Eating Disorders Answers

Is it possible to get help for binge eating disorder through betterhelp?

Hello Chai19xo, and thank you for reaching out for help with regards to your struggle with binge eating and your anxiety about seeing a therapist in person. In short, the answer to your question is yes. I am sire that there are many professionals available on Betterhelp who have worked with and are able to help those with eating disorders, specifically Binge Eating Disorder. For example, I, myself, have worked with individuals with eating disorders for about 10 years with the past 2.5 years being exclusively with those with eating disorders, many of them with Binge Eating Disorder. That being said, let me provide you with a bit of information that I hope you will find helpful in addressing Binge Eating Disorder. Understanding the factors behind your behavior is an important part of changing that behavior; targeting these factors will have a “flow on” effect in reducing your binge eating episodes. There are three broad “maintaining factors” – that is, factors that contribute to an episode. (1) Shape and weight overvaluation: This is when you’re basing your self-worth largely on your weight or shape. Whereas most people evaluate themselves on a variety of life factors, such as work performance, friendship groups, or sporting capabilities, you evaluate your self-worth largely on how much you weigh or how you perceive your body. Such behavior can lead to obsessive self-weighing or unrealistic social comparisons. It also encourages extreme dietary behaviors. (2) Dietary restraint (or Food avoidance. Fasting. Calorie deprivation.): Sound familiar? That’s because they represent the demanding “diet rules” we apply to dictate what, when, and how much we can eat. How do these dieting tendencies influence binge eating? These diet rules (“avoid chocolate at all times”) are so hard to sustain long-term that when you finally break them (“oops, I ate a Kit Kat!”), you figure you may as well go the whole hog (“might as well finish off the packet and start fresh tomorrow”). This reaction is the cause of binge eating. The result: shame, guilt, and worthlessness. You might be down on yourself for your lack of self-control. You might fret about the impact of a binge on your weight and body shape. So you make a conscious decision to follow your diet even harder tomorrow. And then the cycle continues. (3) Sudden mood fluctuations: Find yourself suddenly sad? Lonely? Stressed? These moods also have a direct impact on your binge eating behavior. It’s exhausting enough dealing with these strong emotions, let alone trying to maintain strict diet rules. So you give yourself a reprieve. But abandoning these rules makes you prone to uninhibited binge eating. Not to mention, eating delicious food is a temporary mood booster. We forget briefly why we’re feeling a certain way. But you might take it to the extreme, so we need to help you come up with more adaptive ways of coping with negative mood states (without resorting to binge eating). And with that, it’s time to move into the proven steps you can take to stop your binge eating. These steps come from evidence-based cognitive-behavioral treatment manuals for binge eating, so you can follow them confident they’ll help you get into a better space. It is better to follow the steps in order, particularly because there is good evidence to show that focusing on modifying your behavior before your thoughts is a good determinant of future success. Step 1: Take a step back to observe and understand your behavior. How to do it? Without careful monitoring, it’s impossible to remember precise details. So diaries are a great idea. Record: Time and date; What you ate – and drank; Where you were; Whether you viewed it as a binge; and any other comments that may help you better understand your current eating behavior, such as how you were feeling at the time or what your energy levels were like. Remember, if you’re serious about this, it’s important to monitor consistently until you’ve regained control of your eating. Monitoring will allow you to understand and identify the precise factors that are triggering your binge eating behavior. Knowing exactly what’s going on prior, during, and after a binge is one of the most important things needed to change. Step 2: Don’t skip your meals! Aim to eat at least three meals and three snacks a day, no more than 3-4 hours apart. Eating regularly combats two dangerous dieting behaviors: delaying eating (such as fasting or skipping meals) and caloric restriction (such as undereating). Studies have shown that these dieting behaviors can independently lead to many negative health outcomes, including binge eating, psychological impairment, depression symptoms, and anxiety symptoms. Eating regularly and flexibly will help you gain more control over your eating by eliminating problematic forms of dieting and reducing your frequency of binge eating. Plus you’ll love the sustained energy you’ll have throughout the day! How to do it? Plan! Plan! Plan! Each night, plan and write down when you’re going to eat your meals and snacks. Don’t stress about what to eat, because the initial focus is on gaining momentum, stability, and regularity. You might want to eat based on your body signals (such as when you’re hungry). But these signals are usually disrupted in those who binge, which means you’ll find it hard to distinguish between hunger and satiety. That said, once you’ve adopted a consistent pattern of regular eating, these cues should eventually return. Step 3: Address your problems. Finding it tough to handle a bad situation effectively? If so, learning effective problem solving might be a good idea. Remember, binge eating is predictable: it usually occurs either after (a) an all-or-none reaction to a dietary rule break and (b) our mood fluctuates and intensifies. Working through these tough times effectively and healthily may help prevent these predictable binges. How to do it? Problems can often seem overwhelming and impossible to surmount but don’t forget you’re not alone. This may be a helpful 4-step guide to problem-solving (with an example): (1) Identify the problem: My partner and I always fight – I’m home alone left feeling so frustrated all the time. (2) Think about a range of possible solutions to the problem: I could either: eat, watch TV, go on social media, or go for a walk. (3) Carefully think through each solution’s implication: Eat: This isn’t a good idea because, in the past, when I eat I usually overindulge to help soothe my frustration. Watch TV: There’s nothing really on TV at the moment, so I’ll probably get bored and have an urge to eat instead. Go on social media: I’m not feeling the best about myself at the moment, so jumping on Instagram and seeing other people having fun would probably worsen the situation. Go for a walk: A walk will remove me from temptation and well help blow off some steam. (4) Pick the best solution(s) and act on it: I’m going to go for a brisk walk – 45 minutes at least! Step 4: Tackle your food anxiety. Do you have tasty “forbidden foods”? Why do you have a “forbidden food” list at all? After all, no food in isolation causes weight gain. Perhaps it’s because these foods are binge-eating trigger foods that cause you considerable grief and anxiety. Gradual exposure to these foods and reintroducing them into your diet (in moderation) will help get rid of the anxiety around certain foods and their potential to trigger a binge. How to do it? Create a list of your forbidden foods. Rank them in order from “most forbidden” to “least forbidden”. Slowly reintroduce the foods from the “least forbidden” list into your diet. For example, if cereal is on your “least forbidden” food list (but you’re still concerned about eating it), put a small handful of cereal in your regular breakfast smoothie. Gradually, you’ll realize that nothing catastrophic happens if you eat the cereal. The anxiety around that food may diminish and you could start to enjoy a more rounded diet – and life! Keep it up for the other foods until there’s no more anxiety. They won’t be a binge eating trigger for much longer. Remember, this will take time. Don’t expect success overnight. But you will start to notice that you have less anxiety as you gradually reintroduce foods. I promise. Step 5: Immerse yourself in joyful activities. OK, let’s move away from this intensive focus on your weight and shape to evaluate your self-worth and start looking at other aspects of your life. If you can broaden your scope of self-evaluation by increasing the importance of other life areas, your need to diet may diminish – and with it, your binge eating episodes. How to do it? Think about activities that make you happy, bring you joy, and that interest you. Some examples could be Competitive powerlifting, Joining a football club, Taking dance lessons, Taking up yoga, Taking up Quidditch (it IS a thing!), Building puzzles, Make a list of these – as long as possible. Be creative! Which one are you going to commit to trying? The point of these activities is to give more meaning in your life, independent of weight and/or shape cues. Eventually, if you devote enough energy to these activities, you may start to realize what the more important things are in life. Your craving to control your weight and shape could diminish. Once it does, this will undoubtedly have a positive effect on your eating behavior. Implementing these steps will take time, so be patient. But I have every confidence that you’ll start to see improvements in your health, mental state, and lifestyle soon.   I wish you all the best in your journey of recovery, and remember, you have already done the most important thing in acknowledging the issue and seeking help! I would be more than happy to work with you if you feel that Betterhelp and myself would be a good fit in addressing your concerns. You can simply ask to be assigned to me by name. If not, I do wish you all the best with whomever you are assigned to or select, and remember…..you CAN overcome this!!  
(LMHC, MCAP, TIRF)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I control my eating

Hi Kira,  Thanks for your question. I'm sorry to hear that you're struggling with staying in control of your eating patterns. The cycle that you are in can be an incredibly difficult one to break, especially when you have dealt with it in the past. I also know this time of year can be very triggering with holidays coming up. Please know that I commend you reaching out for help, and that therapy can be very impactful to help those struggling with disordered eating. If that's not a route you are able to or interested in taking right now, I hope that my answer will provide you some insight and clarity.  Though I don't know too much information about what's going on, generally disordered eating patterns are the result of negative emotional and cognitive undercurrents. Whether you are having these eating patterns because a lack of self-esteem, general stress, boredom, or restrictive dieting for weight loss, the behavioral patterns are often much the same. It starts with feeling deprived of enough food and then wanting to eat to get rid of that feeling. Then you binge eat which is followed by regret or shameful feelings, and that leads back to restrictive dieting to "make up" for the bingeing and try to get back in control. There are a few ways to try to combat this cycle. You can try to control cravings by recognizing what you are wanting, like sweets or high fatty foods that give us that quick feel good moment. For example, figure out how to incorporate reasonable bits of the foods you're craving while balancing them with healthy choices, not buying the foods you typically eat to in secret so that the temptation isn't there, and following a more reasonable meal plan so that you aren't restricting yourself too much from the things you enjoy eating. The focus should return to a more balanced, health forward approach instead of just wanting to change what your body looks like. When you only care about what you're body looks like on the outside, you may neglect what it needs on the inside (and that means physically, mentally, and emotionally.)  Also, because of the cognitive-emotional component of eating disorders, it can be helpful to notice the feelings and thoughts you're having and do work to address those. When you have feelings of shame or regret, or feelings of low self-esteem, the only way to deal with them is not through eating. You can address these by journaling, engaging in self-care, and talking through your problems with others in your support system.  I hope that you are able to feel some improvements and take some control around the holidays. I'm not sure if you celebrate anything coming up, but it's so importnat to give yourself some grace and set a few reasonable expectations for yourself. Instead of "I can't eat any of this" try a shift of "I'm going to eat until I want to, make sure I take a walk, and drink some water." The latter has a better balance of giving you what you want while also making healthy choices for yourself and your body.  Good luck with this journey and take care! Cory
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

What are symptoms/signs of ptsd and eating disorders (anorexia)?

