’s really easy to believe that you are a slave to your brain. Especially if you have a brain that overthinks. I understand this problem intimately as I have a loud chatty brain that loves to keep me awake at night. This is where learning how to stop your brain from moving comes in handy. People are often curious about meditation, and the truth of it is that it is the only tried and true method of turning your mind off. If you can prioritize 5-10 minutes a day of meditation, you will learn how to turn your brain off so that you can actually do that when your brain is causing you angst and woe. It’s almost like resetting the radio. When a song comes on that you hate, you can either turn it off or turn to a different station with music that makes you happy or calms and soothes you. You don’t have to sit and listen to a song that makes you crazy. You can do the same thing with your brain, you can choose the thoughts that you think. 

5. Get away from Toxic People

I hate to refer to human beings as toxic, nobody is actually toxic, but their behaviors or attitudes might not be compatible with your own or their words might hurt you. Sometimes we spend a lot of time either thinking about these people or trying to do something to get them to change their behavior or we try to change our own behavior to make them change theirs. If you have a relationship that is causing you pain, be it a friend, workmate, colleague or romantic partner– if they are causing you to treat yourself poorly, it’s okay to take a break from them. Nobody should be spending time with someone who brings out the worst in them. 

Your environment and the world around you are intimately tied up in your behaviors. Your behaviors didn’t start in a vacuum, so by changing certain environmental issues, you can have an easier time changing the actual behaviors that you’re grappling with. 

 

Q & A Friday – Intuitive Eating is Making Me Fat

I’m So Scared that Intuitive Eating Is Making Me Fat

Over the past few months I’ve been getting a similar question over and over again in both my private practice and from my readers. “I’m so afraid that Intuitive Eating is making me fat…”  They tell me that they really think that they should be on a weight loss diet again because they believe that they have been gaining an unacceptable amount of weight with intuitive eating protocol.  Here is the most recent email I received:

Dear Leora, 

 I read a comment on another Facebook support page, where intuitive eating is promoted, and some steps have been very helpful, but this particular comment really upset me…Someone wrote that with intuitive eating she gained weight and she has to bring some of her old clothes  back from storage and someone else replied that she was going through the same thing due to intuitive eating.   Since I am trying so hard to implement intuitive eating and I feel better physically, I got a panic attack thinking that I am going to put on more weight and had the urge to weigh myself, but I didn’t, but my head is still messed up 🙁 I am trying to make sense of it all that it is probably different for different people. If someone had just stopped a very restrictive diet and started intuitive eating, chances are that she will regain some weight! If on the other hand, someone has been eating mindlessly (until the plate is finished, irrespective if full or not), emotional eating, habitual eating and sometimes binge eating (like me!) Then chances in that case are weight loss. I am not turning intuitive eating into yet another diet, I am very aware of that, I am not aspiring to be mega thin, I want my body to find it’s natural weight on it’s own by guiding me, when what and how much to eat. I feel heavy, sometimes very out of breath when climbing stairs and the last thing I want is to get heavier. 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Although the email above assumes many different outcomes and looks at different angles of the situation, there is something underneath it, which is what lays underneath this question consistently. 

The fear underneath is due to the following beliefs:

1. I don’t trust my body to do what it needs to do. I must control it brutally in order to keep it in line. 

2. I don’t want to gain weight. 

3. Weight gain is bad. 

4. I am afraid of being out of control. 

5. A diet is the only way to control me. 

6. I can control what other people think of me by being skinny. 

7. Controlling what other people think of me is extremely important to my well-being.  (Read How to Stop Worrying about What Other People Think About My Body.)

Let’s start by discussing what intuitive eating is and what intuitive eating is not. Intuitive eating is what happens when you are allowed to eat what your body needs and wants to keep it vital, healthy and peaceful without you having to think about it.  Intuitive eating is not a diet. However, because of both the diet industry and the food industry, most of us have lost our internal cues for eating what our bodies need. We are told that we need to be skinny and thus we shouldn’t eat carbs or fat or only eat fat or we should eat like a caveman or we should never eat fruit or we should only eat fruit or we should never eat meat or we should only eat meat or we should put butter and coconut oil in our morning coffee because we aren’t eating enough fat. At the same time, we are being advertised to by unethical food companies with never-ending pasta bowls and packaged food with so many chemicals preservatives in them that our bodies have completely lost their abilities to correctly process food and figure out what nutrients they need.   

