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!


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…



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…



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.

New Weight Loss Surgery

new weight loss surgeryI saw a report on the 6 o’clock news last week about a new weight loss surgery procedure, touted as” less invasive”(really???). This surgical procedure would involve a tube placed directly into the stomach. That tube will come out from the stomach through a port to the outside of the body. Then, right after eating, the person simply empties the contents of their stomach and throws away the predigested food they just ate….so no weight gain.

Doesn’t that sound like Bulimia; just with a new purging method…this one medically sanctioned???

As I understand more and more about why people overeat; emotionally eat, binge eat, feel addicted to food, I am more and more disheartened by the main stream medical community’s lack of understanding, prejudice, and suggested interventions.

Doctors don’t know what to do with people who don’t or can’t comply with repeated recommendations to lose weight. It’s no secret that weight stigma is alive and well in the medical profession (I have co-authored reviews of that literature)…and I know coming up with THE new weight loss surgery is a BIG money-maker for surgeons and hospitals…but what happened to “First, Do No Harm”?

I fully understand the desperation that would make any weight loss surgery seem like a good option to someone who feels out-of-control-with-food and/or with life. I have to admit, even after all these years of being a recovering binge eater, on the surface the idea that I could eat everything in sight, when desired, and not pay for it with weight gain, has its appeal. But then I remind myself that my binge eating was not about food. It was about going numb…and no amount of weight loss was going to fix that. I know that to be my truth because I lost a lot of weight, many times, and I still felt like I couldn’t tolerate being in my own skin. Of course emotional eating and the weight came back, with a vengeance!  Back then, turning to food was the only tool I had to self-soothe. Eating was about comfort and escape, not about food! Understanding that was critical to my recovery!

As I have studied and come to understand the latest neuroscience breakthroughs, and have incorporating those into my work with my clients and into my own recovery from binge eating, I am truly convinced that rearranging one’s organs through weight loss surgery is not the way to fix compulsive overeating, long term. I doubt there will ever be a way to surgically rearrange body parts that will stop that fight, flight, need-to-escape-the-moment-and-go-numb-feeling that takes over right before a binge.

Today, I know that interventions must include how to use our “conscious mind” to change our conditioned brain responses to stress, boredom, anger, fear, loneliness, hurt, etc. The exciting news is that we’re finally learning more and more about how to effectively do this! (Neuroscience looks at the structure and function of the nervous system and brain as they relate to behavior and learning. For more about that, you’re welcome to sign up for my Free Phone Seminar.  I’ll share with you what we’re learning about brain interventions and techniques as they relate to overcoming emotional eating.)

I’ve been told by many people that they’ve felt pressured by their physicians to consider weight loss surgery; to the degree where the patients stopped seeing those doctors. The patient knew surgery was not going to fix what was driving their emotional eating issues, said they shared that with the doctor but the patients felt their doctors didn’t seem to understand what they were trying to explain or didn’t seem to care. They just kept pushing surgery as the best option.

Medical industry insiders have told me that surgical weight loss interventions were originally designed for those who were at great and eminent risk of dying without it vs the way it is sold today. So, it’s critical that we ask ourselves when and why did weight loss surgery, which has little to no data suggesting people keep off the weight long term, become the go-to strategy for improved health (if you can find that data, please let me know)?

($$$$$$$$$$$) Just saying…



I am Ellen Shuman, a pioneer in the field of binge eating disorder treatment; a 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), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”. Want to know more? Get in touch, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Recovery from Binge Eating

It has been a whRecovery from Binge Eatingile since I’ve had a reason to sit down and write about my own recovery from Binge Eating Disorder; from soup to nuts. I talk about it in bits and pieces all day long; when appropriate with the clients I coach….to illustrate how to use the skills and tools I teach. But that’s not my WHOLE story.

So, about a month ago, when I was asked by the publisher of the Gurze/Salucore Eating Disorders Resource Catalogue to write an Eating Disorders Booksarticle about my recovery from binge eating, for their June ENewsletter, I immediately thought, “Sure, I can do that.” (They gave the same assignment to one person in recovery from Anorexia and one in recovery from Bulimia.)

Then, the more I thought about the assignment I’d accepted, the more time I put into conceptualizing my story, the more anxious I felt. I wasn’t nervous about the sharing part. It was the title they gave me that threw me; “Three Essential Steps in my Recovery from Binge Eating Disorder”.  It was a great title but I had never thought about my own recovery in those terms.

If I had to narrow them down, what were those three critical shifts? I wrote and rewrote until it became clear.

The Three Biggest Milestone in My Recovery from Binge Eating Disorder


Critical Insight #1: I realized I shifted my attention to “food-thoughts” whenever I didn’t want to think, feel, or do something else.

