Weigh This Instead!

Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Emotional Eating, COVID-19, & NO Transparency Required from Mom’s Nursing Home!

At risk for emotional eating with COVID -19

At risk for emotional eating?

Like almost everyone in the world right now, I’ve been dealing with isolation, social distancing, and fear of COVID-19. My emotions and risk of emotional eating are churned up!

Through it all, I know how important it is for me to remain conscious of my personal history of emotional eating.


I Was Doing a Good Job Managing Emotions

I felt I was doing a good job of managing my emotions on a day-to-day basis, my new normal, my fear about the virus and anticipated lack of ventilators. I was tolerating my sadness and helplessness about the sick, the dying, and those with financial hardships by saying something good HAS to come out of this in the end.

I kept reminding myself how lucky I was that as an Emotional Eating / Binge Eating Recovery Coach I get to work by phone from home.

AND, I knew it was important for my own recovery from Binge Eating Disorder that I stay mindful that it is my choice to eat mindfully vs going back to emotional overeating to cope with this unsettling time.


I made a “self-care” decision I felt was right for me; to not do take-out food right now, despite feeling guilty every time I heard a plea to please support local restaurants because they’re hurting.

When I couldn’t schedule grocery delivery times on InstaCart, due to high demand, I noticed I had some “food-insecurity” fears for the first time ever. Prior to this, I could always get food whenever I wanted it.

With time, I found ways to get groceries delivered, even if it was five days after placing the order. Then, I felt guilty that I was asking someone else to be out there risking their life delivering food to me! Tipping well did not eliminate that guilt.

Emotional Eating and COVID-19; Expected Transparency from Nursing Home

Still, I continued to eat healthfully.

Until last week, when I learned COVID-19 had come to my mother’s nursing home (a 13 hour drive away for me) and the staff has no intention of telling families about its spread. When challenged, they made it clear that transparency was not required by law. All they have to say to families is that there is “a confirmed positive case of COVID-19 in our community”.

When I was told there was “one” confirmed case, I already knew there were three. So, I knew they were hiding the fact that the virus had already spread. I always thought of this small, non-profit nursing home as one of the best nursing homes in the city. So, it was hard for me to accept that they had decided to put concern over their reputation, and potential impact on their bottom line, ahead of open and honest communication with families. They must know misinformation and withholding information adds to our fears. Still, it is what they’re choosing to do.

I know there are more cases today, but no idea how many more. All family inquiries are now sent to the director who is the person who lied to me, initially. I guilted a nurse, whom I respect tremendously, into answering one question. “Due to the virus, have any people from my mom’s floor been moved into isolation?” She said, “Yes”.

We will be told if my mother has symptoms, needs to be tested, and/or is being moved into isolation… and we’ll get a call if her roommate gets sick. We can ask about containment protocols but no information about the spread, the numbers in her nursing home will be shared with families. That information must be shared with the local Dept. of Health which is also not required to share numbers with families.

To help with containment, no visitors are allowed inside the building. My mother is cognitively as sharp as I am but a stroke robbed her of her ability to speak and write 11 years ago. She is locked inside, has no voice, no say, can’t ask any questions and I can no longer be that voice for her because I can’t get the full truth. Imagine not being able to ask anyone anything right now. I feel her pain, acutely!

Soon after that conversation with the nurse, I grabbed an unopened bag of semi-sweet mini-chocolate chips I had in my pantry. In six days, I’ve polished off a whole bag …that’s about 3 tablespoons of chips a day. In my binge eating days I would have polished off that bag in one sitting! Still, it is emotional eating!

No More Emotional Eating. It’s a Decision I Get to Make!

There was another bag of chips in the pantry. I have moved it to a cabinet where I keep my grandmother’s good china. This is my way of setting a new intention. I will not “use” food because I feel out-of-control because my mother’s nursing home is choosing CYA over families’ concerns for truthful information. I know I’m pretty sure I’ll be among many other people seeking to change this law on behalf of loved ones living in residential care facilities.

Finding My Voice

I decided I will find my voice in my own way. Writing this post is helping. And, when this is all over, I will research and find a way to advocate for changes in the law about full transparency from nursing homes.

Please stay safe, stay well, and do whatever you need to do to take good care of yourself during these unsettling times!

