As some of my readers might remember, I previously had a support forum up. Sadly that was an epic fail. It became overrun with spammers and was impossible to manage, so I had to shut it down. I’ve recently opened up a facebook page for the blog. I am hoping that it can also serve as sort of a support group so that folks can get help and support from each other. I also want to use it to post articles and research. My question is, would you use a facebook group as a support group? If so, what kind of privacy settings would you want? Would you want it to be a closed (private) group or open so that many people could join? Answer in the comments section to let me know your thoughts.
Meanwhile, here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/bingeeatingtherapy
Okay. It’s Thanksgiving again. The hardest holiday for those with binge eating issues. Don’t panic. It’s only one day out of the year and it doesn’t have to start off a mult-week binge that continues for the rest of the year.
1. Start off by telling yourself that you can eat whatever it is that you want. However, only give yourself full servings of the things you really want, and give yourself very small (read 1-2 bites worth) of the things you want to sample. So if there are 4 different types of pie you want to sample, give yourself one slice worth of the 4 different types.
2. Keep it all to one plate. Don’t refill your plate several times. Make yourself one big plate and eat it slowly. Allow yourself to enjoy it.
3. Have an intention around food and drinking. Think about what you are going to choose to eat and drink and how much. Making this intention will help you to empower yourself around food and alcohol rather than letting the food take over. Share this intention with a family member or supportive friend or a therapist.
4. If you don’t have anyone supportive at the Thanksgiving meal, 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.
5. If there is a buffet, stay away from the buffet table. Be on the other side of the room as often as you can.
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.
7. Just because there are several new and interesting foods there, you don’t have to eat everything. Make sure that you let yourself have a solid dinner, with protein, vegetables and a starch if you wish. 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.
8. 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. Try to concentrate on conversations with people.
9. Eat slowly and mindfully. It’s not a race to the end. You can enjoy good food and good conversation.
10. 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.
11. Take walks or time outs. Let yourself leave the situation and take mini breaks. 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.
12. Bring your journal with you so that you can sit and relax and process your feelings during the meal rather than stuff your feelings.
13. Bring your ipod with some mediation music or relaxing music that puts you in a calm mood.
14. Make a gratitude list! Think about what you are grateful for during the holiday.
15. 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.
So lots of people have been sending me this clip and asking me to comment on it. This is a great clip, if a little sensationalized. First off, I want to comment on the “Ednos is the deadliest eating disorder, even more deadly than anorexia, even more deadly than bulimia.” So I want to clarify here, EDNOS stands for “Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified,” and really, it’s main purpose is for coding and billing. Anorexia and bulimia have a very specific set of diagnostic criteria. For instance, to be diagnosed with bulimia, you are bingeing and purging twice a week for at least three months. So what if I had a client who was purging daily for the last month? She’d be EDNOS. But she’d still be bulimic. And what if I had a client who vomited every week, but usually just once a week, and she’d been doing it for years. What if she also binged, then overexercised, but restricted most of the time? What if she’d lost her period, but her weight wasn’t 85% of her expected weight? Then she’d be EDNOS for diagnostic purposes. She wouldn’t fit into a diagnostic criteria for anorexia or bulimia. What if I had a client who binged on cookies and ice cream several times a week, then compensated by not eating the next day. She’d have Binge Eating Disorder, but until 2013, there’s no DSM diagnosis, so she’d have EDNOS. So, the misleading sensationalism about “EDNOS, the most deadly disease that is the most common that no one ever talks about…” is really just a catch all phrase for your typical eating disorder. Most EDs just don’t fall into the diagnostic criteria neatly. They’re really complicated. Which is why most people with eating disorders are diagnosed with Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.Now, other than my criticism of that, I liked the clip. It’s a good description of what happens with an eating disorder. It starts as restricting, gets more and more severe, turns into bingeing, which can then turn into bulimia… I liked the clip with the therapist who sat with Taylor and checked in with her after she finished her pizza, I liked how honest Taylor was about how difficult it was for her to eat the pizza. I liked how they brought eating disorders out of the clinics and explained how confusing and scary they really are. Overall, it was good to see. I’m glad that EDs and recovery are getting some attention. It was super courageous of those two women to go on national television and discuss their eating disorders. What did you think of this clip?
A friend sent this over to me today. Oh so true!
