Cedric Centre for Counselling Inc.


Archive for July, 2011

Establishing a Normal Relationship with Food

This week, I’m writing in response to a question from a web program participant as part of a web program forum discussion about establishing a normal relationship with food. Since my answer to her question was rather lengthy and detailed and, I believe, relevant to you all, I thought I’d share the question and answer here for this week’s “Tools for Recovery” article.


If we’ve spent years using food to cope and stuck in the Diet Mentality, how the hell do we have a clue what is normal around what to eat and how much?

Michelle’s Answer:

In my own personal recovery and my 17 years as a specialist in this field, if there’s one thing I have learned, it is this: In the early stages of recovery, it is not helpful to focus on food in a structured way or to get caught up in some external meter of what to eat, when or how much.

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The Binge and Stress Yo-Yo

The Binge and Stress Yo-Yo

In this article we will briefly explore the binge and stress yo-yo experience that anyone who uses food to cope or who struggles with dieting and weight loss will relate to completely.

It is not difficult to stop one binge when you are frustrated and disgusted with yourself and determined to change.

However, if the underlying triggers are not ministered to, it is difficult to stop binging completely when the day-to-day stresses of life pile upon the mountain of unexpressed emotion and unmet needs that already exist.

If food is an old, tried and true way for you to numb out to these stresses and unmet needs, it will be very difficult, when you are already stressed out, to choose a new way of coping that isn’t yet proven. As the Japanese say ‘The Samurai does not wait to practice his skills on the battlefield.’  We must start thinking in a combination of learning from our past and using our past experiences to change the way we respond to the future.

If you’re stuck in the binge and stress yo-yo experience you are definitely experiencing the frustration of seeing yourself repeat harmful patterns of behaviour but you’re not doing what you need to do to change it. That’s not because you aren’t motivated or don’t care enough about yourself to change – it’s because you don’t know what to do and our society seems to have one message to pitch you – diet! 

In fact the more you focus on trying to control your food intake as a means of stopping the binge and stress yo-yo the more you’ll feel stuck and doomed.

That’s because food is not your problem – the stress is. And the stress comes from a combination of confused thinking patterns and past, present and future life experiences which are very challenging to pinpoint and solve on your own.

With a skilled guide you can be through the process of recovery and on to feeling confident and secure around food and in your body in a few months.

Don’t wait and suffer, reach out and get help fast to change the binge and stress pattern in your life. It isn’t hard – you just need simple tools and good support and that’s what I’m here for. 

I have 20+ years of experience as a specialist in this field; I’ve helped thousands of men and women world wide to find true confidence and freedom; and I’ve been there too – I used to binge eat and be 24/7 preoccupied with my weight and for over 20 years I’ve been free of food and body image stress.

Let me help you see how easy change can be. Email me and let’s get started.

Love Michelle

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Lunch and All-or-Nothing Thinking

Lunch and All-or-Nothing ThinkingHere’s a quick story about All-or-Nothing Thinking. So today, I was leisurely driving along on my way to an appointment, having left myself ample time to get from point A to point B. I had packed a lunch to take with me – a whole, skinless chicken breast that I had cooked the night before in garlic and sesame oil, (naturally making a few extra than I needed last night so my husband and I would have an easy, healthy lunch prepared); a container of fresh strawberries, washed, (I rinsed them well before I left the office this afternoon); an avocado; an apple and banana. Noticing I was feeling peckish and that my appointment was 90 minutes long, decided to eat something. I had one hand on the wheel and one hand on a chicken breast as I munched happily, listening to my favourite pop tunes playlist, which, at that point was serenading me with some vintage Fleetwood Mac, and enjoying more of that fabulous sun we’ve been having.

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Physical self-care

Physical self-care includes your level of physical fitness, your daily nutritional intake, the amount of rest and sleep you get each day, your awareness of physical sensations and needs in your body, and overall health care. All of these areas require some attention each day, even if it’s just a little mental acknowledgement of each one. It’s good to have a daily inner checklist conducted by the Nurturing Parent – and not the Drill Sgt. The checklist will speak to your goals in each of these key areas of physical self-care. The Nurturing Parent will gently invite you to keep them in mind as you go about your day.

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A Personal Exploration: All-or-Nothing Thinking

all or nothing thinkingAs I was walking from my friend’s house the other morning on my way to work, my mind had time to muse. It started to wander to you, my readers and the work we’ve been doing on all-or-nothing thinking. I was enjoying the warmth in the air at 8:00 am. The sun was shining. It seemed that everyone I passed had a bounce in their step as we welcomed each other warmly and celebrated the long-awaited arrival of summer.

As I walked down one quiet street, a young couple emerged from their home and waved at the elderly lady next door who stood, watering her garden out front. After thanking her profusely, for what I do not know, they got in their car and zipped off down the street.

Posted in: All-or-Nothing Thinking, CEDRIC Centre

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Allowing your authentic feelings creates peace

Since you have very likely been distanced from a true connection with your feelings since childhood, you may feel some resistance to connecting with them again. You may begin to fear that there will be a considerable backlog of feelings which will sweep in and overpower you if you were to open the door. This is just your Drill Sgt. trying to maintain the status quo because his task is to keep you safe, and this is new and different and therefore, by his standards, unsafe.

