I was fascinated by the article that you wrote in Ladies’ Home
Journal. As soon as I was through reading, I plugged in to your
website for further information. What I am interested in learning
about is overeating and the emotions. How much of your battle with
being overweight stemmed from your emotions? Is there any literature
that you have come across in your journey that addresses this issue?
Thanks for the tips!
My battle was emotional and chemical. No victory could have been
had with either link missing. This is what I have found to be elusive
for most women I encounter who are dealing with the problem I had.
I used my journal and books to address and bring my emotional
issues to the surface. I needed separation from my family. It was
hard-core, emotional separation, not just physical separation that
worked for me. Some can't do that, so the alternative is to take
emotional space and solitude very seriously. Setting boundaries.
Even if you live in the same house with the person who's energy
sets off, or just reinforces negative patterns. And beware; you
may not recognize the pattern as something negative. For example,
perfectionists who live together...
Emotional Weight by Colleen
Sundermeyer was good for me. Another book called Feel
the Fear and Do it Anyway was very good for me. But it was an
objective book on food called Food
and Healing that may have been the most powerful read for me.
It really changed my head about food, and the author (Annemarie
Colbin) had a wise tone. Turns out she's quite a respected figure
in the world of holistic nutrition. She definitely turned this junkfood
binger into a healthier food binger who wanted to know more...
John Bradshaw's book Bradshaw
on the Family was very powerful. There you have my favorites.
If you choose therapy, my only caution is that you might be tempted
to give up a degree of ultimate responsibility subconsciously. I
didn't do therapy, but I spent years blaming my mother, who did
have a lot to do with the early on development of my shame and even
my eating style. I got very angry. Became very sensitive to her
energy, got her out of my life for a while, which was the only way
to get her out of my head. Then one day I realized that actively
blaming her was putting off my own responsibility for what was still
a problem so many years later. Only I could help myself now.
I could go on and on but I'll post the rest on the website over
the following months. I think your question is representative of
many readers concerns and would love to post it in an upcoming Q&A.
Do you mind? Can I use your initials?
Everything in my website comes from the handful of principles that
led to my freedom from compulsive eating, so I hope you'll look
over the whole sight, not just the food articles! Awareness was
so much of my change.
Hope this helped.
Thank you for the great information. I am constantly surrounded
by family, we live very close together. Unfortunately, most of them
have very negative advice for me, and often drag me down with them.
I was molested as a child by my father and I know that this is a
very important part of my emotional, over-eating problem. I am very
interested in your self help approach and I look forward to following
your site for further assistance. Yes, you can include my questions
in Q&A and my first name or initials would be fine.
Thanks again for your help.
A Battle With Bulimia
From: T. P., South Dakota
I have an obsession with food and I am also bulimic... I really
need help on how to control it. I would like any suggestions you
could give me.
The bingeing and purging has been going on ever since I was
in seventh grade (I am 25yrs old now). In sixth grade I weighed
175 lbs and was teased and humiliated terribly by my family and
5 older brothers. In the 7th grade I moved to a bigger town and
was so scared that I dieted heavily and lost 40 lbs. Everyone liked
me and I swore I would never be heavy again. Later that year I started
to gain weight and didn't know how to lose it so the binging/purging
started. I couldn't stop. I thought about food non-stop, I would
eat a whole pizza myself, a whole bag of chocolate and then some
just so I could throw up. It later became a control thing. When
I was under stress, I would do it more and more.. It got so bad
that I was throwing up at least 25 times a day and sometimes more.
It was just built into my normal routine. I know it is affecting
my health because my stomach hurts all the time, I always have headaches
and I have a serious compulsion of food. I am now married with two
children and I have tried to talk to my husband about the problem
but he doesn't understand at all. I feel like I am going at it alone.
In college I did go to a therapist but felt so humiliated and embarrassed
about my condition that I quit. I don't know what to do. I don't
feel comfortable enough to go to anyone and I don't know how to
go about it. I don't feel like male doctor's understand because
I view them much like my husband.
There is a history of depression in my family. While in college
I did try to O.D. on meds but it was an issue with my weight....it
is taking over my life. You are the first and only person that seems
to understand my pain. I am so grateful that I read your article.
