Jan 042015
 

First, I want to say THANK YOU to the outpouring of support, encouragement and thought provoking ideas shared with me on my last post in comments, Facebook chats and in person hugs. You guys are the greatest.

Now for the topic at hand. This morning I was sitting on the couch, browsing Facebook, etc for an hour or two after I got out of bed. I was ignoring the growing growl in my tummy. I do this quite often…..

I get immobilized…stuck…I know what I should eat and I know what I want to eat and I just can’t move and commit. It isn’t laziness, I am truly immobilized, like I’m paralyzed…looking towards the kitchen…..just…ugh…stuck.

This is often why I don’t eat until I’m starving, which leads to either poor choices or making good choices but overeating, or BOTH.

I happened to be texting with a good friend this morning and was sharing these thoughts with her.

 

Friend: I get it. What do you have that you should eat?

Me: Eggs, Orange, Milk.

Me: I want Cinnamon Toast Crunch 🙁 I can’t have it though, because I have 5 grains for the day and we’re having chicken fried rice for dinner..which normally takes up 3…so thats 2 left for the day and I’m going out for lunch.

Me: My hungry inner child is asking for cereal, popcorn, sandwiches and potatoes!

Friend: Have apples with cinnamon sprinkled on them, crunchy cinnamon taste.

Me: Hmm, that sounds good, I’ll get up and do that plus eggs.

Friend: I get stuck on food a lot, too!

Friend: How are the apples?

Me: Yummmmmmmmm 🙂

I guess one of the ways to have this not happen is to have a bunch of foods around that are all good choices that I like…right? Why is that so hard? Does anyone else relate to this?

<3 Merbear

Mar 172014
 
not-alone
I had this conversation with a good friend via instant message over the weekend. I was inspired to blog about it, I was so moved by her reaching out to me and trusting my answers. I want everyone with disordered eating to get help, I want everyone to be in a good place like I finally am.  I want my friends to be happy.

I want to show you all this REAL conversation between REAL people instead of just typing out what you should do if you feel that you might need help….this is real people…and there is help, please remember I am NOT licensed nor an expert, but I have lots of real life experience!

My friend is in pink, I’m in blue 🙂

Do you ever feel the urge to track again even though you know it’s bad for you?

you mean with WW or calories? YES
I DO write down what I’m eating and make sure that I’m eating all the food groups, sometimes I even write down the measurements, but no calories or points

Gotcha. I’m struggling with not tracking my calories, fat, etc right now. I feel scared about weight gain and I want to track again because that feels “safe” even though it makes me insane.

Exactly, my perfectionism triggers my anxiety which triggers my eating disorder..sooo…especially with food, I have learned (and its tough) to not do it
BUT, from my dietitian I have learned ways to listen to my hunger and fullness signals
and understand what my body really does need -> grains, protein, fruit, veggies, fat, dairy and even desserts
When I first started I was tracking what I was eating AND the feelings associated with every meal and snack….even if it was just “normal” or “nothing” I wrote down every feeling
 
Have you thought about working with a dietitian? Often that can be about the same as paying for WW or another weight loss program, but its soo much better! They can be covered by health insurance so you are only paying copays (like me)
if you are diagnosed with an eating disorder (if tracking is a bingeing or compulsive eating trigger, you have an eating disorder)

I have never been diagnosed but believe I should be. I do think I need to work with someone but am trying to figure out how to afford it…

yeah its tough to figure that out My insurance covers me except $25 copay, which I pay weekly, but its worth it, its one of the things I’m doing even though I’m unemployed still

I think I need a real diagnosis before insurance will cover it. How did you go about that process?

Also, thank you so much for talking to me about this and feel free not to answer if I’m asking things I shouldn’t be.

its worth talking about, that’s why I blog about it
So here in MN we have two choices mainly, Melrose and The Emily Program
I already knew about them….they advertise all over
I called in directly and made an intake appointment
they had me talk to an intake therapist, take a few written quizzes and then checked with my insurance for me
if I didn’t know about them, I would have asked my regular doctor for a referral

I’ll see what happens with that and look around for something near me.

my insurance doesn’t require referrals to special programs,might want to check with yours if a referral from your primary is needed?

I’ll do that today. I definitely need more than just myself.

make sure you work with a licensed dietitian (not a nutritionist) and a therapist (if necessary)

Thank you so much.

you are welcome, thank you for trusting me to ask

Of course! I know you’re going through a lot of things that seem similar to me, and that you think about the world a lot like I do too.