How to Self-Soothe without Leaning on Food

Ways to self-soothesLight bulbs went off when I finally understood that I was using food to SELF-SOOTHE!

I had always thought (and been told by others) that if I were really serious about reducing my compulsive overeating I just needed to exert more willpower and hyper-vigilance. But that advice always left me feeling confused and very frustrated (even angry) because I was hyper-vigilant in other aspects of my life. I could actually be quite effective when I decided to be.

So, why couldn’t I apply my already developed self-determination skills to this issue and just stop overeating?

What was I missing?

I know now.

I was missing the ability to step out of my every day thoughts, and feelings, and responsibilities, big and small, and just see them without feeling I had to run from them. Unconsciously, I had developed this habit. Any time I wanted to avoid being present, I’d spontaneously have a food thought and begin to make a plan to get something to eat. Without realizing it, often, I was using food thoughts to go mindless, to distract, dissociate, avoid anything or everything I was having trouble tolerating in that moment in time.

If I  didn’t want to start a difficult task or think about something that happened at work, I found myself heading for the bowl of M&Ms on my co-worker’s desk. When I didn’t feel like doing the laundry and/or returning a call to my mother, I’d head to the pantry for a little escape.

Wow! Without even realizing it, I had developed a deeply effective habit. I was turning to thoughts of food, and to mindless eating, anytime I wanted to protect myself from being mindful. This was my way to NOT feel. This had become my only way to self-soothe.

Back in my binge eating days, there was no space between an uncomfortable thought and me heading toward food.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”     

~Viktor E. Frankl, MD, Psychiatrist and Holocaust Survivor

I have learned how to create that “space”, how to step out of the chaos in my mind and to quiet the “food noise” (as one of my clients described it). I have become more aware, mindful of my thoughts and feelings, as well as of the body sensations that alert me to moments when I’m starting to feel anxious, or fearful, or lonely…or feel any feeling that habitually used to send me out for a milk shake.

Most importantly, I have learned I can recognize and tolerate feelings without having to numb out with food. I have grown confident and confident with my new emotional regulation tools. Therefore, I no longer fear allowing feelings to just happen. I now know feelings come and they pass. Today, I know feelings are just information I get to use to figure out what I want or need to do next. They do not have to overwhelm me or send me to food.

This is an exciting time! Neuroscience has given us a brand new understanding of what’s happening in the brain of an emotional eater, as well as tools to overcome emotional eating. We’re learning about how to reduce those “fight”, “flight” and “freeze” moments I used to fear. We now know how to clear old reactive programming from our non-conscious “bottom” brain, programming from past experiences that said, “It’s not safe“, “You must eat now“. Today, there are skills, even healthy daily routines a person can use to  improves their sense of safety, in their body and in their environment. There are practices we can engage in every day that will make us more resilient when the emotional stuff in our lives hits the fan, as it is apt to do in everyone’s life.

If you want to learn more about these tools, skills, and daily practices, I’d love to tell you more. I talk about these breakthroughs in my latest Phone Seminar, “Food, You’re NOT the Boss of Me!”. It’s an opportunity to connect with me live…just listen and/or ask me anything you’d like. It’s FREE. Click here for the next dates and to register.

Holidays Eating is Over. Whew! Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy and less stressful New Year!



holiday eating

Truth About Binge Eating Recovery; Insights from the Field

Ellen Shuman's Truth about Binge Eating RecoveryNote: Earlier this year, I was pleased to say “yes” to Green Mountain at Fox Run’s request for an interview  with me. I was asked to share insights, the truth about binge eating recovery as I know it from decades in the binge and emotional eating recovery field. This is a reprint of that interview.


Q: We’re so pleased to feature you in an e-interview. Let’s start with explaining the type of work you do.

A: For the past 20 years I’ve been working one-to-one with people as an Emotional and Binge Eating Recovery Coach. I do that work with people worldwide, by telephone. From 1993 to 2005 I was also the director and program developer for an outpatient treatment center that I started in Ohio. We specialized in treating and sharing the truth about Binge Eating and Binge Eating Disorder, as we know it.

