I Can’t Stop Bingeing on Halloween Candy!!!!!

That’s the thing that comes with this time of year, lots and lots and lots of candy– out in bowls, all over the place. It starts now and doesn’t end for the next 2 months.  That’s a lot of bingeing. But you don’t have to fall prey to Halloween candy binges.

1.)Don’t fall for the “this is the only time a year that I get to do this.” Do a cost/benefit analysis. Are bite sized Almond Joys and Candy Corns worth the feeling that you get from bingeing? Think about how you will feel once you start eating those things.

2.)Opt not to give out candy this year. Try something different, like little toys and crafts or crayons or toy jewelry and cars, go for something fun.

3.)When you see bowls of Halloween candy out in the world, or in your office, make a decision to avoid it. Just put a boundary around it so that it is not a temptation. “I will not stick my hand in the candy bowl.”

4.)If you just can’t avoid Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte’s, get one in a “short.” They don’t have those on the menu, but it’s enough to have a taste without triggering a binge. Just order one and ask for it to be “short.” This is 8 oz. which is the smallest size Starbucks offers, but you’ll probably only get this size if you actually say the word “short.” If you order a “small”  they will give you a Tall, which is the smallest size for the advertised sizes.

5.)If you must buy Halloween candy to give out, don’t buy it until the actual day of Halloween and give out lots of it, make sure there are no leftovers. You might even want to keep it in a bowl outside your door.

6.)If you start in on the Halloween candy, remember that you can stop. You’re not stuck in a binge just because you started in on something. You can always stop.

7.)Remember, if you were a recovering alcoholic in AA, you wouldn’t spend Cinco de Mayo drinking Margaritas because you would remember that your recovery came first. Always think of recovery first and things that feel big, like Holidays will pale in comparison to your progress.

How to Stick to New Year’s Resolutions

In a session today, a client said to me, “Every year I make all these great New Years resolutions, and every year I fail at them. What am I doing wrong? Everyone else knows how to stick to their new years resolutions, why can’t I? I feel like a loser.”










Does this feel familiar? Does anyone else deal with this?

First off, everyone else definitely does not know how to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. In fact, according to Wikipedia, “52% of participants in a resolution study were confident of success with their goals, only 12% actually achieved their goals.”

I think that many people don’t really know how to make attainable or realistic New Year’s resolutions. What I see often are people creating very rigid black and white New Year’s resolutions that are set ups to failure.

New Year’s resolutions are great! They are a way to reflect on the past year, think about what worked and what you want to bring of into your life and a way to think about what didn’t work so well and what you want to let go of in your life.

People often make resolutions that sound something like this:

  • Lose 10 pounds.
  • Be more confident
  • Stop eating sugar
  • Quit drinking alcohol
  • Make more money
  • Go to therapy every week and never miss a session 😉
  • Get a boyfriend/girlfriend
  • Quit smoking
  • Stop wasting time on the internet
  • Quit drinking diet coke
  • Go to the gym every day
  • Save more money

But come January 4th, when you’re back at work and stressed out and that guy walking down the street puffing on a Camel light passes you, and you compulsively bum a cigarette off him, well then you’re screwed. 2011 is ruined. You now have to wait another year to quit smoking. Okay, that’s extreme, but often that’s how black and white it can be with resolutions. A better way to make resolutions is to try and create more of a life that you want by integrating more of the kinds of behaviors that you have seen worked for you in the past.

For example:

  • I will work on decreasing my binge eating by calling supportive people when I know that I’m heading into a challenging situation and by eating three meals a day and by getting enough protein.
  • I will join Quitnet to get some support in helping me quit smoking.
  • I will try to be kinder to myself. When I notice that I’m being mean to myself, I will take a breath and promptly stop.
  • I will decrease the amount of processed sugar that I eat by integrating more fruit into my diet and letting go of processed sugary snacks.
  • Rather than drinking 6 diet cokes a day, I will drink water, kombucha, green tea, and allow myself to have 1 diet coke each day if I choose.
  • I will set a timer to allow myself 20 minutes twice a to waste time on the internet.
  • I will let people know that I am interested in being introduced to a potential partner or start dating online.
  • I will decrease the amount of alcohol that I am drinking. If I find that I cannot do that, or if it is a major problem for me,  I will consider my treatment options.
  • I will prioritize my therapy appointments, though I understand that things come up at times that are beyond my control.
  • I will look for jobs or think about ways to increase my earning potential by talking to people who have skills that I admire or by going back to school or being open to suggestions from other people.
  • I will find an activity partner to go hiking with or I will join a run club/tri-club.
  • I will bring lunch from home twice a week and take the money I save and put it in a savings account.