Thank you for reaching out, I know that it is not easy to ask for help. I will gladly help you with this question. I am a trauma counselor, so I have extensive experience working with PTSD and all other trauma-related disorders. These are some symptoms of PTSD: 1. Intrusive Thoughts   Intrusive thoughts are perhaps the best-known symptom of PTSD. What do intrusive thoughts look like? A person going about their day is suddenly confronted by unwelcome, distressing memories of what happened to them. This may happen in a related setting – for example, a person who has gone through a car accident may begin to panic in a vehicle – or out of the blue.   2. Nightmares   Trauma survivors regularly deal with nightmares. Research from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) has indicated that 71% to 96% of those with PTSD may have nightmares. Those with co-occurring mental illnesses are also at higher risk for vivid, disturbing dreams.   3. Avoiding Reminders of the Event   PTSD changes the way a person lives their life. One of the major effects of trauma is avoidance. For example, someone who nearly drowned will probably avoid swimming again. However, they might even avoid taking baths or going to the beach because it reminds them too much of what happened. These avoidant behaviors can be debilitating, and those who are dealing with them are encouraged to seek professional trauma treatment.   4. Memory Loss   Traumatic events impact the brain’s functioning. While many people assume that this is due to a physical brain injury, it’s frequently a case of the body attempting to cope with what has happened. The hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex are strongly associated with stress and memory. When something traumatic happens, memory loss occurs as a natural defense mechanism. Without proper treatment, these memories may resurface at any time, resulting in significant distress.   5. Negative Thoughts About Self and the World   People who have been through trauma see the world differently. They may feel hopeless and live with a “foreshortened future” – an inability to visualize future milestones or old age. It’s also common for them to see themselves in a bad light. One of the 17 symptoms of PTSD is a negative perception of the self and the world at large. Client-centered therapy seeks to build a person’s self-esteem after a traumatic incident, reassuring them that they are worthy of success and healing.   6. Self-Isolation; Feeling Distant   After something terrible happens, it’s difficult to connect with others. People with PTSD may have a hard time being around people for a few different reasons. These include potential triggers, as well as an inability to relate to their friends. If you have been through a traumatic event and feel like your loved ones just don’t understand, we encourage you to speak with a professional therapist who specializes in trauma treatment.   7. Anger and Irritability   PTSD creates a state of hyperarousal. This means that the brain is kicked into a state of “fight or flight” at the slightest urging. Hyperarousal results in strong emotions like anger, as well as general irritability on a day-to-day basis. Those who have been traumatized may lash out at others, even if they don’t fully understand why.   8. Reduced Interest in Favorite Activities   Negative life events make it difficult to enjoy once-loved activities. The mood changes, sleeplessness, and avoidance associated with PTSD mean that a person might feel unmotivated and uninterested in their work and hobbies.   9. Hypervigilance   After a traumatic event, the body enters a state of hypervigilance. This increased alertness ensures that a person is always prepared for any other threats. However, this state of extreme awareness is exhausting and upsetting for trauma sufferers, making it among the most upsetting of the 17 symptoms of PTSD.   10. Difficulty Concentrating   Hyperarousal and anxiety also take away one’s ability to concentrate. Individuals who have undergone a traumatic event struggle to readjust at work, home and school because their minds are often elsewhere.   11. Insomnia   Insomnia is another typical symptom of PTSD. To go to bed, a person has to let their guard down, which is especially difficult for hypervigilant trauma sufferers. Additionally, the nightmares they may face at bedtime can make sleep an unattractive proposition. Many people who have experienced trauma struggle to sleep, and they may turn to alcohol or drugs to calm their minds. However, this approach can result in issues with substance use disorder.   12. Vivid Flashbacks   Flashbacks are different from intrusive thoughts. Those who have flashbacks may feel as though the traumatic event is happening all over again. Memories can become so vivid that they seem to be happening in the current moment. This can cause people to panic, resulting in a sudden, aggressive response. They may be triggered by something as subtle as someone’s cologne or a certain tone of voice. Those who have flashbacks are encouraged to ground themselves through the five senses – naming five things they can see can be a calming distraction.   13. Avoiding People, Places, and Things Related to the Event   Any reminder of a traumatic event can catalyze a flashback. That’s why many trauma sufferers become reclusive, avoiding people, places, and things related to what happened. While this may make sense on paper, this behavior can be problematic. “Just trying not to think about it” is a coping mechanism that can worsen one’s symptoms over time.   14. Casting Blame   Self-blame is especially common after a traumatic event. People with PTSD may blame themselves for what happened, especially if it resulted in the injury or death of a loved one. However, they may also assign blame to others who were associated with what happened. For example, after a boating accident, the traumatized person may point the finger at the driver of the boat. They might also assign blame to themselves for not calling out or warning the driver in time.   15. Difficulty Feeling Positive Emotions   Anger, sadness, and guilt are the emotions primarily associated with PTSD. However, this condition also dampens a person’s ability to regulate positive emotions. Researchers have found that victims of domestic violence struggle to engage in goal-directed actions, control impulsive behaviors and accept their positive emotions while in a good mood.   16. Exaggerated Startle Response   A key aspect of hypervigilance is an exaggerated startle response. One of the 17 symptoms of PTSD is caused by the constant feeling of being “on guard.” A small noise may cause a victim of trauma to become jumpy.   17. Risky Behaviors   Finally, risky behaviors are especially common among those who have undergone trauma. Individuals with a high number of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), for example, are more likely to try substances at a younger age and to develop an addiction. Combat veterans fall into this category too – they have higher levels of addiction than the general population. Risky behaviors can include drug abuse, alcoholism, unsafe sex, high-adrenaline activities, and behavioral addictions (gambling, shopping, etc.). Those who are coping with their trauma through “compulsive comfort-seeking” should seek professional treatment as soon as possible.   And here are some symptoms of common eating disorders:   COMMON SYMPTOMS OF AN EATING DISORDER   Emotional and behavioral   In general, behaviors and attitudes that indicate that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns   Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, carbohydrates, fat grams, and dieting   Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food (e.g., no carbohydrates, etc.)   Appears uncomfortable eating around others   Food rituals (e.g. eats only a particular food or food group [e.g. condiments], excessive chewing, doesn’t allow foods to touch)   Skipping meals or taking small portions of food at regular meals   Any new practices with food or fad diets, including cutting out entire food groups (no sugar, no carbs, no dairy, vegetarianism/veganism)   Withdrawal from usual friends and activities   Frequent dieting   Extreme concern with body size and shape    Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws in appearance   Extreme mood swings   Physical    Noticeable fluctuations in weight, both up and down   Stomach cramps, other non-specific gastrointestinal complaints (constipation, acid reflux, etc.)   Menstrual irregularities — missing periods or only having a period while on hormonal contraceptives (this is not considered a “true” period) Difficulties concentrating   Abnormal laboratory findings (anemia, low thyroid and hormone levels, low potassium, low white and red blood cell counts)   Dizziness, especially upon standing   Fainting/syncope   Feeling cold all the time   Sleep problems   Cuts and calluses across the top of finger joints (a result of inducing vomiting)   Dental problems, such as enamel erosion, cavities, and tooth sensitivity   Dry skin and hair, and brittle nails   Swelling around the area of salivary glands   Fine hair on the body (lanugo)   Cavities, or discoloration of teeth, from vomiting   Muscle weakness   Yellow skin (in the context of eating large amounts of carrots)   Cold, mottled hands and feet or swelling of feet   Poor wound healing   Impaired immune functioning   ANOREXIA NERVOSA   Dramatic weight loss Dresses in layers to hide weight loss or stay warm Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, fat grams, and dieting. Makes frequent comments about feeling “fat.’ Resists or is unable to maintain a bodyweight appropriate for their age, height, and build Maintains an excessive, rigid exercise regime – despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury Learn more about anorexia nervosa >   BULIMIA NERVOSA   Evidence of binge eating, including the disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods or lots of empty wrappers and containers indicating consumption of large amounts of food Evidence of purging behaviors, including frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of wrappers or packages of laxatives or diuretics Drinks excessive amounts of water or non-caloric beverages, and/or uses excessive amounts of mouthwash, mints, and gum Has calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles from self-induced vomiting Dental problems, such as enamel erosion, cavities, discoloration of teeth from vomiting, and tooth sensitivity  Learn more about bulimia nervosa >    BINGE EATING DISORDER   Secret recurring episodes of binge eating (eating in a discrete period an amount of food that is much larger than most individuals would eat under similar circumstances); feels lack of control over the ability to stop eating Feelings of disgust, depression, or guilt after overeating, and/or feelings of low self-esteem Steals or hoards food in strange places Creates lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge sessions Evidence of binge eating, including the disappearance of large amounts of food in a short period or a lot of empty wrappers and containers indicating consumption of large amounts of food Learn more about binge eating disorder >    OTHERWISE SPECIFIED FEEDING OR EATING DISORDER (OSFED)   Because OSFED encompasses a wide variety of eating disordered behaviors, any or all of the following symptoms may be present in people with OSFED.   Frequent episodes of consuming a very large amount of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting Evidence of binge eating, including the disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods or lots of empty wrappers and containers indicating consumption of large amounts of food Self-esteem overly related to body image Dieting behavior (reducing the amount or types of foods consumed) Expresses a need to “burn off” calories taken in Evidence of purging behaviors, including frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of wrappers or packages of laxatives or diuretics Learn more about OSFED >   AVOIDANT RESTRICTIVE FOOD INTAKE DISORDER (ARFID)   Dramatic weight loss Limited range of preferred foods that become narrower over time (i.e., picky eating that progressively worsens) Fears of choking or vomiting Nobody image disturbance or fear of weight gain Learn more about ARFID >   PICA   The persistent eating, over at least one month, of substances that are not food and do not provide nutritional value Typical substances ingested tend to vary with age and availability. They may include paper, soap, cloth, hair, string, wool, soil, chalk, talcum powder, paint, gum, metal, pebbles, charcoal, ash, clay, starch, or ice Learn more about pica >   RUMINATION DISORDER   Repeated regurgitation of food for at least one month. Regurgitated food may be re-chewed, re-swallowed, or spit out If occurring in the presence of another mental disorder (e.g., intellectual developmental disorder), it is severe enough to warrant independent clinical attention Learn more about rumination disorder >   Other Food & Behavior Concerns   ORTHOREXIA    Cutting out an increasing number of food groups (all sugar, all carbs, all dairy, all meat, all animal products) An increase in concern about the health of ingredients; an inability to eat anything but a narrow group of foods that are deemed ‘healthy’ or ‘pure’ Spending hours per day thinking about what food might be served at upcoming events Body image concerns may or may not be present Learn more about orthorexia >   COMPULSIVE EXERCISE   Exercise that significantly interferes with important activities, occurs at inappropriate times or in inappropriate settings or occurs when the individual exercises despite injury or other medical complications Intense anxiety, depression, and/or distress if unable to exercise Exercise takes place despite injury or fatigue Learn more about compulsive exercise >   DIABULIMIA   Increasing neglect of diabetes management; infrequently fills prescriptions and/or avoids diabetes-related appointments Secrecy about diabetes management; discomfort testing/injecting in front of others Fear that “insulin makes me fat” Restricting certain food or food groups to lower insulin dosages A1c of 9.0 or higher continuously   I hope that was helpful, best of luck, and don't hesitate to ask for more help if you still have questions, have a great day!
(MA, LPC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I feel like I over eat because I hate myself and I'm too irrelevant succeed. Why do I feel this way

Thank you for this question. I appreciate your level of insight, as you seem to understand that perhaps one of the triggers for your current patterns of over-eating could be that you have some strong feelings of self-loathing and worthlessness. Unfortunately, many people experience these core cognitions about themselves. However, many people are able to have some reprieve when they speak with a therapist to address these thoughts. When a person feels down on themselves, it is normal and understandable that they might want a quick fix to make them feel better. Some people lean on different “crutches” or outlets to try to avoid these negative feelings, as it is typically not pleasant or enjoyable for most people to sit with them. This can be a bit of a self-perpetuating cycle, and it requires some tools and perhaps challenging aspects of yourself to break out of the cycle and develop newer, healthier perspectives.Your perspectives are the products of your thought process. This includes thoughts about yourself, other people and the world as a whole. For this reason, it can be beneficial to challenge some thoughts that may be unhelpful, inaccurate or irrational. This is a component of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (also known as CBT), which is one of the most common treatment modalities used in therapy.Using a CBT-based approach, I would ask you to find ways to challenge these thoughts. In your situation, is it possible that you are interpreting your own feelings as a bona fide fact? What is the evidence that you have that other people do not want to be around you? Is there a reason to believe that you could be mis-interpreting some information? Is it possible to change this idea? What evidence would you want to see to be willing to change your self-perception? It is possible to change your belief about a particular situation, even if it refers to yourself. It is up to you to devote the time and energy to do so. I hope this was helpful for you. Please feel free to reach out if you have any further thoughts or questions about this answer.
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Why dont i take care of myself.