I live in a small rural community in South Dakota and there isn't
any health food stores or resources available. What do you suggest?
My Longest Letter
T: I'm assuming you read my story in Ladies' Home Journal.
The first thing you must do if you haven't already is find a good
doctor to keep an eye on your condition. Second, you must use your
solitude to confront your emotional issues, and perhaps some people
in your life. Allow yourself to be selfish, and apologize in advance
to others about needing space and being a bit unstable. Don't avoid
facing your problem by distracting yourself with activities or by
not saying no to social obligations.
Picture your life without the problem. Are you ready for life without
your "handicap" to focus on? Don't indulge in "if only I were thin."
Love the you that has the problem.
Next, focus on your health -- not "being thin." There’s a great
book by Annemarie Colbin, called Food
and Healing. It helped me to see food objectively for the first
time. Understand that while part of the problem is emotional, it's
not all in your head. Chemical food cravings can be as strong as
other chemical addictions. The sedative affect we get can literally
intoxicate us. By stabilizing my blood sugar and raising my serotonin
levels naturally with supplements, I was able to lose some of my
chemical addiction to food. If you're on prescription anti-depressants,
don't start with 5htp or St. Johns Wort (two supplements shown to
naturally raise our serotonin levels) without medical supervision
to wean you off the drug (which has numerous depressing side affects).
If your doctor isn't open to or doesn't seem to know much about
chromium (a blood-sugar stabilizing mineral), 5htp or even Kava
kava (an anti-anxiety herb) -- all available at the health food
store, you may want to find a doctor who does. There's one near
you, I guarantee it. To find out who, go to Resources on my website,
InformedBeauty.com, and get Dr. Julian Whitaker's Directory of Nutrition
Oriented Physicians or call the American Preventative Medical Association
(APMA) at 1-800-230-2762. If you're not on any drugs or pregnant,
start the 5htp, Kava Kava and chromium right away ‚ with the supervision
of a doctor who’ll take your desire to get well naturally seriously.
Eat only real food, even if you're bingeing. Real chocolate and
real butter instead of cheap packaged, hydrogenated stuff is actually
a big step up. Try taking Chitosan, a fat-absorbing fiber, if you
know you're going to eat a lot, and decide if you can to use it
as a rationale to reduce your purging. Four capsules a half hour
before eating can offer binge "damage control" without harming your
health (see story on Chitosan in IB’s Feeding Beauty section this
If you develop a list of unrefined foods you like and binge on
them instead of pure refined sugar or super high-carb foods, you
will reduce the damage and dramatically reduce your cravings. Forget
fat free food. Upgrade your binge foods gradually. Replace bread
with brown rice when you can. Put anything you want -- cheese or
whatever on it. Same with vegetables. Use butter or cheese on it,
but pile the veggies high and, again, skip the bread or pasta.
Have eggs or plain yogurt with berries instead of cereal for breakfast.
Have a piece of protein (beef, chicken, fish or tofu), some veggies
and some brown rice instead of pasta and bread for dinner. You may
not have much brown rice available at your restaurants, so buy it
at the store, make a huge batch at the beginning of the week and
eat it with your dinners. This will address carb cravings. Quinoa
(available at the health food store) is another good whole grain
you can use as hot cereal, instead of rice, or even with pasta sauce.
Become a regular at the health food store. If you know you can't
stay away from sweets or crave "creamy", have Designer Protein or
Atkins shakes or Atkins Bars (1-800-6ATKINS or The Vitamin Shoppe
800-223-1216), which are low in sugar and won’t perpetuate your
cravings . Buy a good multi-vitamin (TwinLab's One Daily is good.)
Buy a cereal called Smartbran by Lifestream, if they have it, and
eat it if you crave bread. Lose your taste for soda. Drink seltzer
with lime instead. I used to drink at least four diet sodas a day.
Now anything that is suspected to cause seizures (like nutrasweet)
or that is commercially sweetened is out of the question. In fact
anything with hydrogenated fat, white flour or sugar, or nutrasweet
is a total turn off to me. There's no longer any "self-discipline"
involved in my not eating these things.
