Get Through December Without Binge Eating – Day One

get-through-decemberwithout-binge-eatingThanksgiving is over and Winter is here! Hopefully you enjoyed your holiday and it went well.

The Fall is very difficult for people with disordered eating issues. Halloween brings candy with it all over the place, Thanksgiving brings 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, uncomfortable and holding on to the promise that 2017 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 and moderate December. 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 December madness.

So every day in December I’m going to be sending out an email with one quick tip and inspirational quote or story to help you get through December and start 2017 already feeling strong.

Today’s Tip:

When you notice the urge to go act out with food, like if you’re at work and you can’t wait to get home to “decompress” or if you want to run into the break room and grab all the homemade cookies and hide with them- just take a breath and remind yourself kindly (no harsh inner critics allowed) what you will feel like after the binge, what your body will feel like, what your mind will feel like, what the shame and the self-reproach will feel like. Then ask yourself “what am I really needing?” to relax? To shut down? To take a break and walk around the block? What am I looking for with this binge? How will this binge serve me? What am I looking to gain from it? How else can I get that?

Click Here to Continue to Day 2

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! 

Have you signed up for Recovery Warriors Free Videos? They have been a life saver for many women this season.

Click here to sign up and learn about the Five Recovery Essentials

 

 

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. 

Is Going Vegan Helpful For Binge Eating Disorder?

Is going vegan best for binge eating
Friday Q & A
It’s not Friday! But I’m doing my Q & A today anyway because this was an important one.  This is a topic that I’ve been avoiding since I’ve been blogging (10+ years on this site). Why have I been avoiding it? Because it’s so emotionally charged and so controversial and I didn’t want to isolate anyone. However, I’ve been getting many, many emails and comments about this topic lately so I realized that it was time for me to tell my story. This email came through the other day and it felt important to answer sooner rather than later. 
Question: 

Dear Leora,
I have been in recovery for a few months (seeing a therapist). Within that time frame I watched a documentary that turned me vegan overnight. I am now realizing that it is feeling very restrictive and socially affecting my life. From the advice of my therapist, she said that it’s only fueling my fire with my obsession with food and having to prep and to focus on it more than i should be right now, and I agreed. So a couple days ago I decided to incorporate meat and dairy back into my diet. I feel so guilty about eating the animals as I became vegan only for ethical reason. I feeling very conflicted about what I should do. I like the feeling of not worrying about what I’m eating but I now know how the animals were killed so that I can eat them and it’s messing with my head!!! The food almost grosses me out but I eat it anyway, and it does taste good. It’s hard turning a blind eye though and pretending I don’t care. Any advice on this topic or do u know anyone else who’s been through this? 

Best Wishes, Kathryn (Minnesota)
My Answer to Kathryn. 
Hi Kathryn,

Thank you so much for this very important question. Believe it or not, I have extreme personal experience with this one. I was raised vegetarian from age 10 and turned strict vegan on my own at the age of 20. Being vegetarian and vegan were extreme ethical decisions for me. I was a member of LEAP ( league of environmental and animal protection) for my high school’s chapter (LEAP was the late 80’s version of PETA-). 

I turned vegetarian the summer of 1984.  I had always been extremely sensitive and never liked the idea of meat and where it came from. Due to my family and my upbringing, I was also a child who felt overwhelmed by food and my fear of fat.  That summer, in camp, my counselor Betsy was a vegetarian.

 I didn’t know any strict vegetarians back then. It seemed exotic and cool and I really admired Betsy. She ate the mashed potatoes off the top of the Shepherd’s Pie,  dined on salads and carrot sticks while the rest of us were chowing down on bug juice and Kosher hot dogs, and chewed on apples while the rest of us ate ice cream and brownies.
Betsy was quiet and kind and seemed almost ethereal, like you could see through her. These were all things I admired and wanted to be. I wanted to float through life without necessarily having to solidly be in life. Looking back it was probably a combination of my fear of being noticed coupled with my fear of not being noticed. I thought that if I didn’t eat meat anymore, I could embody Betsy. I would be sweet, kind, sort of float through space and time and I wouldn’t have to worry about choosing what foods to eat because my choices would be inherently limited. It seemed like a win-win situation.
So that August, when I came home from summer camp, I announced to my mother that I wanted to be a vegetarian.  As you might know from previous posts, my mother was extremely restrictive with our food, and she was absolutely thrilled by this.  She was already in a spiritual lifestyle (back then they called it “new age,”) and this fit perfectly for her. She was able to keep both our diets “clean,” and embody the life that she thought she should have. 