Hello Cc, I'm glad you are reaching out.  Binge eating disorder and unhealthy relationship with foods in general is not just about eating and foods.  It is a symptom of underlying mental health issues that you have avoided dealing with, even though you have acknowledged their existence.  Since the problem originated in your brain, the negative thoughts and habits that trigger your overeating, which in turn lead to weight gain, pull yourself up by the bootstraps and diet / limit/ deprive yourself of foods won't work.  Your negative thoughts and habits will take you right back to binge eating and subsequent more weight gain, which will restart and reinforce the negative thinking pattern and binge eating habit.   Treatment for the underlying mental health condition, on the other hand, will lead to sustained healthier eating habit.  Healthier eating habit will at least stop the weight gain.  The goal is to be healthy, not to lose weight, even though weight loss often come with healthier eating habit and lifestyle.  It is a no no to skip meals, or to restrict certain foods and calories.  Hunger / food deprivation will lead to subsequent binge eating.  Try to have lean protein in your diet to keep you full for longer instead. One of the modalities used to treat the psychological issues behind binge eating is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).  The goal is to change negative thinking patterns about yourself, food, eating.  When you are critical and judgmental toward yourself, your eating, and your weight, you are more likely to feel bad, depressed, and shameful.  These strong negative feelings towards yourself will lead to nothing but more of the compulsive eating behaviors, because foods have been your way of self-soothing.  Changing your thinking pattern takes practice and patience.  You will learn to catch yourself when you make the often automatic judgmental / critical statement such as: Your automatic negative thought:  "Why don’t I take care of myself?" Healthier thought: " I can try to make small changes such as going for 10'-15' walk during my breaks to take care of myself." Your automatic negative thought: "I wish I cared about myself and stuck to everything I preached I wish I could motivate myself the way I motivate others." Healthier thoughts:  "I am knowledgeable.  I know what it takes to be healthier.  I will start with baby steps, such as going on short walks and buying healthier foods." Your automatic negative thought: "But truth be told I can’t wait for the day I don’t wake up. Or sometimes I hope I die from overeating. I hope I catch something and die faster of natural causes." Healthier thoughts:  "I have been feeling depressed lately, but I have managed to keep going, even though it was very hard." Your automatic negative thought:  "And then other days I tell myself I can do this and the next day I find myself binge eating by mistake." Healthier thoughts:  "I am only human.  It takes three steps forward and two steps backward many times.  This is normal.  I will keep trying." Your automatic negative thought:  "I know I’m depressed but I refuse to get diagnosed because I have bills to pay and I can’t afford being home depressed."   Healthier thoughts:  "I can get diagnosed and treatment in order to function better in life, not worse." I wish you all the best in your journey to healthy and happy!  
Answered on 01/21/2022

I’m not sure i need therapy or not

Dear Cristina,   Thank you for your message and helping me understand more on how you have been struggling with self-image especially in relation with weight.   To stop the course of eating disorder we must look at restoring our self-image.   However, restoring self-image is one of the biggest challenges of recovery from an eating disorder.    When your self-worth depends on a number on the bathroom scale or the size of your jeans, it's easy to become a victim of destructive eating habits. In order to replace those habits with healthy behaviors that truly nourish your body and spirit, you must learn to value yourself for who you are, not what you look like or how much you weigh.    Encouraging clients to build up their self-esteem is easier said than done. If you're like most people who live with anorexia or bulimia nervosa, you've invested so much of yourself in losing weight or following the "perfect" diet that you've neglected other areas of your life.   Therefore I don’t recommend addressing this issue with “trying harder” to build our self-esteem / confidence. That is simply because you have tried hard enough and you deserve a different approach that would bring more kindness and gentleness.   Although it might seem impossible in the beginning, you can learn to accept your body without being obsessed with your weight. The more your practice self-compassion and acceptance, the more likely you are to escape the psychological traps of your eating disorder.   Simply speaking, the moment we can accept our body, which is the moment we are healed from eating disorder.   A distorted body image is one of the hallmarks of most eating disorders. In fact, a disturbed body image and a preoccupation with weight are two of the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa. Bulimia nervosa is also characterized by a preoccupation with weight and a tendency to judge oneself by weight or body size. Like you said, many people with eating disorders don't have a realistic sense of what their bodies actually look like.    When a teenage girl with anorexia looks at herself in the mirror, she may see an overweight body, when in fact she is already dangerously underweight. If she does realize that she's excessively thin, she may not be aware that she looks skeletal and unhealthy. In her eyes, that hard-won weight loss is the ideal that she's been striving for.    Like you said and have experienced, people with eating disorders often punish or reward themselves for "bad" or "good" eating behavior. In this way, they reinforce the importance of diet and weight control to their self-esteem. After bingeing on ice cream, cookies and potato chips, a bulimic college student may feel sick with guilt, remorse and self-loathing. At that point, her fragile self-esteem is shattered. Self-induced vomiting, fasting, using laxatives or compulsive exercise may make her feel good about herself again - at least until the next binge/purge cycle begins.   In rehab, one of the major goals of therapy is to help you recover from these destructive thought patterns. Therapeutic strategies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can teach you how to stop negative thought patterns in their tracks and replace them with positive, self-affirming statements, such as:   "I deserve to feel good about myself no matter how much I weigh." "I can be healthy and still enjoy treats now and then." "My body doesn't have to look like a model's body; I am beautiful the way I am." "My identity is much more than what I look like."   It takes time and practice to get over the harmful habits caused by eating disorders. Therefore these strategies must be practiced under the umbrella of self-compassion and a desire to accept who we are rather than changing how we look like.   Your body image, or your sense of what you look like, isn't just a reflection of what you see in the mirror. It's partly based on the opinions and value judgments of others: your loved ones, your peers, the media and the culture in general. The celebrities we admire for their beauty and thinness often become the ultimate representation of what we want to look like. When we don't measure up to an airbrushed photo of a model or movie star, our body image may suffer. For teenage girls and young women, who are especially sensitive to their looks and the way they appear to others, a poor body image may quickly lead to an eating disorder, especially if the girl is overweight.   Therefore you have brought up an important factor that sometimes perhaps the best thing we can do for ourselves in the beginning of this process is to create some boundaries and distance from these toxic images / messages from our outside world.   According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the American media and the advertising industry play a big role in the way we perceive our bodies: In the United States, the average person sees or hears 5,000 messages from advertisers every day.   Approximately one-fourth of these advertisements include a value judgment about physical attractiveness.   Magazines directed at women and girls have over 10 times more articles and ads about weight loss than magazines for men and boys.   In women's magazine articles about fitness, "being more attractive" and "losing weight" are listed most frequently as the reasons for starting an exercise program.   Developing self-compassion means learning how to create a more realistic perception of your body, accepting how we look even if it conflicts with the idealized images you see in magazines or on TV.   In your day-to-day life, there are a lot of things you can do to build self-compassion. Becoming aware of the way you "talk" to yourself mentally is one of the most important tasks. As you go through your day, especially when you're eating a meal or thinking about having a snack, be aware of self-defeating thoughts that connect your self-esteem with your weight or appearance:   "I can't have bread with lunch today. I'll get fat. I'll be worthless if I gain one more pound in this program."   "I can't work out in those pants. They make my hips look huge. Everyone's going to notice how much weight I've gained."   "I only ran three miles today instead of my usual five. What's wrong with me? I'm going to skip lunch to make up for it."   "Everyone's going to stare at me in group counseling. I'll be the fattest girl in the room. I hate myself for being so big."   In order to counteract negative thoughts that keep you trapped in a cycle of destructive eating behaviors, you'll have to adopt positive habits, such as:   Setting realistic goals and rewarding yourself for meeting them   Refusing to compare your body to media images or celebrities   Taking up hobbies that have nothing to do with body size or appearance   Practicing self-acceptance through self-affirming statements   Forming friendships with supportive people who value you for who you are   Learning how to prepare and eat balanced, nourishing meals   Planning a diet that does not exclude any food   Managing your exercise program to keep your physical activity at a healthy level   Keeping a journal is a good way to track your progress as you're working on your self-esteem. It's also an effective way to work through the emotions you'll experience as you recover from an eating disorder. Don't hesitate to turn to your friends, therapists or family if you feel the urge to go back to your destructive habits. A strong support system can help you stay on track with your goals when you feel discouraged or afraid.   Meanwhile, relapse rates are high among people with eating disorders, especially if they still have a low self-esteem or a disturbed body image after they finish rehab. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that women who went through rehab for anorexia or bulimia had a greater chance of relapse if they were still struggling with a distorted body image. Accepting your body's assets and limitations is a crucial part of recovering from an eating disorder. Instead of striving for a perfect, unattainable ideal, work with your treatment team to create an achievable plan for what you want to be.   Therefore the goal here is NOT about changing how we look, again it’s all about accepting how we look and who we are :)   Like addiction and other chronic conditions, eating disorders don't go away overnight.   You may experience the impulse to diet excessively, binge or purge for months or years after you've graduated from rehab. Many rehab graduates find that these impulses are the most intense during times of stress, such as a divorce, a job loss or a death in the family. Even positive events, like having a child or starting a new career, can trigger a relapse if you're still living with self-doubts. Gaining a few pounds during pregnancy or after an injury may give you that panicky feeling that you need to lose weight - fast.    Therefore it is crucial that we look at all these information with the framework of self-compassion. Remember, the reason why we want to change is because we want to be kinder to ourselves, not because we hate ourselves. These may look similar but are fundamentally different. One leads to healing, the other leads to more destruction. :)   Be gentle, be kind, fight less, float more :)   We can do this together.   Please let me know if I’m being helpful so far. Looking forward to hear your thoughts, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do i deal with a bulimic parent

Hi, thank you for reaching out and for the question. I imagine that everything you've grown up learning about food and your body have made that relationship difficult. Parents are partially responsible for passing down values and lessons, they shape us not only genetically but also through our experiences. It makes sense that you would start to have similar feelings as you have watched your mother have. Unfortunately, there is no clear answer with how to handle what you are going through. The best thing to do would be to get a therapist so you can talk through not only your experience with your mother, but also your experience now with yourself and those thoughts you may be getting. When it comes to your mother, focus on building your relationship outside of food. Make plans and spend time together that doesn't revolve around food or eating. You can love her and support her without being involved in her struggle (recommending her own therapist is ideal). It is not your responsibility to change her behaviors, she will have to work on that herself. As for you, those feelings and thoughts are at the root of your struggle. Taking the time to process this emotions with a therapist and gain understanding and insight on where these thoughts stem from and how you can reframe them to serve you better. In addition, learning ways to cope with how you are feeling. I imagine seeing your mother struggle with this growing up, you most likely have an insight on those warning signs and how to recognize when things are becoming problematic. In addition, utilizing the support you have. I am not sure what exactly that looks like for you but adding a therapist to the mix will only leave you stronger in fighting these struggles. You can do this and are much stronger than you would realize. Another thing to consider is getting a support group, or participating in one of the groupinars here on Betterhelp that can provide you with some details and shared experiences to give perspective. By reaching out you are making the first step! You got this! 
(MS, LMHC, RPT)
Answered on 01/21/2022

What would you recommend in my situation?

Hi M, It sounds like food is a big struggle for you, which is the case for many people, so you are not alone.  I understand that it is difficult to find the balance between eating too much and not enough.  It is also difficult when food is constantly on our minds.  I would certainly suggest talking with someone more in depth about this topic.  Sometimes when we feel out of control in other areas of life (i.e. the pandemic) it can cause issues with food because that is something that is easy to control.  There are many things to explore related to this.  There are some good books you could read if you are a reader.   Bright Line Eating by Susan Peirce Thompson is one, The Emotional Eaters Repair Manual is another by Julie Simon.  Other things that you could do that would be of help include putting yourself on a schedule, it is important to not skip meals, so plan out your timing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner so your body knows that it is time to eat during those times.  People also find it helpful to make a plan the night before so that way when it comes time to eat you do not even have to think of it, you just look at your plan for the day.  Meditation has also been shown to be helpful with binge eating.  I enjoy doing guided mindfulness meditation videos on YouTube (they are free) and if you practice this for 5-10 minutes prior to meals you may be less likely to overeat.  Ensuring you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day is also super important, you do not want to get dehydrated, and often times we find that hunger pains can actually be quieted by drinking water, which means that they are actually thirst pains.  Things like food and mood journals can be helpful as well and making sure that you are getting enough sleep is super important, especially when it comes to weight loss.  Ensuring that you are engaging in activites that relieve your stress and recharge your batteries are also very important.  If you are interested I would love to help you explore this further.
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I possibly handle my eating disorder and low self esteem..I want to overcome all my problems