That was back before people knew much about Binge Eating as an eating disorder separate from Bulimia. Those of us in the trenches back then had to be creative; we did research, collaborated with other clinicians, experimented, and learned as we went along…

I also run an online membership program for people struggling with emotional eating issues…


Q: Who are your “typical clients”? What are the common threads that contribute to the struggle with eating that your clients experience? Is it one thing in particular, or lots of things?

A: While I discovered long ago that there is “no one-size-fits-all” experience or background for people who struggle with emotional eating, there are some common themes I see. Here are a handful…

My clients use food,
1), to self-soothe; often it is their only strategy for self-soothing

2), to disconnect from the moments in their lives they’d rather not tolerate. Most know they’re using “food thoughts”…and then the food… to go “mindless”, whenever they don’t want to be mindful; when they don’t want to think about something, or feel uncomfortable feelings, or follow through with a task they’d rather put off or avoid altogether. But they don’t know what to do instead; what to do to stop the old, well-worn patterns.

3) They use food as reward, i.e., “I deserve to binge because…”

4) Sometimes, food provides the only excitement, or fun, or adventure in their lives today; the only thing they have to look forward to…

5) Many of my clients experience “high interpersonal sensitivity”; i.e., while a comment or challenging interaction with someone might roll off another person’s back, the person with emotional or binge eating has trouble letting it go. They play it over and over in their head…and then they eat over it.

6) People who struggle with emotional or binge eating are often hyper vigilant in other areas of their lives. So, what feels to them like an inability to “fix” their overeating problem is especially frustrating, confusing, and painful.

7) Many have been fighting this all-consuming eating battle for so long, they have lost touch with other wants and needs in life.


Q: Why were you drawn to this work? What is it like working in this area?

A: I love working with my clients! I consider myself incredibly blessed to get to do the work I do because this work is very personal to me. I started binge eating when I was 5 or 6 years old. My mother had our pediatrician put me on diet pills when I was eight. (My mom had her own body shame issues and no emotional regulation skills whatsoever!)

My tall skinny brother publically bullied me with fat nicknames, even encouraged his friends to use them, too, until I was about 17.

For a few decades, I cycled between yo-yo dieted and binge eating and went from therapist to therapist before coming to understand what was missing. I didn’t lack willpower or self-control. Holy cow, I had survived my dysfunctional family. I put myself through college. I sent out 188 resumes for my first real job out of college. I was a Peabody and Emmy Award winning journalist. I didn’t lack stick-to-it-iveness! I lacked emotional management tools and I had a brain that had been conditioned to believe that when I had a food thought, I had no choice but to act on it.

But that was not true…it took years before I came to understand that.

What people who habitually turn to food actually need are new emotional management skills, what I call “emotional handrails”, coupled with a better understanding of how the “Emotion-Action Systems” in the brain keep us feeling STUCK. People need tools to help them override that FIGHT, FLIGHT, or FREEZE feeling that comes over them; when their brain tells them they MUST eat or they won’t survive the moment.

In years past, the role of the brain in those stressful moments was not fully understood. So, when a person sought professional help, instead of getting useful emotional handrails, they got simplistic old advice like “rather than eat the cookies, why not take a walk around the block or relax in a hot bubble bath?” (Attention all Health Care Professionals; Such advice infuriates most emotional eaters!)

Today, I get to help people understand why they’re struggling. I get to teach them what’s happening in the brain. I can shorten that learning curve and help curtail their pain sooner. What a gift that is…and, to be honest, when I look back it makes all I went through with my own binge eating disorder more tolerable. My struggle served a purpose and led me to a calling today…


Q: Is there anything in your work that consistently “turns on the light” for people you work with in regard to eating? In other words, is there anything that you hear regularly that indicates that your clients are truly “getting it”?

A: The light really turns on when people develop the skill that Psychiatrist Daniel Siegel calls “Mindsight”.
In his book of the same name, he writes, “Mindsight is a kind of focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our mind. It helps us be aware of our mental processes without being swept away by them, enables us to get off the autopilot of ingrained behavior and habitual responses, and moves us beyond the reactive emotional loops we all have a tendency to get trapped in.”

He goes on to say that when we learn to step back and look at our own thoughts and feelings with curiosity and respect, rather than with fear and avoidance, we can learn from those thoughts and feelings and, “We can calm them without ignoring them; we can hear their wisdom without being terrified by their screaming voices…”

Couple that powerful awareness with new skills that make that mindsight possible and amazing things happen!


