If you have binge eating, food addiction or emotional eating, you may know that diet culture has rebranded itself as “healthy” vs. the prior focus on the thin ideal, losing weight or getting skinny. There has also been a trend by social media influencers to market detox products to make money, but in doing so, they may be contributing to the development of eating disorders in their followers. Your body has its own detoxification system. There are things you can do to give your body and mind a “reset” for the new year that will help you deal with cravings, binging, body dissatisfaction and food obsessions.
In this podcast you will learn:
- Why detox products can be dangerous.
- What is orthorexia?
- How can mindfulness help your break free of food obsessions.
- Specific steps you can take to reset your body and mind in the new year.
Mentioned in the podcast:
Don’t make yet another New Year’s Resolution that you won’t be able to keep!! Next Anchor Program starting right after the holidays. Schedule a free consult to see if you’d be a good fit for the program right away!
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Hi everybody and happy new year. I hope your holiday season went reasonably well in these troubled times. So today I am bringing you episode number 103, breaking free of the foods that hold you hostage. And we’re going to talk about all the things that you can do to support your body and mind in doing a reset for the new year, rather than going on yet another fad diet or a detox program, etc. So stay tuned.
So this time of year, a lot of people are talking about detoxing or talking about making a fresh start by going on a new diet. All of those things can be really triggering. If you struggle with food addiction binge-eating or emotional eating, and I’m sure many of you have heard the term detox and that term has been used to describe the first step in overcoming an addiction saying addiction to alcohol, for example. But when you struggle with food and body image issues, your mind is also can be a wash in toxic thoughts. That is to say ways of thinking that keep you upset, hopeless and feeling bad about yourself.
There are so many media influences that are confusing and conflicting and also. That applies to those that promote detox products, because in fact, your body is already designed to rid itself of toxins without any help from you. Now, most many of the products you see in health food stores are advertised on the internet or social media that say they are quote unquote, detoxifying are really code for weight loss. So these include detox teas, smoothies juice, cleanses and so much more. I do not recommend that you use detox diets to lose weight. Obviously there are some medical reasons why we do for example, fasting, which can be helpful for people with rheumatoid arthritis, juice fasting, but for the average person that’s really not necessary. So if you’re going after these detox products, you’re most likely using them as a diet to lose weight, but many individuals. Who haven’t even been diagnosed with an eating disorder can be roped into trying a detox tea, for example, and this can trigger them to develop an eating disorder or to relapse if they had an eating disorder in the past. But I do recommend something for the new year. And that is that you do a reset for your body and mind and the new year is the perfect time to do that.
So one of my patients, Christy is a single mother of one son and she works in illegal office. What bothers her the most is her inability to stop engaging on foods that people bring into the office or snacks that she keeps at home for her son. So what she has said to me is I just don’t understand what I can’t stop bingeing. And then after her out of control binges, she feels sluggish and bloated. She’s had some joint pains and recurrent headaches for the past year. So I talked to her about doing a reset, not just for her body, but also for her mind and I we’ll talk about that in a little bit.
So diet culture has rebranded itself as quote unquote healthy versus the prior branding of the thin ideal or losing weight or promoting, getting skinny. That’s passe now that’s no longer politically correct. Now everybody’s talking about, I want to get healthy, I want to eat healthy and we call that healthism and I’ve talked about that in a previous podcast. But it’s really just another code word again for losing weight. And I understand where that comes from because obviously the medical profession has been the primary pusher for people to connect health with thinness, but newer studies and re-evaluation of all studies are continuing to show us that health is not dependent on the number on the scale.
There’s also been a trend by social media influencers, to market detox products to make money, but in doing so, they may be contributing to the development of eating disorders in their followers. And these followers can often be vulnerable individuals or younger teens who just don’t really realize what they’re getting themselves into. The bottom line is your body has its own detoxification system. So how does your body get rid of toxins? Okay. Don’t worry. I’m not going to geek out too much on you and talk about, you know, biology or anything. So, but just a little bit. So let’s just start with the three parts of your body that are most useful in getting rid of toxins on a day-to-day basis. Number one is the liver, which is the body’s primary filtration system. If you don’t know, the liver is right up under your right side rib cage and it takes up toxic substances and converts it into harmless substances and make sure that they are released from the body. It’s mainly the job of the liver to metabolize chemicals that are particularly dangerous or that accumulate in dangerous levels.
Number two are the kidneys and the kidneys are on your backside. If you put your hands like on your waist like your standing with your hands on your hips, your kidneys you’re right around there. So the kidneys remove toxins from the body on a daily basis, allowing us to safely eliminate them. They prevent waste and excess fluid from building up in the cells and they regulate that important the levels of electrolytes, such as potassium, sodium. And more which are necessary for proper cell function and they keep your blood pressure regulated as well as help your bones stay strong.
