QuestionSince I've given up dieting, I have gained more and more. I have been reading a lot on how important it is to end dieting, eat only when hungry, eat exactly what you're craving, stop when you're full, and your body will return to its natural weight. I CANNOT get the hang of this. In fact, the more I try to do this, the more it seems I eat compulsively. Can you help?
AnswerI couldn't get the hang of it either! For some people, this newfound permission and freedom works very well. They overeat in the beginning and then gradually begin to eat sanely and lovingly. For many others, myself included, this is not the case. I had a lifetime of stuffed emotions and I could not be trusted with food. There were certain foods that I was simply unable to eat in moderation.
Dealing with food issues is only one aspect of healing. It is essential to address your feelings (the ones you eat over) as well. To stop eating emotionally, you must get your emotional hungers fed. Given the vast amount of feelings we have in any given day, there are many different ways to do this and many different things you might need. You might start out with a safe therapist who specializes in eating disorders, as well as a journal where you can write down all of the feelings and issues you might be stuffing down. It can also be helpful at your stage of recovery to work with a dietician who can assist you in making gradual changes so that you are not restricting, but also pacing yourself and honoring your stage of recovery.
I am grateful to say that many years, tears, and therapy sessions later, I can now eat whatever I want. I can trust myself with food and feelings. I can have foods in my house that I wasn't able to be in the same country with before! I know when I am hungry for carrots, cake, or comfort foods, and you can too.
Reprinted from: Eating Disorders Recovery Today Fall 2006
QuestionWhat are the four areas of healing that you teach in your book?
AnswerAs an eating disorders therapist and recovered bulimic, I can sadly, yet confidently, say that food and weight obsession has reached epidemic proportions in our culture. I work with clients as young as six who are dieting, and I treat women and men well into their seventies who have been emotionally eating for most of their lives. What a tragedy, and at the same time, what a gift for me to share the tools and concepts I've needed to learn myself.
In my work I address four important areas of healing:
1) PhysicalLearn to stop restricting and dieting.
If dieting worked, I assure you that most Americans would be thin by now. Additionally, if diets were effective, then the multibillion-dollar diet industry would be shrinking rather than growing. Dieting leads to overeating. It's math and, believe me, I have done my research! I spent most of my life either starting some new fad diet or breaking my diet of choice and gaining back the weight I had lost, plus a rebate. (Not to mention the shame and self-hatred that accompanied each cycle.) Recovery means learning how to listen to your body and eat as nature intended.
2) EmotionalNatural feelingslike sadness, anger and fearneed to be safely expressed.
In our culture, we are taught that we are supposed to be happy all the time. (Remember "sugar and spice and everything nice?") This is neither natural nor possible. To stop "stuffing down" feelings with excess food and diets you will need to learn how to feel and deal with the emotions that you have been avoiding and "de-pressing." This takes finding the right people who are comfortable with emotions and can lead you out at your own pace. Finding a good, safe counselor and/or therapy group can be an excellent start. Eventually, you can become a safe person for yourself.
3) SpiritualFind peace in the present moment.
So much of eating disorders are created out of an emptiness inside, a lack of connection to anything that is greater than the thoughts that go running around inside your head all day long. Some people find peace in music, others in nature. Some find it in prayer or meditation, others in reading spiritual books. There are many ways and everyone needs to find what fits for them.
4) MentalLast, but certainly not least, deal with your thoughts.
In our book, The Don't Diet, Live-It Workbook, my co-author and I write that an "eating disorder could easily be called a thinking disorder." Many faulty rules and thoughts are behind food and weight fixation, only we don't realize they are faulty until you ask someone you trust.
I used to think that certain foods would make me fat if I ate them, that I would gain weight if I ate past a certain time at night, or that crying was weak. I could go on and on, and my guess is that you could too. These thoughts were misconceptions that I was taught by others who did not know any better. I have learned (and so can you!) that we can change our minds and break our rules and still be safein fact, safer than living with a mind that sounds like a prison warden.
It is possible to break free from the chains of food and weight obsession. It is possible to eat delicious, satisfying, moderate meals and not gain weight (unless you need to!). It is possible to safely express difficult emotions and feel a sense of relief and peace afterwards. It is possible to feel a sense of connectedness and live more and more in the present moment. It is possible to change some of your internal rules and still be safe in the world. It is possible to live a life that is not about your size or the amount of carbs in your day.
