binge eating

Compulsive Shopping, Skin Picking and Disordered Eating…

Several people have emailed me to ask about why they seem to have some issues with compulsive shopping since the shelter-in-place has begun.

The Eating Disorder brain is multi-faceted, but in my many years of treating people with many different kinds of disordered eating patterns, I’ve noticed a consistent set of traits across the board. Those traits are:

#1. A brain that doesn’t stop moving, thinks too much, moves too quickly and tends to obsess.

#2. A deep seated belief that you are not good enough.

The belief then seeks to “fix” itself. The racing brain, that smart problem solver wants to undo the feeling of not being good enough, so she does whatever she can to remedy that. It could be dieting to make herself thinner, buying clothes or makeup or skincare treatments to make her look prettier, picking on her skin to make it perfect, obsessing on everything she must have done wrong in her last relationship to make him leave her… any of those things. And more things.

The eating disorder brain believes that it can cure itself by curing what it believes is wrong with it rather than just looking at the belief that something is wrong with it. It believes that it needs to “fit in” in order to be loved. And the problem is, most people don’t really believe that they fit in. They are desperately trying to change that by fixing themselves. The need to fix becomes the obsession.

The truth is though that you don’t need to fix yourself, you just need to allow yourself to naturally unfold into who you are. All human beings are inherently worthy of love. Especially for our quirks, especially for what makes us unique and different and especially for what makes us US. When we try too hard to fit in, we lose ourselves. And then everyone is wearing the same clothes, has the same eyebrows, the same body and no one is happy because they are holding on too tight. Watch the video below where I address this question.

https://www.instagram.com/tv/B-6MLcyJKJu/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=12&wp=1080&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fapp.convertkit.com&rp=%2Fcampaigns%2F3817311%2Fsteps%2Fcontent#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A1053088.8000000014%2C%22ls%22%3A1053062.1500000015%2C%22le%22%3A1053082.0850000018%7D

Can We Please Stop Talking about Coronavirus and Weight Gain???

In a Global Pandemic, you don’t have to stress yourself out more over weight gain

Many, many people are finding that in addition to everything they are scared of right now (a global pandemic, the demise of our economy, loss, etc…) they are really, really, really scared of gaining weight during this lockdown.

It says something about diet culture and society’s expectations and pressure on women to be thin that in the midst of this whole world crisis, women are terrified of weight gain. Diet culture is so pervasive and insidious it just creeps right in there, doesn’t it…

Weight gain in times of stress and crisis is a survival mechanism. In fact, much of the literature shows that people who have BMI’s that are in the “overweight” range tend to have better outcomes and survival rates in severe illnesses.

TRIGGER WARNING BELOW: DEATH AND WEIGHT

I have seen this first hand with both my mom and stepmom. I watched them both die very young and very skinny. And when they were sick, because they had so little body fat reserves to feed off of, they went down quickly when they were ill.

My grandmother on the other hand, who was more robust outlived her own daughter by ten years. She was just sturdy and hearty. Now, I’m not saying go out and gain tons of weight on purpose, what I am insinuating is though, that if you were to get ill from the virus, your outcome and healing might benefit from some weight on your body if you happen to be someone who is very thin.

I know that for me I’m not getting much activity and I’m snacking more during the day. And that’s okay. I don’t weigh myself but I’m assuming that I’ll put on some weight and that is fine. Right now, no one has to be a weight loss hero – we just have to care for ourselves and the people we love the best we can.

I want to put your mind at ease that a bit of weight gain during this time is really NOT A BIG DEAL and even could possibly really help you.

Here are a couple of articles that confirm this fact:

https://www.sciencealert.com/the-healthiest-weight-could-actually-be-overweight-huge-study-findshttps://www.sciencealert.com/the-healthiest-weight-could-actually-be-overweight-huge-study-finds
https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20090625/study-overweight-people-live-longer#1
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160510124453.htm

I hope that this is calming to some people around this fear of weight gain.

On another note, I decided to continue offering a big discount for those who are having financial issues due to the pandemic. I am maintaining this discount for the rest of 2020. I know that many people could use both the support and the structure. Just go to recoverfrombingeeating.com for details and discounts.

Friday Q&A – Can I Recover from Binge Eating Without Gaining Weight?

Midsection of mid adult Asian woman adjusting balance weight scale

Dear Leora,

Is it possible to recover from binge eating without putting on too much weight. If you’ve starved yourself for a while and lost weight but now bingeing and slowly starting to put it back on, how can I stop the binge cycle without putting on all the hard work I’ve lost?

Dieting in Denver

Dear Dieting,

I understand why you are confused. On one hand, the whole world is encouraging all different kinds of diets and telling you that you constantly HAVE TO WORK HARD TO CHANGE WHO YOU ARE SO THAT YOU CAN BE BETTER! Yet, the ED recovery world, which is a small contingent of us, are telling you not to diet.

Your body is certainly a valuable possession but it’s not what makes you valuable. But because it contains the value that is you, it’s great self-care to care for it and love it and keep it safe and healthy within your ability to… This doesn’t mean stressing yourelf out to keep your body “healthy” stress for health cancels it out. It doesn’t mean spending hours each day working our or counting every calorie or spending money on plastic surgery or botox or liposuction desperately trying to change what you have. This is about embracing what you already and have and taking great care of it. It’s like, if somehow you had possession of an original Picasso, would you paint over it to make it look like an Andy Warhol? Or would you make sure to get it insured, keep it out of sunlight, store it in a climate controlled environment, and really truly allow yourself to enjoy it? Taking care of it will keep it beautiful for a very long time, despite how much it ages. In fact, age enhances its beauty. It’s the same thing with your body. Rather than trying to change it into something different, rather than disliking it the way it currently is, let yourself love it, no matter what size and shape it is. Your body deserves love no matter what it looks like. It’s your body, the only one you got. So take care of it. Feed it healthy food, don’t feed it too much and don’t feed it too little. Give it healthy amounts of food that you love. Move it with love and care, stretch it, wash it, floss your teeth, drink your water, be kind to it, rest it, give it adequate amounts of sleep, take it outdoors to get fresh air and sunlight, bring it into nature, be grateful to it for whatever it gives to you, limit alcohol, tobacco, diet sodas, and other chemically laden substances… but don’t freak out if you eat them every once in a while, relax your mind, listen to music, dance, be kind to yourself and to others. Rather than going on a diet and actively trying to lose weight, go toward health. When you do, you will find more peace and happiness than you will when you are actively looking for it from a scale. When you take care of your body and your mind in a deliberate and loving way, you will find that your body weight naturally finds its right place. This isn’t a diet, this is thinking about the rest of your life and your body in a positive way. Strengthening it for the long haul!