And then finally, number three is the colon, which is the large intestine. And just like the rest of the gastrointestinal tract, the colon has its own microbiome, which houses good bacteria that help us digest food, get nutrients and word off gastrointestinal diseases.
Okay. Enough about the body. So what can we do in the new year to really press the reset button? And how is that going to help you with your food addiction, binge eating or emotional eating I’ll. As I said, the new year is a great time to work on. Pressing the reset button. At first, we’re going to talk about resetting your body by giving it what it needs nutritionally to help you with food addiction, emotional eating, and binge eating, rather than starting the new year, depriving yourself of foods. Let’s try these simple steps to reset your body and your body’s hormones to help you decrease cravings.
So the first one, and I will put these in the show notes. Don’t worry about having to pull over and traffic and try to make notes. I’ll make sure that this goes in the show notes for you. Number one is to support your body’s natural ability to get rid of toxins include some of these foods in your meals. Cabbage, broccoli, collard greens, kale, brussels sprouts, bok choy, a rugala mustard, greens, and turnips. Those are all foods that naturally help your body to get rid of toxins. And number two, use the spice, turmeric or curcumin in your cooking. These are known to help the liver rid the body of toxins and remember from our biology lesson, the liver is the primary filtration system, so important to support the liver. And then number three, drink green tea, which increases the amino acid glutathione, which is a strong antioxidant that helps the body repair itself and detoxify also eating foods that contain sulfur like eggs, garlic, and onions. And why do you want to have sulfur in your diet? Well, sulfur is important in the detoxification process and I won’t bore you with the biochemistry on that one. Take my word for that. Okay. And number five, regular exercise is another way to support your body in resetting, working up a sweat is a way that the body does rid itself with toxins naturally. Okay.
One issue to be aware of is this risk that for vulnerable people, using these detox products can trigger the development of eating disorders. And according to research, certain detox products and cleanses are fast, are highly associated with the development of eating disorders. Most commonly the development of bulimia or purging disorders and orthorexia. So bulimia, I think most of you know, what that is, it involves bingeing and purging to a variety of ways. But you may not know what orthorexia is and it is a life-threatening restrictive eating disorder. That’s characterized by an obsession over food quality. Orthorexia can also cause malnutrition and then can shift over into anorexia.
So diet culture perpetuates this idea that substances in processed foods can kill you. So you have to quote unquote, eat clean or detoxify or eat only produce et cetera, but clean diets and cutting out food groups often is what triggers. Orthorexia. You start cutting out a few food groups and next thing you know, you’re afraid to eat anything. And that can be really serious. It sounds like it would be very healthy, but if taken too extreme, it can cause eating disorders. So let your body do the work that it knows how to do to take care of itself and then you can support it in the ways that I mentioned earlier.
Now the second part of doing a new year’s reset is not just resetting the body, but also doing a reset on the mind. Shifting our ways of thinking that reinforce, heard of sessions is also an important process of transforming either food addiction, then cheating or emotional eating. So eating is so automatic. That you may not be you may not even realize how much your thoughts and emotions play into what you eat, how much you eat and why you crave certain foods. I just want to highlight that because I think it’s very true that most people are not aware of the emotions that can trigger these eating behaviors. And I know when I start to work with patients in the anchor program, many of my patients can’t even name what they’re feeling or they can’t identify what it feels like in their body to be angry or to be sad. And so they may be eating automatically as a way to deal with the discomfort of emotions without really realizing it. So because your response is so automatic, you may feel also as if you will never be able to break the hole that food has on you. Doing a new year’s reset on your mind actually means learning how to be more present and mindful about your eating behaviors, as well as your thoughts and judgments about those behaviors. Because one of the cycles I’ve talked about in previous podcasts is you have a binge episode and then you start saying negative self-talk to yourself, you beat yourself up. Why did I do that? Why can’t I stop bingeing? I don’t understand why I binge et cetera. And then you develop, you know, guilt and shame, and that makes you feel bad. And so you eat because you feel the guilt and shame. So it’s really important to be mindful enough to identify these patterns so that you can reduce that shame and guilt.
