Weigh This Instead!

Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Personality Typing Test

Have you ever taken a Personality Test? It’s fun!

Here’s a mini-version of the Carl Jung Personality Test … pretty interesting. It’s the first one listed on a website called 

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Joyfully Active

“Exercise is a dirty word. Every time I hear it, I wash my mouth out with chocolate.” ~Charles Schulz

“I have never thought of participating in sports just for the sake of doing it for exercise or as a means to lose weight. And I’ve never taken up a sport just because it was a social fad. I really enjoy playing. It is a vital part of my life.” ~Dinah Shore

Many of us have used exercise as a way to try to lose weight or to become more attractive, or to enhance our sense of self-worth, or simply because we think we should. And, as a result, many of us have become “exercise resistant.”

Most people view this “exercise resistance” as a behavioral problem or worse, a character flaw. The cures proposed for this resistance — education, motivation, and other behavioral strategies — tend to backfire and make the resistance stronger. We then wonder why we can’t get moving, and we end up feeling worse about ourselves. To become joyfully active, we need to move away from these supposed cures, away from the “shoulds” and “have to’s.”

We are more likely to become active if we are doing something we truly enjoy. Imagine how you might feel if, rather than exercising to lose weight or shape your body, you began exercising simply because it feels good? Or because it gives you more energy? Or for the sense of self-mastery that can come from physical activity? Or simply because it is fun?!

Making a “move” toward fun activity (we like to call it “play”) instead of forcing yourself to exercise is the easiest way to be joyfully active for the rest of your life.

Tip: Begin to explore movement that you would truly enjoy doing. Try some activities with the goal of simply having fun. Sit on a bench at a playground, notice the laughter, feel the energy.

Affirming Statement: “I am joyfully active.”


Nutrition therapists Amy Tuttle, RD, LCSW and Karin Kratina, RD, PhD provide no-diet articles and resources including “Stay Attuned: The E-zine for Nourishing Connections” at their Nourishing Connections website.

Stevia; The sweet herb


Many of you have asked about this herb. For years, I have been literally up on my herbal soap box talking about Stevia. It comes from Paraguay and the leaves of this plant are the sweetest natural product known. Stevia can be several hundred times sweeter than sugar, is non-caloric, and diabetic safe.  It doesn’t promote tooth decay.

Stevia (S. Rebaudiana) is a member of the aster family (Compositae) and grows to be a small perennial shrub-like plant native to Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. The natives in those countries most likely have used the leaves to sweeten their foods since pre-Columbian times, but it wasn’t until 1887 that a scientist discovered it.
The Japanese started growing Stevia in the 1950’s.  When their government banned some artificial sweeteners due to health concerns in the late 60’s, Stevia use skyrocketed. It is now the main sugar substitute in Japan. 
Stevia use in the U.S. has been increasing, and you can find Stevia in the health food aisle of your local grocer. I like the Stevia that NuNaturals puts out. It doesn’t have bitter after tones and is available in several varieties.  To me, it has a one-dimensional sweet taste. Sweet Leaf is also a brand many people like.
Growing You Own
I have had my Stevia plants for several years. Due to our winters here in the midwest, I move the plants into the house in winter (it’s a tender perennial.) Best started from cuttings or small plants, Stevia does best in sun with a moist soil.
Using and Preserving Stevia
Harvest it just as it begins to flower, as this is when the plant is at its sweetest. To dry, strip an inch or so of the bottom leaves from the stem, hang upside down in a cool, dry place. When the leaves can be crumbled between your palms, the herb is dry enough. Store away from heat and light.
I am constantly pinching leaves off to bruise for sweetening hot and cold beverages and I do that long before the plant flowers.
 If your plant is extremely sweet, one large leaf will sweeten a pitcher of ice tea. Go to taste on this, though. You may need several leaves.
Stevia’s components are heat stable. You can even combine it with other sweeteners. It doesn’t have the caramelizing effect like sugar, because it doesn’t brown or crystallize like sugar. If you use pulverized dried leaves, they may color your food a bit.