I wish this for you...
Reprinted from: Eating Disorders Recovery Today Summer 2006
QuestionI am a male who wants to lose weight. My program is working, but I know it is unhealthy. I only eat one small meal a day, spend 10 hours doing strenuous labor, and on weekends I try to be as active as possible. Is this really bad for me, and what can I do instead?
AnswerYour "program" sounds more like boot camp to me. (I'm being kind here; it really sounds more like a concentration camp.) I'm not sure where you came up with it, but I'm guessing this regimen causes you to miss out other aspects of life (like fun, rest, friends, and family). It also sounds like a volcano getting ready to erupt. In my opinion, this is not only an unhealthy way to treat your body, your weight loss will probably at best be short-lived. The reason is that 98 percent of people who lose weight on diets, regain it (usually with a rebate) because diets do not work. You may lose weight initially, as you can attest to right now, but there are several factors taking place behind the scenes that will more than likely come back to haunt you.
The first is physical. When you deprive your body not only from the nutrients that it needs, but also the variety of foods that it likes and wants, it will at some point, rebel and make up for the restriction. Whether it's in a week, a month, or a year, most people binge as much, if not more, that which they withheld from themselves. Similarly, excessive exercise is a destructive activity that entails ignoring your bodies needs and wants. Not only is it likely to backfire at some point whether it's due to injury, fatigue, obsession, rebellion, or even deathit is not a balanced, self-respectful, and realistic way to live.
The second issue here is emotional. You may be having feelings you are not even aware of that you are numbing with restriction and repressing with excessive activity. As long as you do not address these emotions, you'll continue to hold them inside. Often times, we need help with this area because if we could simply address and attend to these feelings on our own, we wouldn't be acting out in other ways. When our needs are met, we usually (with the exception of what I consider "normal overindulging") eat what our bodies want, stop when we're politely full, and take time to enjoy life. There are many hungers and aspects of being human. The concept I teach in my book and work involves all of the parts of life: physical, emotional, spiritual, and cognitive. I hope that you will consider including them into your "program" as well.
QuestionI have always been a perfectionist and it's getting worse. I used to only focus on my grades, then it became swimming, and then weight. I feel kind of crazy and work hard to hide it from my friends. Keeping up my standards for myself feels like my whole life. How can I change without giving up my swimming and getting fat?
AnswerThe last line of your letter is an excellent example of black-and-white thinking. Your choices are not being a perfect swimmer OR gaining weight. You can learn to be in the middle and have it allinterests and a life, yummy food and a healthy body. The way to reclaim the joy of sports is to tame your perfectionistic beast and do things because they are fun and feel good. You can strive for excellence without torturing yourself. The first change to make is to identify the talking in your head that is really the perfectionist running you. At first, you might be overwhelmed by its dominance and tirelessness. Remind yourself that this beast only exists if you believe in it and give it energy. Perfectionism is usually a young and innocent part of ourselves that is in pain about something and decides if I do things perfectly then hard things won't happen. But the truth is hard things happen to everyone. Striving for perfection won't keep pain away, and being imperfect didn't cause the problems in the first place!
One idea for taming the beast is to write a dialogue between the perfectionistic voice and a sane and loving voice. (Make sure you end with the loving voice so it gets the last word.) This will NOT make you a multiple personality case. It will help you create and strengthen the ability to take care of yourself. Here is an example of how to do this:
Perfectionist: You never do anything right. You are such a loser!
Loving Voice: Why? I do plenty of things right. I am not worse than anyone else.
Perfectionist: You said such stupid stuff today. Sometimes you act like an idiot.
Loving Voice: Everyone says stuff they wish they didn't say sometimes. I am not bad. Even if I do say things I wished I didn't say... So what? Everyone does!
Perfectionist: But you need to be perfect.
Loving Voice: Why? No one is! I love other people and they aren't perfect. I can do the best I can and be good enough.
Reprinted from: Eating Disorders Recovery Today Winter 2008
QuestionI have lost and gained a lot of weight throughout my 53 years. I have a wonderful life on the outside and I know I should be happy and content, yet I continue to binge and make myself look disgusting. I have to have ice cream or pudding, every day. I hate myself for being so weak. I just don't know what it will take for me to change.