The only thing that kinda sucks, and I blogged about it, is that I had to break out of my compulsive eating/perfectionist cycle by breaking all food rules and learning to live without food rules, so at the same time I was in Physical Therapy and couldn’t run or intensely work out,…that mixed with no food rules…I put on 70 lbs , I’m not saying the same will happen to YOU….cuz you are active…but now that I have no eating disorder symptoms and I can workout regularly, its coming back off…but SLOWLY because I don’t diet, I eat intuitively
Hmm, I might blog about this…..do you mind if I don’t use names?

I have been working on not tracking and I have definitely gained some. I seem to be in a holding pattern with gaining now but I’m TERRIFIED to gain more.

And yes, you can blog any of it.

thanks I think a professional would help you, we were born with the ability to eat intuitively and then we lose it, but its how every other species survives, it works for humans too and a dietitian will teach you

———

<3 Merbear
Aug 282013
 

My friend Robby, Fat Girl vs. World asked on Facebook this morning:

“What makes people choose elimination diets (i.e., “no carbs” or “no solid food” or “nothing that rhymes with orange”) over moderation/food logging?”  – click the link if you want to see what everyone from all over the blog world is saying on her FB thread, we have lots of smart friends 🙂

– She noted that this does not apply to people with a food allergy or something like gluten intolerance or celiacs, because obviously those people must eliminate for medical reasons.

Here’s the answer I started typing, I realized it was very long, so I decided to post about it instead:

Elimination and food rules triggers my compulsive eating because I have anxiety and I’m a perfectionist (as diagnosed by my ED therapist and dietitian).

For most compulsive eaters its actually the SAME THING, they just haven’t been diagnosed for an ED or talked to anyone professional about emotions/foods.  If you remove the emotion from a food (which can be done with ED therapy NOT by WW or any elimination diet (paid for or free), you can eat in moderation…

You can have what you want…because you know it’ll always be there, so there’s no trigger to eat more and more. (this is NOT for people who have allergies/diseases etc that require them to eliminate things obviously, I mean people without sensitivities).

For 99.9% of people that are overweight, its all emotion..its all recovery from something

….for people that just got lazy or that had active young lives and now aren’t as active..those people can do WW or calorie counting or whatnot..but that’s not most of us, most of us eat to feel good, to hide something, to repair something.

Just like anxiety, depression, etc….overeating/compulsive eating…even if its not anorexia or bulimia…requires some learning about self-acceptance..it truly helps.

I’m in the middle of  therapy for compulsive eating and I can have all my old “trigger” foods right in front of me, because I have learned how to heal myself in other ways…a lot of me has healed already…I know that my favorite foods – Oreos, spaghetti, pizza, ice cream..well, they will be there tomorrow, too..and oh boy, leftovers of my favorite food (if I happen to get a large portion at a restaurant or make too much at home)…

I automatically moderate now because food doesn’t fix and I know food doesn’t go away..I hope what I’m typing here is helping someone.

I personally go to the Emily Program which I know has locations in Minnesota and Washington State. I also know that Park Nicollet (in MN) has Melrose.

But honestly, reach out to your regular doctor, tell them you want to be connected with someone who can help…compulsive eating is now an eating disorder and can be covered by your insurance.

 

Jun 122013
 

 

Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired

I’ve done a lot of work over the last couple of months on removing the taboos of food rules, food restrictions, and food labels…..which helps remove “some” of the emotion from eating….and has helped me remove feelings of anxiety surrounding meal planning, what I’m going to eat next, what I can eat, and guilt, etc.

While continuing to keep that at the front of my mind, I am now also working on the situations that bring food to the forefront for me, the emotional ties. A good acronym that my Emily Program dietitian taught me is H.A.L.T which stands for” Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired”   I started practicing asking myself that every time I thought about having a snack or a meal..and writing it down in my meal log along with the food.

Well, lo and behold…it pretty much started working right away!  I can’t believe that an extra little step like that, just asking myself why I wanted to eat…but not judging myself on the answer…helped me make better eating decisions. Its important not to judge on the answer…otherwise that can bring emotion right back into the mix.

During my first week of practicing H.A.L.T, I stopped snacking on the fun size candy bars in my office drawer.  I know they are there and I can have them if I feel like it. But, every time I wanted one I asked myself why.  Usually it was an emotional answer. Note: even if my answer doesn’t fall in “A, L, or T” those categories help me determine if my answer is emotional or an actual nutritional need.

One of those times I actually answered “Hunger” but instead of going right for a candy bar I asked myself, “why am I hungry, am I missing a food group, what am I hungry for?” It actually turned out that I was a bit low on protein for the day after thinking about it and I grabbed a snack pack of tuna instead!

