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About the Author
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Reclaiming Yourself from Binge Eating
A Step-by-Step Guide to Healing
By Leora Fulvio
John Hunt Publishing Ltd.Copyright © 2012 Leora Fulvio
All rights reserved.
Using This Book
This is not a diet book, nor is this a weight loss book, though weight loss may be an incidental part of the healing process as you let go of binge eating. This is a mind, body and spirit book, that utilizes mindfulness and self-acceptance in order to help you heal on every level.
The book has an action plan, specific external steps that you should take to help yourself stop binge eating, and it also has more internal steps to help you increase your awareness and understand why you binge eat. Finally, it has exercises and meditations that will completely change the way you think and behave around food.
In addition to this book, make sure to have a notebook or journal on hand. During the course of the book, when it is advisable to write through the steps, you will see the phrase Journal Opportunity. If you would prefer to go through the book and go back to do your steps after you've read it, you can do that too. You can also find a journal with all the writing prompts at www.reclaimingyourselffrombingeeating.com. There is no prescribed formula. Just find what works for you. You might find that just one or two steps click for you and help you to completely give up binge eating, and you might find that different chapters resonate for you at different times in your life. You can return to things at certain times in your life when they have more relevance and learn something different from them then.
Throughout the book, you will also see the phrase Meditation Time. At this time, you can read the meditation, then close your eyes and focus on the specific meditation that is relevant to the chapter. Each of these meditations is also available for download at the website if you would prefer to be guided through the meditations.
Besides a journal, I also recommend having a support person on hand while you are working through this book. You can use this book with a therapist, a friend, a 12-step sponsor, you can create a Reclaiming Yourself from Binge Eating group, or you can just use it by yourself. It's encouraged to have at least one support person on hand so that you don't have to do certain exercises alone. You might feel that some of the chapters or the exercises don't resonate with you or are not relevant to your situation. That's okay. You don't have to do every step. Some might just feel that they are not for you. Just do what makes you comfortable and what your wise mind (more on that in Chapter Eight) tells you is right for you. This is about finding yourself and learning to meet your needs without food. You might find that you come back to certain exercises later and notice that they resonate with you more than they did when you first looked at them.
I do not recommend reading this book all in one sitting. You could do a step every few days, once a week, once a month or even more. Take time to metabolize it, to be with it, to think about it, to discuss it with your support people, or just spend time thinking or journaling about what's coming up for you. There is no urgency when it comes to recovery. It's about slowly coming back to yourself, getting to know you in a deep meaningful way.
The book is divided into two sections. The first section is about understanding Binge Eating Disorder. The next section is a step-by-step guide on exactly how to stop binge eating. The first steps are action steps. They give you very specific actions to change your behaviors. The next steps are internal steps. They are meant to help you think about your relationship to food, your body, the people around you and how they all relate to binge eating issues. At the end, there are appendixes with all your tools. These are your worksheets, your meditations and some quick references for you.
Letting go of Binge Eating Disorder is usually not a quick fix. It is a rich process of increasing awareness at the same time as you change behaviors, a glorious exercise in patience and self-acceptance. The great news is that you begin to have insight into who you are and why you do what you do, and gain new and different behaviors that help you to feel better and like yourself more. These changes are lifelong because they come from within.
Healing from Binge Eating Disorder is like breaking up with someone who you have been in a dysfunctional relationship with. In some ways, food has been your best friend or your lover. It has always been there for you, has always comforted you, and unlike people, food consistently made you feel better when you were down. But then comes the letdown. The after-binge feeling, when you feel worse than you did before you binged. Just like leaving that dysfunctional relationship, you might experience sadness or grief after letting go of the disorder. However, the freedom that you experience when you are out of this relationship with food will give you strength, health, and a more fulfilling life. Imagine yourself being who you want to be, in the body you want to be in, feeling the way you want to feel, looking forward to things other than eating, enjoying other parts of life, having the confidence that you want to have. It can all be yours. Of course, this doesn't come magically by reading a book, going to a seminar, listening to a recording, or taking a pill. You have habits and coping mechanisms that have been ingrained into your psyche since early childhood. These coping mechanisms are behaviors that used to work beautifully, but no longer serve you.