AnswerOne of the saddest symptoms that accompanies an eating disorder is self-hatred. A person who is already struggling with body image, food intake, weight, and emotions needs anything but self-hate. You say that you "should be happy and content." Why should you? You binge and deprive yourself of food. You punish and hate yourself and call yourself names. It doesn't sound like a very happy existence to me. When we were in the throes of disordered eating, no matter what was going on for us on the outside (a party, a wedding, a dinner date, etc.), if we were bingeing, dieting, sneak eating and obsessed with our weight, we were not fully present and we certainly were not at peace.
What you are suffering from has nothing to do with "weakness." Your lifetime battle with food and weight and your current compulsion to eat sweet, creamy foods are telling us some important things:
- You need comfort and have not yet been able to find it in non-food related ways.
- You have used food in an attempt to numb and distract yourself from your unwanted emotions.
- You tend to beat yourself up about your weight rather than focus on and get support for the problems in your life.
- You think in black and white terms, which makes it difficult to do anything. For example, you think you should have zero pudding so therefore when you eat it, you think you might as well go all out.
The first step in healing is admitting that your problems go much deeper than food and weight. Please know that it is not your fault that you developed these self-destructive eating patterns. In fact, they usually start out as very wise and creative means to get comfort when it might not have been available in other ways.We will leave you with a few questions to think and or write about:
- In what ways (other than ice cream and pudding) do you receive sweetness and comfort in your life?
- How many safe people do you have in your life that you can truly trust with your feelings?
- Are you willing to admit that if beating yourself up was a good strategy for weight loss, you would be thin and happy by now?
- Are you willing to try a new and more compassionate approach?
- Are you willing to get help with the emotional aspects of this cycle?
QuestionI binge at all hours of the night. Sometimes I don't even remember that I ate until I wake up to find crumbs or wrappers by my bed. I've gained 16lbs, since this started about two years ago. Where do I even begin to get help?
AnswerFirst of all, you are not alone. Night eating syndrome (NES) affects approximately four million people in the U.S. The first step is to look at is how much you are restricting during the day. You cannot stop overeating until you stop undereating so make sure you are eating satisfying, non-diet meals everyday. Too often, people who binge at night will skip breakfast and/or restrict all day only to start the binge cycle again that night. If you eat lovingly (ie. delicious, nutritious and moderate) during the day, you have less to rebel from at night.
The next step is to look at the specific foods you are bingeing on. Are they foods you allow yourself to eat in the light of day? One client with NES found herself consistently eating carbohydrates in the middle of the night, yet during the day she only ate salad, fruit, and low-fat protein. She found that by incorporating carb's into her daily meals, she was much more satisfied and her nighttime binges eventually began to decrease.Another practical suggestion is to do something to wake yourself up before you get to the food. One client put a table in front of her bedroom door each night before she went to sleep. On the table, she put a journal and pen, a meditation cd, a list of how badly her binges made her feel and a few phone numbers of friends who told her she could call anytime. Just the idea of moving the table, let alone seeing all the options was enough to interrupt the pattern and she was able to decrease her binges significantly and eventually stop altogether.
Next, we suggest that you take a look at caffeine intake. If you do use caffeine and can cut it out completely, it would help you be more in tune with your natural hunger and fullness. If that feels too daunting, maybe you could try not to drink any caffeine past 2 or 3 in the afternoon. We want to rule out anything that might be affecting your ability to sleep soundly.
Finally, we suggest you take a look at what is eating at you emotionally. Are you struggling with depression, anxiety or high stressors in your life? Also, what happened two years ago when this all started? Whatever is haunting you can be dealt with and healed if you have the willingness and the right help. This means finding a safe person or several people you can be honest with about your feelings. You can also keep a journal and let the nighttime eater do some writing. Let that part write what it's hungry for and what it needs and feels. Your nighttime binges are a cry for help. If you bring your unresolved, unexpressed feelings into the light of day, they will not have to sneak out at night.
Reprinted from: Eating Disorders Recovery Today Spring 2007
QuestionI have developed an intense fear of eating in public. I've been avoiding having meals with friends and family because I'm afraid they'll make fun of me and I'll get so nervous I'll pass out. What can I do?
AnswerWhile everyone has their own unique path that led them to be at war with food and weight, there is often one commonality among disordered eaters: shame. Often there are defining moments, or what I call "a dart in the heart," that took them from eating naturally, to being ashamed and uncomfortable eating in front of others. For some, it's when they got teased about their body or what or how they were eating. For others, it was when they got praised for losing weight or picked on for gaining. It is a natural tendency, when we feel shamed, to retreat and attempt to avoid anyone or anything that might hurt us again.