Critical Insight #2: If I was going to give up bingeing as my primary way to self-soothe, I needed new emotional regulation tools.

Critical Insight #3: “I am NOT my thoughts and I do not have to be driven them!”

To read the whole article, click here. I hope you’ll find my experience useful as you pursue your own recovery from binge eating or emotional eating. If you’re interesting in learning more about the Recovery Skills and Tools I teach, please join me for one of my Free Phone Seminars.


I’m Ellen Shuman and I’m a Coach who specialize in helping people achieve recovery from binge eating, binge eating disorder, and emotional eating. I am the founder of A Weigh Out Life Coaching & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”. Interested in working with me on your recovery? Please get in touch, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Biggest Losers Regain–Plus Consequences!

May 12th, 2016 Update

Be sure to read this very sane, well researched article/opinion piece that was published in the New York Times as a follow up to all the crazy attention that Biggest Loser article received, “Why You Can’t Lose Weight on a Diet; The problem isn’t willpower. It’s neuroscience. You can’t — and shouldn’t — fight back”.   (See info about original article below.)


Have you read the New York Times article, “After ‘The Biggest Loser’, Their Bodies Fought to Regain the Weight“?

Biggest Losers regain the weight they lost (lost quickly). Surprising? No! We have known for decades that rapid weight loss signals to the body that there’s a famine afoot; causing one’s metabolism to slow down and signaling the body’s hunger hormones to surge.

Disheartening? Sure. But it certainly explains why maintaining weight loss is so hard….for all of us…not just for Biggest Losers.

If you choose to read the whole New York Times article, I’d like to point out some things that were written that should be questioned. Such as,

“Researchers are figuring out why being fat makes so many people develop diabetes and other medical conditions…”

Cause and effect???? There are many new questions being raised about whether being fat causes diabetes or whether the medical condition diabetes causes the weight gain that gets the blame. Check out this video and article I wrote about in my blog.

Cause of Diabetes; A Doctor Apologizes

Diabetes and Weight; Doctors May Have It Backwards

“They are starting to unravel the reasons bariatric surgery allows most people to lose significant amounts of weight when dieting so often fails.”

Bariatric surgery may help people lose significant amounts of weight, quickly…but do they keep it off? Why don’t health reporters address that half of the equasion when they write that weight loss surgery helps “people lose significant amounts of weight”? (That’s a pet peeve of mine!)  In truth, it is almost impossible to get real stats on the weight regain rate after Bariatric Surgery. Why? Because the people who start regaining weight (researchers I have spoken with say that’s often within a year to 18 months after surgery),  drop out of the studies and because many bariatric doctors/centers are not interested in collecting longterm data, as it would not look good for them.

As we know that much of what is done in the name of weight loss backfires, studies like this one (small as it was) bolster the argument for a focus on health and well-being vs weight and weight loss


I’m Ellen Shuman, a pioneer in the field of binge eating disorder treatment; a Coach who specializes in helping people overcome binge eating, binge eating disorder, emotional eating, compulsive eating, and food addiction. I am also the founder of A Weigh Out  Life Coaching & Members’ Circle, Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), as well as a Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

My Relationship with Food Made My Life Small

Relationship with Food

Back when I was using my relationship with food for everything– for entertainment, for comfort, disconnection, self-soothing, often just for something to do to keep me from thinking or feeling; to keep me from being present, I had an epiphany. My life had become very small.

I did very little other than work…and think about what I could get to eat on the way home. Weekends, when I didn’t have to work, were filled with DVD’s from Blockbuster–picked up Friday nights on the way home, along with lots of ice cream, m&ms, diet coke, donuts, etc.

I had started reorganizing my days to accommodate eating alone.  I turned down invitations so I COULD be home eating alone. I stopped connecting with friends, except in a superficial way. I stopped planning trips. Actually, I stopped planning adventures of any kind. I went to fewer and fewer movies in movie theaters (this was long before Netflix), or plays, or concerts. I no longer paid attention to what exhibits might be coming to museums in my city. I stopped planning walks, bike rides, or white water rafting trips with friends.

All of my creative energy went into making food plans. Which restaurants delivered? Which ones had drive-throughs? My only adventures were to be found in food. I was miserable! My biggest challenge…how could I NOT think and feel while I waited 30 minutes for the pizza delivery guy to arrive?