Resolutions should be flexible and malleable. Not rigid and fixed. They should have wiggle room and the ability to grow and evolve. Integrating small changes can have a snowball effect.

Rather than expecting to be one person acting one way on December 31s and an entirely different person on January 1st, think about yourself as a small snowball. As rolls down a snowy hill,  it picks up more snow, gaining speed, power, strength, mass, surface area and momentum. Eventually it becomes a gigantic ball of snow.  You can create a snowball effect by implementing small, doable changes that become very large grandiose changes.  Start small, implement more changes, get some momentum and let it take on a life of its own.

What kinds of things worked for you in 2010? What didn’t work for you? What do you want to bring in more of? What do you want to bring in less of?

Telling people about your resolutions and talking about the changes you are making can be helpful in growing them. Joining with people who have similar goals and resolutions can also be helpful.

What kinds of resolutions do you have and how do you plan on implementing them?

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail 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.

Compare and Despair

Goodtherapy shared this photo on facebook today. Wow. It’s so true isn’t it? That feeling that you get about yourself when you start to compare yourself to someone else… it’s just painful. There’s so much that we’re not — but what we are– when we focus on that– it can be pretty amazing.

Exercise for the minute: Quick 5 things that you are that are great.

Some adjectives for help– compassionate, kind, helpful, smart, interested, cuddly, stylish, well read, funny, thoughtful, considerate, silly, snarky, sarcastic, witty, good listener, punctual, organized, artistic, creative, active, laid back, colorful, energetic— anything there fit? What about you? I’ll be you can name  5 things about you that are uniquely you and wonderful.


10 Ways to Like Yourself More

Lucy (not her real name) came into my office telling me that she really just didn’t like herself and she never had. No matter what she did, she couldn’t find any sort of compassion or fondness for who she was. She worked really hard all through school, she was an excellent employee, she was the best party hostess and the best friend, but no matter what she did, she still felt that she wasn’t good enough.  She had an overwhelming sense of total worthlessness. Every time she reached a specific goal, lost a certain amount of weight, fit into a certain size, made a certain amount of money, she would ask herself, “can I like myself now?” And the answer was always the same, “no, you’re still not good enough, you’re totally unworthy.”  In her book Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach refers to this as the Trance of Unworthiness— the belief that you don’t belong in the world, that you are not good enough to exist.

We have a road map that we create that tells us how to be, feel, and live our lives, and there are ways to reroute that map. The following are things that you can do to help you like yourself more and reroute those behaviors that perpetuate self disdain.

1. Give up the belief that you need to change in order to like yourself. The trick is to accept who you are at this very moment. Telling yourself that you can like yourself when you are different or better will never work because there will always be more work to do. This doesn’t mean that you cannot have goals, but isn’t it easier to meet those goals and you will be happier when you do when you start off by feeling good about yourself. You are perfect, whole and complete right now at this very moment. Take a breath, be still and just for 30 seconds be with the essence of who you are. You can accept that person without changing. Meeting goals and evolving is what we naturally do as humans, that won’t change if you self-accept. In fact, you might find that you are more efficient because you are not bogged down by thoughts of worthlessness.

2. Take care of yourself. Make simple changes to help you to be more healthy. Floss your teeth, take your vitamins, groom your nails.  Do things that help you to feel valued by yourself. Show yourself that you are worthy.