So, in a nutshell, my answer is- try not to focus on the weight loss, it’s hard to focus on losing something. Change your focus to self-care and self-love to gain a balanced and healthy mind and body, it’s much easier to gain something, in this case being health and well being.

I hope this was helpful!

Warmly,

Leora

Am I a Food Addict?

Dear Leora,

I’ve been in a 12 step group for food addiction for many years. I lose lots of weight, then I relapse and I gain it all back and then I drop out of program and then I go back again and lose the weight. This cycle is exhausting. I’ve been up 70 pounds and down 70 pounds for years. Every time I go back, my sponsor and the program people tell me that I’m an addict and that I can’t trust myself, I can only trust the program and that my addict is an evil, manipulative beast who lives inside of me and lies and cheats and hurts people to get its needs met. I am not sure that I want to be in the program anymore but I am scared that it’s true. That I’m an addict who will never recover and that I have to be in the program otherwise I’ll be lead by my addict. Am I an addict? I’m scared.

– Addict Alissa in Alabama

Dear Alissa,

I want to first direct you to a post I wrote several years ago about 12 step programs for food.

My answer is this. NO YOU ARE NOT AN ADDICT.

12 step programs started as a means to use spirituality to help alcoholics and drug addicts recover. In 1960, a housewife (Roxanne S.) took the big book that her husband had been using to recover from alcoholism and adapted it for her own food issues. She created a diet based on the diet trends of the time and used that to create the world of overeaters anonymous. When OA began their “dignity of choice” (no food plan) – FA was created (food addicts anonymous). This created the premise that you are addicted to food and you need to stick to this diet in order to be okay.

This diet, again was not created by a dietician or a doctor, it was created by a housewife in 1960 and has been used as a bible for the past 60 years. Women lose their periods, lose hair all the time on this. And they are told that THIS IS NORMAL. It’s not good. And the group uses cult-like tactics. It tells its members that if they are not on the program that they are addicts. That they cannot trust themselves. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure why people are excommunicated when they are not able to maintain the program. The program acts like an eating disorder externalized. It tells you that you are bad unless you are able to stick to their rigid food plan. If you stick to the food plan, you are good. This mimics an eating disorder voice. The ED voice tells you that you are bad when you eat certain foods and virtuous when you eat “good” foods. This is why the program is so seductive to so many people. They have an eating disorder OUTSIDE of them to yell at them and shame them. It reflects their inner voice so closely that it feels familiar and safe.

Alcoholics and drug addicts behave in a way that is so much different than people who have eating disorders. This is why they need to be accountable to sponsors and a program. One can go their whole lives without drugs or alcohol, but food needs to be eaten every day!

Addicts tend to act in a way that hurts people outside of them. In extreme cases, addicts lie, they cheat, they steal, they kill people for drugs or drunk driving, they ruin their families…. not everyone of course, but in extreme cases, yes, addicts can be extremely harmful and abusive to the people around them…there is a narcissistic quality to the personality.

People with food issues tend to hurt themselves only. They also tend to take care of people at the expense of themselves. They worry about everyone around them, they care about the people around them, and they tend to be people pleasers. So much of the disordered eating is because they believe that they are not good enough and that they have to change to please other people or to make people like them. They tend to be chronic sacrificers. They are not selfish. They are the opposite. The 12 step program language, when it is extreme just does not translate for people with food issues.

Some groups are better than others, not all are so accusing or breaking you down. But many are. OA is better than FA. OA allows you to choose your abstinence which can be from a behavior (like purging) rather than to a food.

Can people be addicted to THE PROCESS of bingeing and purging? Sort of, yes. Bingeing and Purging releases dopamine and gives a sense of relief. AND like drugs or alcohol, it turns your brain off, at least momentarily so you can stop all the intense thinking that is so painful.

But being a food addict isn’t the same as being an alcoholic or drug addict. If someone is a hard core alcoholic and they abruptly stop drinking, they can wind up having seizures and dying during detox. The same with many drugs. But this doesn’t happen with food. Some people report having flu like symptoms when they “detox” from sugar. But this isn’t really true. What happens is that when people start ketogenic diets, their body goes through a change when they enter ketosis. But it’s not sugar detox – that’s not even a real thing. It’s made up by diet culture to sell “detox diets” and green juice detoxes, etc. In the times that I’ve not had coffee or tea in the morning, after about 24 hours of no caffeine, my body goes through insane withdrawal, I get horrific migraines, I even vomit. Caffeine has a real physical addiction over you. Food doesn’t, not in that same way. I’m sure that many people will reply to this and tell me that they have gone through withdrawal from sugar, my assumption is that it was because you were going into a ketogenic diet which would create these sorts of symptoms.

Now, it’s true that the food industry does some borderline unethical things with food. There are food scientists who use the exact proportions of salt, sugar and fat to make certain packaged food HIGHLY PALATABLE. Which can feel addictive. It can feel like you are unable to stop eating once you start eating these highly palatable foods. But that’s also because you have it in your mind that you are not supposed to be eating these foods, so your brain goes to “this is the last time I can eat this… so I’m going to eat as much as I can and then tomorrow I’m starting my clean eating…” that’s the black and white thinking that is activated. And the black and white thinking can make one feel like an addict.

But you are not an addict. You are a woman who is used to taking care of everyone else except yourself. You attempt to take care of yourself with food and then you hate yourself for it because society conditions us as women to hate ourselves for eating highly palatable foods. We are “bad” when we eat “bad” food. Yet packaged foods are created to be so intensely delicious on our tastebuds, that we feel like we can’t stop eating. So that’s where we wind up landing.

Thank you for this question. It’s such an important topic and distinction.

Be good to yourself. Your self-care is so necessary during this time.

Love,

Leora

The Whole New Me Syndrome

I’m Going To Emerge From This Quarantine as a Whole New Me!!!

Look at me! It’s a whole new me! I’m better, smarter, faster, thinner, I can play guitar, surf, play the piano, I learned how to dance like Britney Spears, and man I loved Corona Quarantine!

