The first goal of therapy if you have binge eating, compulsive overeating, food addiction or emotional eating should be interrupting any current unwanted behaviors, such as bingeing, overeating, obsessing about food or your body. But these behaviors are so automatic and so linked to emotions that often are not acknowledged or even recognized, that it’s hard to stop or interrupt them. There are skills that can help you if you want to move on and just don’t know how.
In this podcast you will learn:
1. Why practicing certain skills can help you end unwanted behaviors.
2. Five skills you can put into practice immediately.
3. How skills can help uncouple your emotions from your unwanted behaviors.
How will learning to tolerate your emotions and using these skills to deal with the crises in your life affect your BED/CO?
Write down a list of pros and cons for continuing to engage in your current eating behaviors? Dig deep to see what you are getting from continuing to binge, obsess about food, overeat, etc.
Choose at least two skills to practice every day. Try to practice the same two skills for a week; for example, you might practice the skills of push away and soothing the five senses.
See if you can identify at least five skills that are very effective for you. These should be skills that can be used in a variety of situations.
List of skills:
- Pros and cons skill. When you analyze your current situation for its pros and cons you discover all the different ways the situation does and doesn’t serve you.
- Skills for immediately improving the moment. Various skills can help you immediately change things in the moment; these include prayer, relaxation, using your imagination (e.g., thinking of a beautiful beach you’ve visited), and finding meaning in your pain.
- Self-soothing skills. Self-soothing (with the 5 senses) skills help you nurture and calm yourself. For example, you might soothe yourself by taking a bubble bath, smelling a rose, listening to music, or noticing the beauty of nature.
- Skills of distraction. Distraction can put distance between a current situation and your feelings. Examples include taking a walk, calling a friend, taking three deep breaths, and reading.
- Push away: . To do this, imagine yourself putting the problem into a lockbox and then storing that box on the top shelf of your closet until you are less emotional or have more support and are ready to take it out and deal with it.
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Hi everyone Dr. Carolyn here with episode number 104 skills you can use to stop binging and overeating now. So we’re going to be talking about some really important ways that you can already start working on reducing those unwanted behaviors. Stay tuned.
I hope everybody’s doing well and staying safe in America and across the world. I have to include the world because I’ve been doing my free consults with people who’ve been from Europe, from Scotland, from Ireland, from Dubai, Canada, Australia, even New Zealand. So it’s exciting for me to see that, that the word is getting out to women around the world, that they no longer need to be focused on the number on the scale. And that’s really rewarding for me to see, because I think women have a lot to offer to the world and it doesn’t only have to do with how we look or primarily even have to do with our look. So let’s get into today’s topic, we’re going to be talking about skills that can help you overcome unwanted behaviors that you have, if you’re struggling with binge-eating compostable reading, emotionally eating or food addiction.
Now talking about skills is not the most sexy topic, but it’s probably one of the more important things that I teach to my patients in the anchor program. And you know if you’ve been in therapy for binge-eating or emotional eating, you know, that there are a lot of conventional approaches that have been used to treat these different food and body image issues, including cognitive behavioral therapy. dialectical behavior therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, and so on. There’s also medication, particularly for people who’ve been diagnosed with binge eating disorder. And then there’s the standard dietary and exercise recommendations. But basically the first goal of therapy really should be to help you interrupt any current unwanted behaviors, whether that be bingeing, overeating, obsessing about food or obsessing about your body.
Now, research has shown that the majority of people with binge eating disorder have very chaotic eating patterns. They may eat more, both at meals and during binges than people who are living in larger bodies, but don’t have binge-eating disorder. They also can tend to engage in weight cycling or yo-yo dieting, and they may have eat over longer periods of time. And finally, they may also be unable to regulate their eating behavior both during and between binge episodes. Now, I don’t think that’s news to any, any of you who are listening, who struggled with binge eating disorder or food addiction or compulsive overeating it’s some of those traits are pretty common to all of those disorders. One of the things that I really like about one of the therapies called dialectical behavior therapy is that it’s based on Buddhist concepts and one Buddhist theory views pain as part of the human condition, but distinct from suffering. So pain is part of the human condition, but suffering is not and suffering is defined as nonacceptance of pain. So what does that mean? Well, for example, if you go through a divorce after 20 years of marriage, of course you may experience pain in the form of anger, sadness, fear, or any number of other emotions, but suffering comes about when, instead of accepting the divorce, accepting your feelings, you blame other people for how you feel. You get stuck and feeling sorry for yourself, or feeling like you’re a victim or distracting yourself from your true emotions. So there are skills that dialectical behavioral therapy that can teaches us that can help you to move on and reduce the amount of suffering that you experienced. Now, one of these skills is mindfulness.
