The holidays are coming. Again.

Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Junkfood around your office… Oh how the holidays bring anything but joy for someone with an eating disorder…

Starting in October, when sweaters get bulkier and winter clothes get bigger, all of sudden appears bowls of candy corns, nestles crunch, kit kats, twix and whatever else around the office.  Some people find it a minor annoyance, but with an eating disorder, it’s like being stuck in the middle of a battlefield with nowhere to hide.

These food centered holidays bring all sorts of anxieties for those who suffer from food and body image issues.  There are two things that you need to be successful during the holidays.

#1.) A plan.

#2.)A safe person.

A plan isn’t a diet plan. It’s a strategy on how to deal with what comes up for you when you see all this candy around. For some, the resist all day long, then at night, when they are alone, and all that energy of resisting takes a quit break, it all crumbles. Sometimes a binge will happen at the end of the day after everyone has left the office. Sometimes it’s not even safe after you’ve left the office. A backlash happens and you might find yourself at the store buying in bulk all the candy that you’ve been trying so hard to avoid all day long.  You need to understand YOU. Is resisting going to create a binge for you? If so, you might want to give yourself a loving limit– such as one or two bite sized pieces each day after lunch. This is reasonable. If you feel as though you don’t have the eyes or the sense right now at this point in your recovery to know what’s reasonable or normal, you might want to ask someone you trust.  If you feel as though at this point it’s better if you don’t start at all, you will probably want to create some good strategies for that as well. You might tell the people in your office that it’s your intention not to start in on the candy this year. If anyone offers it to you, it’s okay for you to say, “no thank you.” If someone pushes the issue, it’s okay to look them in the eye and firmly repeat your stance. “I don’t want any. Thank you for asking.” You don’t owe anyone any further explanation about what you are or are not willing to eat. That’s your business.  Another strategy is to keep food on your desk that you know you won’t binge on. For example, a giant bowl of apples might be helpful. Here’s a food that you can linger on, munch through and feel good about eating, but probably won’t binge on. Think about what safe foods you might be able to keep around to snack on when you think that you might be heading in that direction.

You definitely need a safe person. A safe person is a buddy who you are accountable to. Tell them your intention, whatever it is,  not to binge on office candy this year. If you find that you are getting to the point where it seems as though it’s going to happen, you can email, call or text them and let them know that you are wanting to get into the food. Ask them to help you relax and breathe through it. Then, allow yourself to just sit and breathe for five minutes. Take a breath into your belly to the count of five, then exhale to the count of five. Do this for five minutes. It will help you to slow down, reduce anxiety and help you to refocus your energy off the binge and onto you.  Then you can decipher, am I hungry or bingey? If you’re hungry, go eat something healthy! If you’re bingey, think about what purpose the binge would serve. Would it relax you? Could a quick walk outside your office do something similar? Could a good laugh at a You tube video be relaxing?  Really help yourself think about what you need.

The office candy doesn’t have to attack you. You can choose a healthy body healthy mind in this case.

End Fat Talk Week!

Monday marks the beginning of FAT TALK FREE WEEK.

Please do look through this website and treat yourself to a week free of fat chat, and- to talk it a step further, try to challenge yourself to be liberated from a week of fat thoughts.
Of course fat free chat and thoughts might not be as easy as it sounds as both those conversations and those thoughts can be so automatic for so many of us… or can it be?
For just 5 days– don’t engage with any fat chat. If you have friends or family members who try to engage you in this kind of conversation, let them know that this is Fat Talk Free Week, and you’d like to talk about something- anything else. You might be surprised at the impact this has  and the consciousness that this invokes.
For just 5 days– don’t engage with any fat thoughts that pop into your mind. When you notice them knocking at the door, don’t invite them in. You can see that they’re there, but allow them to bang on the door as much as they want to. You won’t answer and you won’t even engage with them. At the end of 5 days, notice how you feel in your body. Notice whether or not you have any extra mind space freed up. Did you get more accomplished? Did you do things that you might not have done? What happened that you expected? What did you expect that did not happen?
Go ahead and try it!

