Weigh This Instead!

Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Common Binge Eating Triggers and What To Do About Them

binge eating triggers eating of Four brownies

Here’s what I have learned over the years about my own most common binge eating triggers.

Often, when I found myself food focused, I was reaching for food in an attempt to self-soothe. Instead of focusing on food, I really needed to reach for emotional regulation skills, instead. But I didn’t have those skills at that time.

I needed to learn those new emotional management skills, as an adult, because no one had ever modeled or taught me those when I was growing up. I had work to do…and I chose to do it.  Looking back, I realize my emotional eating was a gap in my learning that I could fix (and you can, too).

Today, sometimes when I find myself thinking about food I’m tired and need to just take a nap or go to bed for the night, rather than binge eat. (If I can’t sleep because it’s not appropriate to do so at that time of day, I get to use my new emotional skills & tools, rather than go to food to fix something food can’t really fix.)

Sometimes, binge eating triggers are all about procrastinating! When I am avoiding doing something that really needs to be addressed, shifting my attention to food helps me avoid whatever it is I’m avoiding doing. That had become a habit, a well-worn habit, a well-traveled pathway in my brain that can be challenged and changed!

Sometimes when I am food focused, I am actually hungry, and when I eat foods that will truly nourish me, emotional overeating is no longer necessary.

There are many common binge eating triggers like the ones I’ve mentioned above. There are also many, many other unique reasons people struggle with emotional and binge eating. In my 20 years as an emotional eating recovery coach I’ve seen as many reasons as there are individual life experiences!

Recovery is all about gaining a greater understanding of your particular triggers and then finding new tools that actually work better, thereby replacing the need for emotional eating. (Following simplistic advice like, “Instead of eating take a walk around the block or relax in a hot bubble bath”, will not cut it without doing the deeper work).

All that said, sometimes food thoughts are triggered by boredom. That’s when it helps to figure out what’s missing. Are you lacking emotional connection and you need to connect with a close friend? Are you feeling spiritually adrift, and need to read something that connects you to your own spirit, or to something greater? Are you lacking beauty in your life and need to find something beautiful to nourish that need in you…like a field of flowers or flowers in a flower market, or the changing leaves in fall…or an art exhibit at a local museum you haven’t visited in years?

This afternoon I was bored and procrastinating (I needed to write a blog post)! I have a teleseminar to teach at 4pm, so I couldn’t make any elaborate plans. Typically, my backup plan is to go to YouTube and watch dog rescue and reunion videos, which always make me cry and provide an emotional release that leaves me feeling better that using food.

Today on YouTube, I saw “Recommended for You” next to this video. It made me smile from ear to ear! 15 minutes later, my mood was improved and I was willing to write this blog post. Food thoughts were nowhere to be seen :-).

I hope you like it, too. Enjoy!

 

What Makes Us Happy?

Robert Waldinger on Health and HappinessWhat makes us happy?

What really makes us happy? When you think of your own happiness, do you dream about money, fame, recognition, time, travel, love, overcoming your struggle with emotional or binge eating?

The answers, says Robert Waldinger, psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and Zen priest may surprise you…and he actually knows! Dr. Waldinger is the Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history.

For more than 75 years, Harvard researchers have been studying men. Originally, half being studied were Harvard students. The other half were teenage boys from tenements and disadvantaged areas of Boston. Over time, the wives and children of the original test subjects were added to the study.

When it comes to what makes us happy and healthy, the study has revealed fascinating results about the impact of close relationships vs loneliness, the quality of close relationships and the impact of conflict — even the impact of good relationships on our brains as we age.

Check out Dr. Waldinger’s TED Talk and let me know if anything about these results surprised you. Comment below.

Anti-Dieting Coming of Age

Anti-Dieting in New York Times

Anti-Dieting Article in New York Times

Have you read this past Sunday’s article in the New York Times Magazine Section about dieting, Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age ?

Writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner beautifully and honestly captures the angst and futility felt by so many of us who have held out for happiness in the form of weight loss.

So familiar is her experience of sitting in a Weight Watcher’s lecture and witnessing the congratulations when someone had “a good week”…like they’d won a Nobel Prize or something. All sorts of wonderful things were now possible for someone who made goal weight and could now be a lifetime member. Really?

I can only hope that this article is the first of many to come that challenges our cultural obsession with dieting and weight loss.

Please let us know what you think…

 

 

Love Has No Labels

Love Has No Labels. OK, this one made me cry!

 

How about you?

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day! We know the role has its unique challenges these days 🙂 !

Happy Mother's Day

Weight and Health Myths

Myths about Weight and healthI’m always looking for new ways to bust the many myths about weight and health that are so regularly and erroneously repeated in our world. That’s why I’m so excited to share Dr. Linda Bacon’s new 4-part video series that busts weight and health myths, explains why diets don’t work, how the war on obesity, stigmatizing larger bodies, is harmful vs helpful, and what we can all do differently to improve health.

