Binge Eating

Exchanging diets for body respect

No one likes to be manipulated. Bodies don’t like it either. When we try to manipulate our bodies to be a size/ shape/ weight that they’re not genetically intended to be- bodies get defensive. They resist. And biology wins out over the diet nearly every single time.

Eating Disorder Recovery Body Respect

Did you know the fail rate for diets is 95-97%? Yup- at the 3-5 year mark, 95-97% of people have gained back most or all the weight, and many have actually gained weight. The most predictable consequence of dieting is actually weight gain (but the diet commercials never tell you that, do they?) So please know- if you’ve been on every day, from the fad diets to “lifestyle changes,” if it’s restricting carbs or counting macros, following a “food and exercise plan”…if it’s about trying to change your body, it’s a diet. So many try time and again to lose weight, and they feel like they failed. They can’t stick to the diet plan, they are “emotionally eating,” they find themselves binge eating, or food is all they can think about and it’s taking over their life. Please know this is not a lack of “willpower,” truly it’s not your fault. The diets have failed- not you!

What if instead of fighting your body- of starting another diet to try and change your body, you decided to respect the body you have today? Here’s the thing: you don’t have to love everything about it. You don’t even have to like your body’s appearance. You can have all the feelings, you can be uncomfortable AND still choose to respect your body.

Body respect is accepting that this is the body you have today. It’s choosing to take care of it, not punish it. Body respect is choosing to nourish your body adequately- not restricting quantity or variety of foods. It’s moving your body in ways that feel good- not exercising to punish or change your body. It’s resting when you’re tired. It’s choosing clothes that fit your body.

And if this feels really overwhelming- if you’ve struggled with body image or anxiety around food for a long time, or it occupies a large amount of space in your mind, you may need help to make these changes. Eating disorders/ disordered eating or body image concerns can be really ingrained and difficult to manage alone. It’s okay to need help.

If you’re in the Atlanta area, I’d love to work with you. You can contact me via my website or via phone or email.

Your pain matters, it's valid

Have you ever caught yourself invalidating your experience, your pain, because “someone else has it worse”? Comparison is the worst companion! It keeps us small and trapped in lies, unable to reach out & get the support we need!

So often I hear this from my clients ask: “Do I really NEED therapy? Maybe I didn’t try hard enough. Maybe I should just read another self-help book...” I hear clients, especially those with eating disorders, question if they are “sick enough.” Their body doesn’t “look sick,” they can still work or go to school, they haven’t yet experienced x or y symptom so clearly it’s “not that bad.” Honestly, I don’t blame my clients for this- if this is you, it’s not your fault. Our society has created a hierarchy around who “deserves” care, our medical establishment often still reinforces that somehow internal suffering should have visible’s ludicrous!

Eating Disorder Recovery

I could go on a rant here but succinctly- YOU CANNOT “SEE” INTERNAL PAIN!! And one more rant: there is NO “SICK ENOUGH”- SIZE and/or MEDICAL COMPLICATIONS are NOT PREREQUISITES for diagnosis of an eating disorder nor do they determine your level of suffering!! Eating Disorders can, often do, have medical complications, but having “normal labs” does NOT mean you’re “fine.”

If you are struggling with food, if you feel out of control around food, maybe you feel like you’re “addicted” to food, or maybe you’ve tried every diet and they always end with a binge (that’s not just you- that’s the way diets end for most humans)…know that your pain matters. You don’t have to have a diagnosis of an eating disorder to get help. I work with lots of clients who’ve been chronic dieters, struggle with their body image or just want to make peace with food. No matter where you are- it’s okay!

And this can be said for many other struggles- just because you can go to work, doesn’t mean your depression or anxiety isn’t worthy of attention. Maybe you have panic attacks, or maybe you function well all day but then you’re mind races as you try to go to sleep. You don’t have to wait for it to get worse to get help. And a word on trauma- I think people are very quick to discredit their experiences as trauma. Often people say “it wasn’t that bad”- but if it’s still bothering you, if it still hurts- it matters. Just because the event happened 3 years go (or 25 years) ago doesn’t mean you should be “over it,” even if others are telling you should be.

If you are suffering, if you are in pain, please hear that is enough! If you say you’re in pain, I will believe you. Please know you never have to prove you are “sick enough.” Being a human saying, “I’m hurting, I need help”- that’s so unbelievably brave, I will honor that! I will listen. I will be with you in your journey & help you to find the next steps for you. You matter. Your pain is valid, it matters because it’s your experience & you matter!

If you feel like you need help, I hope you will reach out. I recognize there are many barriers to care- worthiness of pain should never be one of them. If you are struggling, you deserve compassion, you deserve compassionate care!

If you’re in the Atlanta area and interested in working with me, you can reach me via this website, or you can call or email me to set-up a time to speak. I’ll do a free 10-15 minute consulation with you by phone to answer any questions and we can explore if we’d be a good fit to work together.

You are NOT "too much"

Eating Disorder Recovery- Too Much.jpg

Ever feel like you’re “too much”? Sadly, it’s a message most of us have heard too often in our lives (especially as women and girls, or really any marginalized group). We’re told to care but not “too much.” We’re told to use our voice but not be “too loud.” We should take pride in our bodies so long as they’re not “too big.” We should be leaders and create change but not assert ourselves “too much” (and definitely don’t be “bossy”).

