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Posts Tagged ‘coping techniques’

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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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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After using the guided journey for a couple of days, here’s a brief description of my experiences.

The 30 minute journey has 3 parts:

  • Relaxation and going into the “self-hypnosis” or quiet state
  • Identification and integration of the two opposing wishes (to lose weight and to keep the benefits of the weight)
  • Reinforcement of the learnings from the integration

What’s happened to me so far is that I’ve experienced strong emotions and memories while relaxing, and that each identification and integration experience has been different.

Example: today I visualized a scroll in my right hand, holding the rational reasons to lose weight, and a pile of fat in my left hand, representing the layer of safety and protection that fat provides. Upon integrating the two, I visualized muscle.

From that, I conclude that building muscle will provide me with the same protection and safety that I formerly got from my layers of fat.  That’s a powerful reason to exercise.

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Did you ever deny yourself a food until you simply couldn’t stand it anymore, then eat it way past full? Yep, me too.

What I’ve noticed, however, is that denied foods often disappoint, and I eat them way past full because I’m not willing to acknowledge that the denial was worth it.

You may have starved yourself in the days before Thanksgiving, so you could stuff yourself like anyone else. Pay attention while you enjoy your meal today, and ask yourself occasionally if you’re really still enjoying the bites you’re putting in your mouth. If not, then take a break. You don’t have to decide to stop eating, or declare Thanksgiving over. You can just say to yourself, “Ick. This doesn’t taste good anymore. I’m going to do something that’s more fun until I want to eat again.” Then honor that decision.

You don’t have to make up for a lifetime of deprivation with one Thanksgiving meal. You can eat anything you want, when you want, in any quantity you want. Give yourself the enjoyment you deserve, even when it’s not food. And thank yourself for it.

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Thanksgiving is in just 2 weeks, and it’s a minefield for those of us who want to be eating intuitively, especially anyone who is concentrating on portion control at the moment.

Here are some coping tips to make it easier to keep to your intuitive eating goals in the holiday season.

  1. Make it and enjoy it now. If you love pumpkin pie, but also love turkey and stuffing, make some now and eat it consciously before the big day. When Thanksgiving comes, it will be easier to say, “I just ate that recently, so I can easily take a smaller portion today. I know I’ll always give myself this when I want it.”
  2. Learn what comforts you about comfort food, and practice assigning that comfort to other things. If stuffing yourself silly makes you feel comforted, try curling up with a favorite blanket and a cup of tea or mulled wine. Give yourself the space to enjoy it for what it is.
  3. Practice savoring the taste. When you deeply enjoy the flavor of a food, it’s easier to notice when it doesn’t taste good any more, and therefore to stop. Close your eyes, smell it, taste it, feel the texture, breathe deeply, describe the taste experience.
  4. Eliminate foods you don’t like, but think you “have to eat because it’s the holidays.” Do you hate your Aunt Erma’s lumpy potatoes? Skip them without making it a big deal. If you have to, put them on your plate and push them around until you’re finished.
  5. Bring something new that you’ve learned to love. Has intuitive eating turned you on to sweet pepper salads? Bring them. Enjoy them. Start a few new traditions.

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