Dear Labiladabs,   Thank you for your message and helping me understand more on how you have been struggling with self-image especially in relation with weight.   To stop the course of eating disorder we must look at restoring our self-image.   However, restoring self-image is one of the biggest challenges of recovery from an eating disorder.    When your self-worth depends on a number on the bathroom scale or the size of your jeans, it's easy to become a victim of destructive eating habits. In order to replace those habits with healthy behaviors that truly nourish your body and spirit, you must learn to value yourself for who you are, not what you look like or how much you weigh.    Encouraging clients to build up their self-esteem is easier said than done. If you're like most people who live with anorexia or bulimia nervosa, you've invested so much of yourself in losing weight or following the "perfect" diet that you've neglected other areas of your life.   Therefore I don’t recommend addressing this issue with “trying harder” to build our self-esteem / confidence. That is simply because you have tried hard enough and you deserve a different approach that would bring more kindness and gentleness.   Although it might seem impossible in the beginning, you can learn to accept your body without being obsessed with your weight. The more your practice self-compassion and acceptance, the more likely you are to escape the psychological traps of your eating disorder.   Simply speaking, the moment we can accept our body, which is the moment we are healed from eating disorder.   A distorted body image is one of the hallmarks of most eating disorders. In fact, a disturbed body image and a preoccupation with weight are two of the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa. Bulimia nervosa is also characterized by a preoccupation with weight and a tendency to judge oneself by weight or body size. Like you said, many people with eating disorders don't have a realistic sense of what their bodies actually look like.    When a teenage girl with anorexia looks at herself in the mirror, she may see an overweight body, when in fact she is already dangerously underweight. If she does realize that she's excessively thin, she may not be aware that she looks skeletal and unhealthy. In her eyes, that hard-won weight loss is the ideal that she's been striving for.    Like you said and have experienced, people with eating disorders often punish or reward themselves for "bad" or "good" eating behavior. In this way, they reinforce the importance of diet and weight control to their self-esteem. After bingeing on ice cream, cookies and potato chips, a bulimic college student may feel sick with guilt, remorse and self-loathing. At that point, her fragile self-esteem is shattered. Self-induced vomiting, fasting, using laxatives or compulsive exercise may make her feel good about herself again - at least until the next binge/purge cycle begins.   In rehab, one of the major goals of therapy is to help you recover from these destructive thought patterns. Therapeutic strategies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can teach you how to stop negative thought patterns in their tracks and replace them with positive, self-affirming statements, such as:   "I deserve to feel good about myself no matter how much I weigh." "I can be healthy and still enjoy treats now and then." "My body doesn't have to look like a model's body; I am beautiful the way I am." "My identity is much more than what I look like."   It takes time and practice to get over the harmful habits caused by eating disorders. Therefore these strategies must be practiced under the umbrella of self-compassion and a desire to accept who we are rather than changing how we look like.   Your body image, or your sense of what you look like, isn't just a reflection of what you see in the mirror. It's partly based on the opinions and value judgments of others: your loved ones, your peers, the media and the culture in general. The celebrities we admire for their beauty and thinness often become the ultimate representation of what we want to look like. When we don't measure up to an airbrushed photo of a model or movie star, our body image may suffer. For teenage girls and young women, who are especially sensitive to their looks and the way they appear to others, a poor body image may quickly lead to an eating disorder, especially if the girl is overweight.   Therefore you have brought up an important factor that sometimes perhaps the best thing we can do for ourselves in the beginning of this process is to create some boundaries and distance from these toxic images / messages from our outside world.   According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the American media and the advertising industry play a big role in the way we perceive our bodies: In the United States, the average person sees or hears 5,000 messages from advertisers every day.   Approximately one-fourth of these advertisements include a value judgment about physical attractiveness.   Magazines directed at women and girls have over 10 times more articles and ads about weight loss than magazines for men and boys.   In women's magazine articles about fitness, "being more attractive" and "losing weight" are listed most frequently as the reasons for starting an exercise program.   Developing self-compassion means learning how to create a more realistic perception of your body, accepting how we look even if it conflicts with the idealized images you see in magazines or on TV.   In your day-to-day life, there are a lot of things you can do to build self-compassion. Becoming aware of the way you "talk" to yourself mentally is one of the most important tasks. As you go through your day, especially when you're eating a meal or thinking about having a snack, be aware of self-defeating thoughts that connect your self-esteem with your weight or appearance:   "I can't have bread with lunch today. I'll get fat. I'll be worthless if I gain one more pound in this program."   "I can't work out in those pants. They make my hips look huge. Everyone's going to notice how much weight I've gained."   "I only ran three miles today instead of my usual five. What's wrong with me? I'm going to skip lunch to make up for it."   "Everyone's going to stare at me in group counseling. I'll be the fattest girl in the room. I hate myself for being so big."   In order to counteract negative thoughts that keep you trapped in a cycle of destructive eating behaviors, you'll have to adopt positive habits, such as:   Setting realistic goals and rewarding yourself for meeting them   Refusing to compare your body to media images or celebrities   Taking up hobbies that have nothing to do with body size or appearance   Practicing self-acceptance through self-affirming statements   Forming friendships with supportive people who value you for who you are   Learning how to prepare and eat balanced, nourishing meals   Planning a diet that does not exclude any food   Managing your exercise program to keep your physical activity at a healthy level   Keeping a journal is a good way to track your progress as you're working on your self-esteem. It's also an effective way to work through the emotions you'll experience as you recover from an eating disorder. Don't hesitate to turn to your friends, therapists or family if you feel the urge to go back to your destructive habits. A strong support system can help you stay on track with your goals when you feel discouraged or afraid.   Meanwhile, relapse rates are high among people with eating disorders, especially if they still have a low self-esteem or a disturbed body image after they finish rehab. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that women who went through rehab for anorexia or bulimia had a greater chance of relapse if they were still struggling with a distorted body image. Accepting your body's assets and limitations is a crucial part of recovering from an eating disorder. Instead of striving for a perfect, unattainable ideal, work with your treatment team to create an achievable plan for what you want to be.   Therefore the goal here is NOT about changing how we look, again it’s all about accepting how we look and who we are :)   Like addiction and other chronic conditions, eating disorders don't go away overnight.   You may experience the impulse to diet excessively, binge or purge for months or years after you've graduated from rehab. Many rehab graduates find that these impulses are the most intense during times of stress, such as a divorce, a job loss or a death in the family. Even positive events, like having a child or starting a new career, can trigger a relapse if you're still living with self-doubts. Gaining a few pounds during pregnancy or after an injury may give you that panicky feeling that you need to lose weight - fast.    Therefore it is crucial that we look at all these information with the framework of self-compassion. Remember, the reason why we want to change is because we want to be kinder to ourselves, not because we hate ourselves. These may look similar but are fundamentally different. One leads to healing, the other leads to more destruction. :)   Be gentle, be kind, fight less, float more :)   We can do this together.   Please let me know if I’m being helpful so far. Looking forward to hear your thoughts, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Guidance with emotional eating

Hello, Thanks for reaching out on The Betterhelp Platform with your query: Guidance with emotional eating.   I will share some information and tips on what you might want to try to better manage your relationship with food. We don’t always eat just to satisfy physical hunger. Many of us also turn to food for comfort, stress relief, or to reward ourselves. And when we do, we tend to reach for junk food, sweets, and other comforting but unhealthy foods. You might reach for a pint of ice cream when you’re feeling down, order a pizza if you’re bored or lonely, or swing by the drive-through after a stressful day at work.   Emotional eating is using food to make yourself feel better—to fill emotional needs, rather than your stomach. Unfortunately, emotional eating doesn’t fix emotional problems. In fact, it usually makes you feel worse. Afterward, not only does the original emotional issue remain, but you also feel guilty for overeating. Are you an emotional eater? Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed? Do you eat when you’re not hungry or when you’re full? Do you eat to feel better (to calm and soothe yourself when you’re sad, mad, bored, anxious, etc.)? Do you reward yourself with food? Do you regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself? Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel like food is a friend? Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?   The emotional eating cycle   Occasionally using food as a pick-me-up, a reward, or to celebrate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when eating is your primary emotional coping mechanism—when your first impulse is to open the refrigerator whenever you’re stressed, upset, angry, lonely, exhausted, or bored—you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed.     Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food. Eating may feel good in the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And you often feel worse than you did before because of the unnecessary calories you’ve just consumed. You beat yourself for messing up and not having more willpower. Compounding the problem, you stop learning healthier ways to deal with your emotions, you have a harder and harder time controlling your weight, and you feel increasingly powerless over both food and your feelings. But no matter how powerless you feel over food and your feelings, it is possible to make a positive change. You can learn healthier ways to deal with your emotions, avoid triggers, conquer cravings, and finally put a stop to emotional eating.   The difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger   Before you can break free from the cycle of emotional eating, you first need to learn how to distinguish between emotional and physical hunger. This can be trickier than it sounds, especially if you regularly use food to deal with your feelings.   Emotional hunger can be powerful, so it’s easy to mistake it for physical hunger. But there are clues you can look for to help you tell physical and emotional hunger apart.   Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. It hits you in an instant and feels overwhelming and urgent. Physical hunger, on the other hand, comes on more gradually. The urge to eat doesn’t feel as dire or demand instant satisfaction (unless you haven’t eaten for a very long time). Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods. When you’re physically hungry, almost anything sounds good—including healthy stuff like vegetables. But emotional hunger craves junk food or sugary snacks that provide an instant rush. You feel like you need cheesecake or pizza, and nothing else will do. Emotional hunger often leads to mindless eating. Before you know it, you’ve eaten a whole bag of chips or an entire pint of ice cream without really paying attention or fully enjoying it. When you’re eating in response to physical hunger, you’re typically more aware of what you’re doing. Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied once you’re full. You keep wanting more and more, often eating until you’re uncomfortably stuffed. Physical hunger, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be stuffed. You feel satisfied when your stomach is full. Emotional hunger isn’t located in the stomach. Rather than a growling belly or a pang in your stomach, you feel your hunger as a craving you can’t get out of your head. You’re focused on specific textures, tastes, and smells. Emotional hunger often leads to regret, guilt, or shame. When you eat to satisfy physical hunger, you’re unlikely to feel guilty or ashamed because you’re simply giving your body what it needs. If you feel guilty after you eat, it’s likely because you know deep down that you’re not eating for nutritional reasons. Emotional hunger vs. Physical hunger   Emotional hunger comes on suddenly Physical hunger comes on gradually Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly Physical hunger can wait Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods Physical hunger is open to options—lots of things sound good Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied with a full stomach. Physical hunger stops when you’re full Emotional eating triggers feelings of guilt, powerlessness, and shame Eating to satisfy physical hunger doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself   Identify your emotional eating triggers   The first step in putting a stop to emotional eating is identifying your personal triggers. What situations, places, or feelings make you reach for the comfort of food? Most emotional eating is linked to unpleasant feelings, but it can also be triggered by positive emotions, such as rewarding yourself for achieving a goal or celebrating a holiday or happy event. Common causes of emotional eating   Stress. Ever notice how stress makes you hungry? It’s not just in your mind. When stress is chronic, as it so often is in our chaotic, fast-paced world, your body produces high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and fried foods—foods that give you a burst of energy and pleasure. The more uncontrolled stress in your life, the more likely you are to turn to food for emotional relief.   Stuffing emotions. Eating can be a way to temporarily silence or “stuff down” uncomfortable emotions, including anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, resentment, and shame. While you’re numbing yourself with food, you can avoid the difficult emotions you’d rather not feel.   Boredom or feelings of emptiness. Do you ever eat simply to give yourself something to do, to relieve boredom, or as a way to fill a void in your life? You feel unfulfilled and empty, and food is a way to occupy your mouth and your time. In the moment, it fills you up and distracts you from underlying feelings of purposelessness and dissatisfaction with your life.   Childhood habits. Think back to your childhood memories of food. Did your parents reward good behavior with ice cream, take you out for pizza when you got a good report card, or serve you sweets when you were feeling sad? These habits can often carry over into adulthood. Or your eating may be driven by nostalgia—for cherished memories of grilling burgers in the backyard with your dad or baking and eating cookies with your mom.   Social influences. Getting together with other people for a meal is a great way to relieve stress, but it can also lead to overeating. It’s easy to overindulge simply because the food is there or because everyone else is eating. You may also overeat in social situations out of nervousness. Or perhaps your family or circle of friends encourages you to overeat, and it’s easier to go along with the group.   Keep an emotional eating diary You probably recognized yourself in at least a few of the previous descriptions. But even so, you’ll want to get even more specific. One of the best ways to identify the patterns behind your emotional eating is to keep track with a food and mood diary.   Every time you overeat or feel compelled to reach for your version of comfort food Kryptonite, take a moment to figure out what triggered the urge. If you backtrack, you’ll usually find an upsetting event that kicked off the emotional eating cycle. Write it all down in your food and mood diary: what you ate (or wanted to eat), what happened to upset you, how you felt before you ate, what you felt as you were eating, and how you felt afterward.     Over time, you’ll see a pattern emerge. Maybe you always end up gorging yourself after spending time with a critical friend. Or perhaps you stress eat whenever you’re on a deadline or when you attend family functions. Once you identify your emotional eating triggers, the next step is identifying healthier ways to feed your feelings.   Find other ways to feed your feelings   If you don’t know how to manage your emotions in a way that doesn’t involve food, you won’t be able to control your eating habits for very long. Diets so often fail because they offer logical nutritional advice which only works if you have conscious control over your eating habits. It doesn’t work when emotions hijack the process, demanding an immediate payoff with food.   In order to stop emotional eating, you have to find other ways to fulfill yourself emotionally. It’s not enough to understand the cycle of emotional eating or even to understand your triggers, although that’s a huge first step. You need alternatives to food that you can turn to for emotional fulfillment.   Alternatives to emotional eating   If you’re depressed or lonely, call someone who always makes you feel better, play with your dog or cat, or look at a favorite photo or cherished memento. If you’re anxious, expend your nervous energy by dancing to your favorite song, squeezing a stress ball, or taking a brisk walk. If you’re exhausted, treat yourself with a hot cup of tea, take a bath, light some scented candles, or wrap yourself in a warm blanket. If you’re bored, read a good book, watch a comedy show, explore the outdoors, or turn to an activity you enjoy (woodworking, playing the guitar, shooting hoops, scrapbooking, etc.).   Pause when cravings hit and check in with yourself   Most emotional eaters feel powerless over their food cravings. When the urge to eat hits, it’s all you can think about. You feel an almost unbearable tension that demands to be fed, right now! Because you’ve tried to resist in the past and failed, you believe that your willpower just isn’t up to snuff. But the truth is that you have more power over your cravings than you think.   Take 5 before you give in to a craving   Emotional eating tends to be automatic and virtually mindless. Before you even realize what you’re doing, you’ve reached for a tub of ice cream and polished off half of it. But if you can take a moment to pause and reflect when you’re hit with a craving, you give yourself the opportunity to make a different decision. Can you put off eating for five minutes? Or just start with one minute. Don’t tell yourself you can’t give in to the craving; remember, the forbidden is extremely tempting. Just tell yourself to wait. While you’re waiting, check in with yourself. How are you feeling? What’s going on emotionally? Even if you end up eating, you’ll have a better understanding of why you did it. This can help you set yourself up for a different response next time. Learn to accept your feelings—even the bad ones While it may seem that the core problem is that you’re powerless over food, emotional eating actually stems from feeling powerless over your emotions. You don’t feel capable of dealing with your feelings head on, so you avoid them with food. Allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable emotions can be scary. You may fear that, like Pandora’s box, once you open the door you won’t be able to shut it. But the truth is that when we don’t obsess over or suppress our emotions, even the most painful and difficult feelings subside relatively quickly and lose their power to control our attention. To do this you need to become mindful and learn how to stay connected to your moment-to-moment emotional experience. This can enable you to rein in stress and repair emotional problems that often trigger emotional eating.   Indulge without overeating by savoring your food   When you eat to feed your feelings, you tend to do so quickly, mindlessly consuming food on autopilot. You eat so fast you miss out on the different tastes and textures of your food—as well as your body’s cues that you’re full and no longer hungry. But by slowing down and savoring every bite, you’ll not only enjoy your food more but you’ll also be less likely to overeat.   Slowing down and savoring your food is an important aspect of mindful eating, the opposite of mindless, emotional eating. Try taking a few deep breaths before starting your food, putting your utensils down between bites, and really focusing on the experience of eating. Pay attention to the textures, shapes, colors and smells of your food. How does each mouthful taste? How does it make your body feel?   By slowing down in this way, you’ll find you appreciate each bite of food much more. You can even indulge in your favorite foods and feel full on much less. It takes time for the body’s fullness signal to reach your brain, so taking a few moments to consider how you feel after each bite—hungry or satiated—can help you avoid overeating.     Practice mindful eating Eating while you’re also doing other things—such as watching TV, driving, or playing with your phone—can prevent you from fully enjoying your food. Since your mind is elsewhere, you may not feel satisfied or continue eating even though you’re no longer hungry. Eating more mindfully can help focus your mind on your food and the pleasure of a meal and curb overeating.    Support yourself with healthy lifestyle habits   When you’re physically strong, relaxed, and well rested, you’re better able to handle the curveballs that life inevitably throws your way. But when you’re already exhausted and overwhelmed, any little hiccup has the potential to send you off the rails and straight toward the refrigerator. Exercise, sleep, and other healthy lifestyle habits will help you get through difficult times without emotional eating. Make daily exercise a priority. Physical activity does wonders for your mood and energy levels, and it’s also a powerful stress reducer. And getting into exercise the habit is easier than you may think. Aim for 8 hours of sleep every night. When you don’t  get the sleep you need, your body craves sugary foods that will give you a quick energy boost. Getting plenty of rest will help with appetite control and reduce food cravings. Make time for relaxation.Give yourself permission to take at least 30 minutes every day to relax, decompress, and unwind. This is your time to take a break from your responsibilities and recharge your batteries. Connect with others. Don’t underestimate the importance of close relationships and social activities. Spending time with positive people who enhance your life will help protect you from the negative effects of stress.   I wish you luck with your next step in managing your emotional eating and I hope you consider reaching out to a mental health professional for support and further guidance with this.   There is hope and there is help available for you!   In Kindness, Gaynor           
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I quit binge eating and get better control over my impulses?