There are some ingredients that go pretty well together. Those ingredients are: Anxiety, stress, insomnia, and sleeplessness. Put them all together and you have a great recipe for binge eating.
Why is that? Well, there are several reasons. First off many people try to mitigate their stress and anxiety with food. Lots of women hold the feelings of anxiety in their bellies and their stress in their jaws. What helps? Eating. Chewing helps to release the stress that you’re holding in your jaw and having food in your belly keeps the anxiety from presenting itself. It stays “pushed down.”
Another reason is that many women (and men) cannot sleep without pushing themselves to sleep by eating themselves into a food coma. The natural serotonin boost from bingeing helps to calm down your brain and help you sleep.
However, there are some natural remedies to deal with anxiety, stress, sleep issues and urges to binge and sugar cravings.
Definitely check with your physician before starting a supplement regimen, and if you are on any other medications, please discuss possible interactions or problems with taking these particular supplements. Here is a great list of alternative remedies for stress, anxiety, depression and vitamins and supplements to help with binge eating. Many people consider several of these to be natural alternatives to Xanax!
B-Vitamins –help regulate serotonin levels to elevate mood and decrease binge episodes
Chromium -200 mcg per day – when needed for sugar cravings. Helps insulin to get into your cells to regulate glucose so that your hormones stop sending messages to your brain that you need more sugar.
Manganese– 10 Mg per day helps the transport and metabolism of glucose. It stabilizes blood sugar to reduce sugar cravings.
Magnesium Glycinate– 500 mg in the evening- calms the body and the brain while stabilizing glucose levels which can wildly fluctuate when a person is binge eating. When magnesium levels are stable, cravings decrease. This is also great for night time sleep.
Zinc– 15mg- per day- helps to regulate appetite
5-HTP– 200 mg per day in the evening- or whenever you have the urge to binge. The precursor to serotonin will suppress your appetite and relax you to take the anxiety away from the binge.
L-Glutamine– 500 mg when needed no more than 3 times per day. When you are having a strong sugar craving, take 500 mg of L-Glutamine or open a capsule and put the powder on your tongue. L-glutamine is an amino acid that is converted into food for the brain.
Fermented Cod Liver Oil– To help with anxiety, stress and for immune support and strength.
Relora– Decreases stress related eating
Kava Kava –Kava has been traditionally used in the South Pacific (I first found out about it on my Honeymoon in a Kava Bar in Hawaii). It has a calming effect that relieves anxiety, insomnia and stress-related symptoms such as muscle tension or spasm. It may also relieve pain. When taken for insomnia, kava promotes deep sleep without affecting REM sleep.
Prebiotics– Yes, that’s prebotics, not probiotics. Prebiotics are pretty amazing. Taken daily prebiotics severely reduce anxiety and depression. I first learned about this at an eating disorder conference within the last few years. The theory is that bacteria living in your gut can affect your brain chemistry and research backs it up. Anecdotally I can tell you that in the times that I’ve used it, my sense of well-being and feeling complete joy has been extremely palpable.
Inositol – Inositol has been shown to be extremely helpful for women who have depression, anxiety and mood fluctuations prior to menstruation (PMS). As we know, PMS leads many women to binge eat and have sugar cravings due to increased estrogen levels. However, it has been shown that women who take inositol show clinically significant improvements in PMS symptoms.
Epsom Salt Bath– A hot epsom salt bath for 20 minutes before bedtime will help relax your muscles and decrease anxiety. This is because the magnesium in the epsom salts is a natural stress reliever. I know that you will sleep like a baby after one of these mineral baths. Hot water is good medicine.
Gotu Kola– This herb has been used for more than 2000 years for everything from anxiety to leprosy! It also has great mental benefits including as the power to improve cognitive abilities, reduce anxiety and decrease severe stress.
Jarrow Sleep Med- This is a light little sleep med with a very low does of melatonin plus tryptophan, valerian and GABA. The low dose of melatonin is much better for sleep than the typical high doses that can often trigger insomnia.
Self-Hypnosis and Mediation has been shown to immediately decrease anxiety and increase well-being. In fact, it’s the only thing that has immediate effects of well-being and increasing joy.