This quarantine has a special way of holding a mirror up to each of us. What is reflected back is what we need to work on. For me, it’s learning how to get more sleep and to be less hyperfunctional.

Your eating disorder brain has many ways of behaving that aren’t about eating at all. Even after we recover from all the food and body image stuff, we can see it in action. Excessive caretaking, overfunctioning and forgetting to tend to yourself is one of them. I was in that place when this crisis began. I went right into hyperfunctional mode. My husband finally pointed it out to me. “Can you please stop trying to save the world and get some rest, you are so tired…” Sometimes we need a reminder. We can’t always remember to do all the right things for our mental and physical health, especially not in this world where overworking is rewarded.

You hear yourself screaming, “you gotta get thinner! You gotta work out harder! You gotta eat clean!” Below all that noise is a quiet voice that whispers, “I’m just not good enough. “

There are so many other patterns that the eating disorder brain does. Below the surface deep underneath the chatter of your eating disorder is a soft whisper. Underneath “You gotta be thinner! You gotta work out harder! You gotta eat clean!”

Below all that noise is a quiet whisper… “i’m just not good enough.”

Because the pain of that voice is so unbearable, the job of the eating disorder behaviors are to drown it out. You starve yourself or try to fit into clothes that are two sizes too small for you. After that, you beat yourself up because they don’t fit. You do things for other people at the expense of yourself. You obsess on people who don’t give you the attention you need or deserve. You believe that you are not enough and so you date people who also believe that you are not enough. In that way, they validate that belief for you. The way the ED brain works, the underlying etiology of it is that obsessive fast moving brain. We couple the belief “I am not enough,” with a fast moving brain which results in eating disorder behaviors. We have become so used to these voices and behaviors that they barely seem weird to us. We are not aware that it’s poison that keeps infiltrating our system.

You don’t have to work so hard that you’re rejecting yourself.

You don’t have to be the best human being in the world.

You don’t have to emerge from quarantine “a whole new you…”

Instead consider the fact that space, rest and relaxation can allow that soft part inside of you to emerge. That soft part of you is the need that is buried underneath. It is underneath eating too little or eating too much. It is underneath working too much, taking care of everyone around you and sacrificing yourself for everyone else.

When you try to rest your brain and stop thinking and stop doing and just allow yourself to just be… the parts of you that need tending to will present themselves. Then, that softness inside of you, the part that KNOWS that YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH JUST THE WAY YOU ARE… It will let you relax, it will let you stop thinking, and it will give you some space to heal.

This is your birthright. Your body and your soul all want to heal. They just need space and the rest to do it.

All you have to do is step aside, get out of your own way, make room. Healing knows how to happen when it is given the space.

Help you Get Through Coronavirus Lockdown When You Have Food and Body Image Issues

Coronavirus mental health issues are very real

 

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​There is a lot to talk about here. And you know that I tend to go long form, but I want to give you some mental health resources for being locked in the house. 

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I’m nervous about all my clients who are sitting home, isolated and with leagues of dried food in their homes spending their isolated days bingeing and purging. It’s obviously a really bad time to have a cardiac incident. There’s not enough care right now. 

I want to include some tips for taking care of yourself at home right now. Your mental health is important. 