Below is her video on myths about weight and health. For others in the series, visit Linda’s website.

To listen to interviews I’ve done with Linda about her books, Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, and Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight, by Linda Bacon & Lucy Aphramor, check out my TeleSeminar page.  (FYI, you can listen to all 40+ Seminars with Membership–Free for 21 days).

 

 

Love in the 21st Century

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!!!

Valentine's Day

Do You Waste Time Feeling Criticized!

How much of our time, talent, and gifts have we each wasted feeling criticized about our body shape, or size, or configuration…or even just worrying that others might possibly criticize us?

How much time would you say you waste each week feeling criticized?

Have you spent time desperately wishing we could look different; thinner, taller, longer legs, bigger or smaller breasts, straighter nose, older, younger, less hairy…you name a body part and we can be unhappy about it.

That’s why I loved this video and its message!

“The world needs more women who are willing to rock their bodies exactly the way God made them. Be that person…”  ~ Rachel Farnsworth

Listen as Rachel Farnsworth, the Stay at Home Chef and food blogger, responds to critical comments posted on her YouTube Channel.

Done feeling criticized for the body you have? Then, BE THAT PERSON!

What do you think? What, if anything, keeps you from embracing the body you have?

Embrace; A New Documentary About Body Diversity

I’m hearing really good things about this new documentary, EMBRACE. Have you seen it? God knows we need more opportunities to spark discussion about body image; embracing body diversity !

In her own words, here’s what creator Taryn Brumfitt says about her film.

“EMBRACE is a social impact documentary that explores the issue of body image. The project has been supported by nearly 9000 Kickstarter pledgers who responded to a fundraising trailer I released in 2014, which has now had over 25 million internet views.

The inspiration for EMBRACE came about after I posted an unconventional before-and-after image on the internet in 2013 that sparked an international media frenzy. The image, which embraces body diversity, was seen by over 100 million people worldwide and led to hundreds of interviews and articles. But I soon realized how restrictive 4-minute TV interviews, 800 word articles and 140 characters on Twitter can be. This issue needed a louder voice on a bigger platform, so the idea of creating the documentary EMBRACE was born.” – Embrace Director Taryn Brumfitt

 

To find out where to see the documentary, or how to host a screening, click here.

I Eat as a Reward; My Brain Tells Me I Have To…

Brownies I eat as a reward“I eat to zone out. I eat for the pleasure it gives. I eat as a reward for working so hard.”

Sound familiar? That’s what one of our newest Members just wrote about in our Support Circle. I so understand. I used to eat for the same reasons!

I used to think I lacked “willpower”. But how could I be so hyper vigilant in other areas of my life and still fail at every single attempt to fix my emotional eating? I ended up thinking I must be self sabotaging. Why else would I keep doing this; eat as a reward, eat to disconnect, eat to self-soothe…and hate myself for continuing to do so?

Something just didn’t feel right. Something was missing from my understanding of this!

No one yet knew what neuroscience was about to tell us. The brain held the secrets to why I felt out-of-control with food.

My life experiences, to date, had programmed my brain to FEEL I had no choice BUT to turn to food when the emotional intensity went up. Some situation, or exchange, or time of day would trigger me, often out of my conscious awareness, and I’d get this automatic FIGHT – FLIGHT – FREEZE feeling. The EMOTIONAL – ACTION SYSTEM that resides in my BOTTOM – PRIMITIVE BRAIN suddenly was telling me I had absolutely NO CHOICE BUT TO EAT and I believed it.

Over the years, the bottom part of my brain had become programmed; those programmed, well-traveled neural pathways in my bottom brain told me “I MUST EAT NOW or I WON’T SURVIVE”. My bottom brain was running the show. But it doesn’t have to…

Today, I know how to stop those old programs from running my life. I know… and more importantly no longer FEEL I have to turn to food to survive the uncomfortable moments of my life. I don’t have to eat as a reward. I have learned how to stop those false feelings. I have learned how to step back and get my TOP BRAIN – EXECUTIVE FUNCTION – PREFRONTAL CORTEX to run the show.

I am no longer driven by bottom brain, by that fight- flight- freeze feeling.

Now that we know how to change brain programming; how to make new neural pathways in the brain (that’s called neuroplasticity), we understand how to use our brains to reduce the habit of emotional eating…it’s very exciting!

Our brains are amazing…I’ll be talking more and more about this in future posts…

Want to learn more?  Join me for one of my live Sunday classes…

 

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I am Ellen Shuman, a pioneer in the field of binge eating disorder treatment; a brain-based coach who specializes in helping people overcome binge eating, binge eating disorder, emotional eating, compulsive eating, and food addiction. I am the founder of A Weigh Out  Life Coaching & Members’ Circle, Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present). I was also a founding board member and a Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), Contact me, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

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