When Best to Use?
I recommend you start using Stevia to sweeten foods like applesauces, smoothies, nut butters, bread puddings, custards, and pies. I don’t have much success using it in cakes that require much leavening, but I’m learning. I like using Stevia extract in drinks, etc.
How much? Start using one teaspoon in place of one cup of sugar,  Too much and it tastes bitter. 
Homemade Stevia Extract
Mix together 1 cup very hot distilled water with 1 cup bruised fresh Stevia leaves or 1/2 cup dried crushed Stevia leaves. Put in a jar with a cover.  Let it stand for a day, then filter through a coffee filter.  Refrigerate, covered, up to a month or freeze up to 6 months. You can dilute it with water if you want.

Stevia Mint Syrup
Sometimes I add crushed mint leaves to the hot water with the Stevia to make a mint extract. To make it more like a syrup, soften a teaspoon or so of unflavored gelatin in a tablespoon of cold water, then dissolve it in the hot liquid.  This is wonderful on fresh or frozen, thawed fruits.
Berry Coulis Sweetened With Stevia

12-16 frozen or fresh berries, any kind – I like the mixture of blackberries, blueberries & raspberries or simply raspberries
Splash of lemon juice
Pinch salt
Stevia to taste
Cook everything but Stevia together until berries can be mashed. Run through a strainer, then sweeten to taste. Delicious over frozen yogurt, angel food cake, or stirred into beverages, like lemonade.


Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP, CMH, is a Certified Culinary Professional and Certfied Modern Herbalist, educator, author, founding editor of www.Abouteating.com
a popular website that showcases her many interests in healthy living.

Thinking beyond the brownie pan

Recently in a coaching session, one of my clients shared that she had had a very productive weekend. After accomplishing all sorts of projects and tasks, all weekend long, she reported feeling relaxed, for a very brief period of time. Then she felt bored.

She and her young son had made brownies earlier in the day. After dinner, her son asked if they could eat the brownies now.  She said, “sure”.

She said she went in with good intentions. She started with a sliver. Then she found herself continuing to eat slivers of brownie until she’d eaten the equivalent of about 2 brownies and she said she knew she was headed for more…many more…

Then, she simply stepped back and got mindful…she knew she was eating out of boredom. In her mind, she actually envisioned moving forward and eating the whole pan of brownies, estimating it would take her less than 10 minutes to wipe out all the brownies that were still in the pan. She laughed to herself and said, “If I’m eating because I’m bored, I need to think beyond 10 minutes with a brownie pan”. And she walked away from the brownies…

“I don’t like feeling bored”, said another client, the very same day I heard the brownie story. This very accomplished man told me about how he eats way too many cookies and milk most nights, because he’s bored AND he really looks forward to this time with his cookies and milk, every night.  He said he didn’t think he could walk away from this old, nightly binge habit…and trust that his life could still be OK, or fun.

So, I asked him if he’d be willing to “experiment”. One night that next week, could he choose to mindfully enjoy a handful of chocolate chip cookies and a glass of cold milk, viewing it as a lovely dessert…vs. mindlessly eating a larger number of cookies and his milk as a way to disconnect from feelings of boredom?

During his next session with me he reported a variety of experiences with the cookies and milk. One night he sat down at the kitchen table and very consciously ate 3 cookies and his usual glass of cold milk. He made it a point to taste the cookies and he said he thoroughly enjoyed them and felt satisfied. 

The next night, he headed to the kitchen for the cookies without feeling connected to anything. He certainly did not have a mindful plan. He said he ate 10 cookies before he got conscious.  Then, he said he remembered something I said to him about not trusting that he could consciously create a life that would be satisfying…without using food as his number one and only means of happiness. He said he decided that night to trust the process, a little. He consciously walked away from the kitchen knowing that if he had not chosen to get conscious after 10 cookies, 10 cookies would have turned into the whole box of cookies, and then he would have headed for the chips, something salty, then back for something sweet…

Familiar to anyone? Mindfulness, intention, practice, with a little trust thrown in, is the recipe out of mindless emotional eating!


Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in emotional and binge eating recovery. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, Vice President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Chair of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com

Free to find the little things that make me happy

When I was younger, I thought happiness meant a life filled with great accomplishment and equally exciting adventures. From age 21 to 37 I was a broadcast journalist and my life often matched my expectations. And when it didn’t match, there was always the possibility that my very next news series or documentary would deliver even more; more excitement, more travel, more awards, more attention. I had chosen a high pressure career that I though would deliver a lot…and I was driven! 

