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Friday Q&A– I went from calorie counting to binge eating

i went from dieting to binge eatingThis question comes from Elizabeth in New York City.

Q:  I went on a diet last summer. I lost 40 pounds from June to November by eating exactly 1200 calories each day and running on the treadmill for 45 minutes every morning. Starting around Thanksgiving, I lost it all. I started bingeing at the Thanksgiving meal, and I tried to get back to calorie counting, but I haven’t been able to. I’ll go like one day but then I’ll binge again. I’ve gained back most of the weight that I’ve lost and I can’t seem to get a hold of my eating, and I’m barely even exercising anymore. Can you help me? I feel so out of control. How can I stop bingeing and get  back to my goal weight again? I’m miserable.

A: Hi Elizabeth,

First off, I’m so sorry that you’re on this roller coaster ride. I know how awful and out of control it feels.  Unfortunately, your case is pretty classic. Binge eating disorder almost always starts with a diet. Ironic, huh? I would encourage you to:

1.)Stop counting calories immediately.

2.)Eat at least three healthy meals each day.

3.)Learn your cues for hunger and satiety. Check in with your body and understand if it’s hungry, full, satisfied, neutral.

4.)Eat slowly and mindfully and as you’re eating, continue to check in with your body and see what it needs.

5.)Don’t let yourself get too hungry, don’t let yourself get too full. Try to satisfy your hunger gently.

6.)Bingeing and restricting are both very harsh, almost violent acts that you commit toward your body. Try to be very gentle and give it what it needs.

7.)Don’t restrict any particular food. This doesn’t mean that if you can’t figure out if you want pizza, or tuna fish, or a hamburger for dinner that you should have all three. Remember that there is always a next meal, and always another opportunity to eat. Often, the impetus behind a binge can be the rational, “I’m starting a diet tomorrow, so I’m not going to be able to eat this for a long time…” if you take that out of the equation and remind yourself that you can eat what you want to eat in a moderate and healthy way, you will find that the temptation to binge, the all or nothing mentality can shift a bit.

8.)As with your food, don’t let your exercise be black and white. Allow yourself to exercise 3-5 days per week even if you’ve had a challenging or a bad day with food. If you don’t feel good or are injured, let yourself rest.

9.)Recovering from an eating disorder is all about giving your body what it needs. That can be so hard. Self love and body respect are integral parts of recovery. Even if you don’t feel it at first, that’s okay and that’s normal. But that’s what you’re working toward. So even asking yourself, “if I loved myself and respected my body, how would I honor it right now? How would I treat it? What would I feed it?”

10.)Stop weighing yourself! Don’t let the scale dictate the way you feel about yourself. It’s incredible that we can allow arbitrary numbers (ie: 1200 calories, 120 pounds, size 2) tell us how we’re supposed to feel about ourselves. I blame the school system. But that’s another story…

As you find a middle ground between bingeing, restricting, and exercise, your body will find it’s healthy weight which will be comfortable and pleasing to you. I hope that this answered your question. Good Luck.

If anyone has any other answers, please do feel free to contribute in the comments.

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.

 

Friday Q&A- If I Can’t Diet, How Can I Lose Weight?

how can i lose weight if i don't diet?Question:

Submitted via email by Jen in Glasgow, KY

On your site, you say that dieting is a bad thing. But what about those of us who actually have weight that they need to lose? How the **** am I supposed to lose weight without dieting?

Answer:

Hi Jen,

I understand why you are confused. On one hand, the whole world is encouraging all different kinds of diets, yet a small contingent are telling you not to diet. My question is, how do you know that you need to lose weight? Is it because you believe that you weigh too much as, or is it because you feel that your weight is negatively impacting your health or your quality of life?  These are questions to think about.  I think it’s important to reframe the concept of dieting to lose weight to the idea of going toward health to improve your quality of life. Your body is your most valuable possession and therefore it deserves to be cared for impeccably. This doesn’t mean spending hours each day at the gym and polishing your muscles and kissing your biceps in the mirror. This does not mean 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 really good 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 fruits and vegetables and limit the amount of processed foods that you put in it. Exercise it, 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 “foods” made with chemicals, 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 health, it’s much easier to gain something, in this case being health and well being.

Be Well,

Leora

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.