The food and the diet industry are both out for their bottom line. They don’t care about you. They want you to spend your money. And the only way they can get you to spend money is to completely distort your relationship with food and your body.  SCREW THEM!!!!

This is actually the way I quit smoking. I got real, real mad at RJ Reynolds, the tobacco company that made my beloved Camel Lights that I smoked regularly from the time I was fourteen until I was thirty! Anyway, I realized one day that this horrific company was getting rich off of people like me who were tragically addicted to cigarettes. And they did what they needed to in order to keep us in their clutches. I just didn’t want to contribute to that and I didn’t want those evil conglomerates having power over me.  My anger is what caused me to quit a habit that I’d done for more than half my life. 

Now most people in my general eating disorder milieu would argue that there is no such thing as food addiction. Fair enough (we all argue a lot over semantics in this field). However, what is true is that there is a distinct addiction to the process of both dieting, binge eating, feeling guilt over eating, and the way our mind tells us that once we start a diet and get skinny, our lives will be perfect.  So once we start to incorporate intuitive eating, we don’t just do away with diets– we do away with a whole way of thinking, behaving, and we get rid of specific ways of behaving cognitively (letting our mind obsess about food, diets, controlling what people think when they see us, believing that being skinny is the answer to all our lives troubles, etc.) Intuitive eating isn’t just giving up dieting and eating whatever you want whenever you want it, it’s rejecting the dominant paradigm about food, our bodies and control. 

The problem is, intuitive eating has been co-opted as another weight loss method. And if you are still focused on losing weight, your stress about diets, weight loss and changing your body are going to continue to nag at you. As long as you continue to obsess about your body and weight loss, intuitive eating ceases to be what it is meant to be, intuitive.

Don’t blame yourself. As I said before, your environment has set you up for this. You are controlled by the environment to be obsessed with both food and with weight loss. You are being controlled by a nasty industry that makes money off your desire to lose weight and your survivalist desire to eat food. 

If you want to know the truth, in both my private practice and in my five week binge eating progra I don’t have people start with intuitive eating. For the reasons I mention above, I think it’s too difficult. I start by having them track their emotional and physical sensations around food. Some people notice that beans give them energy, strawberries makes them anxious, steak makes them happy, bread makes them tired… etc etc… this is just an example. But the truth is, only you and your body know what happens for you emotionally and physically when you eat a certain food. It’s true that there are certain foods that might cause anxiety because they were previously thought of as “bad foods” like grains or bread or dairy or whatever they’re saying is bad right now… so it’s important to distinguish if these emotions are due to the food that you’re eating or due to the conditioning you’ve gotten from the diet industry. 

I also ask people to take the emphasis off of losing weight. The more weight focused you are, the more likely that your weight won’t normalize. Instead, focus on doing things that your body enjoys and helps you to feel strong. For example, of course moving your body is a good self-care ritual, but so are things like getting a papsmear, paying your bills, flossing your teeth, washing your sheets, donating old clothes, working through your laundry pile, getting rid of stacked up papers around your house, and generally just lightening your load, the things that make you feel heavy and overwrought. 

Be kind to yourself. Be kind to people around you. Be kind to the food that you’re eating. Send love and gratitude to food that you consumer.  When you thank your cream for being rich and creamy and delicious, your greens for being crunchy and life affirming and keeping you regular, your chocolate for being soothing and sensual, your coffee for being dark, hearty and the best part of your morning, you are more likely to eat it with love and thoughtfulness rather than to eat it quickly and without regard for the food and for your body. Be kind to your body. Thank it for digesting your food, for carrying you, for keeping you alive, for giving you freedom or for whatever your body does for you. 

The emphasis on weight and weight gain and doing things like calling intuitive eating the “intuitive eating diet” (I swear that’s a thing) completely undoes any positive effects that intuitive eating has. Intuitive eating is also intuitive body-ing. It’s letting your body do what it does when you are moving it and eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re feeling satiated. When you try to control your body, you come back to the position where you were when all of your food issues began. 