For instance, a young patient of mine, Liz, remembers that as a child her mother and father would fight incessantly. In order to escape their wrath, she would sit in her room and eat cookies and listen to music to drown out the noise and distract herself. She became so anxious when they fought, fearing that her parents would divorce and she'd be without one of them. The cookies made her feel better. She described it as completely calming the tension inside of her. However, now, as a 25-year-old woman, whenever there is any conflict around her, she instantly turns to food. So, at work, when her boss says something that she doesn't like, she feels unable to speak up for herself and runs to the cafe downstairs for a latté and a pastry. If her boyfriend does something like spend the night with his friends instead of her, rather than discuss it with him, she binges on cookies. This reaction was for a long time not conscious. However, through awareness, mindfulness exercises, and tracking, she was able to understand what was causing these binges.
"But I had a great day!" she once told me. "I have no idea why I ate a whole box of cookies by myself, I just wanted them. Everything was fine before that." We went through the day in a very detailed way. She did mention offhandedly that she put her headphones on at one point because her officemate was loudly arguing with her boyfriend on the phone.
"How did that make you feel?" I asked her.
"It didn't make me feel anything," she said, "but I didn't want to hear that. I just put my headphones on and drowned out the noise of the arguing."
"Like the way you used to sit in your room with the music turned up to drown out the sound of your parents fighting?"
"It's completely different," she told me. "I don't care one bit if Charlotte is fighting with her boyfriend. I don't even like Charlotte, she's very annoying."
"So, when you hear Charlotte fighting with her boyfriend, you feel ..."
"I just don't want to hear it."
"You just don't want to hear it. But Charlotte's relationship with her boyfriend has nothing to do with you."
"It's distracting. I had to hear enough of that with my mom and dad. I don't want to hear it in my workplace."
"Ah, so you cope with it in the same way as you did when you were a little girl."
"I guess I do."
Liz had found a way to deal with the fear of her parents divorcing as a child by listening to music, bingeing and tuning out. As an adult, she found that she repeated the same behavior.
Liz began to carefully track her binges and identify what happened on the days that she would binge. Using mindfulness, she began to understand when she was being triggered. She also understood that this was old information and no longer useful to her. She began to learn how to have healthy confrontations and boundaries, which enriched her relationships and helped her binges to subside completely. She didn't give up cookies; however, she found that she was able to eat one or two rather than 30–40 in a sitting.
Usually, there is more than one simple reason for people to binge. They are complicated and compounded by several different issues often rooted in family, self-esteem, body image, the fear or inability to sit with uncomfortable feelings, physical issues, biological, chemical and genetic reasons. It takes work to conquer all of these, but it is completely possible. I know that people who do the work are handsomely rewarded with a feeling of calmness and peace around food, and an overall feeling of emotional well-being.CHAPTER 2
What is Mindfulness and How Will It Help Me Heal?
Buddhist teachings consider mindfulness a path toward enlightenment. This means a daily conscious awareness of your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, bodily functions, movements, actions, reactions, beliefs, fears, anxieties and drives.
When you are mindful, you are present and aware. You are aware of your feelings and your bodily sensations, your emotional and your physical needs. When you are mindless, you are multitasking, you are drinking coffee and eating a bagel while driving the kids to school, you are fiddling with your iPhone, watching television, and eating lunch all at once. You are browsing the Internet while talking to your mom or checking your e-mail while nursing your baby. While we live in a society where multitasking is rewarded and often necessary, it seems that we can lose sight of who we are and what we are doing when there is just too much happening. When you are mindless, you are not present, and you don't notice what you need and why you are doing what you are doing. Your current task takes on momentum and then you follow the 'doing' rather than making active choices about what you need. When you do not integrate any mindfulness at all into your tasks, you might find that you move through your day almost automatically, driving to and from work and completing your daily tasks without noticing how you got there. All of a sudden, you're at the office; all of a sudden, you've eaten lunch; all of a sudden, it's 10pm; you've come home from work, eaten, watched three hours of television and it's time for bed. Your life passes without you being an active participant in it. Without mindfulness, bingeing chooses you rather than you choosing it. Because you are not actively engaged in your choices, you barely have time to make the decision not to binge. You barely have a moment to notice what you are feeling.