  1. As I keep saying, eat enough and sleep enough. You need to nourish your brain and rest your brain. Tired and hungry create more anxiety and stress. Tired and hungry also weaken your immune system. Eat enough and sleep enough. 
  2. If you are having trouble with your routine around eating and either forgetting to eat or eating all day long, it might be helpful to set an alarm on your phone to go off three times a day to remind you to eat your meals and twice a day so that you can check in and see if you need a snack. Block off time on your calendar for your lunch so people know not to put you in meetings, and try to plate all of your meals. Sit down and eat them away from your computer. Let yourself have a break and eat a meal.  Too many of my clients are forgetting to eat and just working all day and then bingeing at night  or eating haphazardly all day long and grabbing food out of boxes. Neither of these are satisfying or will give you the nutrition and brain power that you will get from full, intentional meals that you can sit down and eat and paying  attention to.  I want to help you  keep your mental health in check.  Your body deserves to be cared for right now. If you overeat or use food or restricting food or over exercise as a coping mechanism generally, it makes sense that your eating disorder behaviors will present themselves right now. That’s okay. That’s normal. A way to get on top of it is to create a little structure to give yourself some mindfulness around food.  
  3. Try to move your body but don’t make a big deal about it. It’s not time to say that you’re going to use this time to get on some great exercise program and finally lose the weight and build your body. Those of us who come from an ED background tend to try to control out bodies when things feel out of control. You don’t have to do that. But DO try to move your body.  Moving your body is great for your mental and physical health. That can be a walk outside if you feel comfortable doing so, a zoom date for an online workout or yoga class, or really anything. Try out something new each day. But it doesn’t have to be a regimented insane daily set up. Do it if you can. Don’t if you can’t. No shoulds.  Right now there are a lot of folks doing plank challenges, sit up challenges, weight loss challenges and all the things…Keeping your mental health and physical health in check is of your highest priority right now. If these challenges are stressing you out and you’re stuck in the shoulds, allow yourself to let go. Just don’t let the shoulds fuck with you too much. Your mental health is super important and stressing yourself with extra tasks is not conducive to positive mental health. If you come from a situation where you are used to black and white thinking (most people with eating issues do have that kind of thinking pattern) you probably did an exercise class or a routine and then said to yourself “I’m going to do this every single day of lockdown!” and then the thought of it became exhausting and then you couldn’t do it the next day and you felt like you ruined everything. Don’t do that. Tell yourself that you will do your best to move each day if you can. But don’t be black and white about it.  All the exercise studios are offering free classes right now, so you can do a different class every single day.  Your body doesn’t even want to do the same routine every day. Your body will get bored and injured and so will you. Do different things. Most important is to let your body do what it needs to do. And some days that’s just gentle stretching and some days that’s laying in bed all day. And some days it’s a 5 mile run. And it might never ever ever be a 5 mile run. You are unique and your body is unique. Listen to your body for guidance. Don’t listen to anyone else’s advice. Your body knows what it needs. Just ask it. It will tell you. 
  4. So what if you are needing to act out with your ED behaviors? What if you are heading toward a binge? Or a binge and a purge?  There are tools that you can use to help you not engage in your behavior. A great one, especially now is to delay and distract. Set a timer for 20 minutes and tell yourself that it’s okay to do your behaviors when the timer goes off. But in those 20 minutes, utilize some tools that will help you engage your senses and shut your mind down in the same way that your eating disorder does.  Some ideas are:
  5. Many people are encouraging you to get up every morning and keep with your typical routine, shower, change your clothes, put on makeup, etc. I definitely find that I feel better when I don’t spend the day in pajamas and when I’m clean.  That said, although I’m clean, I’m still just living in yoga pants and tank tops and definitely not wearing makeup. I’m comfortable.  Think about what is best for you and your mental well-being. If waking up and getting showered and putting on work clothes and make up makes you feel great, then do it! If you’d rather do yoga pants and comfy clothes and no make up, then that’s your choice. No one can tell you your best way to shelter. I do find that the separation of night and day is important to my mental well-being. I had one day where I didn’t shower and saw clients all day long in pajamas and I felt pretty bad by the end of the day.  So getting myself clean and comfortable is crucial to me. Continue with whatever skin-care, teeth flossing and hygiene routines you like. It will keep you feeling human and also cared for. Being cared for (especially by yourself) is so important to maintaining a positive self-esteem and self worth. 
  6. Reach out to people. Don’t isolate. You’re stuck in your house but you’re not alone. Call people, set up zoom dates, talk on the phone…  My friends and I have been doing Zoom happy hours. Which is pretty fun.  That said, you might also feel totally over screens and not want to do those at all. You might prefer to just do phone dates if that. Do what you need to do to feel okay.  
  7. Don’t drink too much. Seriously.  Which is what I say after I mention the Zoom happy hour.  This is a really stressful time and our instincts can really be to down a bottle of wine or two. But ultimately it’s not great for your mental health. The next day, a hangover, feeling crappy,  and ultimately, and as your serotonin and blood sugar drops after a night of drinking, anxiety and depression increase. Try to limit your alcohol intake. drinking increases anxiety the next day. So try to limit your alcohol intake.   
  8. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. This goes along with the shoulds. Right now, the biggest stress that I’m seeing around the comparative thinking is the fact that Moms have to homeschool their kids. I have seen people posting these photos on social media of their kids beautiful classrooms and the amazing and creative activities that they are doing with their kids. That’s great. But if you can’t homeschool your kids for various reasons, you cannot worry about that. This is very low down on the priority list right now.  The priority is taking care of yourselves and your children both physically and emotionally. Another thing is people using this time to learn a new skill, learn an instrument, get in shape, write their novels… just don’t get into that comparative thinking. Great if people can reframe and do that, but again, everyone has their own coping skills. 
  9. Is your house a mess? So is mine.  Do you have kids at home who are tearing your house shred to shred? Can you not even face cleaning? Don’t sweat it. Do what you can.  My musts are having a clean bathroom and kitchen and having my bedroom be clean. So my bedroom is now off limits to my kids. The rest of the house is a war zone. But there is only so much I can do right now with small (and very, very hyper and one profoundly autistic) children at home all day every day. I have to work and I have to keep myself sane and I have to pay attention to my children. At the beginning I found myself cleaning in all my spare time– unfortunately, it became a task of Sisyphean proportions. My kids were bummed because the moment I wasn’t in front of my computer seeing clients or working, I was furiously cleaning and getting stressed out about it. Try to give yourself a break.  Figure out what your most important things are – for me, I sweep, I make sure that the kitchen and bathroom are clean and I’m done.   For other people, especially those without kids, cleaning is a coping mechanism. They are going full on Kon Mari and decluttering and having fun with it. If that’s something that you love and you find pleasure in, do it! But do what YOU can and what works for YOUR situation, not what everyone is posting on social media. You can only be you and you can only be part of your situation. No one else has the same situation as you do. We are all in this together yes, but we all have very different life circumstances. No beating yourself up for looking at your own situation and acting accordingly within what your  life circumstances allow for. 
  10. If you are wanting or needing to act out in your eating disorder behaviors, utilize the delay and distract method. Set a timer for 20 minutes and tell yourself that you can do your behaviors after the timer goes off. While waiting, try to deeply engage your whole sensory system to give your mind and body a break so that you can get some peace and relaxation – things to try: 
  11.  Get into a hot bath publinders over your eyes and listen to binaural beats.  You can get these free on insight timer or on youtube.   This will almost be like sensory       deprivation tank and turn your mind off.
  12.  Get into a hot shower, listen to music in the shower, do self care things like face mask, hair mask, shave legs… do your nails – it’s hard to binge and purge with wet nails.
  13.  Color in an adult coloring book while listening to loud music.
  14. Do self massage, I love this machine to lay on  it is sort of intense but I put in on my bed and lay on it and listen to music. It is so calming because it engages so many senses. I’ve  never used this foot massager  so I can’t vouch for it, but it might be the kind of thing where you can put on a Netflix while getting a grounding foot massage. 
  15. Do a gentle restorative yoga class like this one… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfO6BZb6A7Q
  16.  Get some youtube karaokes and do an at home karaoke party. Sing loud! Have fun! Invite your roommates, kids, spouse or if you’re alone, do it alone or videotape yourself and do a karaoke challenge.