Another bit of an emotional episode this weekend caused me to want to drive straight to the closest Dairy Queen, McDonald’s or any place I could for a big frozen treat.  But, I stopped myself…asked HALT? The answer came back as “angry and tired”….I acknowledged my feelings, thought about how food wouldn’t solve them, and talked myself into going straight home and getting comfy in bed and enjoy some TV! I followed through with my plan, but about every 5 minutes I had to tell my brain to stop drifting back to my old “ice cream!’ response and to come back to the “you need comfort of home and sleep” response. It worked!

This is not to say that going for an ice cream treat is a bad thing, this is just saying in this situation it was for the wrong reason.  I can have ice cream even if I’m not filling a nutritional or hunger need….but I absolutely do not want a treat if I’m filling a negative (or sometimes even positive) emotional need!!

I love ice cream 🙂 Its in my freezer, I could have had it when I got home, too..but I didn’t…because its not what I needed. I fell asleep right away when I got comfy in my bed and I felt so much better the next morning!

Now that I’m really in the flow with HALT and I’m going to keep that up along with losing the food rules…we’re working on The Hunger Discovery Scale for my next session….how hungry are you before you eat…and after….and what part of the ranges are good to stay in.  I’ll come back with a report in a couple weeks 🙂

<3 Merbear

May 062013
 

My cravings to eat compulsively or binge have already started to wane away, because I have allowed myself to eat whatever I want, whenever I want. Imagine that, allow myself to have any food, whenever I feel hungry….and I eat LESS

Last week when I met with my dietitian at The Emily Program, she talked to me about how there is a physical and mental part of everything we eat. The physical part is the nutrition, the mental part is how our brain reports back to our emotions about being full..or I could even say “fulfilled.”

She said I’m pretty good at the physically full/comfortable part of things, but not the mentally full.  Which is why I tend to overeat, have cravings, and can’t stop thinking about food.

I now need to make sure I have 3 meals and 3 snacks a day and even my snacks need to give my brain the message that I am fulfilled.   We put together some snacks based on things that I love and her nutritional know how.

One of key things is that whether our body eats a light cracker/cookie or a regular cracker/cookie our physical need may be filled,we gave ourselves a “grain” and maybe a “sugar”  but our mental side sees the light ones and how they have less fat, less calories, more empty processed stuff and isn’t fulfilled.

Our body mentally and physically also needs a grain/fat/protein/fruit or veggie  in every meal or snack…so a fat free or light yogurt is seen/processed as a dairy…where as a regular one is dairy, fat and fruit! Ooh, that regular yogurt hit a couple of the must haves of a meal or snack!  (yes, we need dairy but it doesn’t have to be in every meal or snack).

A bit of a “showstopper” for me, to tell my brain that a meal is over is fat and/or sugar.  So, if I have two Dove chocolates at the end of lunch, that tells my brain lunch is over..and it removes and/or majorly limits my compulsion to overeat, keep grazing, or eventually binge on something for fulfillment.

Snacks we put together for me to use this week for morning snack and afternoon snack (since evening snack is ice cream always!!)

Homemade trail mix: Cheerios, cashews, coated almonds, m&m’s (I make an amount with a mixture per her recipe that will last me 7-10 days)

Actual snacks:

  • homemade trail mix with 1/2 banana (or a small banana)
  • snack bag of regular crackers(CheezIts are my choice) with 2 light laughing cow/1 regular laughing cow/1 baby bel
  • snack bag of Goldfish with regular string cheese
  • regular single serving yogurt & two cookies (Oreos are my choice)
  • Chobani bites (small, sweet yogurt) with 100 calorie pack of regular buttered popcorn
  • 3-4 graham crackers and a regular pudding cup

She also suggested that I have a bit of chocolate after lunch 🙂

So far, I’m feeling much happier with food 🙂

<3 Merbear

Apr 262013
 

I’ve now seen a dietitian twice at the Emily program. She’s fantastic and takes on every patient as an individual, vs just applying a “plan” which I totally love.

We finished up my intake this week and my assignment is now to record what I’m eating…but this is not the same as Weight Watchers or calorie counting.

She is linked to my entries and we can talk about them in future appointments. She uses it to help me find patterns, ways of thinking, etc.

Here’s an example of one of my entries (there is an app on my phone, as well as a web page that I can use with the questions).