3. Put yourself first. When someone asks you to do something, rather than instantly saying yes, tell them that you’ll give them an answer in 24 hours. That way you can think about whether or not this infringes on your boundaries. It helps you to understand whether or not you are sacrificing your own needs for someone else. So often people who don’t like themselves try to be indispensable for others. In the process though, they completely lose themselves. Keep yourself whole by being there for you first.

4. Forgive yourself. You have made mistakes. Of course you have. You are human. We all make mistakes. But being able to say, “okay, I messed up, but I can’t go back, I can’t stay in the past, I can only go forward…” is the way to move on with your life.

5. Let yourself do the things that you want to do. Think about what it is that makes you tick, the things that make you feel alive! Is it knitting? Is it martial arts? Is it cooking? Is it painting? Writing? Gardening? Whatever it is, even if it’s just something that you do as a hobby, allow yourself to follow your passion. When you do, you will find more joy in being you.

6.Let go of wanting. It’s okay to have desires. But when what you want equates to whether or not you are happy, you will never feel satisfied with who you are. When who you are is equal to what you have, you will never like yourself because you can always want and always have more. When you are grateful for what you do have, you can truly find peace. Try making a gratitude list. This is like counting your blessings. Just write down everything that you are grateful for and read it over and over. Feel it. Believe it. When you focus on that rather than what you don’t have, you will find a lightness like never before.

7. Let yourself be totally silly. See what it’s like to let down your guard. Try to let go of what other people are thinking. If you can’t, go into a room by yourself and just do the dumbest dance that you can possibly do, just to let off some steam and find some playfulness within. This is a way to enjoy your own company and just like being with yourself a bit more.

8. Don’t judge other people. Take a day to think of one nice thing about each person you come into contact with. You will feel lighter in your body. Letting go of judgment of others is one of the best ways to stop judging yourself.

9. Spend some time just being. Sit and try to follow your breath. Don’t force yourself to take deep breaths. Just close your eyes, put your hand on your heart and feel the way your breath. Do this for 1-5 minutes. You will find that your mind and body begin to relax. Your thoughts of having to do, do, do will fade and you will just be with you. This is another way to just accept who you are in this very moment.

10. Get help for self-destructive behavior. If you’re dealing with binge eating, bulimia, cutting, alcoholism, compulsive or unsafe sex, anorexia, or whatever behaviors you’re doing that make you feel bad about yourself – get help! Seek therapy or a 12-step group, or a support group, or all three. When you like yourself, you try not to destroy yourself.

Reduced Posting Due to Maternity Leave

As you might have noted, I’ve not been posting as often as usual lately. I welcomed a new member of the family last month, one who is very demanding of my time. I will continue to post, just not as often. Happy Holidays to all!

How do Deal with People Who Trigger your Issues

One of the really challenging things about recovery is being out in the real world,  around other people who either aren’t aware of or working on healing their disorder, or who don’t actually have a problem with the behaviors that you must stay abstinent from.

Some examples:

A bunch of people (presumably men) get together for a bachelor party and, as is traditional with American bachelor parties, they go to a strip club. But let’s say one of those men is a sex addict and one trip to a strip club has him spending the next several weeks going to strip clubs daily, spending all his money, ruining his relationship, and feeling unable to stop.

A group of ladies go out to Sunday morning brunch and all order Mimosas with their omelets. One women has a problem with alcohol and after brunch spends the rest of the day at bars drinking,

A woman has spent the past few years recovering from anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive exercise. She moves into a new apartment with a roommate who eats very little and exercises constantly. She begins to think that she should be stepping it up on her exercise and reducing her food intake, this then triggers a binge-purge cycle for her and she relapses into her eating disorder.

Recovery is hard. And when you are surrounded by people who have behaviors that trigger your own very dysfunctional behaviors, it can seem impossible. You might begin to feel angry and resentful. You might begin to wonder why it is that other people can do these certain things, but yo can’t. You might feel that it’s unfair. You might even begin to think that their behavior is normal and that it’s okay for you to do the things that you had spent so long trying not to do. It’s a trap.

If you are allergic to mangoes, you cannot eat mangoes no matter what. Even if you are at a party and everyone else is eating mango and talking about how great the mangoritas, and the mango salsa, and the fresh mango juice is, you cannot go near those mangoes because your throat will close up, you will break out in hives all over your body and you will wind up in the hospital being pumped with epinephrine.  Are you resentful of those who can enjoy mangoes?

