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Archive for the ‘binging’ Category

It’s not affirmations. It’s not guided journeys. It’s not cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s not binging, or nude meditation, or sewing, or EFT, or NLP, or scream therapy.

It may be all of those things and none of those things, but the bottom line is I’m changing the way I think, and it’s changing my life.

Beating myself up for EVERY.SINGLE.DECISION. was killing me. I was using food just to ease the pain of self-criticism. This is important to know, because when I am not self-critical, I’m not binging.

Then I faced a conflict. Part of me wants to be thin, and part of me wants to stay with binge eating and being fat, which are the devils I know. When I’m fat, I understand my world. There are no questions about “will they reject me,” of course they will, because I’m fat. Painful, yes, but in a convoluted way, that’s comforting.

Part of me wants to be thin and free of compulsive eating, but there’s a lot of unknown space out there. What do I do with my life? How will I accept that some people won’t like me even if I am thin?  How do I handle things when the answer is not always, “It’s my own fault.”

My choice is: comfort plus the known pain of being fat, or more physical comfort of being thin, but with many unknowns and risks, which might be even more painful than being fat.

Once I realized I had that conflict, I reduced it to this choice:

Do I want to continue with the self-criticism that drives me to food, or do I prefer the uncertainty that billions of people successfully cope with every day?

I prefer the second one, and am giving up the pain of self-criticism.

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You might remember the guided journey I bought from IOWL a few weeks ago. What has happened since then?

I was listening regularly to the journey, working very hard on the conflicts (there are many), when suddenly one day, I stopped listening. Overnight I changed from listening to the journey twice a day to not doing it at all.

When I asked myself why I stopped, the answer I found was, “Sometimes you need to stop exploring why you do things, and just take action to not do them anymore.” So I did.I started reminding myself that I experience conflicts, and that not overeating is better self-care than overeating.

Even though I went through a lot of stress at work, with the second set of layoffs since January, I handled it ok. A couple of times I even noticed I was eating something, but it didn’t taste like anything. I was sometimes able to talk myself down from stress eating, and think my way out of the pain. Sometimes I ate, and noticed that eating too much hurts. I was even able to choose to not hurt myself by overeating. Sometimes I did overeat, and did self-correction by waiting until I was really hungry to eat again.

Why do I hurt myself with overeating? It’s a habit I learned back in my childhood somehow. Whenever something goes wrong, I punish myself by blaming myself, then eating until it hurts.  There’s both comfort and pain. The pain from eating too much, and the comfort from the food-induced sedation, so I don’t have to think about the thing that went wrong.

Is the journey helping? Maybe. I started to do it today, but got distracted, so I stopped it. It could just be that the changes are just so subtle that I won’t notice it’s helped until I realize that I’m regularly behaving differently.

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Brownies were my binge food for toothache (yes, I get the irony).

Chips and crunchy snacks were the binges for work stress. When the salt had overpowered my mouth so much that it hurt, I would add dip or sweets to make me feel better.

Chocolate was my binge food for sadness.

All of those foods never made me feel better, they only left me feeling worse.

Look at it this way: The toothache or work stress comes. It’s painful, unpleasant, and I feel bad. So I go through my day, or through the dentist visit, and go home. Miserable, sad and in pain.

Then the hunger strikes. A raw, limitless hunger that is driven by anything BUT a physical need for food. Without knowing it, I would grab for the perfect binge food to “solve” the pain.

The binge food works like a drug. I got a small high, then needed more. Eventually my taste buds would be overwhelmed, which induced me to stuff it in faster. That was followed by an overwhelmingly full stomach, which did not always make me stop stuffing, but did make me feel worse.

The binge would end by me collapsing into the actual emotion that I should have expressed earlier, but with all the pain and discomfort added on top. Plus the weight gain.

How was that working for me? Pretty lousy, actually. I always ended up feeling worse.

Stage 1: the actual stress or pain. Painful and unpleasant

Stage 2: rather than deal with that emotion, I start eating. Feels good for about 15 minutes.

Stage 3: My taste buds get numb, and if it’s salty food, my tongue starts to hurt and my blood pressure spikes. That’s a whole new level of feeling bad.

Stage 4: The stuffing continues. My stomach starts to hurt, I’m getting a headache.

Stage 5: I collapse into a food “coma.” My senses are dulled, and I can’t think about anything. The TV prattles on, often I cry, then I doze off.

