DBT Group Denver: Eating Disorder Recovery

DBT Group Denver: Eating Disorder Recovery

DBT Group Denver – February 8 thru March 29, 6-7:30pm Do you want to change your relationship with food? Have you made some New Year’s resolutions and are hoping is that in 2017 you can find solutions to create a freedom point with food, eating and body image? DBT can help you! Have you heard of DBT? Perhaps you’ve heard this term in the therapy world or have read about it online. Maybe you’re curious how DBT can help you. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a form of tangible evidence-based treatment that can help with a variety of issues. I especially find it helpful for people with eating disorders or disordered eating. In my experience as a therapist, I have used DBT for seven years and have found it to work wonders with people who have binge eating disorder, food addiction, restrict food, or have anorexia or bulimia. DBT can help you change your life and have the relationship with food that you have been searching for. There are four main components to DBT. They include Distress Tolerance, Mindfulness, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. In the DBT Group Denver (starting February 8), we will encompass all four principles and apply them to your relationship with food, as well as what’s underneath your struggle. Below I will give a brief example of how each of the four DBT principles can apply to you. In the DBT Group Denver, we’ll use distress tolerance to find new and healthy ways to cope with stress and other of life’s challenges instead of either overeating or under-eating. Stop beating yourself up for engaging in disordered eating and find new ways...
Sugar Addiction: Eat More Protein and Crave Less Sugar

Sugar Addiction: Eat More Protein and Crave Less Sugar

Sugar addiction – a behavior of binge eating sugary foods – is a problem reported by many people, especially at this time of year, when Halloween candy is so prevalent! Some “sugar addicts” attempt to abstain from sugar, only to find that restriction can trigger binge eating. As I discussed in my last blog (August 18, 2016), carbohydrates are essential for health, and sufficient carbohydrate consumption can reduce cravings for sweets. Now, let’s look at the importance of protein. I find very few of my clients are fearful of protein, which seems to stem from the messages from the media telling us that if we consume lots of protein, that means we will lose weight and fit into society’s view of perfection. I specifically just read an article saying protein can help us lose belly fat. Honestly? Let’s think about that a minute. How can eating a chicken breast cause fat in our belly to shrink? Keep in mind that everything we eat breaks down into calories. If we over consume calories, we gain weight; if we restrict calories, we’ll lose weight. We should consume a variety of nutrients from all food groups. We do not gain or lose weight from certain foods, but rather from calories. For example – if we eat fat, it does not immediately turn into fat in the body, nor does protein foods immediately turn into muscle in the body. All food breaks down to calories and the body uses them where they’re needed or burns off what isn’t needed. To better explain this, let’s say you overall eat a balanced diet and your weight is...
Sugar Addiction: Why Am I Constantly Craving Sweets?

Sugar Addiction: Why Am I Constantly Craving Sweets?

Do you constantly crave sweets? Do you try to avoid sugar, but eventually binge? Do you wonder if you have a sugar addiction? We are constantly bombarded with conflicting nutrition messages; “Eat only foods that are fat-free or low-fat,” “Consume high fat food and lots of protein,” “Avoid all carbohydrates,” “Everyone should follow a Paleo diet,” etc. Let’s step away from the fad diet band wagon for a moment, and consider why it’s important to consume all nutrients in moderation – including carbohydrates. Foods containing carbohydrates are broken down to glucose in your body, which is the key nutrient. Examples of a few carbohydrate-rich sources are foods containing sugar like desserts or candy – as well as bread, rice, grains, lentils, potatoes, pasta, juice and fruit. Carbohydrates are an important energy source for your body, which you likely are aware of already. Not only are they important to provide energy for your body but they also provide fuel for your brain to function. Glucose is the only nutrient that can cross into your brain to be used as fuel to allow you to concentrate and think clearly. What is often not talked about is how important carbohydrates are for the production of making the messenger’s in your brain, specifically serotonin, which is responsible for functions such as making you feel happy and relaxed, as well as helping you sleep, regulate your blood pressure properly, have pain sensitivity and control your mood. Have you put carbohydrates into a “bad food” category? Especially sugar – have you told yourself that you should never eat sugar, because you have a “sugar addiction”?...
Drunkorexia: Health Risks & Recovery Tips

Drunkorexia: Health Risks & Recovery Tips

“Drunkorexia” – it’s not a medical term, but literally, this term implies a combination of excessive alcohol consumption (“drunk”) with desire or appetite (“-orexia”). On college campuses, this term means much more than “an appetite to be drunk.” It’s used to describe the behavior of deliberately avoiding food intake and/or exercising excessively before drinking. Drunkorexia is also used to describe the behavior of self-induced vomiting after eating (to empty the stomach of food before drinking alcohol), or purging in the midst of an evening of heavy drinking (to allow for continued alcohol consumption). This is a very dangerous behavior, which can result in severe dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and sudden heart attack – or, an accidental overdose of alcohol, coma and sudden death. A recent article cited research by the University of Houston, which studied 1200 students who reported at least one episode of heavy drinking in the past month. 80% of students disclosed drunkorexia behaviors – including meal-skipping, self-induced vomiting, and/or laxative abuse prior to drinking. The study revealed that males are just as likely as females to engage in this behavior. (Source: Yahoo News) It’s speculated that drunkerorexia behaviors are motivated by the individual’s interest to prevent weight gain from the calories in excessive alcohol consumption, by avoiding calories from food itself. Another possibility is that the lack of food in the gut will result in a “quicker buzz,” and an overall intensified effect from alcohol consumption. Is drunkorexia a type of Eating Disorder? In part, yes. One of the diagnostic criteria for Anorexia Nervosa, a type of eating disorder, is “intense fear of gaining weight or of becoming fat, or persistent behavior that interferes with weight gain, even...
DBT Group Denver: Eating Disorders Prevention