Candy Corns, Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Spice Latte’s, Mini Candy Bars– What do I do?

Fall is the time for the beloved comfort foods as well as the start of the bingeing season. First comes Halloween with candy everywhere, then of course Thanksgiving, the national bingeing holiday and then there’s the whole month of December with gift baskets, alcohol, egg nog, and chocolate treats everywhere and no foreseeable end to the constantly filled candy bowl in the office.

There are two challenging issues here, the first and most obvious is the abundant candy everywhere and the sales on bite sized treats in every store that you walk into. The next issue is the seasonal treats that can be so tempting such as Starbucks holiday lines of latte’s,  Safeway’s hot pumpkin pies, Walgreen’s candy corns on sale, caramel apples at county fairs, and all those other autumn treats.  The idea that these treats are limited to only a few weeks a year can really activate black and white thinking. The belief might be, “oh no, Starbucks only has their Candy Corn Latte’s until Halloween, I just have to make sure that I get it now!” When in reality,  you never even drink latte’s.

So how do you deal with this?

1.)Ask yourself if you really want it or if the temptation is because it’s new, novel and going away soon. Really understand why it is that you are going toward that food.

2.)Ask yourself it will set up a binge if you eat it.

3.)Be brutally honest with yourself. If you know in advanced that it will set up a binge, tell yourself that you know that this will be back next year and that this year, you’re focusing on recovery. Next year perhaps you will be able to eat it in a healthy manner. After all, your long term health and recovery are more important than the instant gratification of a new flavored latte, which will of course turn into something that feels awful. You are not restricting food here, you are making a choice not to start on something that will probably trigger a binge. You know yourself well enough to know whether or not this will turn into an all out binge.

4.)If you don’t think that it will set up a binge, allow yourself to have some of these foods in limited quantities. For instance, decide to let yourself have that latte’, but rather than a tall or a Grande, order the short. If you want a pumpkin pie, don’t buy a whole pumpkin pie yourself, see if you can buy a slice and save it for desert after dinner. Or you can even bake a pumpkin pie and have people over for it.

5.)If you find that you want to binge on mini candy bars and Halloween candy, make sure that you don’t buy it to give out to kids. Don’t worry, MARS and Nestle will do fine without your support this year. My mom used to give out little Halloween goody bags with boxes of raisins, spooky pencils and pennies on Halloween. It was totally embarrassing for me as the kids would look in there bags and say, “Oh Man! Raisins and pennies!” Back then I thought that she was forcing her health food paradigm on the world, but now I understand why she did it. She didn’t want the binge food on hand and she didn’t feel right contributing to unhealthy eating. A lot of it for her was about integrity as well as protecting herself and her family from junk food.

Other alternatives to candy for Halloween are:

– Halloween Toys or Stickers

-Halloween Pencils

-You can make a bunch of oragami fortune tellers with your kids or your friends or your parents or nieces and nephew and give those out.

-Glow Sticks and Glow Jewelry!

Or, if you can’t forgo the candy, try these more healthy treats.

For many people, buying Halloween candy can trigger a binge. Plenty of people wind up with tons of leftovers that they wind up bingeing on. Kids get enough candy from your neighbors, it’s okay to take care of yourself by giving kids something different and fun.

6.)If you find yourself tempted in stores where all the Halloween candy is out, make sure that you have a plan before you go into those stores. Make a list of what you need to buy and leave your ATM card at home. Bring cash so that you can’t compulsively grab something. And don’t go shopping hungry! Not even at Walgreens.