And I’ve talked about that in step five of the five steps to recovery. When you are mindful, you observe and describe what you’re experiencing, even when the experience is painful. So that would sound like I’m feeling sad right now, or I’m feeling I’m really, really angry. And I just had a conversation recently with a woman in the anchor program who was really struggling with being able to even say that she was angry, let alone tell the person that she’s angry with that she’s saying she’s angry.
So many of us have been trained not to experience our emotions or not to express our emotions. I mean, we use food to numb ourselves and keep from expressing emotions. But many of us have been taught that, you know, good girls are quiet and don’t get angry and you have to be nice to everybody and so on. And that, that is a really a perversion of what it means to be female human. And I always tell the story about witnessing one of my little nieces whose three years old, I think at the time and something happened and she got so angry. She got so angry that her whole body, she stiffened up her whole body and just kind of fell on the floor and threw a fit. Now, luckily her mother didn’t say to her good girls don’t act this way. She did something a lot more healthy, but many of us have experienced someone telling us it’s not okay for you to be angry. And then that changes who we are and how we feel, and often leads to some of these unwanted eating behaviors as we attempt to not feel anything which is inhuman.
Well, mindfulness also allows you to just sit with your experience to actually feel. For example, sadness or anger in your body. And to just notice what you’re feeling like how does sadness feel in your body? Does it feel like a heaviness? How does anger feel is your jaw clench? Those are the kinds of things that when you’re mindful, you can notice, and that enables you to change your automatic reactions to situations as a result.
So usually if something happens, we have an automatic response, which is you don’t even notice what you’re feeling, but there’s something uncomfortable and you reach for the box of donuts or the cookies or the chips or the chicken or whatever your food fix is. So one of the most important elements of mindfulness is learning to just not judge your emotions or the emotions of other people, or even the situation you’re in.
Now judging is really common. For example, we often describe things as good or bad, including food, right? So when you separate the facts from your emotions, you can focus on situations without judging or labeling them. And this will help you determine what is helpful and what is not. And then from there you can do whatever will work best in the situation. So one type of skill is about helping you distract yourself from unpleasant or overwhelming feelings to give you just a little bit of distance between what you feel and having a behavior. So it interrupts that automatic reaction that we have, where we go from an unrecognized feeling to an unwanted behavior.
We experienced distress when things don’t go our way, situations are upsetting, but can’t be immediately changed. And one relationship don’t meet our needs. And often very sensitive individuals, such as the ones I work with with binge-eating, compulsive overeating, emotional eating, or food addiction may feel things more strongly than other people that’s just the way you’re wired. And they, along with that though, is the other part, which is they may take offense even when no offense is ment. So because distress can be difficult to tolerate you may have found yourself, overeating, bingeing, drinking, or engaging in other unwanted behaviors to get rid of unpleasant feelings.
Now, there are four types of skills for improving distress tolerance and we’re getting go through those. The first one is skills of distraction, then the second is self soothing with the five senses, skills for improving the moment and the pros and cons skill. Now these skills come from a type of therapy that I’ve mentioned before called dialectical behavior therapy. It was originally developed by therapists Marshall Lenahan and she’s written a number of books and done quite a bit of research on what we call DBT.
