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 242013
 

I accept myself – fully and unconditionally, as I am, in this moment

 

The second part of my Emily Program journey started this week – therapy.  Every eating disorder has roots, some are obvious, but most are not.  My eating disorder ties right in to my anxiety (not surprising) and the roots of my anxiety are fear of abandonment and the need to seek approval and acceptance of myself from outside sources. On the outside, to people who don’t know me, and much to my chagrin, I may appear selfish and needy. As my husband says, “there you go again think for your selfer”. I admit that I act this way. I’ve developed this defensiveness over the years…anytime I even slightly perceive that I’m not being listened to or I think that someone has the wrong idea about me…I overreact.  Its because I perceive that person is not accepting me or approving of me any longer (so I have learned in therapy). It shakes my anxiety to the core. But, it makes me look and act like a child.

My need breaks my emotions, makes me crave comfort and to feel good.  Thus triggering emotional eating  that can turn into compulsive eating.

On Sunday a celebrated my birthday with my family. I had such a good time dancing with my niece, hugging my nephew, having excellent conversation with my parents, sister, brother-in-law, cousin and husband. But, something in me was sad…I’m not feeling so awesome about my body right now…after a week of prescribed rest and prednisone for a back injury..I felt like a big blob…sad that I didn’t want new clothes for my birthday because they’d all be in big sizes..which I’d have to accept as where I am, albeit temporary. I gave in to being sad and I grabbed 4 sugar cookies, sat down on the couch and flipped on the TV.  Although its fine to have a dessert and its fine to have cookies, the *reason* I took the cookies and the *reason* I chose four is disordered. I just wanted to have that yummy taste and feel that crunch.  Ryan had been tuned in to my feelings all day (like the good hubby he is) and he called down from upstairs and asked how I was doing…he heard the tremor in my voice and came down to talk it out.  I should have just talked to him first…because of course it helped to just share.  I felt so much better.

Just for a bit of clarification –  I’m not a binge eater anymore..that was when I was much younger, I’m a compulsive eater.  I didn’t feel out of control when I ate those cookies, I just ate them for the wrong reason. My feelings made me want to eat, instead of actually dealing with and going through them (I need an outside source, some don’t.)  Ryan helped make me feel better, not the cookies. 🙂

My Monday session with my new therapist felt awesome…she asked about my past and how I’m feeling now. We really dug in to find the source of my anxiety in general and how that relates to my compulsive eating. I felt good after that hour chat with her, after identifying what is really going on. Developing an understanding, even if its not a solution, feels good and has already helped me this week. I’m able to talk out and reason out why I feel a certain way and even talk through it with close friends and family. I still seek approval, agreement and acceptance..so it does feel better when I can explain it all to someone else and they “get it”, too. But, when its family and close friends, that’s okay 🙂

I’m okay, I’m me..and I love me 🙂

<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