See if you can trace back your defining moments. Who shamed you about eating? Who commented on your body? When did your fear of eating in public begin? What happened right before that? Understanding the original wound will help you to heal it.When we were in the throes of our eating disorders, we often avoided eating with others. We felt ashamed of eating anything, let alone in public. When we did eat with others, we always ate low-fat foods, in minimal quantities. Unfortunately, we always made up for it by overeating when we were alone again.
Once you understand what caused your fear of eating in public, the next step is finding someone you feel safe enough to eat with. Often when we've been hurt in the past, we think everyone in the present is likely to hurt us. Is that true for you? Are the people who are currently in your life likely to criticize you or comment on your food or weight? If so, you have a few choices. You can keep avoiding all people, you can avoid only those people who are mean to you, you can find safe people who will not criticize you and/or you can ask the people in your life to stop commenting on your food or weight and see if they are willing.One of the hardest (and most liberating) times for Andrea in her recovery was when she asked her father to stop commenting on her food and weight. Whether or not he was willing or able was even less important then the fact that she stood up for herself. And when she finally healed from her own shame about putting food in her mouth, then whatever he (or anyone else) had to say did not go in like a dart in her heart.
So see if you can trace back to the times you got shamed by other people. See if you can find one or two safe people you might have a non-diet, moderate meal with. See if you can muster up the courage to ask people who comment on your food and weight, to stop and please let us know how it goes!
Reprinted from: Eating Disorders Recovery Today Summer 2007
QuestionI am 24 years old, 5'6". Can you please tell me how much you think I should weigh?
Answer"Should weigh?" By who's standards? If you eat when you are physically (not emotionally) hungry and stop (for the most part) when you are satisfied, you will find your natural weight range. This is the weight that nature intended you to be. It is a weight that you can maintain, within a normal 5-7 pound range, without dieting and it is the one that is most healthy for your body. A person's natural weight differs according to genetics, bone structure, exercise, age, seasons of the year, and other factors. The fashion and diet industries try to make us think there is a right weight or way we should all be but it's a lie. The lie is the problem, not necessarily your weight!
We recommend that you focus less on the scale and more on how you feel and take care of yourself.
- Do you eat when your body is hungry and stop when it is satisfied?
- Do you eat from all the food groups and eat foods that you enjoy?
- Do you have good energy?
- Do you treat yourself like you would a good friend?
- Do you deal with your feelings when they come up?
Wishing you freedom...
Reprinted from: Eating Disorders Recovery Today Fall 2007
QuestionI was just talking to someone about how, since I've given up dieting, I have only seemed to gain more and more. I have been reading a lot on how important it is to give up dieting, eat only when hungry, eat exactly what we're craving, stop when we're full, and our bodies will return to their natural weight. I CANNOT get the hang of this. In fact, the more I try to do this, the more it seems I eat compulsively.
AnswerWell I couldn't get the hang of it either! When people told me many years ago that I should stop dieting and eat whatever I wanted, I too continued bingeing and gaining weight. For some people, this newfound permission and freedom works very well. They seem to overeat and rebel in the beginning and then gradually begin to eat sanely and lovingly. For me, that was not the case. I had a lifetime of stuffed emotions and I could not be trusted with food. There were certain foods that I was simply unable to eat in moderation.
Now, many years, tears and therapy sessions later, I can eat whatever I want. I can trust myself with food and with feelings. I can have foods in my house that I wasn't able to be in the same county with before! I know when I am hungry for carrots, cake, or comfort and you can too! Dealing with your food is only one aspect of healing from a weight problem. It is essential to address your emotions (the ones you eat over) as well. In order to stop eating emotionally, you must get your emotional hungers fed. Given the vast amount of emotions we have in any given day, there are many different ways to do this and many different things we might need. You might start out with a safe therapist who specializes in eating disorders as well as a journal where you can write down all of the feelings and issues you might be stuffing down. It can also help at your stage of recovery to work with a dietician who can assist you in making gradual changes with your food so you are not restricting but also pacing yourself and honoring your stage of recovery.
QuestionI am a male who is somewhat overweight. I have tried to lose weight many times but nothing seemed to work. What I am doing now is working but I have been told it is also bad for me. I only eat one small meal a day, work 10 hrs. a day doing strenuous labor and on weekends, I try to be active as possible. Is this bad for me and what can I do to continue to lose weight effectively?
