In my last newsletter, which you can find on my website, I talked about healing in general. This month I wanted to talk about one of my own healing journeys – overcoming binge eating. I thought it might help others to step back and see where they are on their own path. Maybe it will speed up the process for you or help you adjust your strategy a bit. Better yet, maybe it will confirm for you that you are moving in the right direction.
Recognizing the problem
If you have issues with food in this country, the word “diet” pops up. You’ll see a bunch of ads and people sharing their diet success plans. This isn’t bad. Just remember point one from my last newsletter – use your own experience to decide if any of these plans will work for you. Give yourself permission to evaluate the results and make the plan work or move on and try something else.
Getting control over the binging
I first controlled my food intake through calorie counting and staying away from certain foods that seemed to trigger binge eating; there were good foods and bad foods. Portion control became important so I planned my food intake. I wrote down what I was eating. This helped me to get honest about what I was putting into my mouth. I used different commercial systems at different times and they were helpful. I also exercised.
My deep healing intention
Working on my food intake was very useful, but my ultimate healing intention/goal was to have a normal relationship with food – to enjoy healthy food, eat reasonable portions, maintain a healthy weight and have good health overall.
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I did not want to have an obsession (the thinking part) or compulsion (the eating part) about food; I wanted to experience plain enjoyment from eating good food. I wanted to let go of the fear of what I would eat, how much I would eat, or the self-recrimination about what I did or didn’t eat.
Have you thought about what your ultimate goal is for healing? To live longer in order to enjoy the people in your life? To be able to do the things you love for as long as you are able? To start doing things you are unable to do at this time? This may be the most important part of any healing plan – the big WHY. Why are you committed to making a change?
Binging tied to emotions.
The next stage in my healing was realizing that binging was linked to my emotional responses to life. I also realized that control of my food intake had become a bit obsessive. I went to Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and worked the 12 steps on my binging. If you’ve never read the 12 steps, take a look. They are not for the faint of heart.
Gradually, very gradually, I found other ways to deal with issues instead of binging.
At some point, exercise was not necessary for weight loss or maintenance. I had to re-evaluate the reason for continuing to exercise. Intellectually, I knew all the reasons for exercising. Don’t you?
What I am saying is that I needed to make exercise my own choice, because losing weight wasn’t the reason anymore. What reasons did I find to continue to exercise? I decided that it keeps me healthy, keeps my body flexible and strong and it improves my attitude.
How the “rules” changed as I healed
Here’s what I noticed as I moved on my healing path with food: The old rules about good and bad foods didn’t seem to apply anymore. I could stop when I was full; or if I ate too much, it didn’t force me back down the slippery slope of binging. At some point, calorie counting seemed to become a step backwards. I gave away my scale because, although it was a good way to chart my progress in the early stages, it had become another obsession. I had allowed the scale to decide whether I was worthy of self-respect.
I’m not at a perfect weight but I have had the obsession and the compulsion removed. At my last physical, my doctor declared me “obscenely healthy.”
So how do you begin?
In his book, Outwitting the Devil, Mr. Hill says a mediocre plan with tons of intention will get people where they want to go better and faster than a great plan with little enthusiasm.
- Create a healing goal that really moves you.
- Ask your Higher Power to point you in the right direction and support your healing.
- Make a decision to take an action.
- Do it and evaluate.
- Don’t give up!
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A Healing Story
This section will feature stories about healing modalities and experiences. If any of my clients want to provide a story, please contact me and we’ll share your story.
When I was stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (I’m a retired Navy officer), I was going to Overeaters Anonymous. I had made a commitment to eat reasonable amounts of food even if it killed me! Hah.
That was where I received a clear lesson about the fact that I used binge eating to deal with my negative emotions.
When I limited my food intake, I found myself angry over the littlest thing because I didn’t have food to soothe me.
I remember that my first husband, Winston was vacuuming and I was upset about something. I found myself deliberately throwing newspapers on the floor where he was vacuuming to express my anger.
I watched myself doing this and thought, “Am I a grown-up or am I a little kid having a temper tantrum?” (Healing brings a bit of humility into our lives if we stay honest.)
I used the 12 Steps to complete another self-inventory. I wrote down the items that were bothering me and shared them with my OA sponsor. I asked to be relieved of the character defects that I noticed and made amends where necessary.
I have continued to do this in order to keep my abstinence with food.
I now ask my Higher Power for abstinence and sobriety in thought, word, actions and attitudes on a daily basis. I still continue to struggle, but having this intention has helped me come back to a good place much faster.