Stage 6: the hangover starts. My belly is starting to empty, my digestive tract is full, I get cramps as the crap works its way through my body. My vitals start to return to normal.

Stage 7: post-hangover, I feel exhausted, and mad at myself. Funny thing is, the problem is not even addressed.

Binges make me feel worse than not binging. I’m glad they’re gone.

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The guided journey certainly seems to be helping me cope with everyday stresses. Formerly I would eat in response to stress, but often I now can recognize that stress comes from competing wishes, and I need to make my decision about those wishes, not eat to suppress and postpone the inevitable.

For my birthday, everything went right.

First, I gave myself a morning alone at the museum and library (took the day off work, too!). DH took the afternoon off, and we had a lovely gourmet lunch, followed by a movie. When my daughter got back into town that evening, we all met for dinner. A nice, polite, conversational dinner – rare for our teenager.

As to eating, I basically spread one giant birthday meal across the whole day.

For breakfast, I had cake. At lunch, I ate a steak and lobster bisque.  For dinner, it was a great salad. No panicking about food, not even thinking about it very much. Didn’t even want a snack during the long film.

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lindt-mini-strawberriesThere’s a lot of chocolate in my house. Literally kilos of chocolate. That’s because I wrote a chocolate blog as part of my personal therapy. Aligned with the compulsive eating, I had strong cravings for chocolate. When I discovered Overcoming Overeating, and Geneen Roth, and Inside Out Weight Loss, I knew I had to make peace with chocolate. My decision was to bring it into my house and get used to it, like is described in Overcoming Overeating.

The blog was great. I reviewed chocolate, thought about chocolate, planned which chocolate to buy, gave myself chocolate out the wazoo. The only rule I had was, if I buy it, I have to review it. And review it I did.

Over 25,000 hits later, I was done. Last August, I found I simply couldn’t write any more chocolate posts. My chocolate purchases went way down, to essentially zero. I told myself that I didn’t have to post any more if I didn’t want to, and I knew already that I didn’t have to eat any chocolate I didn’t want to eat.

After 4 months of no posts, I wrote a new post on a delicious chocolate I just bought today. It reads as if I can’t resist this chocolate, but I have. I ate a nice portion, then put the rest away for another day. Chocolate is as normal as an apple for me now. I love apples. I love chocolate. But I eat both at normal levels.

How did I change from chocolate-obsessed to a intuitive-eating chocolate-and-apple-lover? One bite and one thought at a time.

Each time I eat chocolate, I remind myself that I love myself and I can have all the chocolate I want any time.  Slowly I discovered that chocolate wasn’t my real need, but rather self-care and positive self-talk is. That’s what I practice now, and it tastes better than chocolate.

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The dysfunction in our family included a general lack of health and normal sanitary care. After a few years, we stopped going to the doctor because we couldn’t afford it. Dentists were out of the question.

Coupled with that was our family’s superior skill at avoiding reality. We could sit in a pile of bills and filth, yet never seem to be able to stand up and wash the dishes. With dentists being too expensive, you’d think we paid close attention to our teeth? Wrong. In spite of living within spitting distance of a Colgate factory, we did not brush our teeth regularly, and had no choice financially but to let cavities grow. Aspirin was cheaper than tooth repair. We took aspirin so much that sometimes our ears rang. Ironic, huh?

When I got out of self-financed university, I got a job with a dental plan and started repairing the damage. That included 4 crowns and innumerable fillings, plus orthodontia. One dentist even remarked that my teeth looked like Turkish children’s teeth (in a time when Turkish people were new poor immigrants to the area).

I’ve been good about my paid-for teeth since then, and I’m blessed with good mouth chemistry, which keeps the absolute number of cavities low. But during these years of fixing my teeth and having an ED at the same time, I developed a habit of going to the dentist or orthodontist, getting the painful work done, then eating brownies afterward. Lots of brownies.  Kroger was my spot – I could go to the bakery section, grab a pan of ready-made frosted brownies, and head home for some Tylenol and a binge.

Yesterday I had my first filling in over 10 years. It actually just replaced a broken old filling. And guess what happened? Brownie cravings like you couldn’t believe. Since I live in Germany, there are no Krogers. Odd, since that’s a German name. Anyway. The other stores don’t sell brownies either, so I was left with no choice but to make some.

