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Free Binge Eating Coaching Call

binge-eating-coaching

Due to popular demand, I’m going to start doing some group coaching calls to help people heal from binge eating and bulimia.

For a limited time, these will be free!

The first one will be in the month of September, I will announce a time and date in the next few days.  If you are interested, please signup here. Even if you can’t make the call, a recorded copy will be sent to you afterwards.

A recovery story

I’ve been seeing *Emily in therapy for four years. She has written her recovery story and agreed to have it posted.

I actually remember the first time I binged and purged. I was in eighth grade and we were at Thanksgiving dinner at my grandparents’ house. My grandma used to make these huge elaborate meals, with like 5 or 6 different pies and all sorts of mashed potatoes and stuffing. My cousin Jenny, who is a year older than me, was there. She was like, everyone’s princess.  Everyone was soooo excited because Jenny had  made the cheerleading squad at her high school and she was in the homecoming court. Up until that year, me and Jenny had always sat there during Thanksgiving and giggle and eat all the pies together. But this year, she barely paid attention to me.  She wore these tight  jeans and kept her portions small. She was like a real teenager.  My mother looked at her admirably and said she was so proud of how beautiful Jenny had become. She also said that it was smart to watch her figure now that she was no longer a little girl. My mom then looked at me and said nothing as I scarfed down my third piece of pie. I had never really thought about it before. I mean that’s what we did on Thanksgiving. We ate my Grandma’s pies. Even my Grandma turned against me. “Eat less pie Emily! Be more like Jenny. Look how thin and gorgeous she is now!”  I felt horrible. My own (not name brand) jeans were unbuttoned to make room for my swollen belly and I felt how greasy my hair and skin had become.  After dinner, I excused myself to the bathroom and I don’t know how or why, but I began searching through the medicine cabinet. That’s when I saw the chocolate ex-lax. I knew what they did and I knew that I could use them to get rid of the pie. I don’t know how I knew to use them. I guess I’d heard of it somewhere… and so I took three pills. I remember thinking that I should take more than it said on the back, but I didn’t want anyone to notice that they were gone.  The laxatives kicked in that night. I sat up all night running to the bathroom. And although my stomach felt ravaged and I was in terrible pain, after my bathroom  trips, I would step on the scale and see how much weight I’d lost. It was amazing to me that the pounds were just dropping off. And that’s how it started.  Later that week, I made myself throw up after eating a milkshake and onion rings from Burger King.

And that was my descent into the dark years of bingeing, purging, taking laxatives, and starving myself. I kept trying to be more like my cousin Jenny who showed up at Thanksgiving every year more and more beautiful, with perfect grades, the captain of cheerleading, with a football player boyfriend. And me, I became more and more isolated. I had put on a lot of weight and I wore all black, smoked cigarettes and had kept my hair dyed black and pierced everything I could. I didn’t really have a boyfriend, though I did sleep with a lot of boys, but no one wanted to get serious with me. I kidded myself into thinking that I didn’t care. But I was depressed. Really depressed. I used to cut myself on the arms and legs sometimes, just so that I could emote because I felt, I believed that I was completely alone. My grandparents seemed to tolerate me, but didn’t have a lot of interest or pride in me. And my mother sort of seemed disgusted by me. She knew about my activities with boys and told me that I had no self-respect.  Food was a lot of what comforted me. I would eat full pizzas on my own after school and wash them down with diet cokes. I’d go days eating nothing, just drinking coffee and diet coke and eating pixie sticks to keep me going. Then I’d collapse, cut school and go to the donut store and eat a dozen donuts in the parking lot, wash them down with diet coke and laxatives, then throw up in the bathroom of the gas station, and then drive around town buying food to binge on and find gas station bathrooms to purge in.  I just wanted to be normal. I wanted to be like my cousin Jenny. I wanted people to love me and I wanted to be beautiful and cared for. I thought that if I could get thin enough, I’d be okay. But my bingeing and purging  continued all through high school, and shockingly, I still was able to get good enough grades to get into college.