Hi Tessiken,  Thank you for your question and sharing something you've been struggling with for so long. Eating disorders are tricky to recover from and the process is long and difficult. Our relationship with food and our bodies is complicated by internal and external factors over the course of our lives. You shared some of those factors (mindset, boredom, childhood uncertainty, etc.) and I'm sure there are more. You're right to consult a mental health professional with this question and I would encourage you to continue on that path. Working with a therapist who has expertise and experience in eating disorder treatment can be extremely impactful and result in better outcomes than tackling this on your own. That being said, there are some strategies that can help you start to manage your behavior and shift your mindset.  Even as you recover from bulimia and begin to eat regularly without purging, you are still engaging with the long-term habit of binge-eating. There are ways to challenge the automatic, habitual nature of this pattern:  Eat mindfully. If you are going to binge anyway and consume a large amount of calories, it helps to become aware of what you’re eating. This also slows things down. Put all your food onto a plate or into a bowl before you eat it. Create more steps between the decision to binge and the actual behavior. Develop an awareness of each bite as you take it- notice the sensations, what you're actually eating, how you feel- but refrain from judgement. After you finish the food you've set out for yourself- check in about what you want to do next? Do you need more or have you had enough? The important thing is to be conscious about what you’re doing – which helps you develop more control. Delay the binge. Again, assuming that the binge is going to happen it's worth making a conscious effort to delay the behavior. Start small, can you wait 30 seconds? If you can manage that, you might want to try working up to a minute, to five, to ten, etc.  These two strategies help you gain back some control over what you’ve been thinking of as out-of-control eating. Eating mindfully gives you back some of the control, because every time you make a decision, you are becoming active in controlling what you eat. With time, you can make healthier choices. Likewise, being able to wait, even just one minute, before embarking on a binge, means that you are less at the mercy of the binge and more active in choosing when to start.  You mentioned that you are overtraining to compensate for the binging. This is known as driven or excessive exercise and is another aspect of the "eating disorder mindset."  If you use exercise frequently in a driven manner to control your weight, think back to the time when you first began this behaviour. You may have first started it after you’d put on some weight, and you planned to “burn off the calories”. Perhaps you did lose a little weight (but were you also restricting your food intake at the time?). Over time you started working harder and spending longer at your exercise, believing that you were raising your metabolism and burning off the calories. You did your best to push to the back of your mind any negative feelings such as feeling compelled and out of control, and convinced yourself it wasn’t really too bad, you could stop it any time you really wanted, and anyway, it made you feel good. The reality is that you might be working against your goals and actually lowering your metabolism through this behavior. Your doctor can tell you how much exercise is appropriate for you at this stage in your recovery- but if you're feeling compelled or experience distress if you're unable to train, then this behavior needs to be addressed as well.  The way we process, or make sense of the things that happen around us plays a big part in maintaining our mindsets, especially a major mindset like the eating disorder mindset. There is so much happening in our environment at any one time – so much information – that to deal with or make sense of all of it is an impossible task. For this reason, our brain tends to choose what we pay attention to and how we think about and make sense of things. Often, what determines what we pay attention to and how we think about things, are the beliefs we hold – our attitudes, thoughts, and expectations. It can be helpful to reflect on how your mindset is shaping your behavior. What attitudes and thoughts about controlling your eating, shape, and weight do you have? What feelings come up you around these thoughts? How do they determine your behavior? Overcoming the mindset means rejecting the thoughts and assumptions that come from them and examining your emotional and behavioral reactions. Recognize what situations trigger the thoughts and what would a healthier response look like. How would your behavior change? What would your self-talk sound like? The clearer the picture you have of the alternative, the easier it will be to implement. 
Answered on 01/21/2022

Can you recover from an ED without going to an in-patient facility?

Hello Rocky, You ask a great question and I hear that you're struggling right now.  It sounds like the pandemic has impacted you, as it has many others.  When we're under stress sometimes we can revert back to behaviors or versions of ourselves that exisited prior to the source of stress in the attempt to find something comfortable and familiar even if the behaviors aren't really helpful for us.   Eating Disorders can be difficult to treat in general-as I'm sure you know.  There are so many moving pieces that are involved in an eating disorder aside from just issues pertaining to food.  The whole relationship with food and body becomes distorted.  I don't think there is an answer to your question that would fit everyone.  I will say that it likely is possible to recover from an eating disorder without being inpatient somewhere if you are medically stable and the main things that you are having difficulty with are views of yourself and your body.  The things you mentioned in your question and description such as body image and negative thoughts about yourself could potentially be treated or improved with outpatient therapy.  There are no guarantees that at some point it wouldn't need to be inpatient if your symptoms included medical issues, self-harm or suicidal ideation that could come up.   From your question it sounds like you had an eating disorder and were treated for it in the past and then it came back during the pandemic.  It may be that this is always going to be something that you struggle with when you are under a great deal of stress.  So it may be learning that stress triggers increased symptoms of your eating disorder and coming up with some coping skills that you can use to manage stress in your life a little bit better.  Learning those coping skills and working on building up self-esteem and improving body image are all things that would be appropriate to cover in an outpatient setting versus in-patitent.  Hopefully this helps answer your question and gives you some insight into where to go from here.  I wish you the best in your journey towards health.    
(MS, LPC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I have eating disorder(bulimia ),at least one attack of binging and purging per day what i should do

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with disordered eating as a result of social anxiety.  It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific triggers that lead to anxiety and disordered eating.     Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with this kind of social anxiety.      As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone of worth and that has been able to get through challenges in your past.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

My girlfriend has dealt with anxiety and an eating disorder

Dear User 12,   You are doing the right thing in reaching out for help. When someone you love is dealing with mental health issues, it presents a challenge to both of you, and to your relationship. It can be taxing on your own coping skills to be the primary support person for someone who is struggling and vulnerable. You have likely taken on the role of being “the strong one” as your girlfriend has gone through the recovery process. Having someone like that to depend on often makes a huge difference in a person’s recovery. But you are human too, and cannot always be strong. Your relationship needs to have room for you to have your own ups and downs. The metaphor of "putting on your own oxygen mask first" is very applicable here, because depleting your own resources to meet someone else’s needs is not sustainable and does not serve either of you or help her recovery.   When you say that you are the only person who knows, I wonder if you mean you’re the only one in her personal circle of friends, family, etc. I would hope that she is receiving therapy to assist in her ongoing recovery. This is essential, or at least highly recommended, to help a person manage stress and minimize the risk of relapse. People with eating disorders can also benefit from opportunities to connect with others who are also recovering. Sharing mutual support in groups, online chat rooms, or through a “buddy system” with an accountability partner can be a key component of recovery. The value of this kind of peer support can apply to anxiety as well.   I’m glad to see that you have identified your own need to have someone to talk to. Pursuing individual therapy for yourself is an important proactive step for safeguarding your own mental health and resilience. It can also help you to build stronger communication skills. These can benefit you in every area of your life, of course, and can be a huge advantage for anyone who is a key support person in someone else’s recovery. The need to have periodic honest but difficult conversations will present over time, and the better equipped you are to listen deeply, and find the right words to express your concerns the better it will be for both you and your girlfriend.   Having a lasting relationship with someone who has mental health challenges means going through a lot of ups and downs together. Of course there will be good times, and hopefully they will be increasing as your girlfriend gets stronger in her recovery. But there will also be low points. And you will feel the pain with her because of how much you care. This is natural; of course her happiness is important to you. However, as much as compassion is important, it will also be best for both of you if you can maintain enough emotional distance or autonomy that you can find your own happiness alongside your empathy for her. I find this to be a key component to being a successful long-term partner to someone who has depression, anxiety, or any other mental or physical illness. It might sound selfish to say that you should be happy in spite of her pain, but in reality, becoming anxious or depressed yourself benefits no one and ultimately harms your relationship.   If there is any way to expand your girlfriend’s circle of support, I would strongly encourage her to do that. If she would be willing to share her struggles with additional friends or family members, even one or two, there could be benefits all around. She would have someone besides you to turn to, allowing you bear a smaller portion of the load during difficult times, and others might provide a helpful perspective and appreciate the chance to offer their support.   Now that we have addressed your own self-care, here are some resources to help you be the best support person you can be for your girlfriend.    https://centerfordiscovery.com/blog/eight-ways-help-friend-eating-disorder-recovery/   https://themeadowglade.com/support-someone-recovering-from-eating-disorder/   https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-help-someone-with-anxiety-5089005   Here is a brief summary of some of the tips in the articles:   Make an effort to talk to her about other things and have normal, everyday conversations even during difficult times. If you are preoccupied with concern about her eating disorder or a possible relapse, be sure to not over-question. Save serious discussions for serious times, and limit the duration of these talks.   Don’t discuss weight, dieting, or label either foods or body size as good or bad as if they were moral issues. If at all possible, redirect the conversation when others get onto these topics around your girlfriend.   Do not police your girlfriend’s food choices, but refrain from participating in behaviors that encourage disordered eating such as late night bingeing and excessive exercising. If you witness her engaging in unhealthy behaviors, avoid blame and instead use “I statements” to express your concerns, such as, “I sense that you’ve been more preoccupied with calorie-counting lately. Do you think that’s something to be concerned about?”   In regard to supporting her efforts to overcome anxiety, learn to recognize the first signs that she is worrying more than usual. Give her gentle, positive messages reminding her that she has handled difficult things in the past and that you are confident that she is also equal to future challenges. If you find her getting caught up in “what-ifs,” such as asking some form of “What if something terrible happens?” and then looking to you for reassurance, offer that reassurance briefly, but refrain from providing it constantly. Instead, remind her that she has the tools to bring herself back to a safe place emotionally, and encourage her to practice these skills.   Thank you for reaching out and I hope my answer has provided some guidance about how to establish and maintain a healthy emotional environment for yourself and be a positive influence on your girlfriend’s recovery.   Best wishes to both of you.   Julie            
(LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