So let’s start with the skills of distraction distraction. As I said, can put distance between a current situation and your feelings binging or overeating or food obsessions or judgements about yourself for having a binge may have become, as I mentioned, an automatic response to certain stimulus. Like negative comments about your body and your appearance, your size, negative thoughts that you have also stress, whether it be stressed from home or in the workplace. However, you can intentionally use distraction to interrupt the stimuli and emotionally charged thoughts that lead to those unwanted behaviors. And there are many different ways to distract yourself. An example would be, or some examples would be things like taking a walk, calling, friends, listening to music, taking three deep breaths, reading anything that takes your focus off the situation that you find upsetting or distressful.
One distraction skill that I really like and has been particularly helpful to many of my patients is the skill of what’s called push away, which is leaving a situation alone for a time. Now, this one is really simple and you can do it anywhere at work in the middle of an argument with your husband, whatever, to do this, just imagine yourself putting the problem into a box and then locking the box and then storing that box on the top shelf of your closet until you are less emotional or have more support and are ready to take it out and deal with.
Let’s go onto the next one, the self-soothing skills. Now these can help you nurture and calm yourself. So they’re very nurturing skills and we use the five senses and many people with binge eating or compulsive overeating, food addiction, et cetera, either don’t feel they deserve to be nurtured or expect someone else to do it for them. Learning to self-soothe those really part of learning to love and accept yourself and to recognize that you deserve to be nurtured. Now we’re not asking, I’m not asking you to go from body dissatisfaction low self-esteem and history of trauma and all of that to suddenly loving yourself. But the self-soothing skills are a way to open the door to the possibility that at some point in your life, you may come to love yourself.
So the skills of self soothing employ the five senses. So here’s some examples you might serve yourself by taking a bubble bath. Smelling a rose or putting a Roman therapy lotion on your skin, listening to music or noticing the beauty of nature. All of these are ways to nurture yourself besides just using food.
All right. The next skill that I mentioned, skills to improve distress tolerance include skills for immediately improving the moment. Now, very skills can help you immediately change things right now in this moment. And these include prayer, relaxation, using your imagination, like thinking of a beach that’s very relaxing and maybe read about or visited or finding meaning in your pain. So these skills help you to immediately transform what can be a very negative and overwhelming situation into a positive one through shifting your perceptions and physical responses and letting go. So these skills tend to tap into that mind body connection, and they allow you to transcend the tumult of your thoughts and emotions and judgments, and kind of take yourself to a different place. I don’t know if any of you are old enough to remember the old Calgon bubble bath commercials but these used to be commercials on television, where one moment you may be cleaning up a messy spill in your kitchen with three kids hanging onto your leg and the dog barking. And you’re feeling this disgusted and distracted and upset.
And then the music comes in very relaxing music and you are whisked away to a relaxing Calgon bubble bath on a beach in Bali in your imagination. So, this is what improving the moment can do. So these skills help you to transform a negative situation into one that’s positive. And there’s lots of ways to do that I mentioned prayer, relaxation using your imagination, even taking a mini vacation can be a way to help. And a mini vacation I mean, like taking your lunch hour to do something pleasing instead of rushing through it and working while you’re eating at your desk. Okay.
And then the final skill in distress tolerance is the pros and cons scale. And that’s when you analyze your current situation for its pros and cons, you can discover all the different ways that the situation you’re in does and doesn’t serve you. And this can help you become more aware of the benefits of actually tolerating your distressed, tolerating your emotions rather than continuing to use unwanted behaviors to suppress emotions or numb yourself from emotions, such as, I mean, you know what the unwanted behaviors are smoking cigarettes, drinking too much, bingeing over and other pulsive behaviors.
So to use the pros and cons scale, you would analyze the advantages and disadvantages of not acting from your emotions, or I should say reacting from your emotions. In other words, learning to tolerate this stress. So think about doing this with your eating behaviors in mind, if you have binge eating, how would it affect your binge eating if you stopped acting from your emotions, what are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so? Now this may seem really counterintuitive. And you know, often when we do this exercise in the program, people say, well, there are no advantages of continuing to binge, but the bottom line is. If there were no advantages, you wouldn’t keep doing it. So you got to dig a little bit deeper than just the obvious and ask yourself, what do I get out of continuing to binge?