And I delivered! I won numerous awards; Emmy’s, a Peabody, a mid career journalism fellowship to Stanford University. My series on Binge Eating Disorder, when the eating disorder was first officially named as separate from Bulimia, won a Clarion Award from Women in Communications. Following appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show, I found myself opening a Binge Eating Disorder Treatment Center. I was driven, stressed, and now I know I used excitement for purposes of distraction. I was actually very unhappy during that time… through most of those years I had a raging binge eating disorder.

The excitement was a way to distract from thoughts and feelings I didn’t want to feel. A need for distraction also fueled my nightly trips up and down the aisles of the local convenience store, on the way home from work. I was looking for the perfect foods to help me disconnect from the stress and from me. My body dissatisfaction thoughts, and my pursuit of the next “perfect” diet, also distracted me from all thoughts, feelings, or truths about my life that I did not wish to tolerate.”If I could just lose enough weight”, I was sure I could be happy.

Turns out happiness had nothing to do with my weight.

With my recovery work came mindfulness, new tools for emotional regulation, and emotional calm…and, interestingly enough, much less need for excitement. With this new emotional quiet came intuitive happiness. What I mean by that is I was now free to experiment, recognize (feel), and connect to pursuits that actually made me feel happy.

I found I love doing mosaics.  I thoroughly enjoy spending time with my best friends. I started writing again. Serving as the current Vice President of BEDA; the Binge Eating Disorder Association, feels rewarding on many levels. I find great satisfaction doing volunteer work for a Golden Retriever rescue group called GRRAND. I adopted my dog Emma through GRRAND and when asked if I’d be interested in doing some work for them, instead of my usual “no”, I said. “Hmmm, what do you have in mind?” I found I enjoy follow-up work. I call adoptive families, periodically, through the first year of adoption. We help catch and solve any behavior problems that might lead to a failed placement. These dogs have been through so much already! Many were abandoned by their first families and/or were strays who were just hours from being euthanized. Look at these two content adopted pups and you may understand why I find this volunteer work so satisfying.

Today, my happiness is quiet, and deeply nourishing.

Have you found what makes you truly happy?  Do you regularly engage in those activities?


Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in emotional and binge eating recovery. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, Vice President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Chair of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com

Still weight-focused? Read this!

Feeling pressure to lose weight…internal or external pressure?

If you need some evidence and ammunition to support the shift from the conventional weight-focus—to a health-centered health paradigm, read this amazing paper, co-authored by Dr. Linda Bacon and published in the Nutrition Journal , http://www.nutritionj.com/content/10/1/9

Rita’s Homemade Bath Treats!

As an herbalist, I love using herbs not only in the kitchen, but in the bath, as well.  Taking a leisurely soak with bath salts is a comforting, healthful way to end or start a day. Making your own bath salts is not only fun, but economical and makes a great gift.
Sugar and salt scrubs are all the rage now and they are easy to make at home.


Rita’s Homemade Bath Salts

The two ingredients that are key here are sea salt and epsom salt.   I developed this recipe as my signature bath salt recipe.

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What To Do About PCOS (Part 3)

Although there is not a cure for this syndrome, there are good options for managing the symptoms and preventing long term complications. Because insulin is involved in many of the derangements associated with PCOS, keeping insulin levels stable can provide relief from symptoms such as cravings and weight gain, can improve fertility, and protect the pancreas, delaying or preventing the onset of diabetes.

Treatment involves nutrition and lifestyle strategies, and medication, if warranted.

It is important to eat in a balanced and consistent way that prevents extreme highs and lows of blood glucose. Eating patterns that keep energy levels and blood sugar stable can help protect the pancreas from working too hard, and keep insulin resistance to a minimum.

The importance of regular activity cannot be overstated. Consistent exercise improves insulin sensitivity, helps with weight management, raises energy levels, and improves mood.

Exercise and nutrition are key to treatment, however, medications may also be needed to control symptoms. Examples of helpful medications include insulin sensitizers such as Metformin, oral contraceptives to regulate hormones, blood pressure medications, and lipid lowering medications. Although lifestyle changes may not always preclude the need for these medications, a healthy diet and exercise can keep the amounts of needed medications to a minimum.

Managing PCOS can be challenging, but developing a plan to improve eating patterns and increase activity levels can go a long way in addressing symptoms and improving long term health.