struggling with rumination eating disorder

Dear Kansai,   Thank you for your message and helping me understand more on how you have been struggling with self-image especially in relation with weight.   To stop the course of eating disorder we must look at restoring our self-image.   However, restoring self-image is one of the biggest challenges of recovery from an eating disorder.    When your self-worth depends on a number on the bathroom scale or the size of your jeans, it's easy to become a victim of destructive eating habits. In order to replace those habits with healthy behaviors that truly nourish your body and spirit, you must learn to value yourself for who you are, not what you look like or how much you weigh.    Encouraging clients to build up their self-esteem is easier said than done. If you're like most people who live with anorexia or bulimia nervosa, you've invested so much of yourself in losing weight or following the "perfect" diet that you've neglected other areas of your life.   Therefore I don’t recommend addressing this issue with “trying harder” to build our self-esteem / confidence. That is simply because you have tried hard enough and you deserve a different approach that would bring more kindness and gentleness.   Although it might seem impossible in the beginning, you can learn to accept your body without being obsessed with your weight. The more your practice self-compassion and acceptance, the more likely you are to escape the psychological traps of your eating disorder.   Simply speaking, the moment we can accept our body, which is the moment we are healed from eating disorder.   A distorted body image is one of the hallmarks of most eating disorders. In fact, a disturbed body image and a preoccupation with weight are two of the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa. Bulimia nervosa is also characterized by a preoccupation with weight and a tendency to judge oneself by weight or body size. Like you said, many people with eating disorders don't have a realistic sense of what their bodies actually look like.    When a teenage girl with anorexia looks at herself in the mirror, she may see an overweight body, when in fact she is already dangerously underweight. If she does realize that she's excessively thin, she may not be aware that she looks skeletal and unhealthy. In her eyes, that hard-won weight loss is the ideal that she's been striving for.    Like you said and have experienced, people with eating disorders often punish or reward themselves for "bad" or "good" eating behavior. In this way, they reinforce the importance of diet and weight control to their self-esteem. After bingeing on ice cream, cookies and potato chips, a bulimic college student may feel sick with guilt, remorse and self-loathing. At that point, her fragile self-esteem is shattered. Self-induced vomiting, fasting, using laxatives or compulsive exercise may make her feel good about herself again - at least until the next binge/purge cycle begins.   In rehab, one of the major goals of therapy is to help you recover from these destructive thought patterns. Therapeutic strategies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can teach you how to stop negative thought patterns in their tracks and replace them with positive, self-affirming statements, such as:   "I deserve to feel good about myself no matter how much I weigh." "I can be healthy and still enjoy treats now and then." "My body doesn't have to look like a model's body; I am beautiful the way I am." "My identity is much more than what I look like."   It takes time and practice to get over the harmful habits caused by eating disorders. Therefore these strategies must be practiced under the umbrella of self-compassion and a desire to accept who we are rather than changing how we look like.   Your body image, or your sense of what you look like, isn't just a reflection of what you see in the mirror. It's partly based on the opinions and value judgments of others: your loved ones, your peers, the media and the culture in general. The celebrities we admire for their beauty and thinness often become the ultimate representation of what we want to look like. When we don't measure up to an airbrushed photo of a model or movie star, our body image may suffer. For teenage girls and young women, who are especially sensitive to their looks and the way they appear to others, a poor body image may quickly lead to an eating disorder, especially if the girl is overweight.   Therefore you have brought up an important factor that sometimes perhaps the best thing we can do for ourselves in the beginning of this process is to create some boundaries and distance from these toxic images / messages from our outside world.   According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the American media and the advertising industry play a big role in the way we perceive our bodies: In the United States, the average person sees or hears 5,000 messages from advertisers every day.   Approximately one-fourth of these advertisements include a value judgment about physical attractiveness.   Magazines directed at women and girls have over 10 times more articles and ads about weight loss than magazines for men and boys.   In women's magazine articles about fitness, "being more attractive" and "losing weight" are listed most frequently as the reasons for starting an exercise program.   Developing self-compassion means learning how to create a more realistic perception of your body, accepting how we look even if it conflicts with the idealized images you see in magazines or on TV.   In your day-to-day life, there are a lot of things you can do to build self-compassion. Becoming aware of the way you "talk" to yourself mentally is one of the most important tasks. As you go through your day, especially when you're eating a meal or thinking about having a snack, be aware of self-defeating thoughts that connect your self-esteem with your weight or appearance:   "I can't have bread with lunch today. I'll get fat. I'll be worthless if I gain one more pound in this program."   "I can't work out in those pants. They make my hips look huge. Everyone's going to notice how much weight I've gained."   "I only ran three miles today instead of my usual five. What's wrong with me? I'm going to skip lunch to make up for it."   "Everyone's going to stare at me in group counseling. I'll be the fattest girl in the room. I hate myself for being so big."   In order to counteract negative thoughts that keep you trapped in a cycle of destructive eating behaviors, you'll have to adopt positive habits, such as:   Setting realistic goals and rewarding yourself for meeting them   Refusing to compare your body to media images or celebrities   Taking up hobbies that have nothing to do with body size or appearance   Practicing self-acceptance through self-affirming statements   Forming friendships with supportive people who value you for who you are   Learning how to prepare and eat balanced, nourishing meals   Planning a diet that does not exclude any food   Managing your exercise program to keep your physical activity at a healthy level   Keeping a journal is a good way to track your progress as you're working on your self-esteem. It's also an effective way to work through the emotions you'll experience as you recover from an eating disorder. Don't hesitate to turn to your friends, therapists or family if you feel the urge to go back to your destructive habits. A strong support system can help you stay on track with your goals when you feel discouraged or afraid.   Meanwhile, relapse rates are high among people with eating disorders, especially if they still have a low self-esteem or a disturbed body image after they finish rehab. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that women who went through rehab for anorexia or bulimia had a greater chance of relapse if they were still struggling with a distorted body image. Accepting your body's assets and limitations is a crucial part of recovering from an eating disorder. Instead of striving for a perfect, unattainable ideal, work with your treatment team to create an achievable plan for what you want to be.   Therefore the goal here is NOT about changing how we look, again it’s all about accepting how we look and who we are :)   Like addiction and other chronic conditions, eating disorders don't go away overnight.   You may experience the impulse to diet excessively, binge or purge for months or years after you've graduated from rehab. Many rehab graduates find that these impulses are the most intense during times of stress, such as a divorce, a job loss or a death in the family. Even positive events, like having a child or starting a new career, can trigger a relapse if you're still living with self-doubts. Gaining a few pounds during pregnancy or after an injury may give you that panicky feeling that you need to lose weight - fast.    Therefore it is crucial that we look at all these information with the framework of self-compassion. Remember, the reason why we want to change is because we want to be kinder to ourselves, not because we hate ourselves. These may look similar but are fundamentally different. One leads to healing, the other leads to more destruction. :)   Be gentle, be kind, fight less, float more :)   We can do this together.   Please let me know if I’m being helpful so far. Looking forward to hear your thoughts, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

how to find way to stop over eating as way to enjoy life ? why I eat to much with feeling addict ?

Dear ali77152,   Thank you for your message and helping me understand more on how you have been struggling with self-image especially in relation with weight.   To stop the course of eating disorder we must look at restoring our self-image.   However, restoring self-image is one of the biggest challenges of recovery from an eating disorder.    When your self-worth depends on a number on the bathroom scale or the size of your jeans, it's easy to become a victim of destructive eating habits. In order to replace those habits with healthy behaviors that truly nourish your body and spirit, you must learn to value yourself for who you are, not what you look like or how much you weigh.    Encouraging clients to build up their self-esteem is easier said than done. If you're like most people who live with anorexia or bulimia nervosa, you've invested so much of yourself in losing weight or following the "perfect" diet that you've neglected other areas of your life.   Therefore I don’t recommend addressing this issue with “trying harder” to build our self-esteem / confidence. That is simply because you have tried hard enough and you deserve a different approach that would bring more kindness and gentleness.   Although it might seem impossible in the beginning, you can learn to accept your body without being obsessed with your weight. The more your practice self-compassion and acceptance, the more likely you are to escape the psychological traps of your eating disorder.   Simply speaking, the moment we can accept our body, which is the moment we are healed from eating disorder.   A distorted body image is one of the hallmarks of most eating disorders. In fact, a disturbed body image and a preoccupation with weight are two of the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa. Bulimia nervosa is also characterized by a preoccupation with weight and a tendency to judge oneself by weight or body size. Like you said, many people with eating disorders don't have a realistic sense of what their bodies actually look like.    When a teenage girl with anorexia looks at herself in the mirror, she may see an overweight body, when in fact she is already dangerously underweight. If she does realize that she's excessively thin, she may not be aware that she looks skeletal and unhealthy. In her eyes, that hard-won weight loss is the ideal that she's been striving for.    Like you said and have experienced, people with eating disorders often punish or reward themselves for "bad" or "good" eating behavior. In this way, they reinforce the importance of diet and weight control to their self-esteem. After bingeing on ice cream, cookies and potato chips, a bulimic college student may feel sick with guilt, remorse and self-loathing. At that point, her fragile self-esteem is shattered. Self-induced vomiting, fasting, using laxatives or compulsive exercise may make her feel good about herself again - at least until the next binge/purge cycle begins.   In rehab, one of the major goals of therapy is to help you recover from these destructive thought patterns. Therapeutic strategies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can teach you how to stop negative thought patterns in their tracks and replace them with positive, self-affirming statements, such as:   "I deserve to feel good about myself no matter how much I weigh." "I can be healthy and still enjoy treats now and then." "My body doesn't have to look like a model's body; I am beautiful the way I am." "My identity is much more than what I look like."   It takes time and practice to get over the harmful habits caused by eating disorders. Therefore these strategies must be practiced under the umbrella of self-compassion and a desire to accept who we are rather than changing how we look like.   Your body image, or your sense of what you look like, isn't just a reflection of what you see in the mirror. It's partly based on the opinions and value judgments of others: your loved ones, your peers, the media and the culture in general. The celebrities we admire for their beauty and thinness often become the ultimate representation of what we want to look like. When we don't measure up to an airbrushed photo of a model or movie star, our body image may suffer. For teenage girls and young women, who are especially sensitive to their looks and the way they appear to others, a poor body image may quickly lead to an eating disorder, especially if the girl is overweight.   Therefore you have brought up an important factor that sometimes perhaps the best thing we can do for ourselves in the beginning of this process is to create some boundaries and distance from these toxic images / messages from our outside world.   According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the American media and the advertising industry play a big role in the way we perceive our bodies: In the United States, the average person sees or hears 5,000 messages from advertisers every day.   Approximately one-fourth of these advertisements include a value judgment about physical attractiveness.   Magazines directed at women and girls have over 10 times more articles and ads about weight loss than magazines for men and boys.   In women's magazine articles about fitness, "being more attractive" and "losing weight" are listed most frequently as the reasons for starting an exercise program.   Developing self-compassion means learning how to create a more realistic perception of your body, accepting how we look even if it conflicts with the idealized images you see in magazines or on TV.   In your day-to-day life, there are a lot of things you can do to build self-compassion. Becoming aware of the way you "talk" to yourself mentally is one of the most important tasks. As you go through your day, especially when you're eating a meal or thinking about having a snack, be aware of self-defeating thoughts that connect your self-esteem with your weight or appearance:   "I can't have bread with lunch today. I'll get fat. I'll be worthless if I gain one more pound in this program."   "I can't work out in those pants. They make my hips look huge. Everyone's going to notice how much weight I've gained."   "I only ran three miles today instead of my usual five. What's wrong with me? I'm going to skip lunch to make up for it."   "Everyone's going to stare at me in group counseling. I'll be the fattest girl in the room. I hate myself for being so big."   In order to counteract negative thoughts that keep you trapped in a cycle of destructive eating behaviors, you'll have to adopt positive habits, such as:   Setting realistic goals and rewarding yourself for meeting them   Refusing to compare your body to media images or celebrities   Taking up hobbies that have nothing to do with body size or appearance   Practicing self-acceptance through self-affirming statements   Forming friendships with supportive people who value you for who you are   Learning how to prepare and eat balanced, nourishing meals   Planning a diet that does not exclude any food   Managing your exercise program to keep your physical activity at a healthy level   Keeping a journal is a good way to track your progress as you're working on your self-esteem. It's also an effective way to work through the emotions you'll experience as you recover from an eating disorder. Don't hesitate to turn to your friends, therapists or family if you feel the urge to go back to your destructive habits. A strong support system can help you stay on track with your goals when you feel discouraged or afraid.   Meanwhile, relapse rates are high among people with eating disorders, especially if they still have a low self-esteem or a disturbed body image after they finish rehab. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that women who went through rehab for anorexia or bulimia had a greater chance of relapse if they were still struggling with a distorted body image. Accepting your body's assets and limitations is a crucial part of recovering from an eating disorder. Instead of striving for a perfect, unattainable ideal, work with your treatment team to create an achievable plan for what you want to be.   Therefore the goal here is NOT about changing how we look, again it’s all about accepting how we look and who we are :)   Like addiction and other chronic conditions, eating disorders don't go away overnight.   You may experience the impulse to diet excessively, binge or purge for months or years after you've graduated from rehab. Many rehab graduates find that these impulses are the most intense during times of stress, such as a divorce, a job loss or a death in the family. Even positive events, like having a child or starting a new career, can trigger a relapse if you're still living with self-doubts. Gaining a few pounds during pregnancy or after an injury may give you that panicky feeling that you need to lose weight - fast.    Therefore it is crucial that we look at all these information with the framework of self-compassion. Remember, the reason why we want to change is because we want to be kinder to ourselves, not because we hate ourselves. These may look similar but are fundamentally different. One leads to healing, the other leads to more destruction. :)   Be gentle, be kind, fight less, float more :)   We can do this together.   Please let me know if I’m being helpful so far. Looking forward to hear your thoughts, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Is it possible to recover from binge eating disorder and get healthy again after years of trying?