I came across this post which explains how a news station in Wisconsin received a scathing email about Jennifer Livingston, one of their anchors who happens to be a woman of size. I’m so impressed by her response. In the media, it seems to me that women often send the message that being plus sized is not okay, something they have to change about themselves, (Jennifer Hudson, Oprah, Kirstie Alley, Jessica Simpson). It bothers me a lot, because it sends the message that women are not okay as they are. They will be better thinner. I love this because she doesn’t apologize for who she is. She doesn’t say that she needs to change. She turns around and tells the person that he is a bully and to get over himself. Kind of cool. It’s a great message for everyone. Embrace and love who you are as you are. You don’t have to wait until you are thin to love yourself, stick up for yourself, be confident about who you are and be successful.
Before I had my son last fall I was petite but also strong and healthy. I ate my three healthy meals a day, I ran 3-4 miles 3-4 times a week, I meditated daily, had a pretty good Vinyasa Yoga practice going, I ate ice cream, drank wine, and ate chocolate in moderate amounts. I had a solid psychotherapy practice, a solid marriage and was enjoying a pleasant rhythm of life. I liked my body, I liked my routine and things felt relatively comfortable and easy. And then, after a few years of false starts, I finally got pregnant. and we were happy, my husband and I.
But pregnancy is not easy on a woman’s body. I developed a condition very early in my pregnancy called a subchorionic hematoma, which put me on moderate bedrest for the first half of my pregnancy. Which meant no running, no yoga (not even gentle restorative yoga), and pretty much doing nothing when I wasn’t at work other than laying in my bed. And I was hungry. I mean, I was really, really, really hungry. I was so hungry that I would be hungry while I was eating, I would be hungry after I finished a meal. The portions that I was used to eating were no match for my intense hunger. And forget eating fish, turkey, lean meats and vegetables. All I could stomach was fruit, pasta, grains, bread, juice and more fruit. I would sit down and ravage two whole mangoes in a few minutes. I would chug down watermelon juice. My body was totally rejecting protein and just begging for intensely sweet fruit. The only protein that I could manage to choke down was tofu. I would wake up in the middle of the night in agony because I was so hungry. The only way I’d fall back to sleep was by drinking milk and eating peanut butter. I was so hungry that I would sometimes cry because I just couldn’t quell this hunger. As he got bigger, there was less and less room. So I’d be ravenously hungry and uncomfortably full all at the same time. I felt so different than I ever had in my body. It wasn’t like I was binge eating or restricting, it was like I was no longer driving the car. I just was not in charge. And, I gained weight. Because that is what happens when you get pregnant. You gain weight. And sometimes, a lot of weight.
My baby was born via C-Section at a whopping 8 pounds 8 oz and 21 inches long. And everything was great. But we were tired. Really, really, really tired. And the only thing I could get myself to eat was pasta and chocolate. It was easy, it was quick energy and it was all that I was craving. Really? Me, after years of eating a very balanced diet of mostly high quality proteins and unprocessed carbohydrates, I was all about spaghetti and chocolate. I just couldn’t help it. I couldn’t be mindful about my eating, I was trying to keep this very demanding creature alive by using nothing more than my body. I fed him with my body all day long. And if he didn’t eat every two hours for an hour at a time, day or night, he would scream. I had no time to cut vegetables. I had no time to cook meat. I had no time to go to the farmer’s market and pour over beautiful organic produce. All I could do was breastfeed my baby, eat chocolate, eat spaghetti, change diapers, and if I was lucky, every once in a while, I’d get an hour of sleep. But that was rare.
So, let’s get back to my body. My stomach, which was once tight and taught was now completely stretched out. There was lots of loose skin, And, because I am a small woman who had a large baby, my stomach muscles had split in half and my intestines were hanging out and pushing through the flesh of my stomach. And let’s not even mention the gigantic incision from my C-Section. I also wound up having to have surgery to fix two hernias and now have three scars between my belly-button and pelvis. All just from becoming a Mom. Gross, right? Totally gross.
But not really.
To tell you the truth, I have never loved and been as proud of my body as I am today. I’m kind of in awe of it actually. It’s a workhorse. I can’t believe that my body managed to not only create a whole human being, but I’ve been able to make food for this baby in my body and keep building him for the past 11 months. I can’t believe that my body can create and grow and sustain a whole person! It’s amazing to me. To that end, I can’t believe that women’s bodies are exploited the way they are. Mens’ bodies should really be the display pieces, I mean, their nipples are vestigial.