When I was 28, my mother was seemingly the “healthiest” person I knew. Her diet was soooooo clean. For the past twenty years, all I’d ever saw her eat was brown rice, tofu, steamed squash, raw vegetables, fruit, mineral water, quinoa, kale (before kale was what kale is now, it was impossible to find back then, we had to travel to a health food store 40 miles away)…. you get my point.  She never drank alcohol, never smoked, never did drugs… her apartment was meticulous, she was perfect… neat, clean, meditated daily, did yoga like the Maharishi (She’d been doing it since the 1960’s).   In her early 40’s, she was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called PBC (Primary Biliary Cirrhosis) where the bile ducts destroyed her liver. She died super young (54 years old). And when she was dying, she told me that she thought maybe I should try eating meat. She said “what if I was wrong about all this?  I want you to try it…”  

And then my mother died. And I was left depressed and with this ethical dilemma. I hadn’t touched meat or eggs for almost 20 years and hadn’t touched dairy for more than eight years. I had principals.  Being a strict vegan also felt like my identity. I didn’t know what or who I was without my veganism. I know that it might seem strange, but for those of us with eating disorders (and maybe you can relate to this), so much of our identity is tied up in the way we eat or with our eating disorder, or with our body size. But my mother had made a deathbed wish to me (she also asked me to let my hair grow long, but that’s a different story for another post)… 
A few months into my Mom’s death, I was sitting out by the river thinking about what she said.  At that moment, a fish jumped out of the water. Literally jumped. It felt like a sign. I mean, fish don’t jump out of the Hudson River everyday.   I felt like that fish was saying “it’s okay.” Perhaps I was looking for signs. As we know, when you are looking, you will find.

 

My boyfriend at the time and I went to a fish restaurant (he was so excited because he was very NOT vegan) and we ordered fish. I remember my order. It was a tilapia plain with butter and lemon. I remember eating it with no consequence. No stomach aches, no illness, no bad reaction, nothing.  I was nervous because I had read so many accounts of long term vegetarians and vegans eating animal products again and getting sick, but that didn’t happen to me. 

Well, at this point I just started trying things. Next thing up was pizza. I was ecstatic. Real pizza, with cheese! Not just a cheeseless pizza with sauce and eggplant (there were few options for vegans back then), eggs came next, and then after a few months, chicken, and then red meat. I tried to eat as  ethically as I could (grass fed, organic, etc. which I was/am privileged to be able to do. I realize that it’s not an option for everyone,)  and it was hard for me emotionally but physically lots of things changed. And they changed quickly: 

1. When I was vegan,  I walked around dizzy all the time. I didn’t really know any difference, I thought that that was just how people felt. However, when I started eating meat, that stopped. 
2. I had more endurance and I was able to exercise with ease and actually enjoy it. When I was vegan I pushed myself through exercise. 
3. My anxiety went away. 
4. My binge eating urges decreased immensely. Almost completely. In fact, I binged A LOT when I was vegan. A lot a lot a lot.  I think it’s partially because my body just wasn’t getting the nutrition that it needed because my diet was so restrictive. 
5. My concentration levels sharpened.  I was able to sail through grad school in a way that I couldn’t in undergrad. Focus and concentration were just so much easier for me. 
6. I felt more content, my mood improved dramatically. 
7. And I hesitate to write this, but the truth is that I dropped a significant amount of weight when I stopped being vegan.  This won’t necessarily happen for everyone as we all have different body types and needs. 

I felt as though my body really needed it, and given how different I felt, it began to make me think that maybe part of science, nature, the food chain, the universe etc, meant for this to be.

I truly believe that we all have different nutritional needs for our bodies.  Like animals, some humans do better as herbivores, some do better as omnivores. That’s why it makes me so angry when people make the blanket statement that veganism is the best diet for everyone. For some people it’s fantastic but for some it’s not.

Veganism literally made my body and my mind sick and ineffective.  My best advice is to watch your body closely. If you feel that you are not feeling well as a vegan, that your body is not getting what it needs, that you have more urges to binge, that you’re tired more of the time than not, that you’re cold more of the time than not, then try implementing different options.  See what a bit of animal products does. If it doesn’t work for you either physically or emotionally, experiment with getting more protein and fat through plant sources.  It’s a very difficult line to walk, but you have to find out what is most right for your body. 