I stopped purging in college, but became addicted to diet pills, marijuana, and sometimes even cocaine to keep me from eating. I finally lost all the weight I wanted to, but my body was breaking down. I suffered three fractures by the second semester of my sophomore year. I realized then that I had to stop with my eating disorder. But I couldn’t. I had no idea how to eat normally. I tried to eat three meals a day, but it always ended with me bingeing. I managed to stop purging, but I was still bingeing and then restricting. I did manage to graduate from college, but my grades really weren’t very good. I barely went to class and when I did, I didn’t pay attention or get much out of my classes. I really wasted my mother’s money.

After college, I tried a variety of things to help me lose weight. I tried different diets, I tried nutritionists, I tried a 12 step group with a food plan. But all of those things made me just binge when I fell off my food plans or diets.  Eventually, I decided to start seeing a therapist. I knew I had an eating disorder and was ready for help. It was really hard at first because I felt like my therapist just couldn’t help me with the thing I most needed help with– I wanted to lose weight, I wanted to stop bingeing. I told her to just tell me what to do and fix me. She gave me lots of assignments, many of them were about eating 3 meals a day, whatever I wanted, but I had to eat mindfully. She sent me to a nutritionist who specialized in treating eating disorders, and she also recommended that I see a psychiatrist to help me get some meds that might help with my depression.  I spent a lot of money. A serious amount of money between all those specialists. But I was desperate. 

Talking to my therapist really felt like a relief. We talked through a lot of the pain, depression, and through a lot of my childhood.  I realized that a lot of my eating disorder wasn’t about the food and it wasn’t about me getting thin. It was about me feeling really badly about myself. My Dad left my Mom and I when I was 5 years old, and I always thought it was my fault. The more I began to understand how I felt completely flawed my whole life, the more I understand that it was a myth– a story that I told myself. And that through that myth that I had conceptualized in my 5 year old mind, I began to act the way I believed I was. I tried desperately to get love and attention from men, but ultimately, I felt so worthless, that I let them treat me like crap– letting them have sex with me then ignore me the next day. My mother said I had no self respect, and she was right. But she never taught me how to respect myself. She never quite let me think I was worthy of love and admiration. I wasn’t any less smart or less beautiful than Jenny, I just believed I was. She had a mother and a father at home. I had no Dad and a Mom who was angry and felt rejected and resentful. She came into therapy with me several times as we discussed her own feelings of being worthless after my Dad left her for a much younger woman.   As I began to understand my own sense of worth, I started to try and take better care of myself. I learned to sit with my feelings, I learned to HOLD myself with respect. That was huge. I didn’t have to be super witty, nor did I have to do everything for everybody to make them like me. I didn’t have to be anything. I just had to respect myself. And so as I did, my eating disorder began to have less of a hold on me. As I talked through all those things, I realized that the drive to be thin was really just a drive to be accepted. So I learned to accept myself. It has been really hard for me to accept all those lost years, it’s like my whole teen years and most of my 20s were stolen by my eating disorder. But in learning to accept, I’m just trying to respectfully mourn those lost years.

I’ve been 100% free from any eating disorder behaviors since September 18th, 2010. That was the day before my 28th birthday. I am not afraid of Ed any longer. I know that I have the tools to work through whatever life should hand me. And if I do relapse, I know that I can’t lose the recovery that I have. 

*Name has been changed.

If you have a recovery story that you would like to be published, please send it to bingeeatingtherapy (at) gmail.com

Practicing Slowing Down– How to start mindful eating

learn mindful eatingOne of the easiest exercises that you can you do to help you let go of binge eating is practicing mindful eating.

The first step in eating mindfully is to slow down.  When you serve yourself a meal, don’t pick or snack until you are sitting down with your plate in front of you. Then, when you go to eat, pay attention to your food. Don’t eat in front of the TV or internet, notice each bite. Notice what it feels like on your tongue, notice what it tastes like, notice what it feels like to chew and to swallow. Pause between bites and allow yourself to enjoy what you are eating in the moment that you are eating it. When you are binge eating, you’re chasing the taste so you barely get a chance to enjoy what you are eating in the time that you are eating it and it becomes a race to finish one food and get to the next.