7.)If there is candy sitting in bowls at the office, again, if it won’t trigger a binge and you know that you can eat one or two pieces in a healthy way, then allow yourself a set number in a day (like two pieces of candy). Don’t eat them standing up by the bowl, bring them back to your desk. Eat one and save the other for later. Make sure that you don’t substitute candy for lunch. If you think that eating that candy will trigger a binge, stay away from the bowl. Have a plan and be mindful when you have to pass that bowl.  Keep a bowl of non binge foods available for yourself such as a bowl of apples or almonds or oranges. If the bowl is haunting you, calling to you throughout the day, try to talk back to it. Tell it that you’re trying to prevent yourself from bingeing and the instant gratification that you will get from a Hershey’s Kiss won’t be worth the binge that you will have that night, that you’d rather have long term recovery and this season, even a small kiss can be dangerous. It doesn’t mean this is forever, but for right now, you are giving yourself some space in order to keep the bingeing at bay.

The inner critic part II

Often, we become so bogged down by the critic inside of us, that we are unable to separate ourselves from that voice, the voice that feels like it is us, but really is not us. It’s the little judge inside of us that is a perpetual teenage girl telling us things like “you’re so fat, you’re so ugly, you’re so stupid, no one likes you…” blah blah blah. This voice isn’t real. This feels like it’s you, but it’s the part of you that criticizes yourself needlessly. This critic is not helpful. Sometimes we feel like it’s helpful, like it will help you to be a better person, but it won’t. Think about a child. Does a child feel good about herself and try harder when the parent tells them that they are stupid, bad children? No, the child feels terribly about herself. She eventually acts out as a bad child because this is what is expected of her. But what if a child is loved and encouraged. She is then more likely to feel good about herself and achieve more in life.  One of the ways to challenge your critic is to first notice it. When you feel yourself hearing things in your head like “fat, stupid, ugly… no one likes you,” blah blah, the teenage girl mantra.. first notice it, notice that this is not real, this is your critic. No one else is saying these things about you, just you are. And what if they are thinking these things about you?  First off, they probably aren’t, most people are too self absorbed to think too much about other people. Chances are if they are thinking these things about you that they themselves are very critical to self as well. If they are having critical thoughts about you it doesn’t matter. The only thoughts that can hurt you are your own. So having loving, peaceful thoughts about yourself will just feel better. To do this you must actively challenge those critical thoughts and then find your inner nurturer.  So, you’re at a party or even just at the grocery store and you’re looking down and feeling as though everyone is thinking bad thoughts about you and you are thinking bad thoughts about yourself. Notice that this is not real, that this is your critic. Tell your critic to leave you alone. Take a deep breath, look up and smile at someone, anyone. If they don’t smile back, find someone else to smile at. Try to get out from under your critic by connecting with other people. If love and peace and happiness is put out and mirrored back to you, your feelings will begin to transform. If you are submerged by your critic, you will feel trapped under its crushing weight, only to find yourself angry, sad, and lonely. Give yourself love and try to let it in as well.  Next… finding your inner nurturer.

The inner critic part I

You know that voice, the annoying one inside your head that’s always saying things like, “you should workout more,” or “you shouldn’t have eaten so much,” or “you should be skinnier…” or sometimes even worse things like, “you’re a fat pig,” or “you’re stupid,” or “you’re dumb,” or “people hate you…” or “people will think that there’s something wrong with you…” do you know that voice?

If these voices sound familiar, you are intimately acquainted with your inner critic.  In simplest terms, your critic is the super-ego run amok. Your super ego is the part of your psyche that is set up to keep you from acting on the drives of your id. Freud described it as “retaining the character of the father.” So, basically, your super-ego is the internalized voice of the disciplinarian.  Your super-ego keeps you from acting out on your dangerous urges.

In those of us with eating disorders, the super-ego is overdeveloped and becomes out of control. It becomes not a way for us to maintain healthy boundaries, but a structure set up to emotionally abuse us if we step outside of the rigid framework that we’ve created for ourselves.

Why does the critic develop this way? There could be several reasons, or no reason at all. Some people have highly critical parents who only loved you when you did something right and punished you when you did something wrong. Some people might have parents who were very loving toward them but not very loving for themselves. It’s difficult to learn self love when it’s not modeled for you.

