Posts Tagged eating disorders
This week I’m sharing a brief but invaluable tool for any of you who would like to be able to trust yourself to be around any food, in any quantity, any time. Sound good?
If you follow these steps, you will quickly be able to identify when you’re using food to cope vs. when you are just confused about what to eat and how much, and getting anxious because of that.
If you’re at a point in your use of the core CEDRIC Method tools where you are able to manage your stress in rational, life-enhancing ways, you’ll also be able, in a 2-3 weeks, to trust your body to know what and how much it needs, and as a result, you’ll feel much more peaceful and at ease in your body and around food.
When I think back on the incredible insecurity and self-consciousness I used to feel just leaving my house in the morning, I think it’s truly remarkable that I was able to take part in classes such as yoga and meditation and personal growth workshops, etc., before my recovery from binge eating and exercise bulimia.
There was something in me that knew, as there clearly is in you if you are reading this, that there had to be some way for me to be in the world without feeling so bloody small and anxious all the time. I mean, others could do it. Or at least it seemed like they could. So maybe, just maybe, I could too. And so the 20-year-old me existed with fingers crossed; breath held; hoping for the best but fearing the worst, sheepishly inching forward. Ahhh, but at least I was moving forward!
I’m Lonely, How Can I Find Connection?
This week I’m sharing a question that came to me through e-mail about why we might not reach out and create relationships even when we’re feeling lonely.
Hi Michelle, Thanks for sending your book, and also for the CD. I’ve read about 2/3 of it, and I am VERY impressed. I’ve always clicked with the Geneen Roth/Hirschman & Munter approach, and it has helped me in the past. But I’ve gotten stuck in certain areas, and I find your book expands on this approach and also gives such a point-by-point roadmap.
I’d also like to say what a positive experience it has been, the little amount of contact I’ve had with you and in perusing your website. I’ve made the circuit as far as e.d. treatment goes (St. Paul’s, individual counseling, VGH intensive program), and you convey such a warmth and non-clinical/non-patronizing manner. It’s very refreshing, and makes me feel hopeful.
One question that I’d be interested in your thoughts/feedback on, is with regard to unmet needs, I would say my #1 unmet need is for connection/companionship. I have no friends in my town (and only 2 friends farther way; 1 I see every couple months). And my family is not supportive/doesn’t “give” emotionally in any way. So, basically, aside from co-workers, I am completely isolated.
And yet, I don’t actually do the things I know would bring me in contact with other people and potential friends (e.g. joining a hiking club, book club, adult ed class, volunteering, etc). Sometimes I’ll push myself to do these things once, but then won’t follow through b/c I get discouraged, or don’t like it, or find it takes too much energy. I know that sometimes I don’t want to go b/c it means less time for bingeing /purging, but that’s not always the reason. I think it’s mainly a sense of hopelessness/defeat at attempting to build new friendships. Plus, to make a good new friend takes time.
So, would you say that this issue is an issue for therapy (i.e. why I don’t do what I know would result in making new connections)? Or, am I missing something? And, in the meantime, how can I learn to soothe/comfort myself with the sense of isolation? There’s not many substitutes for other human beings, even when you’re okay with alone time sometimes.Curious as to your thoughts, if you have the time to respond.K.
Thank you K for the question.
Just to paraphrase, it seems that you’d like to have life that has more friends and social connections in your town and yet you see yourself behaving in such a way that undermines the creation of those friendships. Your immediate thought, it seems, is that it has something to do with wanting to be able to be alone to engage in your binging and purging behaviour, but I think you’ve missed the mark.
The binging and purging is just a coping strategy. I don’t believe that you want to be alone to binge and purge. I believe that you feel overwhelmed and unsafe in some aspect of your life, and you use binging and purging to numb and distract you from that underlying issue. Sometimes, early on in our healing, it’s very difficult to see the distinction. But, the difference between believing food is the problem, and knowing that it’s just a coping strategy is huge!
When we’re buying in to the belief that food is the problem, we are stuck. There is no where to go with that except to control (or try to) our food even more and get more and more rigid and obsessed and then get more and more frustrated and self-critical when we aren’t successful with our more rigid guidelines which triggers us to get even more restrictive and self-critical which triggers a bigger “binge” and a greater need for isolation and withdrawal which triggers more self-criticism, and so on, and so on, and so on.