I know that there is this “vegan glow” that people talk about. I have a hunch that it’s because vegans tend to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. It’s not so much about what they’re leaving out, but about what they’re taking in. I know for sure that when I was a vegan I had no glow. My skin was dry, my hair was dry,  I was tired and hungry and anxious.  If I am being perfectly honest with myself, when I look back now, I believe that my vegetarianism and veganism was a “legal” way for me to restrict my food and keep my eating disorder under wraps but still alive. Restricting my food kept me feeling virtuous and honest.  Recently someone who I hadn’t seen in more than a decade told me how great I looked and that I had that “vegan glow.” I said, “funny because I eat meat and dairy and chocolate and everything now.” 

Again, I know that this article will anger many people, but I felt that it was important to tell my story and give my personal truth.  This doesn’t mean that I believe it’s everybody’s truth, but everybody’s truth is different and it’s up to you to find out what your personal needs really are.  Nobody else can tell you this.

  Related: When Someone Promises That They Can Help You Lose Weight, They’re Totally Lying to You. 

I hope that you’ve found this helpful and I appreciate the question.

Warmly, 
Leora

How to Use Mindful Self Compassion to Help Binge Eating Disorder

Being human is one of the most difficult ways to be born. Really, it sucks. Each day we are presented with a myriad of feelings that vary from elation to downright painful. And really difficult things happen. Houses get set on fire, mass shootings happens, people get attacked, violated… and to a less degree, our feelings get hurt, we embarrass ourselves, we fart  in public, we get drunk and act stupid, we start fights with our wives and husbands for no good reason, we overeat, we binge, we purge, we have affairs, we starve ourselves, we don’t study for a test, we say the most embarrassing thing in front of a whole roomful of people, we stumble, fall or downright fail while giving a presentation, we say that we’re going to quit smoking but we don’t or we can’t, we say that we’re not going to bite our nails, but we do it anyway, we pick our nose, we scream at our kids, we scream at our mothers, we space out and go through a red light and hit another car, we steal something from the supermarket on purpose… we do a lot of imperfect and even effed up things. Because we’re human. We are all human, and the life of a human is a difficult one. We are filled with existential angst. And that’s how we were created. And that is not easy for anyone.

The first noble truth of Buddhism is that life is suffering. Everyone suffers just from being human. Everyone. Once we are able to accept that truth, we can transcend it. Not transcend it in that we can make suffering not happen, because suffering happens no matter what. However, part of what causes our intense suffering is somehow believing that we shouldn’t suffer. We often believe that we are alone in our suffering or that nobody else suffers like us. Nobody else is depressed, nobody else is having marriage troubles, nobody else made themselves throw up after their last meal vowing that it would be the last time, nobody else sits up all night worrying about their kids’ futures, nobody else lost their home, no one gambled away their life savings…  Being human can be extremely painful a lot of the time. So in that, we have to hold ourselves not with pity, but with compassion, just for the simple reason that suffering is suffering and being human has an inherent amount of suffering that comes with it due to the way that we are wired to react to events and to our memory capacity. 

I have been taking an eight week course up at Spirit Rock on Mindful Self Compassion based on the the work of Kristen Neff (if you haven’t read the book, it’s a great one!). I have always known that self-kindness was a deep, deep part of true recovery and have helped my clients practice it for years. However, Dr. Neff has the research to back it up. Research shows that self-compassionate individuals experience greater psychological health than those who lack self-compassion and that self-compassion is positively associated with social connectedness, life satisfaction, emotional resilience and a lower tendency for self-criticism, depression, anxiety and disordered eating. In fact, daily acts of self-compassion are an integral part of the 5 week program. The research shows that by practicing self-compassion daily, you can actually rewire your neural pathways to come to a place of kindness rather than self-reproach whenever you “mess-up.” (ie: binge, purge, say something stupid, get too drunk and dance on the tables at your cousin’s wedding then vomit then make out with your cousin’s new husband’s 70-year-old Uncle in front of everyone…) that rather than hating yourself, you can remember that you are human and have some tolerance for that very difficult plight that we all go through.