Mindfulness helps to decrease binge eating by helping you to fully experience all of your emotions, the joyful ones and the hard ones. By letting yourself feel your feelings, even the really difficult ones, you increase your capacity for sitting with painful and even distressing moods, thoughts and sensations. When you are more able to sit with these feelings, you don't feel driven to do something about it. There is nothing to be done with feelings other than feel them.
Creating a mindfulness practice will give you the tools to pause, notice what you are feeling, notice what you want to do in reaction to that feeling, and allow you just a little bit of space to make that choice willingly. Being mindful gives you the opportunity to be more engaged in your life day-to-day, minute-by-minute. You don't have to be hyperaware of what you are doing every second for the rest of your life. However, by increasing your awareness, just a little bit each day, you become an active participant in your life. You then can create some more choice as to whether or not you want to binge. You can begin to understand why you are bingeing; you can choose alternatives to bingeing.
It's so easy to begin a mindfulness practice. Start slowly by setting an alarm on your phone to go off a few times a day. Each time the alarm goes off, stop whatever you are doing and take two deep breaths. Then ask yourself, "What am I feeling?" Simply name that feeling without any judgments attached to it, without labeling the feeling as good or bad. You might notice that you are feeling anxious. You don't have to do anything to change the anxiety. Just quietly say to yourself, "Anxious," and notice the feeling. That is a very basic way to begin creating mindfulness in your life. You might then go on to ask yourself, "Does this feeling put me at risk for a binge?" You have just increased your chance of being able to prevent a binge behavior. You might then sit and take a few moments (1–5 minutes) to do some very light meditation. You can close your eyes, or keep them open and unfocused, put your hand over your heart and tune in to your heartbeat, then just notice your breath. This simple act will bring you into the present moment. It connects you with yourself. Increasing mindfulness increases awareness; when you are aware of your actions, it decreases the chance that you will do something that will hurt you. This is because we often do things to make feelings go away. For instance, you might be at work and on a tight deadline which you have a great deal of stress about. You might then run to the kitchen and chow down on some cookies and coffee before you get started. If you were able to stop, acknowledge that you are stressed, take a few deliberate breaths into your belly and allow yourself to slow down, you might find that you don't need to go into the kitchen at all. In fact, you might be able to calm yourself down just by taking space to breathe. When you feel stress, your nervous system goes into overdrive and you begin shallow breathing – or chest breathing. You can switch off the fight-or-flight response by voluntarily moving from chest breathing to belly breathing. When you do this, you switch off the fight/flight response by changing your breathing from fast and shallow chest breathing to slow, steady diaphragmatic breathing. This sends a signal to your brain that the threat is over and the parasympathetic part of the Autonomic Nervous system starts to reverse the biochemical and physiological changes brought about by the fight/flight response. Diaphragmatic breathing works quickly and effectively. In fact, by taking belly breaths, you can slow down your heart rate, increase your blood flow, and relax your mind and body in about 60 seconds. Try it now.
Start by lying in a relaxed position. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest. The goal here is to send your breath into your belly, not into your chest, so you should find that your belly expands but your chest remains relatively still. You don't have to take deep uncomfortable breaths, just let yourself find the natural flow of your breathing. Allow your breathing to be comfortable and to settle into its own rhythm. Let yourself continue to just watch your breath as you breathe into your belly for a minute. You can stay there longer, but after a minute the relaxation response should kick in. Using breath to create tranquility is the simplest and most natural way to relax. Our breath is a gift to us, an internal mechanism that is part of our design for creating peace. If you can just sit and breathe, you've found meditation. When you create time to do this every day, you will change your life by giving yourself a tool inside of you to help you manage your emotions.
The exercises in this book are set up to help you look closely at why you might be making certain choices. They are designed to help you think about why you made the choices that you did in the past, and why you continue to make certain choices. They will help you to take control over your behaviors. Once you have consciousness, once you know why you are willingly doing something, you then have awareness and choice and you are no longer controlled by the binge.