I hope that this was helpful for you. 

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? Send an email to leora at bingeeatingtherapy  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 individual therapy or online coaching sessions  to deal with your binge eating? Please contact me to discuss getting started.

Thunder Thighs and Other “Problem Areas”

*PHOTO CREDITS TO MODELS FLUVIA LACERA AND TARA LYNN
Summer style guideMany years ago, when my cousin had her first baby, her husband, as he held this gorgeous nine month old baby, squeezed on of her plump little thighs and said, “I can already see that this is going to be a problem area for her, we’re going to have to watch that…” (don’t worry,  my cousin divorced him). 

Problem area. I asked him what he meant by “problem area,” he said, “her thighs are fat, and they’re going to be a sticking point for her…” All the women in my family have thighs that are thick, strong, and sturdy. Including his wife. And he said it was a problem. SHE WAS AN INFANT!!!!! I have been thinking about this moment 15 years ago for days now. Because I know how these eating disorders get started. A baby girl is born perfect and her dad, her mom, society, a boyfriend, a teacher, whomever, says she has a “problem spot.” And then, she sees what she was born with, what is naturally in her DNA as a problem. And she diets. She starves, she gets sick, she binges, maybe she purges, takes laxatives, maybe she runs miles and miles and miles and miles and miles to make that “problem” go away. And she blames herself when it doesn’t. She blames herself for having no willpower, she blames herself for not exercising enough, for eating too many carbs, for the birthday cake she ate at her best friend’s birthday party. 

 

Like most every woman in my family, I was born with “problem” thighs. I knew they were a problem because my mother had the same thighs and she did everything under the sun to make them go away. Her mother also believed that she had the same problem. I know that because after my mother died, I found this book upon her stacks of books. It was published in 1952, when my mother was 4 years old and my grandmother was about 30.  This deceptive book was created to make women believe that the size of their thighs was their fault. IMG_3051

 

Here, let me cite the first sentence of the intro for you: “The woman with shapely legs and attractive curves is more likely to get ahead socially, in business and in love. Heavy legs, regardless of other attractions are a handicap that is hard to overcome….”   So here we begin, if you have thin thighs, you will get ahead in life but with thicker thighs,  your life will (and should) suck. If you have body image issues, don’t blame yourself this myth has been perpetuated by misogynists for years.  Now, let me continue with this brilliant piece of literary master… “Hollywood legs, for which some of the screen stars are famous, attract a large audience. Many movie actresses take systematic exercises to develop shapely limbs because they realize that the beauty of their legs may make the difference between success and failure…”  If you have thin thighs you can become famous! And most movie stars make sure to exercise their legs because genetically, this does not come naturally– you are responsible for the DNA you were born with. images

Here’s an interview with Marilyn Monroe where she says “I never really gave much thought to my body, I just tried to make sure I was eating enough… I never bothered with exercise, but now I exercise for about 10 minutes each morning…” Genetics. Marilyn had no hours at the gym trying to tame her body into submission– it just was what it was. Now, let me continue with our fine piece of literature… “We may also mention tennis legs, meaning that shapely limbs of the women who compete at Forest Hills every year for the championship of the United States. Many of these contestants have become famous for the beauty of their legs…”  Finally- a statement I can get behind– with our very own 2016 Wimbledon Champ. Though, somehow I have a feeling that the author of this book was not picturing our gorgeous Serena Williams when he wrote those words. bikini-babes-blunders-serena-williams

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, here is a real gem- the intro of the book, where the author describes in a factual way how we should view women with heavy legs…  “Women with heavy legs are not to be admired… In the minds of many men, such limbs are associated with the peasant type and are commonly called ‘piano legs.’ The woman with heavy, clumsy legs makes little impression on the opposite sex. One need only mention the popularity of certain movie stars who are famous for their beautiful legs. In fact, some of them have traveled to Europe and Korea as part of the war effort to keep up the morale of our troops… yet we see so many women with stout (heavy limbs) everywhere we go: on the street, at parties, in the theatre and in church. Some of them have beautiful faces, but their over-sized legs make them look clumsy. If they would only realize what they are losing in life, these women would gladly take the exercises described in this book for slenderizing heavy legs…”  There’s much more, but I won’t bore you with it. He then goes on to discuss his amazing credentials as a Physical Therapist and a man who appreciates thin thighs. Again, this was 1952.    