AnswerIn my opinion, not only is this an unhealthy way to treat your body, your weight loss will probably be at best, short-lived. The reason that 98% of the people, who lose weight on diets, regain their weight (usually with a rebate) is because diets do not work. They often do initially, as you can attest to right now, but there are several factors taking place behind the scenes that will more than likely come back to haunt you.
The first is physical. When you deprive your body from not only the nutrients that it needs but also the variety of foods that it likes and wants, it will at some point, rebel and make up for the restriction. Whether it's in a week, a month or a year, most people binge as much if not more, that which they withheld from themselves on their diet. Similarly, over exercising (which can also be a form of bulimia) entails ignoring your bodies needs and wants. Not only is it likely to backfire at some point - whether it's due to injury, fatigue, obsession or rebellion - it is not a balanced, self-respectful and realistic way to live.The second issue here is emotional. All of the feelings that you originally "used food over" are still not being addressed. As I write in my book, it's like... "Expecting that a new paint job on your car will fix a major engine problem." Making changes with your food is only one piece of the puzzle. You need to also address the emotions that have been intolerable to you, the ones that you turned to food to sedate. Often times, we need help with this one because if we could simply address and attend to these feelings on our own, we wouldn't have attempted to stuff them down with excess food in the first place. When our emotional needs are met, we usually (with the exception of what I consider "normal overindulging") eat what our bodies want and stop when they've had enough.
Your "program" sounds more like boot camp to me. (I'm being kind here; it really sounds more like a concentration camp.) I'm not sure where you came up with it but it doesn't sound like it lends itself to other aspects of life (like fun, rest, friends and family). It also sounds to me like a volcano getting ready to erupt.Most people who have weight problems focus only on the food and the weight. It's actually become a national pastime. Fat-free is in, exercise is in, carbs are out. But this ignores the many hungers and aspects of being human. A fulfilled (not stuffed or empty but truly fulfilled) human being. A Live-It&153;, the concept we teach in our book and our work involves all of the physical, emotional, spiritual and cognitive aspects of life. I hope that you will consider including them in your "program" as well.
QuestionI'm 14. I'm about 15 to 20 pounds heavier than my normal weight. I realize that I eat more than I need to. I have tried so many diets that I have lost count of them. My mother tries to help me but I can never make it through two days without eating something that I don't need. I lie to her and tell her that I'm following the diet and promise myself to start over the next day and I fail each and every time!!! I have read about Anorexia and Bulimia and I don't have either of these symptoms but I confess that I do love to eat. That's my problem! I just overeat. The worst thing is that I realize it while eating and feel guilty during and after the binge. But I can't even stop myself. I am ashamed of my body and I don't know what to do. I know that girls do gain weight and their bodies take shape in their teens but I have a feeling that I have an eating disorder or something. Could someone give me some advice please.
AnswerBulimia and Anorexia are only two types of eating disorders. There are also disorders that cause people to overeat and/or to eat when they are not physically hungry. One name for this is Binge Eating Disorder. Dieting only contributes to disordered eating problems. It is not an answer to the problems. The answer is to begin to label and get support for your feelings. Monitoring your food only gives you something to feel bad about and rebel from. We all have a part of us that knows what we need to eat. It's fine to love food. It's only when we get help with our emotional hungers (the need to cry, express anger, receive comfort, etc.) that we feel satisfied with the appropriate amount of food. When we eat for emotional hunger, we never feel full because food cannot do the job of satisfying emotional hunger.
QuestionAfter I eat anything, I feel really fat and have to exercise a lot to feel comfortable again. If its a carrot, or a piece of cake, I always feel that I am way too fat. Please help me!
AnswerActually, fat is not a feeling. Therefore, when we keep telling ourselves we "feel fat," we are mislabeling what we really feel. Often when we think we are feeling fat, what we are really feeling is insecure, afraid, anxious or upset. Restricting our food intake will not help with these emotions. That's why people become anorexic: they keep eating less and less, thinking it will help, but the above feelings never go away. So, rather than focusing on your food intake, we recommend that every time you find yourself focusing on your body, ask yourself what you are really feeling at that time. Then write about or get help with those feelings. You deserve to eat and to have a life that is about something other than your weight and your food.