Excerpted from Reclaiming Yourself from Binge Eating by Leora Fulvio. Copyright © 2012 Leora Fulvio. Excerpted by permission of John Hunt Publishing Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1 All About Binge Eating 1
Chapter 1 Using This Book 10
Chapter 2 What is Mindfulness and How Will It Help Me Heal? 15
Chapter 3 Understanding Binge Eating Disorder 19
Chapter 4 Why Do I Binge Eat? 25
Chapter 5 The Inner Wars 39
Chapter 6 Types of Binges 53
Chapter 7 Binge Eater Personality Types 56
Chapter 8 Getting Started 65
Part 2 A Step-by-Step Guide To Healing From Binge Eating 71
Step 1 Create Purpose 73
Step 2 Learn Intuitive Eating 76
Step 3 What's Behind the Urge to Binge Eat? 85
Step 4 Figuring Out Your Binge Triggers and How to Defeat Them 88
Step 5 Self-Monitoring 98
Step 6 Making Your Home a Safe Zone 104
Step 7 What Should I Be Eating? 106
Step 8 Plan on Eating Three Meals a Day 113
Step 9 Understanding Your Hunger 116
Step 10 Overpowering Your Urge to Binge 132
Step 11 Increasing Your Tolerance for Uncomfortable Feelings 136
Step 12 Balancing Self-Acceptance with the Need to Change 142
Step 13 Retroflecting 150
Step 14 Dealing with Self-Sabotage 157
Step 15 Dealing with Procrastination 161
Step 16 Dealing with Boredom 165
Step 17 Sleep Issues and Night Eating 167
Step 18 What Do You Binge On? 171
Step 19 How to Soothe Yourself through Uncomfortable Feelings 173
Step 20 Healing Shame 182
Step 21 Dealing with Your Inner Critic and Gaining Self-Esteem 202
Step 22 Being Kind to Yourself 214
Step 23 Letting Go of Polarized Thinking 219
Step 24 Releasing Your Fear of the Binge Food 226
Step 25 Learning to Love Your Body 233
Step 26 Body Trust: Learning to Listen to the Wisdom of Your Body 244
Step 27 Dealing with Saboteurs 250
Step 28 Feeling Jealous, Envious and Making Comparisons 258
Step 29 Exercise 262
Step 30 Dealing with Desire and Wanting 268
Step 31 What if I Relapse? 273
Step 32 Understanding How Your Family Dynamics Have Influenced Your Binge Eating 279
Step 33 Understanding Binge Eating in Your Relationship 284
Step 34 Tell Your Story 287
Appendix A Further Resources 288
Appendix B Quick Tips to Stop a Binge in Its Tracks 290
Appendix C PMS and Binge Eating 300
Appendix D Supplements and Medication 301
Appendix E When You Feel Like Giving Up on Reading This Book 303
Appendix F Tools 305
Recommendations for Further Reading 323
About the Author 327
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
''Reclaiming Yourself from Binge Eating: A Step-By-Step Guide to Healing'' by Leora Fulvio is the type of book I wished I had years ago when my problem with binge eating was at its peak. The well-written, insightful and informative guide allows people who suffer from binge eating, emotional eating and compulsive eating to take back control in a way that not only improves emotional and physical health, but allows you to really understand yourself and the things you do. What I liked about this guide is that it allows you to delve deeper into the reasons behind binge eating, helps to establish a smarter and healthier outlook, and gives you tools to take that journey step-by-step in a way that doesn't feel oppressive or futile. Ms. Fulvio makes it possible to turn the tide on compulsive eating and make food just another sustenance, instead of a guilty pleasure or an enabler for your emotional/physical problems. Overall, I found the book to be well worth the read and would definitely recommend it to those who want to take back control and move on with their lives in a health way.
A Godsend for those with any kind of eating disorder! Leora Fulvio’s "Reclaiming Yourself from Binge Eating" is a must read for anyone with any interest in this topic, and a Godsend for those with an eating disorder. It not only introduces the reader to the multi-faceted topic of binge eating, but also provides a superb series of meditations, exercises and visualizations to help bring about the inner transformation that can break destructive eating patterns. Beautifully written from the first page, the text is a well-balanced mixture of personal anecdotes, psychology, and practical wisdom stemming from her years as a professional therapist. Bravo, Leora Fulvio! Thank you! This work is a precious gift! ~ Ram Das Batchelder, author of “Rising in Love: My Wild and Crazy Ride to Here and Now, with Amma, the Hugging Saint”