IMG_3052

So let’s see, what does he do here? He first tells women that it’s better to have thin thighs because if you do, you get to be virtuous and entertain troops and do something valuable with your life. He then goes on to say that he doesn’t quite understand why if it’s so easy to have thin thighs, then why do most women go around thick legged. Surely it’s their fault for being lazy and slovenly and not doing the (bizarre and unnatural exercises) described in his book, he then goes on to describe that men will not care for a woman with thick thighs. Though I’m sure our friend Sir Mix-A-Lot would disagree with Sir Henry Milchenstein (the bright box who authored this book).  So, although our society has changed a lot in the last 65 years since this stupid book was published– these messages, though not spoken out loud and with such candor still permeate the collective unconscious. But most of us cannot look this way, yet we are made to believe that not only can we, we should and it’s our responsibility to go out and make it happen. 

It seems that my Mom had her moments somewhere between the ages of 4 or 5 years old where she told Milchenstein to go screw himself as seen in these pictures… IMG_3054IMG_3053

Unfortunately, these horrific messages became strong starting with whatever possessed Milchenstein to write this piece of crapola then down  to my grandmother and to larger society and then down to my mother. She struggled and struggled and struggled with her own thighs, doing every exercise that she could to slim them down. She really felt that she had a problem — she felt that she had a problem and she told me that I too had the problem. The inherited curse.   So I tried and I tried and I tried to make them go away. I went days, weeks, months without eating. I ran 10, 20 miles at a time several days a week, I lifted weights, I stopped lifting weights, I ate no carbs or sugar ever. I ate no meat, chicken, fish, eggs, or dairy ever, I went on juice fasts, I went on master cleanser fasts, I wrapped my thighs in seaweed, I sat in saunas, I sat in steam rooms, I did leg lifts every day from the time I was 9 years old. In fact, I owned the book Thin Thighs in 30 Days as a 3rd grader. It was my bible. I did the exercises faithfully in hopes that my “problem” would go away. I was so ashamed of myself. Why couldn’t I beat this? Why couldn’t I have legs like other girls in my school? It eluded me and so I tried harder and harder and harder. I tried as hard as I could to get thin thighs. To rid myself of saddle bags and jeans that fit loose in the waist but tight in the legs. I was built like, like, like… like a woman! 

The truth of the matter is, I have never had thin thighs. Even at an anorexic weight, even when I was running marathons, even when I wasn’t menstruating. My body isn’t a problem and my thighs are not a problem. But I was taught to believe they were and I was at fault.

And most of you were probably taught to believe the same thing. How normal is the cultural discourse about “problem areas.” And if you have bought into this belief–  it’s not your fault. We all fall for it. We all believe we have “problem areas.” But a problem area is a cyst on your ovary, a tumor on your breast, a splinter under your fingernail. Yet the collectively accepted conversation is that we have “problem areas” that aren’t actual problems. Now that is a FUCKING PROBLEM! 

When I was at the most recent International Eating Disorder Conference (ICED 2016), there was a lot of discussion on body image. I sat with several body image experts and I asked them how they helped women deal with body image issues and how they helped them to change their mindset. Many of the answers I got were similar, “In someone with poor body image, you cannot change it, it’s the message of the culture they grew up in and live in. It’s too late. The only thing we can do is help them heal from their eating disorders, and help to empower the next generation of women to accept and love their bodies. Though  we cannot save those who already hate their bodies,  we can empower them to change the status quo and work to help change the cultural discourse around the tyranny of thin.”

Maybe this is true.

But I accept that answer as much as I accept the answer that once you have an eating disorder you will always have an eating disorder and that it’s unchangeable. I have seen so, so, so many women recover 100% from their eating disorders and I’ve seen them go on to lead full lives without the tyranny of diets and weight loss and purging and bingeing beckoning at them.  But  best of all,  I have seen women make the decision to let go of the thoughts that keep them there. So many of those thoughts are, “you have to be different, you are not enough.”