  17. SCREAM AS LOUD AS YOU CAN INTO A PILLOW. This is going to give you the same type of release as a purge. All the tension that you are holding in your body has a chance to be released.
  18. Massage your jaw. Think about how much tension you are holding in your jaw.  Your jaw is the strongest muscle in your body – and as such, it holds a lot of tension.  I believe that women in particular carry a lot of tension in our jaws because we have spent our lives having no voice and holding back.  Decreasing tension in your jaw and massaging it  can release some of your tension  and can  mitigate the need to chew, swallow and vomit.  I have a video on the bottom of the page demonstrating a quick jaw massage.
  19. Check out my blog post 101 things to do instead of binge eating for more ideas.  And if you do binge, check out how to recover from a binge.   Remember – it’s not a big deal if you binge, just be kind to yourself right now. This is really hard! 
  20. Consider what your coping mechanisms are… you might find yourself doing things like online shopping,  posting furiously on social media, texting ex-boyfriends or girlfriends or something equally unproductive… this lack of human contact and human touch is really messing with your dopamine receptors. All those impulsive things that you do that you wish you hadn’t that wind up making you feel worse after are usually the ways in which you are looking for a dopamine hit. But there are other ways to get that.. definitely music, either listening to it or playing music, getting into any kind of creative flow like writing or painting or anything where you are feeling as though you’re channeling, making and achieving goals – but when I say goals, I mean small and achievable ones, like cleaning out your junk drawer, or fixing something that’s broken. Small things.  Cold showers are a big one that people like.   It’s rough right now… all the things that we normally do,  like basic human contact is being taken away from us. 
  21. Tick marks are a great way to give dopamine without stressing yourself. If you have a list of things you want to do, rather than saying “every single day I’m going to workout, clean, read, work on art, “etc…  make a google spreadsheet of all the things you want to do. Then, at the end of each day, just check off what you did. Even getting one thing done is great and super fulfilling. 
  22. Consider some gadgets. If you are at home working and not getting out much, you might consider a light therapy device like this one. .   I have never used a Vitamin D lamp, so I really can’t speak from my own experience, nor do I want to make any unsubstantiated claims or tell people to spend money right now.  I have had friends and clients who swear by them. I am too tired to look through the literature right now… but do your own research. It makes sense to me that if you’re not getting outside, some light therapy could be helpful. But again, do your own research please before making any big purchases. 
  23. Another gadget to consider is a CES machine.. CES stands for Cranio Electrical Stimulation. These devices actually have FDA approval for insomnia, anxiety and depression. What it is is low levels of electrical current that create neurostimulation. The electrical current is delivered through electrodes that you place either on your ears or your temples.  Your vagus nerve is activated which then  it quiets down the over-stimulation of your Limbic System. That’s the part of your brain responsible for fight or flight. This in turn helps to decrease  symptoms of  anxiety, insomnia and depression.  It also helps for pain.  I personally use the Fisher Wallace machine and I love it. But there are others out there. Again, do your own research. Please take my recommendations with a grain of salt. Not everything works for everybody and I don’t want people spending large amounts of money right now. 
  24. Another gadget that I like is the Kasina Mind Machine. It basically just turns off your mind without you putting too much effort into learning to meditate.  That said, don’t pay for anything that you cannot afford or aren’t interested in. I also REALLY love insight timer, which is a free meditation app with thousands of guided meditations. 
  25. Try your hardest to be nice to the people in your house and outside of your house. Everyone is really stressed out. Husbands and wives are at each others throats. Just try to be kind to each other. Your kids might be really temperamental right now. They’re scared and they’re feeling it really intensely. And those of us who are extreme empaths might notice that they are really overwhelmed with emotion. You are feeling the weight of the world. Try to take some time to block it out. Take hot baths, try to relax your mind and body. I’m taking a lot of baths with books or music. 
  26. Therapists are here to support you and almost all are doing telemedicine right now. I know I am. If you don’t have a therapist, call your old therapist. Or check out onlineatingdisordertherapy.com  Also remember that telehealth includes talking on the telelphone. If you are feeling overwhelmed with screen time, you can talk on the phone to your therapist as well.
  27. If  you need to talk to someone and you don’t have insurance or the means to pay for therapy you can still get help! Call the Corona crisis hotline text HOME to 741741.  
  28. Cry. Seriously. It’s okay to cry. Or scream. Or whatever you need to do. This is so intense and hard to deal with. because it’s just so unimaginable.  If people tell you to stay strong, it’s okay to say, “I’ve been strong my whole life, I want you to tell me that it’s okay to break down and cry!” It is. 
  29. Metta Meditation is fantastic as well. I’ve included a metta meditation video below, scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to do a quick metta meditation. Metta meditation is also called loving kindness meditation and I find it to be the easiest and quickest way to lift my mood.  I use it in every situation, when I am feeling angry, sad, lonely… it helps me to feel more connected to other human beings. Connection to humans is what helps us to feel alive and at peace. This is another reason as to why this lockdown is so darn mentally and emotionally taxing, we just feel so darn lonely and disconnected. 
  30. Restorative Yoga is pretty easy going and helps you sleep and relax. 
  31. IF YOU CAN’T STOP BINGEING AND PURGING- PLEASE READ:  if you are bingeing and purging, and you feel like you can’t stop, or you don’t want to stop, please, please, please take precautions to keep yourself safe. Drink a good amount of water to keep yourself hydrated. Make sure to replenish your electrolytes, drink gatorade or pedialyte. DO NOT workout after you’ve been bingeing and purging.  You need to rest your body and not tax your heart. Don’t brush your teeth after a purge, instead use baking soda and water to rinse your mouth. If you have wounds on your hands and knuckles, please treat them with neosporin Reach out to people. Try really hard not to be alone. It’s going to be very difficult to get good medical care right now and you REALLY don’t want to end up in the hospital right now.  The other thing that I want to ask you is not to beat yourself up. If you are bingeing and purging because this is your coping mechanism, the last thing you need to do is to beat yourself up more or hate yourself because you can’t stop. Try your best to be kind to yourself and give yourself compassion. We all have coping mechanisms, some are healthier than others and some are pretty harmful. The worst though is when you use a coping mechanism and then you beat yourself up for it or you hate yourself for it. If you are using a coping mechanism it is because you were looking for a way to feel better. Hating yourself after just makes it worse. Remind yourself that this coping mechanism was utilized because you felt horrible. And so the best thing you can do is tell yourself that you deserve to be loved and treated with kindness and respect.  Forgive yourself and tell yourself something like, “wow, this is really hard, you were trying to make yourself feel better…”  getting stuck in the self-hatred makes things so much worse. Kindness to self can often be extremely comforting. 
  32. MINDFUL SELF COMPASSION – The work of Kristen Neff, Mindful Self Compassion is one of the best things you can do for yourself right now.  The quickest way to describe is that you are intentionally treating yourself the same way that you would treat your best friend or a small child. I use the world intentional because it is a practice. It does take time to rewire your brain for self-compassion. If you are used to thinking of yourself as not good enough or not smart enough or not pretty enough or not thin enough… those are the recordings that your brain plays on repeat over and over and over again. Instead,  set an intention for self kindness. And this can be as simple as putting your hand on your heart and saying “This is really hard, I’m having a hard time. It’s so difficult for me to not like myself and to be mean to myself, that really hurts, doesn’t it?” the hand on your heart is important, making connection with and to yourself is how you begin to implement the parts of kindness to self that you might not have been using or have never used.  You don’t have to pretend to love yourself, especially if that feels really foreign, but instead, finding a part of you that can serve as a nurturing mother, or if a mother has a bad connotation, a fairy god-mother or someone who feels loving. Have that person be right there, on your shoulder, loving you absolutely unconditionally. No matter what you’ve done, no matter how much you hate yourself, no matter what your body looks like no matter how much you’ve eaten or haven’t eaten, no matter how many times you’ve done or said things that you regret, you deserve love and respect.. and most of all from yourself.  Falling on your face and looking stupid and royally embarrassing yourself is one of the supreme honors of being human. And it happens to all of us.  I can’t even count how many times it’s happened to me. But learning to tell yourself that it’s okay, that you are still worthy of love reduces shame and increases positive self-esteem and mental health. 
  33. During this whole Coronavirus fiasco, I am putting my binge eating program on a 50% discount for all payment plans. Just use the coupon code CORONASUPPORT. 