  • How energetic are you feeling? (scale from lethargic -moderate – hyperactive) very engergized
  • How are you feeling overall? (scale from depressed – average – rocking the world) great
  • Yes/No Questions:
  • Are you feeling guilt? no
  • Are you feeling anxious? no
  • Are you feeling sad? no
  • Are you feeling irritable? no
  • Are you feeling angry? no
  • Are you feeling bored? no
  • Are you feeling tired? no
  • Are you feeling joy? yes
  • Who did you eat with? (alone – friends – parents – other) alone
  • Where did you eat? (school/work/home/friend’s house/outside/restaurant/ in treatment/other): home
  • How long ago did you eat? 8:00am
  • What did you eat and drink? (not measurements or portions, just a space to list it out)
  1. Fiber One Chocolate Cereal w/Almond Milk
  2. Coffee with cinnamon/honey/almond milk
  3. Banana
  • Portion size: (inadequate/adequate/excessive): adequate
  • Did you binge? (yes/no): no
  • How strong is your urge to binge now? (scale from not at all – moderate – overbearing): not at all
  • How hungry were you before your meal? (scale from not at all – moderate – extremely starved): famished
  • How full are you now? (scale from not at all – comfortable – unbearable): comfortable
  • Thought diary (a place for notes/thoughts about the meal): Average breakfast. I had a big bowl of cereal and I hope it will tide me through to lunch at noon with my friend.

 

Obviously each meal and each day can be very different depending on what is going on around me, how I feel, etc.  But I wanted to share this because even though it is tracking…its not for making me aware of what’s going into my mouth, its making me aware of my attitudes towards food, people, mealtimes, etc.

I’ve learned a few things already and it hasn’t even been a whole week! For example…a good attitude, great night’s sleep and recent exercise help me automatically make better choices, and it doesn’t feel like “restricting” its just a choice..and it happens to be a good one 🙂

Hugs

<3 Merbear

Apr 102013
 

I’ve been trying to lose weight, be healthy and stay that way since I was 19 years old and in college. To make a long story short I’ve been up and down…I’ve done  calorie counting, points counting, LA Weight Loss, back to points, Slimgenics and back to points.  Its not that these programs didn’t or don’t work, but I always struggle through them, have rough patches of sabotaging my efforts by having a “good” day and then a “bad” one.

I overeat when I’m alone, way out of the public eye and especially out of the eyesight of my family and friends.  I was a binge eater when I was in elementary, junior high and high school.  I didn’t know it then.  In college I had more to do, more to think about and I walked all around campus, noticed I was dropping weight so I decided to not snack anymore and because I had never tried to lose weight before the first 15 came right off that year. After that, not so much and I’ve been going through cycles of being at goal (for no more than 4 months or so at a time) to being on one weight loss plan or another. I’ll be doing super well on the plan and then its like my brain rebels and I find ways to eat extra treats when no one is looking. I’m pretty good at bouncing back and saying “oh hey its a new day”…but it keeps happening, over and over.

Plans are great for people that need to learn about nutrition, healthy eating habits, exercise, healthy lifestyle choices…well, I know all these things…so why do I keep failing?

I finally went and asked The Emily Progam.  I had been avoiding getting help because I kept telling myself:

“I’m not anorexic, I’m not bulimic…I don’t count as a person with a eating disorder, I’m just lazy and I don’t have enough willpower to follow a plan…its stupid for me to ask for help”

But, I started seeing my blogger friends online talk about how compulsive eating and binge eating have actually been named as eating disorders and how more people can get help now. The blogger that got my attention first and who I specifically went and read her a blog about her experiences is Fit and Free with Emily.

Then I saw more billboards and signs on the sides of buses about the Emily Program and decided the worst that could happen is they could say no, I don’t have an issue they can help with.

Which I was really afraid of and thought it would confirm that I’m dumb, lazy, don’t work hard enough or try hard enough or have enough willpower to lose weight.

Well, after a 1 hour intake meeting that involved talking to a counselor about all my eating history since I was a child, my life now, what I eat now, what I think or feel about this or that and then a 2 hour written test about feelings, thoughts, etc.  Then, a 2nd meeting to go over the 1st meeting results and clarify a few things….I heard her say…

We can help you”

I think you could hear the rush of air coming out of my mouth, my back relaxing into the comfy sofa and a big smile on my face…

“holy crap”, I thought to myself….”I’m not lazy, I’m not weak, I get help!”

I will be set up with a therapist and a dietitian who will help me make my relationship with food normal. Eating will be like brushing my teeth, getting dressed..dare I say like breathing. 

She showed me how the history I shared with her and my testing results clearly show I have a Binge Eating, Compulsive Eating and Food Restriction Eating Disorder.   Lo and behold, plans like Weight Watchers, Slimgenics, tracking calories, LA Weightloss, etc actually exacerbate my binge eating and compulsive eating, not eliminate or even help.

Thanks for reading,  I hope this helps you understand how a person with a less public or less “well known” eating disorder might feel or perhaps this is you?  There’s help out there.

Hugs

<3 Merbear