That’s the only thing that ever happens to anyone who begins to believe that their relationship with food is the reason they are: unhappy; alone; frustrated; “not good enough”; not having the life they desire or the career they desire or the partner they desire……and so on.Mountains become molehills quite quickly with this process when we remember that any focus on food or body image that isn’t about health and wellness is just a coping strategy. Did you get that? It’s a very important point and makes your relationship with food a very different experience:
Food is a coping strategy for you if you:
And if food is a coping strategy for you, the solution is not to focus on the food. The solution is to look a little deeper and identify what it is that is triggering you to feel that your life, as it exists today, is such that you can’t feel safe being present for it. What are you telling yourself about your life and yourself today that makes you believe that the best solution you have to offer yourself is to harm yourself with the coping strategies of isolation, withdrawal, procrastination and binging? It is those thoughts that need to be explored so that you can find out for yourself whether there truly is something that is going on in your present reality that needs some attention in order for you to feel safe putting yourself out there and creating new relationships.
- Eat when you’re not hungry;
- Eat beyond the point of fullness;
- Don’t allow yourself to eat when you are hungry;
- Engage in purging with laxatives, vomiting or excessive exercise;
- Berate your body shape and size.
You may find that the underlying thoughts that trigger you to feel so overwhelmed that you need to use food to cope are old thoughts and really have no bearing on your present day reality. And yet, they are running the show, in large part, because you’re not aware that those thoughts exist, and that times have changed.
So, to begin to create change in your social life, you must start with noticing when you’re using food to cope and taking the following steps:
That’s a great place to start. Bringing your awareness around to what is really going on rather than staying stuck on the surface focusing on food is what will create lasting change and lead you to a relationship with food that is truly natural. And if you’re not sure what that is, a natural relationship with food is one where you eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, and you don’t have any energy about what you’re eating except to enjoy it.
- Tell yourself: “Oh, I’m using my food coping strategy right now – that means I have a need that isn’t being met.”
- Ask yourself what you were just thinking or experiencing that may have triggered that unmet need.
- Ask yourself if that thought or experience, in any way, undermines your sense of comfort or safety in your life in general or in your relationships with others.
Take it from someone who used to be obsessed, 24/7 with food – what I should eat vs. what I was eating; how fat and ugly I was; how lazy I was; how I was “never” going to be happy; how I was “always” going to be fat or to be struggling with food; how I was never ever, ever going to like my body and be happy with it; and so on, and so on.
You can have a peaceful and easy and natural relationship with food and be a healthy natural weight for your body without thinking about it. The first step is proving to yourself that your current focus on food and body is just a coping strategy. Once you know that, everything else can begin to change because now you’re looking in the right place for the problem, and it’s much, much easier to find the solution!
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?
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.
Here’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.
As 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.
Okay folks, we’re coming to the end of this series of Natural Eating Q&A articles and today I want to focus on releasing all or nothing thoughts.
This week, we have a little twist on the theme, with a specific focus on how our learned helplessness and the irrational, all-or-nothing thinking that’s at the root of it, makes this process of recovery so much harder and longer than it has to be. In fact, if you put even a few minutes of effort a day into catching the all-or-nothing stories we’ll be reviewing over the next few weeks, and responding as I suggest, you will see an immediate – I mean immediate – shift in your anxiety level and in your focus on food and use of food to cope. Not only that, but those stories just won’t come up anymore. You’ll never have to hear them again!
Hello all. We are moving through our series of questions on the in’s and out’s of Natural Eating with this week’s question:
How can I trust myself around certain foods when every time I get around them or have them in the house I binge?
This is such a common question in my work with clients. Regardless of whether they restrict, binge or purge, I am confident it will hit home with anyone who uses food to cope.
Hello, and welcome to another instalment of our Natural Eating Q&A series.
This week we’re exploring the following question:
“How can I trust my body to know what it needs when, in the past, I always ended up binging? Clearly, I can’t trust myself to just let myself have whatever I want, right?”
We are continuing our Natural Eating Q&A session with a question that comes up with each and every client I’ve ever supported through this process. It goes something like this:
“What if I try to check in but the voice in my head just says: “Who cares about checking in?! I just want food now!!!”
Well, this is a pretty simple one.
If you’re hearing that dialogue in your head when you realize you’re wanting to use food to cope, it absolutely, no exceptions, means that you’re feeling overwhelmed and you are afraid that if you don’t use food to cope in that moment, you’ll get consumed by the thoughts and feelings you’re trying to keep at bay through the act of eating (and then maybe purging or beating yourself up).
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