Today, plan just one meal that you can eat mindfully. When you eat it, slow way down. Taste and savor  your food — no matter whether it’s romaine lettuce or a piece of dark chocolate. Allow your body to integrate the nutrition into your cells. You might find that when you slow down, you become more conscious of your needs and you might even find that you need less food or more food.

As you begin to slow down your meals, you might find that you can even slow down your binges, when you do that, you might find that you are able to make the choice not to binge, that mindfulness and thoughtfulness will win out over the compulsion.

slow. slow. slow. That’s the word of the day when it comes to mindful eating. Slow down and let your body make the choice rather than the binge. You might want to try this guided visualization to help you learn mindful eating.

I regret eating that… dealing with food regret

regret bingeing

“You’ll never regret the things you do; only the things you don’t.” This quote doesn’t necessarily work with food though, does it?  With food, you won’t necessarily regret the food that you pass up, but the food that you choose to eat, the binge that you choose to have might lead to some regrets.

I began thinking about this over the weekend. I was out to lunch with some friends, including a dear friend of mine who continues to struggle with food issues, let’s call her “Liz.”  We all put our orders in, and even though Liz had ordered something  healthy, when others’ orders came out, she began to regret her order. She looked at another friend’s less healthy choice and decided that she wanted that. She said, “I’m having orderers’ remorse,” and changed her order to the same thing that the other friend who ordered the less healthy choice.

I had a feeling that I knew what she was feeling at that moment. It seemed that she was dealing with food regret. At that point, the food choice in that moment became overwhelming to her and she was unable to contain the compulsivity of the want. The truth is, had she told herself, “this is what I ordered and this is what I’m eating now, there’s always another meal later or tomorrow when I can choose something different…” she probably would have been fine. She wouldn’t have spent the whole afternoon sitting around regretting that she’d eaten the healthier choice– she probably would have forgotten about it in fact, or even felt satisfied that she’d been able to make a good choice for her body and well-being and not given into that compulsive in-the-moment urge.

That’s the thing about food choices. Sometimes they can feel very, very dire. Ordering that double bacon cheeseburger with fries when you had intended to order the veggie omelet with fruit and whole wheat toast can seem like it’s the most important thing in the world– AT THAT MOMENT. And it probably will. It will be very hard, but for people with binge eating disorder, often, ordering options that they hadn’t planned on can set off a binge.  The regret then will not be what you did not eat, but what you did eat. You might have a binge, do a behavioral chain analysis and realize that your binge was set off by choosing to give into a compulsion rather than sticking with a choice that might have felt less exciting.  Compulsions are challenging because they don’t always feel as though they’re in your control. They don’t feel like you can actually make a choice outside of the compulsion. Compulsions feel like they’re in charge. The truth is though, no matter how strong the compulsion feels, you ARE in charge!

Next time you have a compulsion to eat something that you know will trigger your eating disorder, remember, “I’ll never regret what I don’t eat… This is just a compulsion, it’s strong,  and it’s hard, but I’ll never regret not letting it have control. I might regret if I do give this compulsion control.” That’s why it’s so hard. Compulsions feel as though you can’t make an alternate choice. They feel as though that’s the only choice. But it’s not. It’s not about willpower, it’s about knowing that this strong feeling is only temporary. You can sit with the fear of regret. And you won’t actually feel regret about choosing not to eat something that feels unhealthy or feels as though it might trigger a binge.