The critic tells you that there’s something wrong with you, when there’s probably nothing wrong with you. The critic tells you that other people are thinking that there’s something wrong with you, which might or might not be true, either way there’s nothing you can do about it, you can only really change your view of yourself.

As you begin to learn how to love yourself and to challenge the critic, you will find yourself feeling more comfortable with yourself and feeling more joyous…

In the next entry, I’ll be discussing some ways to work with the critic.

do something different!

The concept of doing something different seems pretty simple, but in the moment of a binge, it can be very difficult. So, here’s a fun project. Make yourself a big beautiful sign that says “DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.” Put in on your refrigerator, cupboard, pantry, wherever you go when you binge. On the back of the sign, make a list of other things you can do! For example:

1. take a walk
2. dance around your living room
3. do crossword puzzles

4. play scrabble online ( www.scrabulous.com)
5. go outside
6. call a friend, family member, support person
7. go to a cafe
8. acknowledge and try to sit with your feelings
9. think about how you want to feel later (allow yourself to see your decision through to the end)
10. visualize something positive
11. go to a 12 step meeting
12. go to yahoogroups.com (search OA, overeaters, AA, etc..)
13. do your hair
14. brush your teeth/floss your teeth
15. light candles or incense
16. shower/take a long hot bath
17. lay down and rest or go to sleep if tired.
18. read
19. write a letter/email
20. read old letters/emails
21. take a soothing bathtub with lavendar oil

22. create a collage
23. paint a picture
24. knit
25. sew
26. go to church/synagogue
27. watch a dvd or go out to the movies
28. clean
29. breath/meditate/stretch/do yoga
30. bring food to homeless people
31. volunteer or research volunteer opportunities at volunteermatch.org
32. go visit patients in the hospital
33. step outside
34. cross things off your to do list
35. spa day in your home. hot oil treatment, manicure, pedicure, facial, etc…
36. go out for a manicure/pedicure, etc.
ALTERNATIVE FOR QUIETING THE CRITIC
37. look at pictures of friends
38. listen to old voicemails
39. make a gratitude list
40. tell the critic it’s wrong and list the reasons why
41. externalize the critic
42. scream at (into)  pillow
43. scream outside
44. throw rocks outside in nature, into the ocean perhaps (not at a person!)
45. go to a kickboxing class
46. go out dancing with friends
47. allow yourself to receive love and validation from loved ones.

Staying binge free through the holidays.

In my first semester of graduate school, one of my professors asked if any of us were going home for Thanksgiving. About half of the class raised their hands. “No matter how much work you’ve been doing on yourself, no matter how many years you’ve been in therapy, as soon as you return home, you’re right back into whatever your role was in the family all those same old family dynamics. Good Luck. Have fun, enjoy being 12 years old again.”

Well, I don’t fully agree. With some consciousness and attention, you can care for yourself and have your needs met when you go home for the holidays.

First off, have an action plan.

Do you tend to binge when you are back home? If so, when? Is it at night when your family is asleep?

Here are some ways to keep yourself occupied at night. First off, when you feel a binge coming on, if you can and it’s safe to do so, maybe you can get out of your house and take a walk around the block, or sit outside and look at the stars for a while. Allow yourself to wish on a star and gather some strength for going back inside.

Do you have fun books or magazines to read while you’re there? Something to occupy your mind? Something to help you shut down? DVDs that you enjoy? What about your laptop? You can get onto your computer and send out an email to a discussion board for example go onto an OA board and post there. You will get support immediately, and even looking through others’ posts about how they are surviving the holidays will help.