Hello,   Thanks for reaching out on The Better Help Paltform with your question: Is it possible to recover from binge eating disorder and get healthy again after years of trying? I can hear from what you shared that you are going through a difficult time with trying to make some cahnges to your life and have a healthier realtionship with food and live a happier life.  You have tried many things...letting go of restrictions, eating more intuitively, managing your stress levels, focussing on your health instead of weight and so on.   All these things are positive and the fact they didnt work for you in the past doesnt mean they cannot work again in the future.   I consider the next step for you is to reach out for some professional help with this so that you can be successful with the interventions you have tried and more. I also can see that you have described your binging to include alcohol use.  This should be shared with your therapist at referral so that you can address both issues during your treatment.   Recovery from binge eating disorder (BED) doesn’t happen all at once. You’ll feel like you have to binge while you recover. You may even relapse. As time goes by, urges will come less often and they may be less demanding. We all eat when we feel hungry and, on occasion, sometimes when we’re not. However, some people may overeat regularly. Even though it makes them feel bad both before and after consuming food, they may continue to engage in the behavior over time and can’t stop eating. Overeating may not be a choice. Instead, someone experiencing these symptoms may be dealing with binge eating disorder. If you think that you may have binge eating disorder, it can be overcome. In this guide, we will explore what symptoms come with this disorder and how you can start to recover from its effects. Through treatment, you can learn to manage those strong feelings. When they do happen, you’ll learn how to handle them. Along with your treatment, there are lifestyle changes that can help you head off a binge, and tips that can help you when the moment hits.Binge eating disorder is a type of eating disorder in which a person will frequently eat large amounts of food at a time. Those who have binge eating disorder will often feel out of control when they take in excessive amounts of food and will often feel sad and ashamed of their behavior after they have engaged in it. However, binge eating disorder will often come with far more symptoms and effects than can be featured in a summary of the disorder.    I will share some ideas that do work, as you said you have tried many things but it might be good for you to know all the things that do work for others while you consider reaching out to a professional source for more guidance with your situation.   Eat breakfast. People who binge eat have predictable patterns. Many will eat no breakfast-  have a light lunch, then be famished in the afternoon and eat too much. Eat at regular times throughout the day. Timely, predictable meals go a long way toward giving you power over the binge.   Avoid temptation. You’re more likely to go overboard if junk food and desserts are at arm’s reach. Plan your treats. Go to a shop and enjoy one cup of ice cream. But don’t stock the freezer with gallons of it.   Build a support system. Pick out a few family members or friends who you can talk with about your struggles. As you’re choosing, remember that they need to be able to encourage you when you’re feeling down, too.   Stopping a Binge When It Hits Despite your best efforts, the urge can still come upon you. Try these tactics to stop yourself. And have multiple approaches in your toolbox in case plan A fails.   Sit with the emotion. What are you feeling that makes you want to binge? Identify it, and accept it without judging the emotion or yourself. This will be hard at first. But emotions pass, and as you accept your feelings, you’ll realize you don’t have to binge to get rid of them.   Surf the urge. You may think your desire to binge will just continue to grow. But if you distract yourself with other things and get away from your food triggers, you’ll see that feeling start to go away. Think of the urge as an ocean wave that will grow, but then wash away.   Distract yourself. Find something to take your mind and body away from food. You can, among other things:   Play a game you really enjoy Go for a walk Go to the park Mow the lawn Go for a drive Meditate Read a book     Pick up the phone. Here’s where that support system you built comes in. Call your trusted friend or support group member and tell them what you’re going through. Talking it out can help make the urge pass.   Also, some therapists specialize in working with binge eating disorder and some medications  are FDA-approved to treat it. Talk with your doctor to explore these options.   Find your happy place. Do whatever makes you feel good about yourself. You can listen to music that boosts your mood, hit the gym, or watch a funny movie.   Think it through. If you do start to eat, try to slow down, pay attention to each bite, and don’t allow yourself to fall into a daze. Stay in the moment.   Summary of what can help with recovery: Nutritional help—A registered dietitian can help you learn about food and help you create healthy meal plans. Support groups—Support groups for yourself or your loved ones can help you see that you aren't alone. You can learn new ways of coping and find support from others. Hospitalization—If you start to develop serious health problems, in some instances people need to be treated in the hospital. Medication—Some antidepressants may help treat bulimia and binge-eating disorder. Other medications may be prescribed to help treat eating disorders or other mental illnesses that go along with an eating disorder. Self-help—There are many things you can do at home to help yourself cope. Some ideas include getting enough sleep, learning stress management and problem-solving strategies, keeping in touch with family and friends, practicing relaxation techniques, and taking time to do things you enjoy.   Your mental health professional can suggest other useful things to try at home.   Recovery is possible!     Recognizing the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder is the first step toward getting help for it. Eating disorders are treatable, and with the right treatment and support, people with an eating disorder can learn healthy eating habits, learning to have a healthy relationship with food) and you can get your life back on track.   I hope you are open and ready to seeking some support and guidance from a mental health professional.   Someone who is trained in such matters, someone who can work with you to figure out if your issues with eating are indeed related to an underlying depression as well as assist and support you with managing your relationship with food in a more positive and healthy way.   I wish you luck with your next step in seeking help.   Kind Regards,  Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I want to know whether I might be anorexic, depressed, or do I have body dysmorphia?

I want to know whether I might be anorexic, depressed, or do I have body dysmorphia? I read where you shared that you intentionally lost weight, and you shared that you are extremely conscious of your body. You also shared that you already lost 11.5kg since May 2020. You shared that  you are feeling extremely down. You shared that you are urging yourself to vomit sometimes. You shared that you are not happy with how you look. You also shared that you constantly want to change your hair style. Now, you shared that your hair falling out has gotten worse. You questioned that you want to know whether you might be anorexic, depressed, or you questioned do you have body dysmorphia. Based on your question, I would highly suggest that you try to seek help for your specific mental health needs from a local licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist. A licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can properly assess you for an official diagnosis. Along with an official diagnosis, a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can support you in assessing your specific mental health needs in regards creating a treatment plan specifically for you. Licensed professional counselors and or licensed professional mental health therapists on the Betterhelp platform are not able to diagnosis you because we cannot see you in person to get a thorough assessment. Therefore, I highly encourage you to continue or to begin to search for a local licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist in your local area who can properly diagnosis you. A local licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can assess your current mental health concerns with you to see if you truly have symptoms of anorexia, depression and or body dysmorphia. Once you have been properly assessed and diagnosed by a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist you can both then discuss and process what your current symptoms of disordered eating, depression and low self worth look like. If your symptoms of disordered eating, depression and or low self worth are severe, a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can provide you with a referral to a professional psychiatrist and or medical provider for medication after they assess what your specific mental health needs are in regards to your symptoms of disordered eating, depression and or low self worth. Therapy and medication together can help minimize the severity of your disordered eating, depression and or low self worth if needed. Individuals who receive therapy and medication often see quicker improvements and overall better outcomes than those who only receive therapy or those individuals who only take medication in regards to dealing with disordered eating, depression and or low self worth. Behavior interventions, Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have all been beneficial in treating individuals who have struggle with disordered eating, depression and or low self worth.  A licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can assist you in learning how to effectively implement coping skills to decease disordered eating, depression and or low self worth. A licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can introduce you to deep breathing techniques, calming techniques, grounding techniques, stress management techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, and imagery as a means of decreasing your disordered eating, depression and or low self worth. In an effort to decrease your disordered eating, depression and or low self worth you can also try to commit to changing the way you think. It will take a lot of practice, dedication and determination to alleviate your symptoms of disordered eating, depression and or low self worth. However, trying to do this will help you feel better and it can lead to your feeling much better and becoming more productive. You can recognize when it is happening and when you find it happening you can choose to think about something more productive. You can also look for solutions by committing to learning from your mistakes and solving your problems so you can productively move forward, set aside time to think when you notice you are feeling like you want to engaged in disordered eating, depression and or feeling like you have low self worth, outside of that scheduled time, remind yourself that you will think about it later, distract yourself with a self care activity and you can practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the key to living in the "here and now." When you become mindful, you will be completely present in the moment. It can be like a form of meditation that takes a lot of practice, but over time and with consistency, it can be very beneficial in decreasing disordered eating, depression and or low self worth in an effort to help you experience an overall healthier mental well being. Overall, I highly recommend that you seek help from a local licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist and a medical provider if needed to properly assess your symptoms of disordered eating, depression and or low self worth, as it can look different for everyone. Please remember that mental health is not a one size fits all, so it is very important to get personalized treatment for your specific and current mental and emotional needs in reference to your symptoms of disordered eating, depression and or low self worth. Once you get the proper treatment and you are stable, I also recommend that you reach out to the Betterhelp team to receive continued counselor and or therapy from the privacy of your home. When you are ready, you can reach out to the Betterhelp team for finding a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist that meets your needs at this time. The Betterhelp members are there to help answer your questions, concerns and or issues, so if you have a question in regards to how to begin using the Bettehelp platform you can contact the Beterhelp team members directly to gain accurate information in regards to what payment options are available for you if you decide to join the Betterhelp platform in regards to possibly talking to a local licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist. Please feel free to reach out to the Member Success Team directly by emailing contact@betterhelp.com to discuss what payment options are available for you to use the Betterhelp platform for you counseling needs at this time. Best regards to you!  
(EdS, LPC-S, NCC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I get rid of binge eating disorder?