Add something

Often, in attempts to quit binge eating, people will set up a rule structure for themselves such as “I can’t eat sugar anymore, I can’t ever eat white flour, I can’t eat gluten…” etc. However, more often that not, those foods that they restrict themselves are the foods they wind up bingeing on. Rather than attempting to control the binge by taking something away, try to add something. For instance, “I will eat a vegetable with every meal and a fruit for desert for each meal,” or “I will take a walk at night after dinner,” or “I will write in my journal or do a blog post  when I have the urge to binge,” or “I will call my sponsor/friend/family member/support person when I am feeling down.”  Change “I won’t”  statements into “I will statements.” The hope here is that you will begin to fill up your time (and your meals!) with the good stuff which will help you to generally feel better.

Do One Nice Thing for yourself– RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!

What nurturing non-food related thing can you do for yourself at this moment? You deserve to be cared for and if you don’t take it upon yourself to take care of yourself, you just might wind up using food to fulfill that need.

Here are some things that you can do right now.

1.)Rub nice smelling lotion into your feet and paint your toenails.

2.)Make yourself a cup of tea and drink it slowly while gazing out the window.

3.)Look in the mirror and tell yourself what’s great about yourself.

4.)Go get a hug from someone you love.

5.)Do your nails or go get them done.

6.)Take a nice long bubble bath.

7.)Take a walk outside.

8.)Put a facial mask on and sit around reading a fun novel.

9.)Sit in silence with your eyes closed, just breathing in and out slowly and imagine yourself flooded with healing light energy (otherwise known as meditation).

10.)Stretch!

 

What else can you do?

Do it! Do one nice thing for yourself this very moment!

One Daily Intention

Here’s a quick recovery exercise for you. Rather than thinking about weeks or months or years ahead of you, each morning set just ONE DAILY INTENTION.

Wake up in the morning and before you do anything, before you get out of bed, before you brush your teeth, think about what your intention for that day is. Just choose one. Think about it, visualize it, see yourself achieving it and hold onto it for the day.

Ideas for daily intentions.

  • I will eat slowly and mindfully today. I will let myself eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m satisfied. Just for today.
  • I will go just for today without binge eating. Just for today.
  • I will go just for today without purging. Just for today.
  • I will not compare myself to anyone else today. Just for today.
  • I will not say mean things to myself today. Just for today.
  • I will drink 8 glasses of water today. Just for today.
  • I will refuse to engage in aggressive driving or road rage. Just for today.
  • I will floss my teeth before bed. Just for today.

Write it on a post it note and post it on your desk at work or your computer, or in your purse or wallet so that you can remember that one intention for the day.

Each day day that you set and stick to an intention will help increase your confidence, self esteem and help you on your road to recovery.

What are some of your daily intentions?

Friday – Q&A- I can’t stop fantasizing about food

This comes from a reader who would prefer to remain anonymous:

Question-

I wondered if you could give me some advice. Sometimes when I feel distressed or tired, I find myself having food fantasies. They are very intense and vivid where I imagine myself eating high-calorie food like cake and other sweet, fatty, high-carb foods. I imagine the taste and the pleasure it would give me. I’m not sure what to do when I have these fantasies because they make me want the food.
To give you some context, I used to be 17kg/37pounds overweight. I recently lost the weight over a period of a year through diet and exercise. However, I have fallen off the wagon and cannot get back on. When I was losing weight, I felt like a new person. I was disciplined, I was extremely fit, I was positive, I had energy and I felt in control.
It’s been six weeks since my fall off the wagon and I can’t get back into that mindset, and now all I can think about is food for comfort. I’ve started to re-gain the weight through comfort eating and no exercise. Sometimes I feel like I don’t know what to eat or how to eat or how to get back to the place where I was exercising regularly, eating healthily and being happy.
Many thanks for your help.
Answer-
Hello and thanks so much for your question.
I have a question for you, if you weren’t thinking about food, what do you think that you would be thinking about?
You very insightfully state that your mind turns to food when you are feeling distressed or tired. This tells me that food is very comforting to you. It’s something that you turn to for comfort and so when you are feeling distressed, you begin to think about food and eating to soothe yourself.
You might want to try using an alternative choice journal. When you find that you are feeling distressed, or your thoughts are drifting toward food, fill this out:
Feelings: Describe what you are feeling right now- happy? sad? anxious? angry? tired? lonely?:
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
What led to this feeling? Can you pinpoint the trigger?
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
Describe what kind and how much food your are fantasizing about:
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
How do you hope that this will make you feel? What outcome are you looking for?
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________

Is there something else that you can do that might be able to give you a similar feeling as you are trying to achieve with food? 