Too late? You’ve already started? It’s not too late. YOU. CAN. STOP. NOW. I know that it feels like one you’ve started a binge that it’s all over, but it’s not true. You can choose to stop a binge. You can interrupt the binge and sit with your discomfort around it. The more you exercise that muscle, the stronger it will become and you will find yourself becoming stronger than the binge. Your ability to sit with your feelings, and increase your capacity to sit with uncomfortable feelings will enable you to become stronger and stronger and thus rely on yourself to care for yourself in tough times rather than food.

What about chocolate and cakes and cookies all sorts of things at the office?

Now this is a hard one. Of course it’s okay to have one or two treats that people bring in or clients send, but if it’s going to trigger a binge, it might be best to stay away from these treats for the time being. If you chose to have something, give yourself a limit. Just one or two pieces. Then, sit with what you’re feeling. Set an intention for yourself that you can have a taste or a snack, but this is not going to lead to a binge. Just because you’ve had something “unhealthy” doesn’t mean that your day is ruined and you have to go home and binge. You can stop at just a few pieces of cookies, cake, candy, etc.

There is a common feeling amongst all binge eaters that if they “eat off” their day is ruined and they might as well have a free-for-all. This is flawed logic. How does eating a one piece of chocolate or a slice of cake equate to having to go home and eat a whole box of cookies? It doesn’t. Just think of what it would be like to be a normal eater, to be able to have a slice or a piece and then continue your healthy eating regimen for the rest of the day.

You can’t let yourself start? Then don’t. Again, it’s about getting support, calling a friend, getting some fresh air, sipping some tea, treating yourself to a manicure, pedicure, massage, new book, call to an old friend… whatever it is that nurtures you.

Okay, now what about holiday parties?

Again, you need an action plan. The first thing you must remember to do is EAT before you go. You don’t want to show up to a holiday party hungry. It can cause too much time at the buffet table. Allow yourself to arrive at the party feeling satisfied. Check out the buffet table, figure out which are “safe foods” (non-binge triggers) that you can let yourself enjoy that night. Allow yourself to take some time to mingle, talk to people, enjoy the party, and then, when you are ready, make yourself a plate of the foods that you will enjoy that evening. If this seems like an impossible feat, have some resources available. First, make sure to eat dinner before you show up. Then, once you get there, position yourself away from the food and focus on the company. If there are kids there, play with children too, great fun to occupy your mind. Stay away from alcohol as well. Make sure that you have your cell phone with you so that you can call a supportive person if you become overwhelmed at the party or bring a safe person with you to the party and explain to him or her what your goals are and what your needs are.

If you find yourself not able to make it through, give yourself a break and leave early. You don’t have to stay late, you are allowed to make an appearance and take care of yourself and your recovery.

The best holiday gift that you can give yourself is to stay healthy and true to yourself. If you are able to make it through the holidays, or at least a few days of the holidays without binging, you don’t have to worry about making those all or nothing new year’s resolutions (I WILL NEVER EAT A CARB AGAIN!) and then wind up binging on January 4th. Stay conscious. Stay focused. Recognize yourself. Have an observing ego around your binging and have fun with it. Notice where you are, what you’re doing, what you’re feeling and what happens to you as you fall into bingey, snacky, eatty moods. This holiday season, you can really get to learn and know yourself.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Warmly,

Leora

Holding On…

Sometimes, a binge can be a way to hold tightly onto very uncomfortable emotions; like fear, like depression, like pain, like sadness, like anxiety… Sometimes, when a feeling begins to show through, the instinct would be to push it down tightly by eating and making the feeling go away.  Unfortunately, this is temporary. Very temporary. It ends up making you feel even worse about yourself. Feeling horribly uncomfortable in your body, feeling angry at yourself for the binge and feeling all the uncomfortable effects of overeating especially sugar, flour, alcohol and other foods that can make you feel tired, foggy and depressed.

So, when you feel a binge coming on,  experiment with letting go.

Write about it. What are you feeling? What hurts? What are you afraid of?

Tell someone. Talk about your fear and your anxiety. Confront it. Don’t let it be bigger than you. Don’t try to push it down. It will come back at you with a vengeance.