QuestionHelp! I have a 13 year old daughter who thinks she is overweight at 90 lbs!!!!! How do I find a chart which says YOU ARE NORMAL - DON'T WORRY!!!
AnswerThe chances of a "chart" setting her straight are pretty slim, although you can certainly try. You might find one at a doctor's office or perhaps you can get her a check up and let the doctor tell her she is underweight. My guess is that this is less about intellectual knowledge and more about peer and cultural pressure as well as her inability to deal with her emotions. A few good books you may want to read are: "Your Dieting Daughter" by Carolyn Costin, "Like Mother, Like Daughter" by Debra Waterhouse and "Is Your Child Dying to be Thin?" by Laura Goodman. These books will help you understand more about eating disorders and what it takes for a person to recover.
QuestionI need help! All my life I have been thin but just recently (within the past year) I have gained almost 45 pounds. When I get home from school I end up snacking non-stop and the food I eat isn't healthy. I'm gaining fast and cannot stop the urge to keep stuffing food into my mouth. After I feel like I am going to explode and then my mom comes in and says, "You can eat a little more can't you? I made this plate of cookies just for you." I don't want to be rude so I start stuffing them all down my throat. Sometimes I gain 2 pounds in a day. My mom and I constantly go out to eat but the only places we go are those mouth-watering buffets and I just can't stop myself once I sit down. My mom keeps bringing over plate after plate of the most fattening foods so I don't even get the exercise to walk from tray to tray. My girlfriend is even worse even though I pretty much only see her at school. The only time I eat around her is at lunch. Not only does she make me eat my whole lunch but she normally gives me more than half of her lunch too. Then she goes up for extra cookies and asks me in the tone of voice that makes me under her command to share them with her.
AnswerRecovering from a food and weight problem has many components. In addition to the willingness to feel your own emotions (rather than stuff them down with food), you need to create a tolerance for other people to have their feelings as well. In other words, it's perfectly fine to respectfully decline somebody's offer for food if you do not want it. They may feel hurt, mad, or disappointed, but they will get over it. (Anyone who has a problem with you declining food, has just as much of a food problem as you do!) It's too easy to blame your eating problem on others. No one can "make" you do anything. It sounds like you need to find your power and practice telling your truth in a loving, respectful way. You are blaming the women in your life for your inability to say, "No, thank-you." This is essential in all healthy and mature relationships. To heal from your eating problems you need to learn to use your voice, rather than eat down your words. You may need help in learning to speak up. A counselor can help you with this, but here are some suggestions: "Thank you, but no thanks, I'm actually not hungry right now." "I am really trying to listen to my body and stop overeating, so I prefer not to eat any such-and-such right now " "I need you to stop commenting about my weight. It bothers me." "I really need to look at the way that I have been using food in my life and I am going to be saying NO more than I used to. I hope you won't be offended."
QuestionI consider myself to be a recovering bulimic, but sometimes, I don't know if I really am getting better. I'll have a few good months, when I'm totally good about exercising and eating right, but whenever I get stressed out over school, work, etc., I just want to binge. Lately, I've become extremely depressed over my weight again. I've managed to not step on the scale for a while now, but I peeked today and I'm 123 lbs. I know that's not bad for someone who's 5' 7", but I have not weighed that much in a long time. When I exercise, I can't get rid of my "diet mentality." Whether I'm running, exercising to aerobics tapes, or walking my dog, I can't help thinking about how many calories I'm burning. I think I overdo it. I'll do aerobics for 40 minutes, run for 30 minutes, then walk my dog for about 45 minutes, and I try to do this everyday. When I don't, I feel guilty, and tend to overeat. I am always swinging between two extremes-- either, I'm totally "good" or totally "bad." I haven't thrown up in a month, but I feel very unhappy with myself right now.
AnswerYou have fallen into the common trap of thinking that eating less and exercising more is "good," while eating more and exercising less is "bad." In fact, they are both flip sides of the same problematic coin, called an eating disorder. Listening to your body's needs and rhythms is the goal here. Instead, you are listening to the crazy made-up rules of an eating disorder. A Live-It (as opposed to a diet), has nothing to do with "good and bad." Instead, you focus on your physical and emotional needs, your thinking and the amount of support you have in your life. You learn how to eat what your body really wants and you learn to feed yourself lovingly and sanely. This is a process that takes help, time and compassion. Compulsive exercise is a sign that you are not listening to your body and are likely to eventually injure yourself as a result. It looks like you have a goal of exercising 2 hrs a day. This is entirely unrealistic and unnecessary. That 2 hrs. would be better spent reading about eating disorders, writing about your feelings and developing enjoyable hobbies and interests. The fact that you have not thrown up in a month is very significant here. When we stop our self-destructive behaviors, the feelings they were covering up start to emerge. That means we are going to feel worse, rather than better, at first. It is essential that we get help with these feelings or we are sure to return to the old destructive behaviors.