___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________

For some ideas on self soothing or self care activities see here and for distractions, check here.

I would encourage you to concentrate on health  and well being rather than losing weight. Instead of trying really hard to refocus on losing weight again, think about giving yourself health by exercising in ways that you enjoy. Focus on being emotionally healthy by validating your own feelings and talking to safe people when you’re feeling distressed. Take care of yourself by being gentle and kind to yourself instead of beating yourself up for not being where you think you should be. The irony is, so many people get so angry at themselves when they binge, but the fact that they are bingeing indicates that they need compassion, yet they beat themselves up. If you are bingeing or fantasizing about food, you probably need to give yourself some more attention. Let yourself nap when you are tired and eat when you are hungry. Try to engage in intuitive eating rather than dieting or restrictive eating. Be kind and gentle with you.

A very similar one was asked a few months ago, you might want to check out that answer as well.

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.

Six Elements of Recovery from Binge Eating

Recovery from any eating disorder takes time, patience, self love, support, and has several layers to it. The deeper you go, the more you find, and the more whole you become as you heal those deep inner wounds.

However, there are six elements to recovery that must be tended to in order to find deep recovery.

1.) Relearn how to eat regular meals.  Eat three healthy meals per day, no restricting, no dieting, no skipping meals, no calorie counting, no carb counting.

2.)Learn to hear and honor the wisdom of your  body. Ask your body what it needs in terms of nutrition and exercise and listen for an answer.

3.)Learn how to distinguish real hunger from boredom, sadness, loneliness,  anxiety and other feelings that are hard to feel.

4.)Learn how to sit with these feelings without judgment and to allow yourself to feel what you need to feel. Understanding that feelings, all of them, are okay can help you to cope with them without using food to  avoid them.

5.) Learn to accept your body the way it is. Understand that you are more than a body. You are a mind, a spirit, a soul, a being, and you have a lot to offer. Your value isn’t tied up in the size of your jeans.

6.)Cultivate interests and hobbies that make you more of who you are, so that your true SELF is who you really are, not the numbers on a scale.

 

 

 

What's on Your Plate?

Fritz Perls, who developed Gestalt Therapy, encouraged us to understand the way we eat as a metaphor for the way we live.

At your next meal, watch yourself eat. Do it without judgment and without trying to change anything, just watch.  It can be enlightening to draw some parallels around how you eat and how you live.

Do you take in all of your food at once without smelling it, tasting it, chewing it? Do you do that with life? Is that overwhelming?

Do you avoid food? Do you avoid your feelings?

Do you eat foods that you don’t like? Do you allow other people’s negative thoughts to invade the way you feel about yourself?

Do you think constantly about what you’re going to eat next rather than focusing what you’re currently eating and enjoying it? Is life overwhelming because you’re always nervous about what might or might not happen in the future? Anticipating the next thing?

When you serve yourself a meal, pay attention to what’s on your plate. Try not to anticipate what’s coming next or how much you should or should not eat. Just go ahead and begin to look what’s on your plate and to allow yourself to eat that.  When you pay attention to your food and to your body and what it needs, you will find that at your next meal, you are able to make better choices about what you need. Your digestion will be a little easier as will your feelings of peace around food.  In life, it’s the same thing. What’s on your plate?  When you begin to worry and obsess about “what ifs” and the future, you can become overwhelmed. Pay attention to what’s in front of you. You will metabolize your experience more efficiently and be able to move through life with less worry, less anxiety, and with  more of a sense of peace, knowing that you are clear and focused on what’s in front of you rather than what’s behind or ahead.