So what does this really mean and how do we practice self-compassion in daily life? Kristen Neff describes a *self compassion break. With this, you take a few moments to:

1. Take note of the fact that you are suffering (no matter what/why) and you tell yourself,  ie: “this is suffering, I am suffering right now…” 

2. You then acknowledge the pain of suffering ie: “this is really hard/this is so painful/ my heart hurts…” etc. use the language that feels most right to you.

3. Remind yourself that this is part of being human  ie: “I am suffering, but I am not alone. Everyone suffers, this is okay and normal and part of the human experience…” 

4. Treat yourself with the kind of kindness and compassion that you would a best friend or a child,  put your hand on your heart,  talk to yourself in loving, sweet words ie: “it’s okay for you to feel this way, it doesn’t take away from the person you are… this too shall pass… ” or whatever words you really need to hear, give them to yourself. 

It’s not that you’re trying to change yourself or your feelings or never suffer again, but you’re giving some ease to the suffering by accepting it. 

The trap of beating ourselves up when we are down makes everything so much worse. By being kind to ourselves, we have a chance of choosing the next right thing and not getting stuck in the cycle of pain. For instance, you can utilize mindful self compassion for binge eating if you wind up having a particularly bad binge/purge or binge episode, you might be used to beating yourself up afterward and hating yourself. However, if you can notice the suffering and remind yourself that you are suffering, and that it is hard and that you deserve compassion, you might have the strength to make a positive choice for yourself in the hours to come. A beating yourself up choice might be to continue your binge/purge episode for the rest of the day (week, month, etc) or to restrict in order to punish yourself. But when you walk away from the punishing behaviors and instead choose self compassion, you can make the choice for yourself that a loving person would make for you instead of a dictator. A  compassionate choice might be to forgive yourself, take a walk and resume your food on a positive trajectory for the rest of the day.  See How to recover from a binge for more ideas. 

One of my favorite parts of my personal compassion practice is practicing loving kindness toward the people around me. Being kind, trying really, really hard to be even kinder than I instinctively am or to do more than what comes naturally to me has been extremely rewarding and nourishing for my soul. It also makes compassion for myself come with more ease. And if you think about it, when you are compassionate and extra kind to yourself and toward the others around you, you set a positive example for those around you and it sets off a chain of positivity in the world (which we so desperately need right now).

For more information on compassion practice, see http://self-compassion.org/

*listen to Kristin’s 5 minute self-compassion break here

 

On another note, many of you know that I live right in between San Francisco and wine country. I’m including here pictures to show you what the wildfires are doing to our skies right about now. Send love to Napa/Sonoma, we need it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Best Friend is Getting Gastric Bypass Surgery

I have noticed a lot of talk in the Facebook groups about WLS (weight loss surgery). Some have had it, some regret it, some are considering it, and some are vehemently against it. 

I have been asked to weigh in on my feelings about WLS, so rather than answer you all individually, I thought it was important to tell you about one of my closest friends in the world… Eloise.

Her real name is not Eloise, but in my head she could totally be an Ellie. She’s really charismatic and vibrant and alive and confident. She has the ebullience of an Ellie. 

Anyway, Ellie and I have been friends for close to 20 years. We got married in the same year, we had our first kids within mere weeks of each other… We are super tight. And as long as we’ve been friends, we’ve had open and frank conversations about what we have dealt with in terms of food issues, disordered eating issues and body image issues.  There are differences though. I of course went through deep deep recovery for my disordered eating and even became a therapist to help others deal with it.  As much as I did have severe food and body image issues, the body image issues seemed to reside mostly in my own head. Sure, I saw myself as unacceptable and my ED told me that I truly was unacceptable, and I strongly believed that the world found me unacceptable. But in recovery I came to understand that it was a cognitive distortion. A trick of ED. Ellie has the same issues, except her body image issues are not her own, they are society’s problem.  So despite the fact that Ellie is a brilliant, hilarious, beautiful and super talented woman with lots of confidence, she still has to contend with society and the medical community’s collective feelings about fat women. 

Back in May Ellie told me that she was considering having Gastric Bypass Surgery and wanted to know what I thought.  It’s a hard question because my instinct is to say “NO NOT EVER, DON’T EVEN CONSIDER IT!” Which is basically what I said. I told her that the long term studies on bariatric surgery weren’t well documented, that the surgery is risky during, but also complications years later can be deadly, and that it was a very difficult road. I told her to first try an eating disorder program that was specifically geared for people who were considering bariatric surgery but might look into working through the specific issues first. And she said to me, “do you realize that I’ve been in therapy with an Eating Disorder specialist for years? Do you realize that my therapist has read YOUR book in the process of researching her own? do you realize that you and I have been friends for close to 20 years and you’re on the other side of recovery and I’m not? Do you realize how frustrating that is?” 