As if I hadn't taken away all your vices already, coffee is bad
news. It raises "fight or flight" adrenaline hormones and causes
a subsequent blood sugar drop and intense sugar cravings. During
the colder months, be sure to get every bit of sunlight you can,
since lack of it is connected to increased "carb" and sugar cravings.
The above is only one third of the battle, but get that routine
underway, and things stand a good chance of "clicking" when you've
done the other parts... Then, I believe your ultimate victory over
the problem will be permanent. The rest is both emotional and intellectual
The emotional work is to know yourself more and more, and determine
the origin -- the answer to the whole "chicken or egg" phenomena
that makes us become obsessed in the first place. Did you grow up
with an inherent sense of shame, does it have it’s origins in a
painful incident, or did you develop it when you first gained weight
and reinforce it by bingeing, which compounds things and often obscures
the true source of the shame. Are you a perfectionist. A "please-everyone-but-yourself"
type person with deep-seeded resentment? Did one of your parents
"mess you up." One of mine did, but it wasn't her fault. She couldn't
help it. I know that now. What ever it is, you need to "get there"
through journal writing, books or therapy, sometimes talking to
Having to be around the person who may have reinforced negative
patterns is something you may have to change. That could mean parent,
friend, or even spouse. If you've got kids, it's hard to take enough
time for yourself to figure these things out. Then I suggest finding
books that strike a chord of truth with your family/relationship
issues and reading them once the kids are asleep. Turn the light
out after particularly good passages after you've written it in
your diary. Look to passages that validate your feelings or bring
them to the surface.
The last issue as I said, is intellectual. It's about getting objectively
informed about what you put on and in your body, so you can begin
to live with vigilant self- respect. Act as your own advocate --
your own ideal parent. Refuse toxic products, food and even treatment
from others. Just say no. My website is rich with information about
the products, foods and rituals that either harm or serve us. As
you learn how from my site, you can incorporate changes at a comfortable
pace. Not all at once, as the perfectionist (doomed to failure)
often wants, just like the crash-dieter.
It's hard to decide to begin to treat yourself with respect and
not eventually want to go all the way. That’s what happened to me.
One self-respecting act (though I didn’t really feel the self-respect
at first) led to another, and eventually my tolerance for putting
up with my own self-abuse wore thin. This is why I have never looked
back after breaking my twelve-year compulsive spell seven years
ago, and why I might have if I had only had an emotional breakthrough
and not taken responsibility for getting informed. If you're being
consistent in all areas of your life, you are not likely to fall
back into your old ways. And I can tell you from experience, the
physical affects are mind-blowing and joyful every step of the way!!
After getting informed and acting more and more out of self-respect,
I think you'll wake one day soon and not be able to purge anymore.
Sometimes it takes a health crisis to stop something like bingeing
or purging, and believe me you'll have one if you haven't already...unless
you rally all you've got and stop now (with the help of all of the
above factors.) Don't wait for an irreversible crises. If you are
"waiting for something" from someone other than yourself, it could
be tempting you subconciously to use your problem as a cry for help
-- at your own expense. How much sense does that make?
I didn't even know I loved myself until my health crisis. Maybe
you could dig down and tap the unwavering love you still have for
yourself that hasn't been permitted to fully express itself. Invite
it to take over when you're ready. Eventually you will be a huge
inspiration to all who know you if you stop waiting or blaming or
"acting out" and decide to blow everyone’s mind by taking responsibility
and becoming your own best advocate.
I've run on and on. This is certainly the longest answer to a letter
I've given in a while, but I think you've asked a question that
represents many of the readers who log on to my website. I would
love to post this as a Q & A on my site so others can benefit, and
also be inspired by the humility you showed in making such a bold
statement at the start of your question. I don't have to use your
name, just initials. May I?
Please let me know if any of this helps.
I would love it if you printed my question. I hope there are
people out there that could benefit from this and maybe they are
going through a similar situation.
I sit here with tears in my eyes because I am so happy to have
found someone to talk to about my disease. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!!!!