But I have a little truth for you– and that is: Who you are right now in this very moment is enough. You are enough. You might not think that you’re perfect. You might not think that your body is beautiful, you might think that you have “problem areas” and lots of “flaws,” and that’s okay. If you can take one moment, one second each day to think to yourself, “who I am is enough,” and maybe make that second last a little longer each day. And let yourself feel it, you might start to believe it soon.

I will never have thin thighs. I can read every book, do every exercise, go on every diet, lose my period, vomit everything I eat, and my thighs will never be thin. And I can blame it on myself, for not being enough, not doing enough for doing everything wrong. I can do that. And I have done that. I’ve done a lot of that. But I am done. That is not a life that I want for myself.

That is a life that I do not want for YOU.

That is a life that I don’t want for any woman or any young girl or boy or young man or anyone growing up right now believing that they are not enough. 

I want you to know that you are enough. I want you to know that the way you are shaped and built is not your fault and it’s NOT BAD! YOU ARE NOT A PROBLEM. You are a human. And your DNA is what created you. You are enough. And you have so much to live for and so much to do in the world that has nothing to do with the size of your thighs (or belly or arms or tush)… You are not flawed. The world is flawed. Your body did not fail you, society failed you. You did not mess up, the social norm messed up.

Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do? Anything at all that you just never did? What would it be like to focus on that? What would it be like if you could take your focus off your “flaws” and focus on something totally arbitrary? Like I don’t know, learning how to play the saxophone (that’s totally my next venture) or writing a children’s book, or painting with acrylics, or taking a chemistry class, or learning about black holes, or collecting rocks, or doing pottery, or learning how to salsa dance, or doing nail art or blowing glass, or playing tennis, or going to medical school, or learning furniture design, or taking a martial arts class, or starting your own pet grooming business, or reading tarot cards, or learning to sail, or going to beauty school, or knitting socks, or playing guitar or starting a garden, or or, or…. anything! Anything other than spending all your time and your mind and energy thinking about what you should be doing in terms of changing your body into something that society deems acceptable. Because the truth is, according to a 1997 Body Shop ad, there are 3 billion women who don’t look like super models and only 8 who do. So find a habit that you enjoy more, that you can really go forward with, that is meaningful to you– because chasing the illusion of the perfect body will keep you in a state of sadness for as long as you stay in it. 

I love you people and I want you to love yourselves or at least try to enjoy this one life you’re given. 

10 New Years Resolutions that Will Change Your Life (And Not One of Them Involves Losing Weight)

 

Did you know that each year 62%  of Americans make New Years Resolutions and of those 62% only 8% are able to stick to them? That means that almost 197 million people make resolutions and 140 million of those people give up on those. This makes setting resolutions a pretty big set-up for failure and unhappiness.  

Do you know what the number one most common New Years resolution?

I’m sure you can guess that one easily — lose weight!

Unfortunately though, despite your best intentions for improving your life, New Years resolutions tend to make people miserable as people usually fail at them by the second week in January. 

Let’s not do that same game again. Let’s forget about any resolution that has you thinking in terms of all-or-nothing.  Instead,  I want to you to try to think about increasing happiness and joy and kindness to yourself. Here are ten ways to do that:

  1. Resolve to stop supporting a media that devalues women.

How to do it: Stop buying fashion magazines and “health and fitness” magazines that tout the same tired articles on how to lose 10 pounds this month or how to torch 500 calories in one workout, and how to get rid of cellulite for good and those that use diet pills, powders and potions as their sponsors. There are only so many diets and so many workouts, yet these magazines seem to be able to repackage the same information over and over again for years on end. Stop following Instagram and Pinterest Fitspo folks who just wind up making you feel bad about yourself.