 

I LOVE YOU ALL. 

I CARE ABOUT YOU ALL. 

I WANT ALL HUMAN BEINGS TO FEEL A SENSE OF INNER LOVE AND INNER PEACE AND TO TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES AND EACH OTHER. 

KINDNESS AND GENTLENESS TO YOURSELVES AND OTHERS WILL CHANGE THE WORLD…. 

This I can promise you. 

Lastly, I’m giving you all a free hypnotherapy session. This one is called hypnosis for anxiety. Use the coupon code “COVID’ to get it for free.  Just go here and where it asks for a coupon, use the coupon code COVID and it will be yours for free.  I hope you find it helpful and calming. 

Please please please take care of yourselves. I care about all of you and I’m sending you love.  I’ve included some videos below of some Facebook lives, the first one is just a little talk I gave about everything I included above. The second one is a short little metta meditation… it only takes a minute or two and you will feel so much better after doing it. That I can promise you. Sending you so much love. 

Eating disorder support during the Corona Lockdown.

For eating disorder therapists who are seeing patients via telehealth, go to: www.onlineeatingdisordertherapy.com

Posted by Recover From Binge Eating on Monday, March 23, 2020

Metta (loving kindness meditation) for positive mental health, (self) compassion and inner peace.

Posted by Recover From Binge Eating on Thursday, March 26, 2020

If You Think that You Overate at Thanksgiving Please Read This

Overeating on Thanksgiving Does NOT make you a failure!

 

 

I have been getting emails all day from people telling me that they overate or binged on Thanksgiving and that they hate themselves, that they are failures, that they are worthless, that they are defective, that they will never be like their cousins look or the way the women in their office look, or the way that that their mother thinks that they should look like, that they can’t stick to a diet and that there is something severely wrong with them.

This breaks my heart severely. These hate letters that women are sending to themselves.

You are not defective. You are not flawed. You are not bad. Eating or overeating or eating off your diet does not make you a bad person. It’s not like you kicked a homeless person or set fire to your neighbors house — you just ate more than you had planned to. How could you not have? It was Thanksgiving. The holiday that is centered around eating too much. Diets don’t work because diets go against human nature and basic biology. You didn’t fail at dieting, you won at being human. And your human self deserves love and kindness most of all from yourself. When you plan to restrict your food – you are sure to crack at some point. Human willpower can only go so far. And when highly palatable food is all around you, it’s very difficult not to eat it. And if you try really hard not to and you’re able to – there is a big chance that you will wind up bingeing on it or something else later. Please don’t beat yourself. Please try your best to take a breath and remind yourself that it was Thanksgiving. That you are allowed to eat. And that today, even if you ate more than you wanted to or planned to, that you can still eat. You don’t have to punish yourself by restricting or bingeing or purging. You need to eat. You don’t have to earn your meals. Eating is a basic human need.

You also don’t need to look like anyone else. As women we have been taught to relentlessly compare ourselves to other women. If we see a beautiful woman, we think to ourselves “she is beautiful – therefore that means that I am not… I should hate myself…” and when we compare ourselves to others, we fail to see what is beautiful and wonderful about ourselves. We believe that what we don’t have makes us flawed. We have all been taught that, to focus on our “perceived” flaws… by the things that make us feel separate from ourselves rather than aligned with ourselves. But what if we thought about focusing on what makes us special? What if we thought about not comparing ourselves to others (we can’t be anyone else nor should we be) and instead thinking about the amazing things that make us who we are? Even if you can focus on one thing that you like about yourself (a self-gratitude list) I think you might find some peace. It doesn’t have to be about the way that you look, it can be about who you are and what makes you feel the most like yourself. And then you might spend some time focusing on that. For instance, if you like that you are a voracious reader – spend time reading, if you like that you are a great writer, spend time writing, if you like that you are a fantastic cook, invite people over for a cooking class, if you like that you are kind, go serve food at a soup kitchen… or whatever. What I mean to say here is that it’s important for you to be you and not to try to be anyone else. And when you get in touch with what makes you you and you truly align to that – you will begin to feel embodied and be able to revel in your own authenticity rather than thinking that you’d be better off being someone else.

I hope that you all had a great long weekend. It’s already December and so my GET THROUGH DECEMBER WITHOUT BINGEING will start in the next couple of days!

And don’t miss out on my black friday sale. Purchase ANYTHING from the Recover shopping page and get 25% off when you use the code “thanksgiving” – ends Sunday night at 11:59pm. This includes the 5 Week Step-by-Step Program to Stop Binge Eating for Good.

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. DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO ANYONE ELSE- As women, we have been absolutely conditioned to look at other women and then see what they have or what they look like that we do not have or we do not look like. We then focus on what we are not instead of what we are. When we do that, we feel awful. And we hate ourselves and when we hate ourselves, we abuse ourselves (with food, alcohol, restricting, intense exercise, mean self-talk, etc).  Instead of focusing on what other people are and what you are not,  focus on what makes you great, what makes you beautiful and what makes you you. Focusing on what you believe you lack, on your “perceived” deficits will always, 100% of the time, make you feel like crap. And that’s what we have been taught to do, look at other people and figure out what they have that we don’t and what they are that we are not and then feel terrible. It’s an awful cycle and it’s a non-winning cycle because you will never be anyone other than yourself. So be with that, be with that amazing person who is you. Make a self gratitude list – list things that you are thankful for about yourself. This will help you both love yourself but also love others around you without feeling jealous or resentful. It will also create space between you and people who might be critical of you (grandma, Mom, etc…). Others criticism, especially those who you are closest to are reflections of their own fears about themselves and they are projecting them onto you. 