Jennie Wade, MS, MEd, RD, LD

What you need to know about PCOS Signs and Symptoms (Pt. 2 of 3)

PCOS Common Signs and Symptoms:
Excessive abdominal weight
Heavy, irregular, or absent periods (amenorrhea)
Difficulty losing weight
Episodes of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
Intense carbohydrate cravings
Emotional eating
Problems with excessive hair growth on face or chest
Hair loss
Dirty looking patches of skin
A family history of PCOS

The cause of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is unknown, although there does appear to be a strong genetic component. PCOS is an endocrine disorder characterized by high levels of androgens and is also associated with insulin resistance.

Androgens are male hormones such as testosterone, which occur naturally in all females.  High levels however, can be a sign of PCOS, which can be indicated by physical signs such as hirsutism which is excess hair on face, chest, or back; thinning of hair at the crown, acne, and abdominal fat.

Insulin is the hormone involved in the process of moving blood glucose, the body’s main source of fuel, from the blood stream into the cells where it can be used for energy.  Insulin resistance occurs when the body does not use insulin as effectively as it should, the cells are less sensitive to insulin, and the pancreas has to pump out more to get the job done.  Long term, when the pancreas can no longer keep up, it results in the development of diabetes.

If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of this disorder, it is important that you be fully evaluated by a primary care provider who has experience with PCOS. A complete medical history will be important for diagnosis and treatment, to address the possible complications including insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, infertility, high blood pressure, and cardiac disease.

A physical exam and detailed history will be performed, and the following lab tests may be used to confirm diagnosis and monitor symptoms:
Total testosterone, which measures the total amount that your body produces.
Elevated levels are >50 ng/dl

Leutinizing hormone (LH), which plays a role in egg development

Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) which is responsible for the release of eggs from the ovary

Prolactin, a test which is used to rule out pituitary issues

Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) used to assess thyroid function

Fasting blood glucose, which can indicate problems with insulin resistance

Fasting lipid profile, including total cholesterol, HDL and LDL, triglycerides

Occasionally, ultrasounds are performed to check for the existence of cysts on the ovary.  Though the presence of ovarian cysts is responsible for the name of this syndrome, cysts on the ovaries are not necessary to a diagnosis of PCOS.

Next: Part 3 of 3- What to do about PCOS; Treatment options?


Jennie Wade, MS, MEd, RD, LD

Binge eaters find lack of “distraction” stressful

What if you woke up tomorrow and stopped hating your body? What if you no longer experienced stress about emotional or binge eating, dieting or weight? What if you had no “drama” at all in your life. What would you think about…and do, throughout the day, instead, to occupy your mind?

I have worked in the emotional and binge eating recovery field for eighteen years now (plus a few decades of my own struggles). I see some universal themes. Here’s one I hear often. “What will I fill my head with if I’m not obsessing about food and weight?”

This week, a client of mine who is no longer using food and body dissatisfaction thoughts to distract her from uncomfortable feelings, shared this. “Now that I have all this brain space, I realize I’m bored. I really need to bring some new things into my life. I really need to make some plans…not just make plans to make plans and to get rid of the feelings. I have a new term for that, ‘slamming it’. I used to get really busy with a project just to be busy, just like I used to distract myself with food thoughts. I don’t want to do that anymore.”

From another client this week, who has done a remarkable job creating the life she always wanted and now recognizes how she previously used work and family crises, as well as body dissatisfaction, to keep her mind occupied.  “I had been so preoccupied with other dramatic events, work, event planning, that stopping the focus on food and really honoring my body’s own satiety and hunger signals became easy. But now that I have no drama in my life, I’m kind of bored.  I need to focus on how to just be in the present moment and just be okay in my own skin. Or I’m afraid I’ll turn my focus back to food.”

If you spend a lot of time obsessing about food, weight, and/or dieting, and nothing you have tried along those lines has worked, maybe the issue is not really about food, weight, or dieting. Maybe it’s about a coping strategy, a way of thinking you developed a long time ago  to distract you from other thoughts and feelings you’d rather not tolerate. Is it possible you’re consciously or unconsciously stressed or anxious about creating the life you really want…or, you’re not sure how to fill your day with healthier thoughts…or how to become comfortable in your own skin?

Consider the benefits of weighing that instead…


Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in emotional and binge eating issues. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, Vice President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Chair of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com

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