So here’s an example of a pattern. One of my anchor program clients talked about realizing that when she gets overwhelmed, like too much to do too many projects to me, feelings she turns to food. Another talks about when she has emotional upheavals, a breakup or a move, or even a positive event, like a new job that can make her want to binge. So just imagine before joining the anchor program at these clients were not aware of these patterns or only minimally aware of the patterns, but now recognizing these patterns, they have more opportunity to break the pattern. So for most people, these patterns lead immediately to bingeing or obsessing about food or having negative body image, thoughts. And again, that leads to guilt and shame. It just think about being mindful is like being a fly on the wall and having some emotional distance from your actions that then allows you to see what’s really going on and also a fly on the wall doesn’t judge wouldn’t see. When you interrupt that judgment, you can see much more clearly why you do what you do. And this clarity will enable you to interrupt and change what is no longer working for you. So I often talk about that as just being curious, being an observer, and again, not judging it, just collecting information. Without putting any judgment on it.
So one of the questions that for decades actually, I asked patients in the anchor program is how much of your time or energy do you spend thinking about food, worrying about what to eat, planning a binge thinking about your body, deciding to restrict thoughts of dieting and on and on and on. If you think about that, you may find like many of my patients in the anchor program, then you’re spending 50, 60, 70, or 80% or more of your time and energy on thoughts about food or your body. So if that’s true, how present can you really be with your partner, your spouse, or your children, or at work when you spend this much time on food and body image issues? So when you’re not present in the moment, you may notice that your thoughts take on a life of their own. You can be trapped in an automatic vicious cycle when you allow those thoughts and emotions to run the show. And suddenly you look up and the box of donuts or the bag of chips is empty.
So when food is substituted for a sense of a liveliness or for soul satisfaction, which is part of the five keys to recovery, the five steps to recovery that I discussed in the previous podcasts, it can never really fill that need. So food can’t fill your need. Authenticity for soul satisfaction for love or attention who can’t fill that need, you may feel a sense of discomfort dissatisfaction or let down after a binge for that very reason. Food cannot give you what you truly need, but by being more conscious of your thoughts and emotions, by being more attentive to the balance of power may shift in your relationship to food.
Let’s talk about Christy again. So one day she came into my office and immediately began to express how upset and angry she was when I asked her what was going on. She described a confrontation she’d had with her mother in which she said her mother was trying to give her parenting advice. A mother was concerned, quote unquote, that Christy son was starting to gain weight, but before her mother could get very far with any advice on unrequested advice, Christie burst into tears and left. Well, what do you think was going on in that situation? On a superficial level, Christine obviously connected to her own food and eating problems with the comment her mother made about her son’s weight. But when she looked a little deeper and ask herself what was beneath her fears for her son, and would he end up having binge-eating problems like she did what she realized was that the overarching value that she felt on being a mother was not in alignment with. She gained much more insight. Christie was able to realize that one of her values was being a good mother. When her mother expressed her feeders at Christie son was gaining weight. Unconsciously Christie interpreted her comment as saying essentially you’re not a good mother. Another way of phrasing this. You’re not in her mind. I’m not in alignment with my value of being a good mother. So this feeling could also be triggered by teachers saying her son, wasn’t doing well in school or by a number of other situations.
Often when we experienced strong emotions like this, there is an underlying that. That is not in alignment with our actions or that we fear is not in alignment with our actions, going from a strong emotion directly to bingeing or obsessing about food or about your body is that often an automatic response. And you may find yourself going quickly from a strong emotion to a behavior without even realizing what’s happening. The key to changing this though, is uncoupling the emotion from the behavior, which can give you enough space in order to identify the value that you want to focus on, or whether this emotion is really true for you, whether this problem is really in alignment with who you are. To do that requires that you stay mindful every step of the way. And there are so many skills that you can use to do this. That’s what we work on in the anchor program, you know, and we’ve talked about skills in the past and we’ll be talking about more, coming up soon, but these steps can seem really monumental and overwhelming, or even frightening to contemplate. If you give up or let go of your hood addiction, your emotional eating, or binge eating, how will you comfort yourself when you’re upset? How will you have a break or reward without using food? Well, my advice is don’t try to figure this all out. Now, just ask yourself if you’re willing to move in the direction of healing and then maybe start journaling about that or put up a vision board of what your intention is for this year. Not about losing weight. But about how you like to feel in your body and around food. This is a really good step towards the lasting recovery.
I hope that was helpful for you. And I hope you’ll try some of the suggestions on resetting your body and mind for the new year. You know, starting out with something a little more substantive than just focusing on the number on the scale. So next week I mentioned in this podcast about skills learning skills to make some of these changes. So next week I will be talking to you about the skills that can help you to make the changes you want to make. So I hope you’ll join us next time. And please share this podcast with anyone you think might benefit from it or be interested in it. Please give us a review on apple and join us next time to talk about skills. Dr. Carolyn signing off.