DBT Group Denver: Eating Disorders Prevention

DBT Group Denver: Using DBT Skills to Help Prevent Disordered Eating Behavior Have you been wanting to change your relationship with food, but feel stuck or hopeless? In honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I wanted to assist people to find more freedom in their relationship with food by using simple DBT (Dialectal Behavior Therapy) skills. Many people cope with stress and difficulties in life by turning to food as a coping mechanism. Some people may do this by binge eating, purging, or restricting foods. Many people engage in emotional eating as a way to numb their feelings, be able to feel something else instead of emotional pain or as a way to punish themselves. Does this help you get to a place in which you feel happy? Maybe for a few minutes tops. Then it becomes a dark and lonely place, most often worse off than when you started. Instead of suffering, choose compassion for yourself by using DBT Skills, an easy way to take care of your body, mind and emotions! The first two components of DBT are Distress Tolerance and Mindfulness. Distress Tolerance is as simple as it sounds – finding new ways to tolerate stress that are healthy and safe – not detrimental to your physical and emotional health. Instead of turning towards or away from food to cope with life stressors pick an area in which to distract yourself. Here are a few ways to do this. First, distract yourself with a pleasurable activity. Below are a few suggestions: Go for a walk Go to a movie Read a new juicy book Do online...
Eating Disorders and Trauma: What Is Trauma?

Eating Disorders and Trauma: What Is Trauma?

How do we define trauma? If you look up the word “trauma” various definitions populate. The underlying theme amongst the trauma definitions involves an unpleasant experience that leaves a person with an injury. The injury can be physical, emotional or even mental. So then, how do we define trauma in a counseling setting? When I first meet with a client we go over quite a few questions to help me better understand their want for professional help. As we get to questions about trauma, some clients initially respond they have not experienced trauma in their lives. As our discussion continues, I help clients identify what mental health providers refer to as BIG T’S (Big Traumas) and little t’s (little traumas). It is estimated that “Approximately one half (50%) of all individuals will be exposed to at least one traumatic event in their lifetime” (American Psychological Association, 2016). While 50% of folks may experience trauma, responses to such trauma differ from person to person. One person may be able to continue through life with little to no help with the trauma while others could have lifelong difficulties. Big T’s can differ in the level of severity along with the healing time involved in resolving such trauma. There are some cases in which these traumas impact an individual for the duration of their life. Examples can include witnessing a horrific crime, experiencing war, surviving abuse (emotional, physical, sexual) or neglect, exposure to violence and being involved in a car accident. Little t’s can be very impactful and are not necessarily less significant but different in nature from big traumas. Examples can...
DBT Skills for Eating Disorders

DBT Skills for Eating Disorders

DBT Skills for Eating Disorders: Distress Tolerance If you struggle with eating disorders, then you can likely relate to the concept of “distress.” But have you heard of “distress tolerance” – and wondered what this actually means? Is it simply a way to tolerate stressful situations or events? Maybe it describes tools for coping with tough relationships? The answer includes all of the above. At some point in life, everyone goes through painful circumstances – including physical pain such as illness or injury, or emotional pain such as anxiety or depression. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) focuses heavily on teaching people to be able to cope with painful stressors in life in appropriate and healthy ways. There are several unhealthy ways to cope with stress which include various addictions such as eating disorders, drugs and/or alcohol, gambling, shopping, sex/love, or self -harm. DBT teaches that there are many other ways to deal with pain in a way that will promote healing and growth. There is a very basic formula for handling stress and pain: DISTRACT, RELAX, COPE. When you feel stress coming on or find yourself in a tough situation, you can follow this simple formula and move through the hardship quicker than if you ignore it or try to cope in an unhealthy manner, as listed above. DISTRACT: The first step is to find ways in which to distract yourself so that you are not engulfed in difficult feelings. There are many things you can do! Find a pleasurable activity, such as: watching a movie, taking a walk, reading, calling a friend, going for a drive, exercising, writing in a journal, gardening, listening to music, dancing,...
Food Addiction vs. Binge Eating Disorder

Food Addiction vs. Binge Eating Disorder

Does it seem like you can’t stop eating once you start? Are especially unable to control your intake of sugar? Have you ever wondered if you are addicted to food? Food is NOT a drug! It’s physiologically impossible to be addicted to food, in the same sense that an individual can be addicted to alcohol, cocaine, heroin or other drugs. Drug addiction is a progressive disease of the brain, where an individual develops chemical dependency with chronic drug use over a period of time. Once drug addiction develops, an addict “needs” that drug to prevent painful and sometimes life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. However, with proper abstinence-based treatment, the addict in recovery can function without drug use of any kind. We don’t need drugs to live. But we need food to live. Sugar is NOT a drug! It is a carbohydrate which our bodies use for energy and brain function. Table sugar — or sucrose — is a simple carbohydrate, like lactose (the natural sugar in milk), or fructose (the natural sugar in fruit). Whether fructose or lactose or sucrose, once in our bodies, all simple sugars are broken down into the simplest — glucose. If you have ever had your “blood sugar” measured, it’s actually the level of glucose in your blood which is being assessed. It’s very normal and necessary to have sugar in our blood, brains and bodies! So if we’re not really addicted to food, and specifically sugar — then what the heck is going on when it feels so impossible to stop binge eating, especially foods which contain sugar? Just like an alcoholic is told, “One drink is too many,...