That’s the way you need to think of your eating disorder. “I just cannot go there. I know that everyone is sitting around eating Halloween candy, but if I eat a couple of Almond Joys, I will spend the rest of the week bingeing, possibly purging, and being depressed. It’s just not worth it. Just because she can doesn’t mean I can. I’ve been there before and I don’t want to go back.”

The best way to deal with this kind of pressure is to get support from those trying to heal themselves. You cannot kid yourself into thinking that because everyone else can handle it (supposedly and you don’t know what others are dealing with) that you can. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap.  It’s so easy to become resentful and angry. That’s okay and it’s normal, but don’t allow yourself to get pulled into the false belief that because others can diet, can snack on Halloween candy, can drink a glass of wine with dinner, can look at porn (whatever!) that you can. You are a perfect individual with your own individual issues.

When you find that others are triggering your issues, it’s important to either extricate yourself from the situation or to grab some support. For example, you’re at a party and you get into a discussion with a woman who begins to tell you about her latest diet. You don’t have to engage. You can excuse yourself from the conversation. You can change the subject, or you can even say, “I don’t believe in dieting,” or you’re at a party where everyone is overindulging in food and alcohol and you find that your self control is running out. Leave the party. Or find a private space and call someone else who is in recovery so that you don’t feel so alone.

Remember, everyone has their own issues, and just because people can seemingly do things that you cannot, doesn’t mean you have to give it a try. You know yourself the best. If going to an all you can eat buffet will hurt your recovery, don’t go. If you are being triggered, leave the situation and get support. If you can’t beat ’em, don’t join ’em. Leave ’em.

How to Talk to a Loved One with an Eating Disorder

how to talk to a friend with an eating disorder


Watching someone that you love being active in their eating disorder is devastating.  It’s so painful to watch your mother, sister, wife or girlfriend (or husband, father, brother or son) either restrict their food, or binge on foods that are unhealthy for them, or to know that they’re purging in the bathroom after they’ve eaten. It’s painful and upsetting and scary.

You might find yourself becoming very angry at the person whom you love when you see them taking such poor care of themselves. It’s important to find compassion for the person who has the eating disorder when you choose to talk to them about it.

1.)Although you might feel angry, please try to understand that this is a serious problem that she/he has. They would certainly stop if they could.

2.)When you talk to them, don’t be attacking. If you come at the person and say things like, “you really need to be eating more,” or  “you have to take better care of yourself,” or “I want you to stop purging now,” you’re going to create a face off and a defensive stance. The person is going to be forced to defend themselves against this attack. Instead, talk to them using I statements. For example:

“I have noticed lately that you look very, very thin, and I’m worried. I haven’t seen you eat at all in several weeks. It’s really hard for me to watch this because I love you so much and I’m terrified that I’m going to lose you. I just don’t know what I would do without you. Is there anything I can do to support you? Would you be willing to do some family counseling with me with an eating disorder specialist? Or can we go see a nutritionist together and perhaps I can help you go shopping? I just really love you and want you to be healthy.”

Really contact your own feelings of fear rather than anger in order to get a conversation going.

3.)Don’t try to fix the person. Don’t try to take food away from them or force food on them. Don’t refuse to eat if they’re not eating. Don’t make comments about what they are or are not eating.

4.)Don’t be afraid to talk openly and honestly about how their eating is affecting you.

5.)Remember that this is a very hard topic and the person who you confront will most likely feel embarrassed and ashamed. You don’t want to shame them into recovery. In fact, this can often backfire. Let them know how much you love them and want to be there for them and you’re not going to let them go through this alone.

6.)Understand that recovery takes time, don’t expect them to see a therapist once and then all of a sudden to be cured. Be patient and if you can, try to be an active participant in their recovery.

7.)If this person is completely unreceptive to you, don’t push or get angry. Get help for yourself. You need support when you love someone with an active eating disorder. You might want to check out Al-anon or Codependents Anonymous or seek therapy or a support group for family members of people with EDs.