How? Carry a journal around with you, start an anonymous blog, talk to supportive people, sit alone and meditate, take a slow meditative walk, try to relax before you take that first step toward a binge…

Body Image…

When we listen to the needs of our bodies, eat nurturing, healthful foods when we are hungry and stop when we are satisfied, we settle into our natural weight. Our natural weight isn’t fat, nor is it skinny. So, thus the conundrum, many women (and men) find their natural weights displeasing.

Why?

As we all know, the media portrays certain unrealistic body types as desirable, but why is it that some people are susceptible to that kind of pressure? Is it that we feel inherently unacceptable at the core, so that the ideal matches our own feelings of self?

Body image and self esteem issues arise when somehow you feel that you won’t be acceptable until you look a certain way, have achieved a certain status, goal, body weight, salary, etc. When you are at that goal, you are finally acceptable and are thus allowed to be happy. So, you check in to see if you’ve achieved that goal yet and then, if you have you check and see if you’re allowed to be happy. This is a task of sisyphusian proportions because clearly, (and hopefully) there are always more goals to achieve.

What would it be like if you were able to be happy at this moment?

That certainly doesn’t mean that you will have to put off any of your goals, it just means you will have more love behind you than hate and criticism. It’s easier to move when you are being gently encouraged than when you are being whipped, yelled at, berated.  And if you need a rest, you take a rest.

How do you change from a heavy handed iron first super-ego to an encouraging ego that helps you on your way?

#1. do things that make you happy.

#2. listen to the words that you tell yourself (I must, I must, I must), forget about must and move over to “when I am able to…”

#3. Put encouraging words, mantras, etc. up in your bathroom, on your refrigerator, etc. ie: on the fridge “Treat yourself to something wonderful and relaxing, like a bubble bath, you deserve it.” on the bathroom mirror, “you are beautiful.” And remember you are okay the way you are.

#4. Volunteer. Check out a website like volunteer match that will help you to get out of your routine and your mindset.

#5. Visualize yourself accepting your body no matter what it looks like. Feel what it would be like to love your body. It’s much easier to treat your body right (to eat right and exercise) when you love and respect your body).

Many people with EDs are afraid of self acceptance because they fear that this will lead to slovenliness and thea tthye will have no control withou the harsh superego. But it’s the harshness that leads to the pain and paralysis. Just imagine how much quicker you’d be able to run up the hill if you didn’t have that gigantic rock to push.

PMS!

Month after month, my clients come in after suffering miserably for the whole week before their periods, wishing they could take back the previous week, having binged the whole week before. What is it about PMS that makes us so bingey?

I can’t tell you that I know what makes us get to the point that we’re eating a bag of lays, a box of cupcakes and a whole pizza, but I can tell you that it makes our hormones go crazy. GO CRAZY!  And as our brains are attempting to balance our hormones, we become deficient in seratonin. Good ole’ seratonin.

 So…  nutritionally, there are a few things that you can do to help balance your hormones.

First off, the following supplements seem to help, Magnesium, Vitamin E, a B-complex, Omega 3s and Omega 6s, and Evening Primrose Oil.  Take low dosage daily throughout the month. Even a potent vitamin mineral formula for women should be good.

Because there are so many hormones in meat and dairy products, I’d reccommend switching to Organic meat and dairy if it’s viable for you.

Something else that you can do is place a castor oil pack over your liver during your time of the month. This is done by soaking a or flannel cloth with castor oil and applying it to the lower right side of your abdomen. Cover the cloth with saran wrap, and then apply a heating pad over this pack. You can just let yourself relax, maybe watch a fun movie or read a book while it’s there. It should be very relaxing to you and supposedly will help to detoxify your liver and balance hormones.

Relaxation is key, because your body is working very hard during your time of the month and you will attempt to take care of yourself through food. Clearly, it’s not the best medicine.

Remind yourself that you are having PMS and that it’s time to be gentle with yourself.

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