So finding pros for learning to tolerate distress is easy. So if you were better at managing your emotions, you would stop in bingeing if you’d feel better about yourself, your life would be improved, et cetera. But you would also give up certain things. For example, if you stop using food to manage your distress, you’d no longer enjoy the instant gratification that comes with doing so. See seeing your bingeing behavior smell so affect your relationship with your family. Maybe you get a lot of attention because of your eating disorder or your size or other behaviors, even if it’s negative attention.
So dig deep for this exercise. I’m going to give you this homework and be as honest as you can, about how your eating disorder helps and hurts you. So the homework is doing the pros and cons of tolerating distress rather than acting from your emotions. I’ll put this in the show notes. So you’ll have the questions there. How will learning to tolerate your emotions and using these skills to deal with the crisis in your life, affect your unwanted behaviors. Choose at least to, the second part of this is to choose at least two skills to practice every day. So remember I talked about the pros and cons scale. I’ve talked about improving the moment self-soothing and skills of distraction. So choose two skills to practice each day and practice the same two skills for a week. For example, you might practice the skills of push away and soothing the five senses and do that for a week and see if it lessens the level of your distress. And then see if you can identify at least five skills that are very effective for you now, when you practice them the first time, it’s not going to be a dramatic success. So you do have to keep practicing and eventually as you practice over time, you’ll notice that these skills will start to work. And these skills can be used in a variety of situations.
Now, obviously, if you get upset at work, you can’t stop and take a bubble bath, right? You’ll need another skill to use until you can get home. So maybe. Or taking deep breaths or going for a walk at lunchtime, don’t forget to try the mindfulness skills of observing and describing your emotions, being nonjudgmental and sitting with your feelings.
There are many types of therapy and medication that can improve your chances of long-term recovery. If you still think you can do it on your own and don’t want to seek outside help or support. Ask yourself, how long you’ve been going it alone. And is that really working for you? You can even use the pros and cons exercise to ask yourself what are the pros and cons of continuing to try to do this on my own, use that skill to see whether going it alone has primarily helped you or held you back. If you’re doing great on your own. Great. I’m happy stick with it. If on the other hand, you’re ready for outside help and support.
See the links in the show notes to sign up for a free consult to discuss your own individual. Food and body image issues. And I just want to give you a reminder about the anchor program. The anchor program is my 12 week non diet online program for people with food addiction, compulsive overeating, emotional eating, and binge eating. If you’re ready to take the next step, sign up for the free consult to discuss whether you would be a good candidate for the program. Just to note, I have extended the 2020 pricing for the program for another month. So if you’re on the fence now is the time to make your move. I also want to remind you that the free book offer is still in clay, and that is for a free copy of my book, the food addiction, recovery workbook. I pay for the book you pay either the shipping and or handling charge for the ebook there’s a small handling charge for the hard copy, hardcover book there is a, a shipping term. So I’ll put the link to get the free book in the show notes. And if you’re interested grab it, cause we’re not going to be doing it forever. So it’s a few left just for you.
Okay. Well, thanks for listening and I will see you next time Dr. Carolyn signing off.
Thanks for listening to episode number 104, which is all about skills. Skills you can use to stop bingeing and overeating now. I hope that you will take me up on my doing the homework and trying some of these skills. Again, skills are, you know, it’s boring. It’s not as exciting as we starting a new diet and all of the other things that we distract ourselves with. But I have to tell you that working on using these skills can really change your life because one of the biggest issues that you may be experiencing, if you have food addiction, emotional eating, or binge eating, is this emotional dysregulation. And even though you may not be aware of what you’re feeling, undoubtedly, you’re aware that you have some discomfort that is leading to the bingeing and obsessing about food and emotional eating, stress eating. So practicing these skills again, can give you that little bit of distance between the automaticity of your behaviors and your emotions.
Finally, just want to ask you to share the podcast with anyone you think might benefit from it. And to also give us a rating that helps us get the word out. Helps me get the word out. I appreciate your support. And I look forward to talking with you next time when I will be bringing you episode number 105, how body movement can help heal binge-eating and food addiction. So why body movement can help heal binge eating and food addiction. All right. Let’s look forward to talking with you next time. That’s it for me.