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 2020 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. And until Sunday night at 11:59 – I’m offering a Black Friday Deal – 20% off all products – those can be found here! 

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 2020 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 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 Can Just BE SCARY!!!!!

The Fall is always difficult for people with any kind of dysfunctional relationship with food… and Halloween is a super scary holiday for binge eaters and emotional eaters because the 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! 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 2019 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!

Need extra support? This is a great time to join the 5 Week Program.. Starting in December I will be doing doing extra Facebook Lives as sort of support and group therapy and teaming up with buddies so that people can text each other through the holidays for extra extra support.

Right now, for the month of December $497 when you pay in full.

Get in now- and you will be part of this forever without ever having to pay another cent, even as more content, interviews and information are added. Join today and it’s yours forever. This is a lifetime program and monthly payment plans are available to make it easily affordable.

Those of us who deal with binge eating behavior can often hide when we feel like we’re not doing well. We think we’re supposed to be okay and perfect all the time. Ironically though, eating disorders THRIVE in isolation. So if you’re struggling, please don’t do it alone. We are better together and we are stronger together. When you sit in your ED alone, it’s difficult to find recovery because it’s just you and ED. But when you have support, when other people know what you are going through, the part of the eating disorder that gets bigger and stronger when it is left alone to grow, that part is pushed out of the way. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! And you’re not the only one. If you are feeling lonely, depressed, anxious, or like you can’t do this, please reach out for support.

And lastly, if you didn’t get the chance to watch my presentation:

5 Steps to Changing Your Brain to Stop Binge Eating – here is the video replay.

In it you will learn:

  • How I fully recovered from years of being on the binge/restrict cycle
  • Reasons why you binge eat so you can empower yourself with the tools that you really need to stop.
  • Why You DON’T need Willpower to Stop Binge Eating so you can stop beating yourself up and learn about what you really do need.
  • What is neuroplasticity and how to us it to train your brain to effortlessly stop binge eating
  • How to use mindfulness to help you stop binge eating so you can stop using food to find peace and calmness and harness your own inner peace.
  • Learn about the 5 week program, what it is what it isn’t.

Eating Disorders and Anxious Attachment – What’s the Relationship?

 

Have you ever been “that girl” who was so in love with “that boy…” the one who you were going to marry and make babies with? You loved him so much that you thought of him all the time.  You couldn’t stop talking about him… you checked your phone constantly to see if he’d texted you. And when he didn’t you became anxious, scared and depressed. You stressed over it with all your friends, analyzing every text, every word he ever said to you, thinking about what you must have done wrong to make him not text you? You knew that his lack of communication was the beginning of the end. You pretended it wasn’t. You kept texting him – asking if you were still on for Friday… what he was up to, thought of excuses to text him or run into him.

 

And finally – you get together with him and he tells you, “this just isn’t working for me…” and you say “what? why? What did I do????”  and he says, “you’re great! I wish I could, but I just don’t feel the same way about you.”

“But you did!” you tell him, “you used to! how did your feelings just change? just like that? you lied to me! feelings can’t just change!” you insist.

“I’m sorry he tells you.” And you cry. You cry a lot. 

“But we’ve only been dating for like 2 months!” he says

“10 weeks!” you tell him.

He leaves and you are sitting by yourself at the restaurant crying hysterically. The food in front of you no longer seems appetizing. You can’t eat and so you don’t eat… for days. And then you become addicted to not eating, sure that if you lose the weight that you think you need to, that then he will love you. Doesn’t matter if you are 18 or 81. This is an anxious attachment style.  

 I don’t want to get much into attachment theory here – but in a few sentences, our attachment style corresponds to how we related to our primary caregivers as children and how we then translate that into our adult relationship patterns. 

For our purposes here, I’ll focus on an anxious attachment style. I will also focus on women. While there certainly are many men who have anxious attachment schema, they do tend to be more on the avoidant spectrum. Avoidants and anxious styles seem to attract each other like gnats to a light in summer, thus creating a deeply charged and often dramatic relationship patterns. Both syles tended to have parents who were highly critical, preoccupied with other things and  inconsistent in their parenting and in the way they showed love. 

*Jessica (not her real name) grew up with a narcissistic father who left her mother when Jessica was 18 months old.  At the age of thirty, when he came into his full trust fund, he decided to move from their home in Massachusetts to Los Angeles for a more fun life.  Jessica’s mother, his college sweetheart,  stayed behind in Massachusetts both angry and bitter. Jessica’s father came to visit her once every few months and when he did, Jessica and he had the most fun together. He would take her into Boston, they’d eat at the Hard Rock Cafe, they’d ride on the Swan Boats, they’d get ice cream in Faneuil Hall, they’d shop in Harvard Square, go to the Children’s Museum! It was a magical escape for 48 hours. And then, he’d  drop her home at her mother’s angry apartment where Jessica’s Mom would yell and scream and get angry at Jessica for being happy and liking her father. She felt that Jessica was being disloyal.  Often she’d even hit her.  Jessica didn’t want her mother to be mean, so she became hyper-compliant, doing everything that she possibly could to keep her mother even and calm. She believed that it was her responsibility to behave in a certain way and anticipate her mother’s moods so that she could keep herself safe. Her father was her savior, swooping in about four times a year to spend a magical weekend with her. She dreamed of her father coming and taking her away from the misery and darkness of her mother’s sad life. When Jessica’s father got remarried, he stopped coming to visit. He’d say that he was coming to visit but then cancel last minute. Jessica remembers spending a whole month excited about her father coming to see her and then, on the day that he was due to arrive, while she was waiting in her room for him to show up, the phone rang. Her mother came in and told her that her Dad wasn’t coming. “Just couldn’t get away!” he told her. “It’s okay Daddy. Will you come again?” “Of course I will,” he told her. Once or twice a year or so, Jessica would board a plane and travel the seven hours all by herself from Logan to LAX to spend a few weeks in the summer with Dad and Katrina, his supermodel wife. Katrina didn’t like Jessica and Jessica didn’t like Katrina.  Her Dad would ignore her unless he was yelling at her to be nice tell to Trina. Trina told Jess’s Dad that Jessica was jealous of her and then Jess’s Dad would yell at her about not being so jealous. Jessica had no idea what she had done wrong. But her life had become sad, lonely and the person who used to save her from her angry mother had abandoned her.  Mostly Jess stayed home with the housekeeper and ate Tamales and beans and ice cream while watching television. Trina told Jessica’s Dad to stop her from eating so much, said that she was getting fat. Asked him how he could have such an ugly daughter. Eventually Katrina became pregnant and once they had their own family,  Jess stopped coming at all and her father stopped visiting.  Jess believed that her father stopped seeing her because she wasn’t good enough and didn’t try hard enough. She was too fat, too ugly, too jealous, too needy. That in order to be loved, Jess had to look like a Katrina. This was validated for her as her father had left Jess’s Mom who looked nothing like a supermodel and discarded Jess who, like her Mom looked nothing like a supermodel.