My brownie recipe is easy to put together, so I bopped off home and mixed some up. Out of the oven, left to cool. And left. And left. I did not want to binge on one of my biggest formerly favorite foods.

Result? No binge required, simply a small piece that I neatly corrected for at dinner time. Dear Daughter came through later and took a bigger piece than I did. I think I’ll take the rest to work and let others clean up my extras. Pretty cool.

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How to Completely Overcome Stress Eating in Just Ten Minutes

By Dr. Annette Colby, RD
Annette@AnnetteColby.com or www.AnnetteColby.com

A simple way to overcome stress or stress eating… this easy process can be used at any time of the day. It is particularly effective when you are feeling overwhelmed with anxiety or when you come home after a particularly stressful day. As with any de-stressing technique, the more your practice the easier it will become.

Some people find it easy to deal with stress while others find it very difficult. This article is aimed at those who find themselves anxious or stressed and then turn to food as a way to get lost in eating and escape the tightness of stress. This process is excellent to use if you find it hard to switch off from the stresses of life.

Grab a pad of paper, a pen, and sit yourself down somewhere comfortable and quiet, where you are unlikely to be disturbed for a few minutes. Then sit down, and follow this simple six-step process to a more relaxed and self-empowered you.

Step 1. Breathe
Take a deep breath and hold it for a couple of seconds, then release it slowly and steadily. Then repeat this two or three more times.

Step 2. Acceptance
Notice your body and become aware of where you hold your tension, stress, and anxiety. Instead of trying to fix anything, let your current state of tension be entirely acceptable. It is what it is. Faced with uncertainty of what will happen next, it is normal to feel sad, frustrated, or overwhelmed. But whatever you are feeling, the first step is to accept things as they are. This is tricky business I admit, but let go of fighting, fixing, or running away from what you are feeling. Accept reality as it is right now.

Step 3. Pure Expression
Take out your pad of paper and pen, and for the next couple of minutes describe your current situation. How does your body feel? What is tight, tense, or constricted? What thoughts are going through your mind? What emotions are associated with your thoughts? This is not an occasion to analyze why things are the way they are, or how you are going to fix things, rather this is an opportunity of pure expression. Writing allows the adrenaline filled stress energy to begin moving out of your body.

Step 4. Offer Reassurance
Stress is a painful experience in which you believe that you lack the resources, time, or capacity to lead yourself through a situation. By losing yourself in food when you are feeling stress, you surrender your ability to act with personal power and effectiveness. To counter this belief and habitual response, let yourself know that you are safe no matter what is happening. Once you are done writing, reassure yourself that even if you don’t yet know exactly how you are going to get through this stressful situation, you are capable of making wise decisions.

Step 5. Invite Positive Insights
Once again, take several deep, conscious breaths. Much of what you are feeling is an outpouring of adrenaline that puts you into a state of panic and reaction. Adrenaline makes the situation seem like an emergency, and it limits your choices to fight, flight, or becoming frozen in inaction. Remind yourself that no matter how it feels right now, it is not true that whatever is happening is an emergency. Decide that you will not make reactionary, limited, or fearful choices while in a pumped up adrenaline state.

One of the best ways to move beyond the adrenaline rush is to breathe. Breathing moves stress energy and brings you back into center. When you are feeling calmer, ask yourself, “If I were wise and loving, what step would I take to create a positive outcome for myself.” Listen to what insights or intuitive hunches come. If you don’t have any insights in the moment, that’s okay. Assure yourself that you will know what to do when the time is right.

Step 6. The Process of Change
Take another deep breath and stand up. If you still feel the need to stress eat, then go ahead and do so. Engaging in this process is an experience. You participate not to put harsh pressure on yourself, but to show yourself that you can relieve stress in new ways, and that you can trust yourself to get through any situation. If you were not able to overcome the need to reach for stress eating the first time, or even the first fifty times, that’s okay. You are still benefiting from the process. Letting go of self-doubt, or the stress that occurs with the expectation of failure, hurt, and disappoint doesn’t happen overnight. Give yourself credit for trying something new.
(c) 2008 Dr. Annette Colby, RD

About The Author
Dr. Annette Colby, RD can help you take the pain out of life, turn difficult emotions into joy, release stress, end emotional eating, and move beyond depression into an extraordinary life! Annette is the author of Your Highest Potential and has the unique ability to show you how to spark an amazing relationship with your life! Visit www.AnnetteColby.com
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