I hadn’t. I hadn’t thought about how frustrating it might be for her to continue working on recovery and feel like she couldn’t get any where.

“But what about acceptance?” I asked her, “What about accepting your body size and just working on your health, your own self-care, your own inner-peace, your own self-love…”  

“I can’t,” she told me, “I can’t accept this body size. You know I used to think that people paid attention to me because I was pretty and now I realize that people pay attention to me because I’m fat…” 

“Umm…” I said to her, “People pay attention to you because you’re fucking awesome. You have more charisma in your pinky than most people have in a lifetime… when I’m out with you, we’re always surrounded by people and meeting new friends. That doesn’t happen to me when I’m not with you.” 

“It doesn’t?” she asked.

“No, ” I told her,  “Not even a bit. You know how you meet new friends wherever you go? It’s because you’re cool and people want to be near YOU… I don’t have that when I’m not with you, when I’m with you, people are literally clawing their way toward us to get close to you. You’re just… really likeable. Inherently.” 

“REALLY?” she asked me,

“Yup. Totally…”  I told her. “Your spirit and your soul are much bigger than your body. And, you know, more significant of course.” But even if this wasn’t the truth, even if she was unpleasant (which she’s nowhere close to), she would still be valuable and worthy as a human being. 

It’s amazing the stories we can tell ourselves about ourselves. We have these mythologies, these “roadmaps” about who we are and what other people think about who we are and what we look like that we then build our self-esteem around. Our super-ego can tell us anything to agree with the stories with have in our heads about ourselves. Ellie had at one point believed that people paid attention to her for the way she looked, she then believed that people paid attention to her for, well, the way she looked. People pay a lot of attention to her because she’s  fun, funny, the life of the party, compassionate, kind, calming to be around and loving.  When she took that in she realized that she might not be seeing the full picture. We left it off by her saying that she would consider the acceptance piece and the Health at Every Size ideology. 

Last weekend we took the boys swimming together and she told me that she’d decided to go forward with the surgery. That she talked to a surgeon, an RD and several people who had gone through the surgery. I asked her what they said, she told me that they all said the same thing, that it didn’t change their brain around food, just their ability to eat it, and it was a battle, a struggle every day, even for those 10 years or more out from it. So her idea is to schedule it for April and spend the next 8 months working on health and self-acceptance and finding other things to use as coping mechanisms and that maybe she will opt not to when the time comes, but that she likes having that option open to her. 

She told me that she was afraid to tell me because she thought I might not be supportive. Here’s the thing. I believe this: Your body Your choice. And I also believe that when there are big decisions to be made, you have to get all the information and be well informed. You have to be informed of the risks, the long term side-effects, the possible outcomes either negative or positive, and told all of this in a neutral way as to not sway your opinion.

Gastric Bypass surgery is not the easy way out. It’s a hard-core surgery with side-effect that border on discomfort to death. For some people it can be a positive experience. It varies greatly.  My feeling is, if you are considering it, be as informed as possible, know all your options, all the possible side effects and make your choice based on real facts rather than promises of a better life or feeling pushed into it by friends or doctors.  Being fat doesn’t make you inherently unhealthy (or unworthy) and fatness is not a sickness to be cured from.  If you do make the decision to do it,  find your support tribe, the friends and family who will be there for you without judgment or disdain. Your body, your choice. But make your choice from a very, very, very informed and well thought through space. Take months, if not years to make the decision. This is your life and your choice.  I do encourage you though to work with a therapist who specializes in EDs to help you change your brain so that you’re not stuck after surgery without your coping mechanism and feeling alone and feeling as though you need to turn to another sort of coping mechanism (such as pain pills or alcohol) which does happen as well.  Gastric Bypass surgery can only treat the weight, but it can’t treat the underlying behavioral issues or the drives that create these behaviors. So working on coping mechanisms and behaviors is paramount as the surgery can often undo itself due to the disordered eating that was never addressed. 

I hope that this post can explain to you more about my feelings about weight loss surgery. It’s extremely complicated and there is not a black and white answer. No one should be shamed for their choices or their desires. No one should be shamed about anything related to their bodies. But of course everyone should be informed and educated. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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