How it will change your life: You will save money on magazines, you will create more time and space for yourself to think about other things and to enjoy your life. You will get rid of the clutter in your house. You will stop beating yourself up for not following varying and contradictory advice that those magazines and websites give. You will find relief of feeling as though you should be something else, you will stop dealing with the stress of seeing digitally enhanced images that portray an unrealistic version of what a woman is supposed to look like. You’ll be able to relax and just breathe and just be you…

  1. Resolve to stop comparing yourself to other people. 

How to do it: When you find yourself going to the place of,  “my life would be so much better if I made as much money as…”  or “everyone has someone to spend Valentines Day with except for me…”  stop yourself immediately. Think of a big stop sign in your mind and say to yourself, “no. I’m not going there.” Remember that everyone has their own path, their own Dharma. When you look to someone else’s path you stop moving along your own. You become paralyzed and you’re unable to allow your life unfold the way beautifully and the way it’s supposed to.

How it will change your life: You will actually be able to focus on going forward in your life given what you have. You will be able to appreciate and enjoy the things and the people who are in your life rather than feeling disconnected to what you do have. You will find that when you look at and enjoy what you do have rather than what you don’t have you will generally be happier. You will also be able to enhance and make more of the good things in your life because you will be moving forward in joy and able to appreciate those around you rather than stuck in envy.

  1. Resolve to stop spending buying money on miracle potions. 

How to do it: Stop looking for the next miracle skin cream or beauty potion that will make you perfect. Stick to one simple skin care regimen that you enjoy and that you can afford. Keep your diet healthy (lots of fresh fruits and vegetables) and get fresh air and exercise.

How it will change your life: It will take away the stress and anxiety about buying something every time you see a commercial or read an article about how different your skin will look and be when you get this one product. It will reduce waste in your life and it will keep you from spending excessive cash on something disposable.

  1. Resolve to let go of gossip and criticizing other people

How to do it:  So, this means that even if you happen to be present for a conversation where someone starts talking about someone else, you make the decision not to engage in that conversation and you don’t allow someone to chide you into idle gossip. You choose not to criticize people around you either to their faces or behind their backs. You don’t talk about how someone looks, about their life choices, about their parenting skills, you just let people live their lives and you live yours with kindness and integrity. If people start to talk about others around you, you can just say, “I have this New Years resolution to let go of judgment and criticism of others, so I don’t want to go there.”

How it will change your life:   Letting go of negativity and criticism will feel better in your body. You will feel lighter and more at peace. You will also find that people around you trust you more. They will know that their secrets are safe with you and that they are able to talk to you without fear of judgement or criticism. It will take a big weight off of you and give you more mind space to concentrate on yourself and your own needs. The people around you might just decide to jump on your bandwagon making your circle more pleasant to be around.

  1. Resolve to stop engaging in Fat Chat

How to do it: Stop talking about how fat you are. Stop talking about how much weight you need to lose. Stop talking about diets. Stop talking about who has gained or lost weight. Stop commenting on other people’s weight either to their face or behind their back, even if it’s “Wow you lost so much weight…”  Make a choice to not engage with any talk about other people’s bodies or your own.  

How it Will Change your life: You are choosing not to participate in a society that judges women for the way their bodies look and for how much they weigh.  You create a positive example for those around you and you have done something to change the way people judge people by looking at how much they weigh. When you engage in fat chat, you are contributing to the continuing exploitation of women’s bodies, making it okay for the media to perpetuate the myth of the perfect female form.  Change starts with you.

  1. Resolve to do the things you love more often

How to do it: Make doing things that you love a priority. Carve out time for them every day. If you love to write, give yourself 1/2 hour a day to write. If you love to knit, or sew, or ride your motorcycle, or take photographs, or garden or play with your cat, or go swimming, or draw, paint or sculpt, or sing, make sure that it is something that you do several times a week. It’s so common that people prioritize cleaning the house and paying the bills and never feel like you never have time to do the things that you love. You have the power to make your life enjoyable. When you go into super-functional mode and stop paying attention to the things that give you pleasure, you feel as though you’re just moving through life crossing things off your “to do” list. Some things should be done not to get them done, but for pure pleasure. Don’t reward yourself by vowing to draw after the dishes are done, make drawing a priority. Put it on your list for sometime during the day, not in the evening after all your chores are done. Do it on your lunch break. Make time for you.

How It Will Change Your Life: It will help you to appreciate and enjoy your life, it will make you an active participant in your life so that you can enjoy the day-by-day, not be bored waiting for the next thing to happen.