This set the springboard for Jess’s attachment style. She had the double whammy of both anxious attachment and seeing men as saviors – the only thing that could save her from her terrible life.  Neither her father nor her mother were capable of giving her the sort of mirroring or unconditional love that all children need. Not because she didn’t deserve it, but because they were not able to  due to their own issues.  Her parents had preoccupied attachment patterns – unable to consistently give her the love and support she needed.  It then led to Jess having an insecure/anxious attachment style.

Adults who have this attachment style  tend to be highly self-critical and insecure. They believe that they need constant approval from the people around them and will do whatever they can to seek out that reassurance from people around them. However, no matter how much reassurance they get, they never seem to be able to feel steady and safe. Their self-doubt is alleviated only briefly and then they become anxious for more reassurance.  They deeply believe that they will be rejected and thus they do what they can do avoid that sort of abandonment. , yet this never relieves their self-doubt. They then become extremely clingy with their partners which in turn creates the opposite of the desired effect and drives their partners away. They then have the reinforcement that they are worthless. Often, they then take up the role of the pursuer in their relationship believing that the people around them are somehow “better” than they are.  Often, they then do things to change themselves in order to increase their sense of self-worth or in order to look or seem formidable in the eyes of the person they are pursuing.

Our friend Jessica in this case became obsessed with her weight and obsessed with achievement. She wanted to be seen by her father as acceptable and seen by boyfriends as worthy of love. She exercised obsessively, ran marathons, rose to the top ranks of her law firm before the age of 30 and yet… she would still be that girl who was getting drunk and blowing up the phone of the boy she had just met slept with the night before. When she came to me she told me that she was having trouble getting over a guy and that she couldn’t make sense of it. She started dating Richard a few months prior. Richard was a “painter” who lived off his parents trust fund and mostly spent his days getting high and playing video games and possibly painting.  She thought that she had found “the one.”  She described him as a brilliant artist and showered him with love, attention, gifts – so many gifts… she cleaned his house while he was playing video games, did his laundry, cooked him meals and expected that he would think that she was the most irresistible wife ever. I mean, she could bring home the bacon AND fry it up in a pan. But he started pulling away after awhile and then one day, after not seeing each other for a week and him dodging her calls and her texts, she asked him if she could come over. He said that he was home sick, bad head cold. So she made homemade bone broth, cookies from scratch and brought them over to his house. When he answered the door, he was in his boxers and there was a woman behind him wearing one of his tee-shirts.  And there was a scene. Jessica cried and screamed, “how could you how could you?”  Richard said, “why are you so upset? It’s not like we were exclusive. We’ve only known each other for what? Two weeks?”  According to Jess, the girl just snickered in the background.

Richard texted her a few weeks later and she went right back to his house for a rendezvous. Then he’d blow her off. This pattern lasted for a few years. Every time he texted her, she was happy and felt great. And then, after a few weeks of not hearing from him, she’d get anxious and on a few occasions she had full blown panic attacks.

In the meantime, she’d do everything she could to be “good enough” for Richard. She’d starve herself for weeks on end, she’d run several miles a day or do back-to-back Soul Cycle classes and then she’d wind up bingeing on foods she had been restricting herself from.  Her eating disorder was a way to manage her anxious attachment. She believed that when she made herself “good enough” that she’d feel better.  The eating disorder behaviors helped to mitigate the anxiety that she was feeling about being rejected and all the beliefs that she had underneath that… those beliefs that told her that she wasn’t good enough, that had she been a better human being, her father wouldn’t have rejected her and her mother wouldn’t have been so angry all the time.

So when we think about this, what do we see as the two over-arching emotions? Love and fear.  Fear of not being loved. The fear then overtakes everything and becomes bigger than the love. Jessica never even stopped to think about how she really felt about Richard. Had she really thought about it, she would have realized that she actually didn’t love him or even really like him and definitely didn’t respect him. She was just afraid that he wouldn’t love her. And she craved love significantly. However, when someone really did love her, it didn’t feel real because as a child, she associated love with rejection and abuse and she lived out those relationships over and over again. Her angry mother and her rejecting father set the stage for how she valued herself and how she believed she was supposed to be treated.

In our work together, we helped Jessica to understand that she was perfect and whole and complete in that moment and that people who were rejecting and avoidant probably weren’t the people she wanted to be with, but the people who felt familiar and thus REAL to her. As her own sense of self love grew, she began to seek out relationships with men who had a more secure attachment style. So there were no texting games or manipulations or playing on her weaknesses, but a less exciting, yet more even-keeled relationship. As she got into these more balanced relationships, her relationship with herself and her relationship with food and exercise began to balance itself out as well.

The most important parts of healing anxious attachment are not putting your own self worth in the hands of someone else. When you define your own values and decide what makes you find another human being valuable to you (is it living off a trust fund and getting high and playing video games all day?) You can then allow yourself to unfold into the person who you really are and really love and respect.

Jessica defined her personal values and kindness, compassion and advocacy. As she allowed herself to be that person (and it was so easy because that’s who she naturally was) she also found someone who loved her for her. She didn’t believe that she had to change for him and he shared her values.

Define your personal values and allow yourself to just be that human being. Not for anyone else, but just for you. Being your authentic self is easy because honestly, it’s all you have ever really known or wanted .  As this happens, you will find that who you really are unfolds beautifully. And then your next relationship is easier. you don’t have to be anything for anyone else, but allowing the person who is most right for you comes naturally.