8.)Even though you might feel angry and frustrated (that’s so normal) don’t give up on someone you love. Let them know that you love them and you will be there for them when they are ready.

Recovery from eating disorders is hard. But watching someone struggle is downright painful. You feel helpless and scared and depressed. Please try to get love and support for yourself as well.

Some further reading and resources:








Valentine Day is Coming, for Better or For Worse

For some it’s a fun excuse to paint your nails red, to buy flowers for your loved ones, to bake cupcakes, and eat chocolate bonbons. But I suspect that for each person who loves Valentine’s Day, there’s a person who hates it. It can just be a really depressing day. So, I propose for those who are on the side of hating Valentine’s Day, to make it National Self Love Day. Ask yourself, “what’s the next loving thing I can do for myself?”  several times on February 14th. Maybe the next loving thing that you can do for yourself will be taking a break from the office and stretching, or putting hand lotion on your hands, or calling your mother/father/best friend/grandma/sponsor, or drinking water. What do you need from yourself to feel love and respect? And if it’s hard for you to feel self love, ask yourself this, “what would I do if I loved myself?”

If there’s no one else in your life right now, and that’s painful for you, rather than allowing February 14th to illuminate that for you– Empower yourself by putting Valentine’s Day in it’s place. Reclaim it as a holiday about couples to holiday about love, and self love is at the root of all love. Embrace everything about you that makes you great!   Let yourself be in love with you for a day. Give yourself flowers!  Cook yourself an amazing dinner, focus on what makes you great and figure out what kinds of self loving things you can do for you.

What are some self loving things that you plan to do for yourself on February 14th?

Bingeing in the Car

out of timeCar binges are super common for people dealing with binge eating disorder. I’ve heard many stories of people intentionally car bingeing, by going from takeout restaurant to takeout restaurant and planning their day or evenings around their binges, to more unintentional binges, like picking up groceries and bingeing on them on the way home.

Bingeing while driving  is of course dangerous as your attention is not focused on the road. In fact, according to a 2009 study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that 80% of all car accidents and 65% of near misses are caused by distracted drivers– which includes people driving and eating.

Besides it being dangerous for you and those around you, it’s also a way for you to mindlessly consume food without even noticing what your doing. Often people have a car binge and barely remember it. They were practically hypnotized by the binge. They come home feeling dazed, tired, and overwhelmed by the binge.  Create some boundaries for yourself around food and your car to prevent car binges.

1.)Make a vow that you will never, ever eat while driving. If you are hungry and need to stop for food, actually stop for food and eat it sitting down at a table.

2.)When you go food shopping, pack all your groceries in the trunk.

3.)If you get takeout, put it all the way in the back seat where you cannot reach it while you are driving.

4.)Get your car washed and cleaned and be sure to make it a no food zone. You will feel more comfortable in your car.

The other very common car binge that many of my clients have reported engaging in involves driving to the store, buying binge foods and bingeing alone in your car in the parking lot of a store or alone in a deserted area.

If your car is an inherently unsafe place, if it is the place that brings you to and from binges, it might be a good idea to make it into a safe place.

1.)Put reminders like post it notes or even little symbols that you alone will understand the meaning of.  Your notes can say something like, “call someone” or “consider the alternatives,” “drive somewhere peaceful…”

2.)It’s challenging to stop a binge when you’ve begun it, and even the act of getting into your car and being on the way to the grocery store feels like you’ve already begun the binge. However, you haven’t. Just because you made the decision to binge doesn’t mean that you have to. You can always just drive your car around the block a few times to calm down or to a movie theater, or the beach or a lake or someplace calming.

3.)Again, create a boundary around eating in the car. At this point, you won’t be able to binge in the parking lot, you’ll have to bring the food home. Once you get home with it, you can make the choice more easily. Often with car binges, there can be a ritual of polishing off the whole (pint of b&Js, bag of chips, box of cookies) thing  before you drive home. Once you bring the binge food into your home, you can still make the decision to have a serving and put the rest away and relax with a movie, bath or good book.