So, do I still run several days a week and do yoga and have a great deal of consciousness about everything I eat? No. No. and No. But I’m not concerned. I imagine that when my baby isn’t a baby and longer, I’ll have time to do those things. Right now he is bringing me pleasure. He is my workout. He is my downtime and my fulltime job. My meditation and mindfulness practice still exists, though, not to the extent that it did. My baby is what I’m mindful of. I’ve definitely had to cut down my Psychotherapy practice a great deal, as I run home to nurse my baby between patients, and have to be home in the evenings to feed, bathe, and nurse him to sleep. And I’m happy. And very, very, very tired. But happy.
So what spurred me to write all this? It was this ad that I came across the other day: If you can’t read it, it says: Kick-start your day. Focus. Hit your stride. Breath. Change your pace. Change the oil. Make a difference. Make a home. Be courageous. Encourage others. Stay fit. Fit it all in. Breathe. Hug a kid. Kid around. Run your life. Run your heart out. Power to the She.
I know it’s supposed to be inspiring, but this ad made me really, really angry. It’s not new news that the media is detrimental to women, but this particular ad really rubbed me the wrong way. More than the ancient herion chic Calvin Klein ads with waifish Kate Moss, more than the diet pill ads, more than the Chanel ads of tiny women weighed down by big jewelry– I’ve become immune to all those ads and the messages they send. This one however, it really got to me, because it sends the message to women that not only do we have to be skinny, not only to we have to be perfect, but we have to be everything to everyone and nothing less is acceptable. We have to be to be Real Women.
What happened to us as women that we are expected to do all this? I mean, that is a lot to do in a day. When do I get to take a bath? When do I get to sit and eat a meal? When do I get to go to the bathroom? When do I get to check my email? Talk on the phone to my girlfriends? When do I get to relax with a glass of wine and watch reruns of Sex & the City on E!? Obviously I don’t, because I’m busy running, doing laundry, cooking dinner for my husband, taking care of my kid, making sure that I don’t “lose my figure,” taking care of people around me, doing volunteer work, and being in complete control of everything around me– Running my life. But rejecting myself.
It’s just not okay. We as women have always been the ones who take care of everything. And we are expected to. This ad sends a message not that we can have it all, but that we should be everyone to everything and still manage to workout all the time. It sends a message to women that they have to be on top of things all the time, they can’t stop for themselves, it’s not okay to be tired, to be run down, to relax, to lose their shit, to freak out, to be sad, angry, lazy, or to be messy. This ad tells me that the “Power to the She”– Being a woman, is about being totally perfect, being in control all the time, and sacrificing my needs so that I can spend my days being everything to everyone. And skinny.
I call bullshit. I don’t think that these are feminist beliefs. I don’t think that men are held to these standards. My husband goes to work everyday, he’s a wonderful man and he’s a great Dad, but he’s not up three times each night breast feeding our son. He doesn’t run home several times during the day to nurse him and play with him and to make sure that he’s feeling safe and secure. Yet, because I’m the woman, I’m still expected to keep our house clean and cared for, maintain my career and still go out for a run? No not in our house. Not ever. I think that women are held to much, much higher standards, nearly impossible standards, lest they be judged. Women who stay home are lazy, women who work are neglectful, women who don’t exercise are lazy, woman should bear children, then still stay in shape to be sex symbols for their husbands, go to work, and still do the laundry.
No. That is not power to the she. Power to the she is responsibility to self first. And that means not beating yourself up if you can’t be everything to everyone and still have a hot bod. It means splitting up your responsibility with your husband or partner. It means taking care of your kids if you have them, taking care of your needs and asking for help if you need it. It’s not about being an island. It’s not about being perfect. That’s just a dangerous message. That’s just a woman trying to control herself and her environment to such an extreme extent that she’s not left anymore. She becomes what she does rather than who she is.
My feelings? As a woman, power to the she is taking care of what you need to and taking care of yourself first. Eating real food and honoring your hunger and your nutritional needs when you are pregnant and breastfeeding. Having integrity, being kind, and saying no to things that are too much. Knowing what is too much and being able to create boundaries. You don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to beat yourself up if you can’t.