Q: How has your work changed over the years? How do you see the “industry” of food, self-care, and exercise changing?

A: The field of neuroscience; our understanding of neurochemistry and experimental psychology, which deal with the structure and function of the nervous system and brain, has exploded in the last 10 years or so. We’re now beginning to understand how and why people get stuck in destructive habit loops and what to do to help them replace those old habits with new healthier ones.

This new knowledge has changed how I work with people. It has brought me new strategies and tools to help people get UNSTUCK. That applies to behavioral change with food, exercise, and self-care. I find these new discoveries very exciting!


Q: Describe the most rewarding professional experience you’ve had in the past year.

A: It’s not one, it has been many. Nothing beats the feeling I get when a client wraps up our work together because they no longer need me. They have changed their lives; stop obsessing about food and weight, they’re living healthier lives; emotionally, physically, nutritionally, and spiritually.

They have decluttered their lives in more ways than one. Their relationships have improved. They’re now in touch with their wants and needs and are out there getting those met. No more living life on the sidelines waiting to “fix” this problem. It’s very rewarding to see!

What are some of the unexpected challenges of your job?

Not really unexpected after doing this work for decades, but it’s still challenging to watch someone struggle to be present; struggle to tolerate their own thoughts and feelings.

I know it sounds dramatic, but in those moments when a person feels they MUST act on a food thought, their primitive brain is telling them that if they don’t eat immediately, if they stay present and FEEL, they won’t be able to tolerate the moment. Even when a person knows, intellectually, that nothing terrible will happen if they decide to pass on the donut, it feels intolerable to NOT turn to that food.

When that struggle continues, I sometimes see the person go back to believing weight loss, alone, will make them happy. Unconsciously, it’s as if they’re thinking, “If I don’t want to feel my feelings, I’ll shift my attention back to feeling fat instead…and then, I can just lose some weight and everything will be better. I’ll feel better.”

Really? What really changes in a person’s internal and external world with weight loss except that maybe it’s easier to buy clothes? Still, the weight loss fantasy prevails, “If I could just lose weight, I’d be happy.” And when the next new diet fails, the person ends up feeling even more defeated and desperate.

As a Coach, I have learned that, sometimes, a person just needs to diet one more time. That said, it is still challenging to watch…knowing the pain that lies ahead…


Q: What do you wish everyone knew about food, exercise and self-care?

A: Resistance to healthier eating, regular exercise, and consistent self-care may have a common root.
Here’s what I mean. If I’m having difficulty tolerating feelings and I’m having trouble being present in the moments of my life, I’m going to find it tough to tolerate all the work that goes into buying and preparing healthy food. I may not want to be that connected and mindful.

It may feel threatening to exercise because when I move my body, I start to feel fully-alive, again…and I don’t want to feel, anything…

Self-care-wise, when I take good care of my teeth, and skin, and I keep up with my laundry, and clean my house, that’s a lot of work! In the past, I thought it was easier to just go numb; to ignore self-care and exercise and healthy food prep. I’d binge-watch movies and order a pizza, instead.

I was mistaken, of course. Taking good care of myself is so much easier than living with the pain of a binge eating disorder. I learned that, one small step at a time.


Q: What do you want our readers to know about you and the work you do? Where else can our readers find you?

A: More than anything, I want people to know that they can overcome emotional eating and/or a binge eating disorder. Here’s a truth about binge eating recovery. While recovery work is most certainly focused and sometimes difficult work, it is so worth the rewards! Think about it. No one was born to be a binge eater. We practiced binge eating until we became good at it! Same can be said in regard to learning new emotional regulation skills and tools. People can practice those, too, and develop new ways to feel comfortable in their own skin!

That’s what I know to be the truth about binge eating recovery!

My website is www.AWeighOut.com . I invite anyone who’s reading this to Listen in to my Free Phone Seminar. It’s all about recovery from emotional and binge eating. If interested, you’ll find upcoming dates and can register here

If any reader has questions, wants to know more about my truth about binge eating recovery, or thinks I can be of assistance, they are welcome to contact me @ ellen@aweighout.com .

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.  Deeper, more insightful and mindful emotional regulation tools must be offered, learned, and practiced.

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.

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