7.Resolve to work on letting go of what other people think of you

How to do it:  Remember that nobody’s opinion is any more important or any better than your own. So try to have a high opinion of yourself. Hold yourself with integrity– become the person who you admire. When you are holding yourself with integrity (that means being compassionate, kind, not lying or stealing or hurting anyone, holding the highest intention for good), you will know that nobody else’s opinion of you matters because you are a good person.  Remember that most people don’t have the time or the energy to spend time thinking about you– they are spending most of their time thinking about themselves. If they are wasting their time thinking about you, well then congratulations,  you’ve got lots of power!

How it Will Change Your Life:  You will have the freedom to live your life the way you want without the weight of the fear of criticism of others. You will feel lighter and enjoy life more.

  1. Resolve to spend more time with people or animals who have less than you

How to do It: Do volunteer work at the SPCA or your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Find something that you’d be interested in doing at [http://www.volunteermatch.org/]

How it Will Change Your Life:  Studies have actually found that people who volunteer have lower mortality rates and less chronic pain and heart disease. This is because of the sense of community and sharing volunteer work creates. It also reduces isolation (key in healing from eating issues) and increases self esteem and life satisfaction. 

  1. Resolve to take at least one month to go on a “spending fast.”

How to do it: Take 30 days to go on a spending fast where you buy nothing except for true essentials, such as food and hygienic products; no fancy bottled water, no takeout, no fancy meals, no bottles of wine, no fancy soaps, no new clothes, no new jewelry, nothing– just what you really really need.

How it Will Change Your Life: You will find some relief in not having to worry about what dress to buy but knowing that you have a dress at home. You won’t worry about walking into Target for a bottle of shampoo and coming out having spent $150 on razors and lotion, and you won’t have to deal with a late night pizza binge. You will find relief in not having to think too much about what to buy. A spending fast, even for a month is a huge relief.

  1. Learn to Recognize Your Emotional State

How to do it: Use mindfulness to check in with yourself throughout the day. Set a timer on your phone to go off once every few hours. When it goes off, stop and ask yourself, “what am I feeling?” If you don’t know, check this list of feelings . Then practice just sitting with that feeling without doing anything to change it.

How it Will Change Your Life: As you learn to be aware of what you are feeling throughout the day, you won’t surprisingly find yourself engaged in activities that you have previously done to avoid feeling, for instance, you won’t find yourself eating when you are anxious because you will know that you have the capacity to sit with uncomfortable feelings.

What do you think, can you make a few of these changes? You don’t have to be perfect or do them all the time, but I’m betting that if you chose even just one of these, it would make significant positive changes in your life. Try it! Let me know how it goes. 

“We cannot, in a moment, get rid of habits of a lifetime.” -Mahatma Gandhi

I love this quote of course because it is so illustrative of what we tend to believe- that we should be able to snap our fingers and be done once and for all with whatever habit (of the cognitive behavioral kind or physical behavioral kind) that we’ve been doing our whole lives. Patience is a wonderful trait to cultivate. Patience with yourself will get you the furthest along. It will keep you peaceful, calm, protect you from self-loathing and anger at yourself and bring your closer to achieving your most important goals.

Happy New Year!!!!

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Get Through December Day 30

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Oh my gosh- we are so close to getting through December. How are you doing? Are you getting through?

Today’s Tip

Celebrate every moment of your recovery- I don’t just mean to celebrate if you’ve had a day or a week without a binge, but when you wake up in the morning and eat a healthy breakfast, give yourself accolades and support. The more support you give yourself, the more you encourage yourself, the easier recovery will be. Baby steps are crucially important in all stages of recovery. That’s because as disordered eaters- we tend to be so black and white, so all-or-nothing. If you are able to find joy and encouragement for yourself in each small success (passing by a scale and choosing not to step on it, seeing on Facebook that your ex-boyfriend or girlfriend is having a baby and not running to your binge foods, getting stressed out on a road trip or on your way to work and not stopping at the fast food place– all these are big successes) you will find that you get closer and closer to recovery. Think of how much better children do when they are encouraged. We never lose that. We want accolades and validation not just from the people around us, but from ourselves.