This week I learned that Doritos has created new “lady chips” specifically designed so women won’t crunch their chips “too loud” and their fingers won’t get “too messy.” Seriously, Doritos?!? (Insert face palm and major eye roll)

Unfortunately, we’ve come to expect these type of messages from an advertiser- but what’s harder is you may also hear this from those you love- from family, from friends. These words cut deep. Please know these words are NOT about YOU. People says these words because it is such a LOUD message in our society, and most have internalized them to some degree or another (or are actively trying to unlearn them). I know it still really hurts. AND you are not alone!!

It’s hard to live in a world that constantly tells us it’s not okay to be fully ourselves. It’s hard to use our voices, own our space, take risks or even just find peace in our bodies when we’re bombarded with these messages. We’re not invincible, we’re vulnerable and it’s really, really hard. And, dear human, we are all also so incredibly resilient! We are a capable of doing hard things.

Be gentle and kind to yourself. Find people and spaces that affirm who you are as a whole human being! Surround yourself with these voices as much as possible. And as you are able, be brave! The world needs MORE of you, not less!

I am NOT too much. You are NOT too much!

Emotional Eating

Let’s talk about “emotional eating.” I know I see a lot of clients who come into my office greatly distressed, feeling anxious and ashamed because they “eat emotionally.” We’ve been taught this is a bad things and today, I want to offer another perspective, specifically my own recent experience of emotional eating, and how I’ve embraced this as a form of self-care.

Eating Disorder Recovery

I had a tough week. (Yes, therapists have hard weeks, too, we’re all human beings in this together!) And I love fresh, warm cookies- they’re buttery, sweet and this morning a cookie felt very satisfying and comforting! I ate a cookie because it felt comforting, it was emotionally soothing. Did you know it’s actually really normal and totally okay to eat a food just because it feels good?

🍪Sometimes a cookie is self-care! 🍪 For me, cookies are a part of my self-care today!

I used to be under the impression that since “food is fuel”- eating for any reason besides to “refuel” was bad or wrong. Now I couldn’t disagree more. That you must eat only for “fuel” is totally a very rigid, shame-based message created by diet culture & it’s a recipe for disordered eating! And if you’re now thinking “but that’s how I’ve been thinking and that’s wrong, too”- slow down, don’t feel badly, there is no judgement here! The messages we get about food are really LOUD and absolutely confusing!

Here’s what I’ve come to learn- yes, food is fuel for our bodies AND it’s SO MUCH MORE! Food is a wonderful source of pleasure (our brains reward us when we eat because we NEED food to survive!) Food is a way we connect to others- there are experiences that go with eating that have so much value beyond the energy food provides: laughter with friends, the connection to one’s culture or family, etc. Food is meant to be enjoyed and experienced, not simply digested.

I’m really grateful for this cookie. It was a way I could bring pleasure, comfort, soothing to myself after a tough week. It was an act of self-compassion. I’m grateful my body can handle eating a wide variety of foods, including cookies.

So am I suggesting you always soothe by eating? No, I’m a fan of variety (food & coping skills). Food is an option, and one that is NOT shameful! Is food the only way I’ve comforted or soothed myself this week, my only form of self-care? Nope- I also reached out for support from those I trust, I’ve journaled, did gentle yoga, cuddled with my dog, etc. AND I went out of my way to go buy a really delicious cookie from an amazing bakery because that felt good to me and my body!! None of these forms of self-care are better than another- they all worked for me in the moment, and that’s really what it’s all about.

Let’s all try to be kind and gentle with ourselves today. Practice self-care as it works for you!

And if you’re feeling overwhelmed by how you need to eat, if it’s consuming a large amount of space in your mind each day, you may need someone to help you work through this with you. This is the work I’m passionate about doing, and there is absolutely no shame in reaching out for help.

Body Acceptance vs “Loving Your Body”

*This blog post is adapted from a caption on Instagram. If you want to see more frequent posts, follow me on Instagram (just click the image)

I work with many clients who struggle with eating disorders (binge eating disorder, bulimia, anorexia), disordered eating, emotional eating, chronic dieting or body image concern. Across the board, as people begin to move towards recovery, I’ll often hear comments tainted in the shame that one SHOULD love or like their bodies and yet one can’t imagine ever having those feelings. Loving your body is a beautiful thing, and thankfully it’s NOT a requirement to begin to make peace with your body (or with food).

Often when we really struggle with body image and our minds are consumed with negative, self-critical thoughts- it’s really hard to switch to the positive. In these cases, I’ve found it can be helpful to begin with acknowledging the reality (name what happened, where you are in this moment), how you feel (name emotions)...then can you offer self-compassion (words of comfort, understanding to yourself)? Once you’re doing this- maybe try creating a neutral statement or a very small baby step.

Here’s an example:

  • Acknowledgment: “My jeans felt tighter this morning and I started to criticize my body. It’s been a hard morning. I want my body to be a different size (or different shape/ feel different/ have different abilities).”

  • Emotions: “I feel sad and frustrated.”

  • Self-Compassion: “It’s okay to be not love or even like my body today, this is just where I am today, and it’s okay to feel my feelings. The media & society can make it really hard to accept my body. It’s going to take time.”

  • Neutral statement: “Those jeans don’t fit my body today. Jeans don’t determine the worth of my body.”

  • Small baby step: “I’m going change into another pair of pants that feel more comfortable.”

I’m curious- what have you found works for YOU when you have a hard day with body image?

Know you are NOT alone! This is tough work to do. If you need support, reach out.

May you be gentle and kind with yourself today.