QuestionI am almost fifteen, and I have already had many problems keeping my weight down. I am 5'9", and when I was 5'6" in 6th grade, I weighed 160. Now, in my freshman year, I lost a lot of weight, but I was curious as to what the proper weight for we would be. I'm 5'9", I would say a medium-large build. To give you an idea of how I am built, I wear a size 11 shoe. Please respond.
AnswerPeople ask me this question all the time. Unfortunately, I cannot give you a clear answer, or a single number. Every body is different and everybody's weight fluctuates. Weight is effected by bone structure, genetics, age, health, metabolism, seasons, and more!. When you address the emotions underneath your food and weight issues, your weight will become what nature intended it to be. Somewhere along the way, we as a culture, decided we could and should control our weight. In fact, a person's natural weight is as naturally determined as is height, race and eye color and shoe size! We do not need to control our weight any more than we can control these other features. If we are eating too much or too little, we must learn better skills for coping with the feelings that are causing us to turn to food. Otherwise it's best to let our weight be what it is. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make peace with whatever weight that is! I recommend you focus less on the scale and more on how you feel and treat yourself.
QuestionHi. I'm 16. I'm bulimic. I've suffered from Anorexia and Bulimia for the past four years. I'm also a guy. Didn't expect that one, did ya?? :-) My question is, I'm really bad when it comes to bingeing. I know that I can stop purging, if I stop bingeing. My question is, how do I avoid a binge. I know when they're coming on, but I can't help it. I just end up going balls out and eating whatever is in sight, you know? And if I'm like in my car or something, I go where there is food. It's like I don't even have control over where I am and what I eat, you know? Maybe I'm babbling and not making sense. But I just want anyone's successful attempts to stop bingeing. They would greatly be appreciated.
AnswerFirst of all, I work with many males who are suffering from eating disorders. Secondly, you are not babbling at all. Your letter makes perfect sense, and you are raising a very important and common question. In order to stop an addictive behavior you need to replace it with something that will address the emotions you were stuffing down with the addiction. This could be attending a support group. It could be actually calling someone before a binge. Or you could begin individual counseling. You could also attend Overeaters Anonymous meetings, where you will meet people with similar problems and find out what works for them. You might even have someone in your life who you could reach out to, letting them know that you are struggling with bulimia. It is important that, somewhere, you find someone who can listen to you and be loving and non-judgemental while you figure out what feelings have triggered your desire to binge. Journaling can be helpful as well, but in early recovery it is important that you find people who can help you sort out your feelings and make sane decisions about your eating.
QuestionI have always had a weight issue...My parents always gave the line "finish everything on your plate there are kids starving in other countries" and other types of guilt-trip pressures. I have had a lot of mental abuse as far as my weight goes. My dad thought that was the way to get me to stop eating, when it only enticed me to do exactly the opposite. I am 34 years old now, I just celebrated my 16th wedding anniversary. My husband is great and supportive. We have three teenage children. I delivered all three by c-section and gained an unbelievable amount of weight. At my heaviest, I weighed in at 196 pounds. Through education and help I now am down to between 165 to 170 pounds. I have held this weight for a long time and I wish to weigh 150 pounds. I don't know if this is realistic. I have very little motivation to exercise, I am disabled. I have visual problems and I have a prosthetic aid for my ankle. The aid limits the movement of my ankle in such a way that sometimes I have trouble even walking. I do try to follow a dietary plan, but situations dictate differently at times. I try to follow all the good advice the doctor and everyone else has given but I can't seem to lose the weight or maintain it once I've gotten there. I am frustrated and I could use some help.