Even the most stressful or frustrating event or day deserves acknowledgement. You’ve made it through and have succeeded in facing difficult challenges and opportunities. That means you are that much better equipped to face the next challenge and you are closer to being on the other side- the easier side of recovery.

Inspirational Quote

When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one that has been opened for us.Helen Keller

<<—Go To Day 29

Go To Day 31–>>

Get Through December Without Bingeing Day 29

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So close to saying buh bye to 2016- phew. It’s been a difficult year for many.

Todays Tip

If you have been following me for even a minute, you know that I’m a huge advocate of self-regulation through mindfulness and meditation. The thing is though, it’s not one of those things that’s immediately noticeable (like highlights or a haircut) however, it is noticeable. Not just to you, but to the people around you. I have a client who I challenged to do 4 out of 7 days of meditation each week for one month. She is someone who has an overwhelmingly stressful job – life and death every moment that she’s on duty- her adrenals never get a break. She told me that she felt better after her very first session and couldn’t wait to do more. After just a few weeks she told me that people at her work told her that they loved working with her because she was so grounded and so even keeled and that she had a calming energy about her.

My favorite free mediation app is called insight timer and you can download it here.

Try it out!

Inspirational Quote

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” … Buddha

I love this quote because it’s so relevant to people who deal with the ED schema. So many people tend to put so much of themselves, so much care, so much support into others but forget about their own care. Remembering that you too are just as deserving and entitled to care, love and support is crucial for feeling your value and your worth and allowing yourself to recover.

<<–Go To Day 28

Go To Day 30—>>

Get Through December Without Bingeing Day 28

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Here we are – just 4 days before 2017 starts. How has December been going for you so far?

Todays Tip

Don’t “last hurrah,” it. These last few days are rough. There are lots of leftovers, lots of big boxes and tins full of cookies and baked goods, and the temptation to say “Screw it, I’ll just binge until New Years Day and then start my diet on January 1st…” is big. The problem with that is – that you feel terrible on New Years Day. You feel sick to your stomach, you are bloated, you are depressed and your body just feels not right. And then you start the whole cycle over again. You tell yourself that this is your year, that in 2017 you’re finally going to lose the weight. And then you diet for the first week or so of January and then you’re bingeing again. You don’t have to do that again. If everything in December leading up to Christmas was about food – everything in December leading up to New Years is about weight loss and fitness. It’s okay to be fit, but fit has nothing to do with pejorative dieting. It’s about creating balance for yourself. It’s about finding within you the most easy way to live both physically and emotionally, it’s about not eating too much and not eating too little. It’s about not going to sleep hungry and distraught or full and distraught. It’s about finding satisfaction in being even. What about deciding not to go on a diet for New Years and not to last hurrah it in the days leading up to New Years? What about saying at this moment that you are finding your balance. Right this second. You don’t have to wait, you can do it immediately. Balance is as simple as quieting down all the talk around you and quieting down the mind that tells you to binge or diet and asking yourself, “what do I need to be the kind of me that makes me feel peaceful? Not too much, not too little, but okay just being me?” and then trust that. You might hear that you need to relax more, you might hear that you need to take more walks, you might hear that you need to drink more water or eat more fruit or talk to your mother more or dance or read or stretch more… What is it that can help you at this very moment be the you that you really are? What is inside of you that helps you be you? Put your hand over your heart and breath deeply and ask yourself, “if my heart knew exactly what I needed right now, what would it tell me?” and then listen to your heart. You will learn something amazing about yourself.

Inspirational Quote

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it. M. Scott Peck (From one of my favorite books, the Road Less Traveled)

I love this quote because it reminds us that we waste so much of our time and energy trying to change ourselves. When we value ourselves for who we are, we stop wasting time on trying to make ourselves different. It is only then, out of self-love not self-hate that we transform ourselves. When we try to change ourselves, we come from a place of “I’m not worthy until I lose weight, get thin, fit into a certain size…” and we put off doing our lives. When we value ourselves we use our time now and we participate in our lives now and ironically, that’s how we enhance, improve and evolve.

<<—Go To Day 27

Go To Day 29—>>>

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