As you begin to connect with your authentic feelings in the moment and learn how to effectively release them, you are going to become more powerful and competent at taking care of yourself than the Drill Sgt. has ever been. And the ways that your Nurturing Parent will learn to take care of you will lead to greater self-esteem and peace.

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Coping strategies are understandable but not the best way

I promise that as long as any aspect of your life remains unbalanced or your needs are unmet in certain areas, you will use your coping strategies. For those of us who have a disordered relationship with food, I look at food as the trump of coping strategies. And, if we are using food or body-image focus, it means that all our other coping strategies are overwhelmed, and we are pulling out the big guns.

Remember, judgement and self-criticism are just other forms of coping strategies, as is the use of food when you are not hungry or not allowing yourself to eat when you are.

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Diet Mentality and safety

The Diet Mentality and Safety

In the early stages of recovery from the Diet Mentality, you are still looking for physical change as the indicator of your progress or success. Let’s briefly explore the connection between Diet Mentality and Safety so you can start to see more clearly what you need to do to get a grip on food and weight for good. 

This physical change can only come from a marked change in your relationship with food; however, your relationship with food exists as it does because you have not yet found a way to feel safe in the world.

You must first identify what it is about how you think and about your life in the present that prevents you from feeling safe and secure and trusting of your worth and acceptability and once you’ve sorted that out you won’t need to diet to lose weight. If you’re overweight you will naturally just start to eat less and make better choices because you’ll be feeling better about yourself and you’ll be less stressed overall.

Do not confuse yourself by thinking that your weight or your binging is the reason you don’t feel good about yourself. Those things come second to anxiety and insecurity and painful past experiences and confused thinking. You can’t ignore the  things that triggered you to binge or be overweight in the first place and expect to change the binging.

If you’d like things to change for good and not have to starve yourself or focus on food to get there I can help.

Email me and let’s get started. Change is fast and simple when you’re using tools that work.

Love Michelle

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Feeling Safe is The Key to Eating Disorder Recovery

Feeling Safe is The Key to Eating Disorder Recovery

It is a fact that feeling safe is the key to eating disorder recovery. And the key to feeling safe is to have a way of trusting that you are thinking clearly, seeing the situation / person at hand clearly; that you have a set of values that are reasonable and principles that make sense that guide your actions towards yourself and others and which you see yourself turning to whenever you feel anxious or unsettled or have sensitive decisions to make.

If you don’t have that package of trust in your clear thinking and values that ground you you will continue to feel insecure and anxious in the world and in your relationships with others and you will continue to lean on coping strategies – confused stress management tools like eating disorders, binging, dieting, drinking, isolating and procrastination to try to numb and soothe yourself.

Invite yourself, if you feel up to it to ask yourself what you remember about your younger years (childhood, adolescence, young adulthood). Who were your primary role models for relationships?  What kinds of things did they do and say to you, themselves, or others when they were angry or sad or scared or wanted you or someone else to do something for them?

How respectful, direct and clear were they?

And how did they respond to requests from you? Did they shame you, berate you, judge you? Or did they acknowledge your need and discuss the different ways that they would be willing to meet your need, in a respectful, calm manner?

Verbal and physical abuses are traumas.

Most everyone has experienced the humiliation and damaging effects of verbal abuse.

If our ego strength and our sense of esteem are solid when these events occur (ie. we are an adult, solid in ourselves; or a teen with very good support and these events are an extreme exception and not the norm), we can slough it off or work through it with some help.

If we are already feeling a lack of security and acceptance in our world, every experience of verbal abuse, for example: Judgements, name-calling, put-downs, and yelling will constitute a drama.

Physical abuse; slapping, hitting, spanking and outright beatings, or threats of the same, regardless of their purpose in the eyes of the punisher, are traumatic events.

Neglect is trauma. The act of having your needs and your Self ignored or devalued is traumatic.

So, don’t tell yourself that you were never abused or traumatized. Sexual assault or beatings are just the most extreme forms of trauma we experience as young and powerless people. There are many forms of behaviour that will not meet our needs for safety and respect and which will lead us to feel hurt and traumatized. 

The more dependent on the person we are, the greater the experience of the trauma and the more our mind will seek to both self-blame (make it about us) and to numb ourselves from the situation (through the use of coping strategies like binging, dieting, eating disorders, drinking etc.).

If you’re stuck still, feeling a lack of confidence in yourself or in relationships that trigger you to feel unsafe or insecure, let me help you step free of that pattern of thinking that is keeping you stuck.

Change can be fast and simple when you have simple tools that work and a skilled guide.

Reach out and let’s get started creating healthy relationships, solid self-esteem and get you trusting yourself to see the world clearly and handle things fairly.

Love Michelle

Posted in: All-or-Nothing Thinking, CEDRIC Centre, Relationship with Food, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Self

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Defining all-or-nothing thinking

A quick definition of All-or-Nothing thinking: We tend to believe that things, including ourselves, are either right or wrong, good or bad. Typically, this kind of thinking comes from your child brain which learned that right and wrong, good or bad were the hallmarks of life and were the benchmarks by which you (and others) were judged. The truth is that there are few absolutes in the world, very few things we can know for certain, and very few things for which there is only one right answer or one right way of thinking or approaching something. Life is subjective, after all. No two people experience the the same situation in exactly the same way.

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