Now I know these behaviors were all symptoms of a full-blown binge eating disorder

Does any of that sound familiar?  If it feels like your relationship with food has taken on a life of its own, you’re certainly not alone. And you deserve help! (If you’d like to hear more about what I wrote about above, please consider listening to a recording I just posted; a TeleSeminar with Psychotherapist Trisha Rubin, “Do We Turn to Food Because We Lack Adventure?”. It’s all about how common this is and what we each can do to get our lives back. Anyone can listen for free–just take advantage of a 21 Day Free Trial I offer to visitors.)

How small has your world become? I promise you, it does NOT have to stay that way!


I’m Ellen Shuman and I have been through it all, personally and professionally! For the past couple of decades, I have been a Coach who specializes in helping people overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. I founded A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present). I am also a Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and one of its founding board members.  Questions about phone coaching?  Feel free to contact me, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Enough with the Dieting Resolutions!

Judith Matz, LCSW on Dieting

Judith Matz, LCSW

It’s January and constant talk about New Year Dieting Resolutions surrounds us.  This can be a tough time of year for emotional and binge eaters…a tough time for anyone who feels uncomfortable in their own skin. (Oprah’s Weight Watchers commercials don’t help!)

Psychotherapist and author Judith Matz ( who has contributed to this blog in the past),  offers an antidote. She has wrtten a wonderful  new post called, ” 8 Reasons Why I Don’t Want to Hear About Your Diet”.  Click here to read it. 


What do you think?


I’m Ellen Shuman and based on the harm I see resulting from dieting, I have nothing good to say about dieting! Instead, I focus on recovery from dieting…and from binge eating disorder treatment. I am a  Coach who specializes in helping people overcome binge eating, binge eating disorder, emotional eating, compulsive eating, and food addiction; the founder of A Weigh Out  Life Coaching & Members’ Circle, Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), a Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

My Guiding Word for 2016; “Centered”

My 2015 Word: "Trust"

My 2015 Word: “TRUST”

Each new year, typically on New Year’s Day, I choose a new word. It’s one word I wish to use as a guiding goal for the upcoming year.

In 2015, my word was TRUST. I made huge progress using that word! I am so much more trusting than I was last year…mostly of myself. I trust that I am and will continue to be free from my Binge Eating Disorder because now I know how to live my life without using food to go numb, mindless, and as my primary way to self-soothe. Instead,  I have learned how to live mindfully; how to replace self-defeating emotional eating with Self-Care. Now, I trust I know how to keep that going…

I just searched in the Members’ Forum, to see what I said about TRUST when I first set it as my word one year ago today. Here’s what I wrote…

“I will Trust in myself; that I’ll consistently and simply do what it takes so I “get to” live my best life possible (Members’ Empowerment Tool #23, “I Get to…”). I get to trust that, when I slip, I’ll recommit, without those lifelong well-practiced judgments or recriminations that used to keep my relapses going for weeks, months, even years. I want to trust that I will be more emotionally vulnerable this year; take more emotional risks. As Brene Brown says, live more “whole heartedly”…

I want to reveal more of myself and my recovery to my readers and clients, appropriately. I’ve noticed when I do so, people are willing to take more risks in their own work….I trust that that’s why I’m here…to share and help others who have had emotional eating and binge eating struggles similar to my own…

I will trust that I will exercise regularly and choose healthy foods (most of the times :-), but not all of the time). All or nothing doesn’t work for me!

TRUST…that’s my word for 2015…feels right!”

Turns out, TRUST was a great word for me in 2015!

In years past, I have chosen these words; MINDFULNESS, SELF-CARE, CHOICE, BALANCE, CALM. I find ways to incorporate my chosen word into my everyday routines; be it in a brief meditation each day in the shower, or saying the word as I take a deep breath sometime during a stressful day.Sometimes, I make the word part of my intentions when I set them in the morning (“PENSO”-Members’Empowerment Tool #8).

Sometimes, I write the word at the top of my week’s Willingness List (Empowerment Tool #4, “Mindful Living vs. Mindless Eating”). Yes, I still make a Willingness List every Sunday. I find it grounds me and helps me stay mindful of the week I wish to create. And my word is always on my Self-Care List (Empowerment Tool # 27; “A New Kind of Self-Care List”).

This year I considered several words; FAITH, EXERCISE, PROGRESS, CREATIVITY, SOCIALIZE, FUN! As it always does, the best word for me becomes clear. This morning, I chose CENTERED. When I am centered, I have faith. I have access to my creativity. I am more willing to choose to exercise, be more social, plan more fun, make more progress in any arena of my life where I so choose. So, for 2016, CENTERED it is!

What’s your word for 2016? Would you benefit from creating one? How would you use your guiding word?


I’m Ellen Shuman and I choose to be CENTERED, in both my personal and professional endeavors. I will be centered as I Coach people; help them overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. I am the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242. If you would like to explore how I might help you, please get in touch!

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