I appreciate you having the awareness of your binge eating behaviors and patterns. This is a big step! Acknowleding these actions is the first step in the process of working towards managing the disordered eating patterns you are experiencing and ultimately, getting help you are in need of and deserve. Eating disorders can often make us feel so much shame and feelings of lonliness/worthlessness.  These feelings can often get in the way of getting ourselves treatment and support. I admire you ability to be honest and vulnerable and are being proactive about getting yourself help.    Eating disorders can be very complex and also individual. Treatment for binge eating disorder typically involves psychotherapy (talking with a therapist), preferbly one who has knowledge and experience in treating clients with eating disorders. In addition to meeting with a therapist regularly (my recommendation would be weekly, especially when first starting therapy). This will be helpful in gathering more information to assess your symptom, behaviors, history and explore potential causes that lead to binging in secrecy.  By evaluating these areas, your therapist will be able to determine the nexy best steps and course of action for treatment moving forward. Meeting with a licensed registered dietitian (who also has knowledge and experience working with eating disorders) can also be very beneficial, and sometimes necessary in treatment. I would also recommend setting up a time to meet with a physician. Yes, all eating disorders are different, but they also all carry the risk of medical issues and complications. It is best to check in with a doctor to get a proper medical evaluation (i.e. labs, blood pressure; heart rate).   In terms meeting with a therapist, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that is effective in the treatment of binge eating disorders.  This method of therapy asks the client to focus on disordered or negative thinking patterns and behaviors and work with the client to help them challenge these thoughts and turn them into positive, less harmful ones. I know this sounds "easier said than done" but with practice and guidance from your therapist, we can shift our way of thinking.  
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to stop overthinking about my eat , weight , body shape , regret and ashamed after eating ,binge

Hello Star,   Thank you for reaching out on The Betterhelp Platform with your query: How to stop overthinking about my eat, weight, body shape,  regret and ashamed after eating, binge? I can see you are going through a lot of worry and sadness in your life and would like to share some factual information as well as some practical action steps you might want to try to see if you can create some change for yourself. I also do recommend that you consider reaching out to a professional mental health therapist to support you with your stress and depression and how it might be impacting your relationship with food.  I can see this is impacting you to the extent that you were unable to complete your college year.   What is binge eating disorder?   All of us eat too much from time to time. But if you regularly overeat while feeling out of control and powerless to stop, you may be suffering from binge eating disorder. Binge eating disorder is a common eating disorder where you frequently eat large amounts of food while feeling powerless to stop and extremely distressed during or after eating. You may eat to the point of discomfort, then be plagued by feelings of guilt, shame, or depression afterwards, beat yourself up for your lack of self-control, or worry about what compulsive eating will do to your body.   Binge eating disorder typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood, often after a major diet. During a binge, you may eat even when you’re not hungry and continue eating long after you’re full. You may also binge so fast you barely register what you’re eating or tasting. Unlike  bulimia, however, there are no regular attempts to “make up” for the binges through vomiting, fasting, or over-exercising.   You may find that binge eating is comforting for a brief moment, helping to ease unpleasant emotions or feelings of stress, depression, or anxiety. But then reality sets back in and you’re flooded with feelings of regret and self-loathing. Binge eating often leads to weight gain and obesity, which only reinforces compulsive eating. The worse you feel about yourself and your appearance, the more you use food to cope. It becomes a vicious cycle: eating to feel better, feeling even worse, and then turning back to food for relief. As powerless as you may feel about your eating disorder, it’s important to know that binge eating disorder is treatable. You can learn to break the binge eating cycle, better manage your emotions, develop a healthier relationship with food, and regain control over your eating and your health.   Signs and symptoms If you have binge eating disorder, you may feel embarrassed and ashamed about your eating habits, and try to hide your symptoms by eating in secret.   Behavioral symptoms of binge eating and compulsive overeating Inability to stop eating or control what you’re eating. Rapidly eating large amounts of food. Eating even when you’re full. Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later in secret. Eating normally around others, but gorging when you’re alone. Eating continuously throughout the day, with no planned mealtimes.   Emotional symptoms Feeling stress or tension that is only relieved by eating. Embarrassment over how much you’re eating. Feeling numb while bingeing—like you’re not really there or you’re on auto-pilot. Never feeling satisfied, no matter how much you eat. Feeling guilty, disgusted, or depressed after overeating. Desperation to control weight and eating habits.   Do you have an eating disorder? Do you feel out of control when you’re eating? Do you think about food all the time? Do you eat in secret? Do you eat until you feel sick? Do you eat to escape from worries, relieve stress, or to comfort yourself? Do you feel disgusted or ashamed after eating? Do you feel powerless to stop eating, even though you want to?   The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you have binge eating disorder.   Causes and effects   Generally, it takes a combination of things to develop binge eating disorder—including your genes, emotions, and experience.   Social and cultural risk factors. Social pressure to be thin can add to the you feel and fuel your emotional eating.    Psychological risk factors. Depression and binge eating are strongly linked. Many binge eaters are either depressed or have been before; others may have trouble with impulse control and managing and expressing their feelings. Low self-esteem, loneliness, and body dissatisfaction may also contribute to binge eating.   Biological risk factors. Biological abnormalities can contribute to binge eating. For example, the hypothalamus (the part of your brain that controls appetite) may not be sending correct messages about hunger and fullness. Researchers have also found a genetic mutation that appears to cause food addiction. Finally, there is evidence that low levels of the brain chemical serotonin play a role in compulsive eating.   Effects of binge eating disorder   Binge eating leads to a wide variety of physical, emotional, and social problems. You’re more likely to suffer health issues, stress, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts than someone without an eating disorder. You may also experience depression, anxiety, and substance abuse as well as substantial weight gain. As bleak as this sounds, though, many people are able to recover from binge eating disorder and reverse the unhealthy effects. You can, too. The first step is to re-evaluate your relationship with food.   Binge eating recovery tip 1: Develop a healthier relationship with food   Recovery from any addiction is challenging, but it can be especially difficult to overcome binge eating and food addiction. Unlike other addictions, your “drug” is necessary for survival, so you don’t have the option of avoiding or replacing it. Instead, you need to develop a healthier relationship with food—a relationship that’s based on meeting your nutritional needs, not your emotional ones. To do this, you have to break the binge eating cycle by:     Avoiding temptation. You’re much more likely to overeat if you have junk food, desserts, and unhealthy snacks in the house. Remove the temptation by clearing your fridge and cupboards of your favorite binge foods.   Listening to your body. Learn to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger. If you ate recently and don’t have a rumbling stomach, you’re probably not really hungry. Give the craving time to pass.   Eating regularly. Don’t wait until you’re starving. This only leads to overeating! Stick to scheduled mealtimes, as skipping meals often leads to binge eating later in the day.   Not avoiding fat. Contrary to what you might think, dietary fat can actually help keep you from overeating and gaining weight. Try to incorporate healthy fat at each meal to keep you feeling satisfied and full.   Fighting boredom. Instead of snacking when you’re bored, distract yourself. Take a walk, call a friend, read, or take up a hobby such as painting or gardening.   Focusing on what you’re eating. How often have you binged in an almost trance-like state, not even enjoying what you’re consuming? Instead of eating mindlessly, be a mindful eater.  Slow down and savor the textures and flavors. Not only will you eat less, you’ll enjoy it more.   The importance of deciding not to diet   After a binge, it’s only natural to feel the need to diet to compensate for overeating and to get back on track with your health. But dieting usually backfires. The deprivation and hunger that comes with strict dieting triggers food cravings and the urge to overeat. Instead of dieting, focus on eating in moderation. Find nutritious foods that you enjoy and eat only until you feel content, not uncomfortably stuffed. Avoid banning or restricting certain foods, as this can make you crave them even more. Instead of saying “I can never eat ice cream,” say “I will eat ice cream as an occasional treat.”   Tip 2: Find better ways to feed your feelings   One of the most common reasons for binge eating is an attempt to manage unpleasant emotions such as stress, depression, loneliness, fear, and anxiety. When you have a bad day, it can seem like food is your only friend. Binge eating can temporarily make feelings such as stress, sadness, anxiety, depression, and boredom evaporate into thin air. But the relief is very fleeting.   Identify your triggers with a food and mood diary   One of the best ways to identify the patterns behind your binge eating is to keep track with a food and mood diary. Every time you overeat or feel compelled to reach for your version of comfort food Kryptonite, take a moment to figure out what triggered the urge. If you backtrack, you’ll usually find an upsetting event that kicked off the binge.   Write it all down in your food and mood diary: what you ate (or wanted to eat), what happened to upset you, how you felt before you ate, what you felt as you were eating, and how you felt afterward. Over time, you’ll see a pattern emerge.   Learn to tolerate the feelings that trigger your binge eating   The next time you feel the urge to binge, instead of giving in, take a moment to stop and investigate what’s going on inside.   Identify the emotion you’re feeling. Do your best to name what you’re feeling. Is it anxiety? Shame? Hopelessness? Anger? Loneliness? Fear? Emptiness?   Accept the experience you’re having. Avoidance and resistance only make negative emotions stronger. Instead, try to accept what you’re feeling without judging it or yourself.   Dig deeper. Explore what’s going on. Where do you feel the emotion in your body? What kinds of thoughts are going through your head?   Distance yourself. Realize that you are NOT your feelings. Emotions are passing events, like clouds moving across the sky. They don’t define who you are.   Sitting with your feelings may feel extremely uncomfortable at first. Maybe even impossible. But as you resist the urge to binge, you’ll start to realize that you don’t have to give in. There are other ways to cope. Even emotions that feel intolerable are only temporary. They’ll quickly pass if you stop fighting them. You’re still in control. You can choose how to respond.     Tip 3: Take back control of cravings   Sometimes it feels like the urge to binge hits without warning. But even when you’re in the grip of a seemingly overpowering and uncontrollable urge, there are things you can do to help yourself stay in control.   Accept the urge and ride it out, instead of trying to fight it. This is known as “urge surfing.” Think of the urge to binge as an ocean wave that will soon crest, break, and dissipate. When you ride out the urge, without trying to battle, judge, or ignore it, you’ll see that it passes more quickly than you’d think. Distract yourself. Anything that engages your attention will work: taking a walk, calling a friend, watching something funny online, etc. Once you get interested in something else, the urge to binge may go away.   Talk to someone. When you start to notice the urge to binge, turn to a friend or family member you trust. Sharing what you’re going through can help you feel better and discharge the urge to binge.   Delay, delay, delay. Even if you’re unsure if you’ll be able to fight the urge to binge, make an effort to delay it. Try to hold off for 1 minute. If you succeed. Try to stretch it out to 5 minutes. If you delay long enough, you may be able to avoid the binge.   Tip 4: Support yourself with healthy lifestyle habits   When you’re physically strong, relaxed, and well rested, you’re better able to handle the curveballs that life inevitably throws your way. But when you’re already exhausted and overwhelmed, any little hiccup has the potential to send you off the rails and straight toward the refrigerator. Exercise, sleep, and other healthy lifestyle habits will help you get through difficult times without binge eating.   Make time for regular exercise. Physical activity does wonders for your mood and your energy levels, and it’s also a powerful stress reducer. The natural mood-boosting effects of exercise can help put a stop to emotional eating.   Get enough sleep every night. When you don’t get the sleep you need, your body craves sugary foods that will give you a quick energy boost. Sleep deprivation may even trigger food addiction.  Getting plenty of rest will help with appetite control and reduce food cravings, and support your mood.   Connect with others. Don’t underestimate the importance of close relationships and social activities. You’re more likely to succumb to binge eating triggers if you lack a solid support network. Talking helps, even if it’s not with a professional.   Manage stress. One of the most important aspects of controlling binge eating is to find alternate ways to handle stress and other overwhelming feelings without using food. These may include meditating, using sensory relaxation strategies, and practicing simple breathing exercises.     I hope you are able to apply some of these tips and steps to your life.     There is hope for you, recovery is possible!      I encourage you to reach out for some professional support from a mental health therapist who specializes in this area.  A therapist can offer you support and guidance interventions that will assist you having a more healthy relationship with food and look at the root cause of what maybe going on in your life.    I wish you much luck in your next step in your recovery journey.   Kind Regards,  Gaynor        
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022