AnswerIt sounds like you are unable to accept your body and the problems it has. You probably have a lot of sadness about your disabilities and may need to spend some time grieving about your limitations. Trying to lose weight probably serves as a way to avoid your grief. The best advice I can give you is to learn to accept yourself. Realize that all bodies are different and unique. Think about the good things your body does and has done, such as the fact that you created 3 wonderful children with it. If you could work on trying to accept and love and appreciate your body, you will have time leftover for more important things, such as creative endeavors, and deeper relationships with people. It is important you learn to listen to your body and do what feels right to it. This means determining what and how much to eat by what your body tells you, rather than what doctors or anyone else tells you. It means exercising only in ways and amounts that feel good to your body. When you do this, you will obtain your natural weight. This is the weight that nature intended you to be. It is a weight that you do not have to struggle to maintain. This weight comes naturally when you take care of yourself in the ways your body needs you to.
QuestionIn the past week I have not eaten a lot at all. Then today I went to school and I had the worst pain around my stomach area. It hurt so bad, I could barely walk. Every time I moved it hurt. Then I ate a cookie and a pretzel and it took awhile but it felt better. I don't understand why it hurt. It never has like that before. I got real dizzy too and everything was spinning. What was it from?
AnswerLack of nutrition! Our bodies are incredible at letting us know what they need. The problem is usually our unwillingness to listen. Your body needs regular, varied nutrition on a daily basis. When you fail to do this you will experience pain. Our bodies need food to run, like a car needs gas to run. By depriving yourself of food, you are injuring your body.
QuestionI have a very bad image of my body! I HATE it! I am 5'4" and I weigh about 220lbs! I hate food, but I feel like I have to eat all the time! When I eat I feel bad, I want to throw up and I have but not as much as I would like because I am afraid people might hear me. I work 11 hours a day and I manage to eat a ton of food. Then I hate myself. I am a newlywed and I want to tell my husband, but I end up saying I am having a bad day and I am tired. Then I go to bed. I never want to have sex! And the thought of getting pregnant scares me because you gain all this weight and will I ever be able to get it off? Then I will hate myself even more! I hate to say this but I have such bad days I think of ways to just fall asleep and not wake up, but then I realize I need help and it is a selfish thing to do. It seems like every year I am gaining 10lbs or more! I do not want to gain weight! I want help but I am embarrassed! Any suggestions?
AnswerSo many people are filled with shame and embarrassment about having an eating disorder. They think they are "bad" or "defective" and that if they just had some willpower, they would stop eating. This is not true. Having an eating disorder is like having a disease. You need professional help. If you had cancer, would you blame yourself? Or would you be mad and sad but still seek out the proper treatment? One way that an eating disorder is like a disease is that it's not in your control. Also, it has common symptoms from person to person. Additionally, it gets worse over time if it goes untreated. You have the right to have a myriad of emotions about this but the facts remain that it is serious and it is not your fault. A better reason than "gaining weight" to avoid getting pregnant would be that you need to first learn how to take care of yourself before you can take on the responsibility of caring for someone else.
QuestionWell for the past few months I when I look in the mirror I think, "hey I am not that bad," if I am happy. If I am in a bad mood I will say, "I am so fat" and I get mad at myself. But everything has been going really good in my life for once and I am happier than ever but when I look in the mirror now I am fat. I know I am. It seems to me like the weight is coming on and I can not stop it. Everything seems to look bigger on me, like my legs and arms and face and I hate it so much. I just want to be skinny. I mean I never really noticed how fat I was until yesterday when I looked in the mirror and actually saw it. I guess I finally opened my eyes. I am not sure what to do. I don't eat that much. I eat a little only cause....well I am not sure why I even eat a little?? But well I am starting to think that I am getting so fat cause I am eating that little bit. Should I stop eating that so I can lose all this weight? I am 15/f, I am 5'4 and I weight about 128.
AnswerYour problem is a lot less about your food and your weight than it is about your thinking and your feelings. You even said yourself that when you're in a "good mood," you don't think you look "that bad." When you are having difficult emotions that's when you start to obsess on your body. This means that you can use your body hatred as a signal that you are having feelings that need some attention. Whenever you start obsessing on your body, ask yourself, "What is really going on today?" See if you can identify any fear, insecurity, or anger about other things in your life. We often feel these feelings even when, outwardly, things seem to be going well. It's also important to know that not eating enough is as much a part of an eating disorder as eating too much. When deprived, our bodies cling to what little we give them. When we starve ourselves we become preoccupied with food and weight. This leaves little room for living life. If you cannot shift your focus from your weight to your life and your emotions, your next step would be to receive professional help, preferably from a counselor who specializes in body image problems.