A lot of my clients feel so driven to be everything, that they wind up having these secret binge or binge and purge episodes or starving themselves, or exercising themselves into the ground. This isn’t okay. Women are being given the message that they have to be everything and they are hurting themselves to be so.
Power to the She? I’m rewriting this ad.
Be powerful, be strong, be good to yourself, be everything that you can be, be proud of yourself, be encouraging to yourself and others, be loving to yourself, be loving to people around you, be kind to yourself, be compassionate to yourself, be calm, be bitchy, be happy, be sad, surrender control, honor your appetite, be in the moment, laugh, cry, let go, smell the roses, eat ice cream, drink wine, exercise when you can and try to relax and be you.
Hi I am Sam. I have been suffering through a binging disorder for over 5 years now. I made a lot of progress over the years; I could go without binging for over a week, or sometimes when I would binge I could catch myself in the middle and be able to stop. But since the last two weeks I have been binging every single day, feeling uncontrollably helpless! My weight is just piling on and on. What do I do? They say journal writing helps, but it hasn’t been working for me. I feel so awful right now. Please tell me what to do? The more I think I’m a binge-eater, the more I binge. Also, last month I confessed to my mom about this issue. We live in Pakistan and eating disorders is something hardly anyone is aware of. So when I’m like I have this disorder and I’ve researched a lot on it, she’s like don’t be ridiculous..it happens to those who weigh like 400 pounds. And she’s like don’t read about it anymore on the internet and also that ‘you can control it yourself too if you try! I mean does she think I haven’t TRIED? This is purely ridiculously irritating! She did agree to take me to a psychologist, but only God knows when! She is very lazy and cool at things; which by the way pisses me off a lot.
I need help! I’m stuck in this cage with no one to open it! What do I do?
Hi Sam, I’m sorry that you’re not getting the support that you need from your Mom nor your community. If she is not supporting you in getting the appropriate help, you might have to take it on yourself to get support. I would definitely recommend joining an online support group to help you discuss what’s going on for you with others who are dealing with the same thing. Try to have an honest discussion with your mother. Tell her that you have something serious going on and that it’s very painful for you when she dismisses your feelings. Explain to her that you have a very serious problem and you need her help, not her denial.
As for your eating, journaling is a great start. You say it’s not working for you, but I would encourage you to keep at it. Healing from binge eating is a process and it takes practice. When you are feeling like you are ready to binge eat, grab your journal and just write, draw a picture, anything. Tell yourself that you can go eat after 20 minutes of writing. After 20 minutes, you might find that the urge has diminished.
You might try mechanical eating to start with. That is, making sure that you are eating 3-5 meals per day by the clock. For instance, you know that every morning you eat your breakfast at 7:30am, a snack at 10:00, lunch at 12:30, a snack at 4pm, then dinner at 8pm. This will ensure that you don’t get too hungry and binge out of hunger and desperation.
Do lots of diaphragmatic breathing. For instance, each hour, on the hour, take 60 seconds to breath into your belly. In less than a minute you should be feeling relaxed, when you feel that you are about to go toward a binge food, stop for 60 seconds and breathe. This mindfulness integration will give you a bit more time to make the choice as to whether or not you want to binge rather than the binge choosing you.
Try adding a little extra protein at each meal. This can help your digestion slow down and help keep your blood sugar stable and your belly fuller longer to keep your urges/cravings a little bit more controlled.
The following websites have online support groups:
By discussing what you are going through with other people, you won’t feel alone, and you will learn different recovery techniques. You can also use the forums as a place to turn when you’re wanting to binge, it can be your support and your distraction as well.
Goodtherapy shared this photo on facebook today. Wow. It’s so true isn’t it? That feeling that you get about yourself when you start to compare yourself to someone else… it’s just painful. There’s so much that we’re not — but what we are– when we focus on that– it can be pretty amazing.
Exercise for the minute: Quick 5 things that you are that are great.
Some adjectives for help– compassionate, kind, helpful, smart, interested, cuddly, stylish, well read, funny, thoughtful, considerate, silly, snarky, sarcastic, witty, good listener, punctual, organized, artistic, creative, active, laid back, colorful, energetic— anything there fit? What about you? I’ll be you can name 5 things about you that are uniquely you and wonderful.