Eating Disorders and Spirituality

Eating Disorders and Spirituality

What is the link between eating disorders and spirituality? Can healing an eating disorder also become a path of self-discovery? Are eating disorders and spirituality keys to the deeper levels of recovery? Perhaps there is a reason why the things that we consider bad, unhealthy, broken, and dysfunctional still exist. If it’s here, it is serving a purpose. Everything serves, and there is wisdom in all of it. A common practice used in working with eating disorders is to quiet the voice of “ED” or the eating disorder. However, I believe that no aspect of ourselves should be disregarded. Instead, everything about ourselves can be embraced in order for us to transcend or move beyond a limiting, painful perception of the world. I think re-encouraging a split within the psyche where the eating disorder is a problem only adds to the client’s feelings of internal conflict. Instead, we can include the eating disorder as a part of the client and find a deeper meaning in the experience. As a therapist, I will often ask the following questions: • What wants to be said or heard? • How did the eating disorder protect you when you were younger? • What part of the unconscious wants to become known? • And how is it perfect that it became intolerable and caused you to seek help? Many eating disordered clients can feel like they are living inauthentically. Maybe they are living according to family or societal standards that have been internalized or introjected. The eating disorder can be a form of rebellion, a reaction against the socialized self, and can provide insight into...
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...
Binge Eating Disorder and Weight Loss

Binge Eating Disorder and Weight Loss

Binge Eating Disorder and Weight Loss Success Strategies Binge Eating Disorder and weight loss goals tend to surface with New Year’s Resolutions. However, your therapist tells you, “Trying to lose weight can trigger binge eating.” And, your dietitian tells you, “Cutting calories too much can trigger binge eating.” But you’re wondering,”I’ve gained so much weight because of binge eating, so how can I lose this excess weight in a healthy way?” Based on my 20+ years of clinical experience in the treatment of Binge Eating Disorder and Obesity, as well as my own personal experience overcoming these issues, I have some Binge Eating Disorder and Weight Loss Success Strategies to share with you. Stop Trying to Lose Weight. You’re probably thinking, “But I want to lose weight!” As strange as it may seem, weight loss happens when you stop trying so hard to make it happen. Allow weight loss to be an outcome of other goals, such as reducing or eliminating binge eating. Don’t Diet or Forbid Food. Many people with Binge Eating Disorder attempt to restrict or forbid certain foods (usually the foods they tend to binge eat). However, deprivation eventually triggers binge eating. The key is to have “permission to have” all foods in moderate amounts. Learn Mindfulness Meal Skills. Binge Eating Disorder typically involves rapidly eating large quantities of food. Incorporating mindfulness skills at mealtimes can help to restore balance to the quantity and quality of food consumed. There are many books about mindful eating – and our therapists and dietitians at Positive Pathways can give you 1-on-1 guidance. Incorporate Intuitive Eating Practices. Intuitive eating is...
Eating Disorder Recovery: Shoulding on Yourself or Others

Eating Disorder Recovery: Shoulding on Yourself or Others

Shoulding on Yourself or Others: How Does this Affect Eating Disorder Recovery? What happens for you when I tell you this: You should lose weight. You should gain weight. You should eat more green vegetables and less carbs. You should exercise more. In other words… You are not OK as you are. How does that feel? Lisa Dion, the creator of a neurobiological-based form of play therapy, says that when we hear a “should,” our sense of Self is threatened. When shoulding on yourself, or when others should on you, your Authentic Self is directly challenged. You’re denying who you are in the moment and not seeing your own wisdom. This can create an internal dilemma between who you are and who you think you should be. The result is that the autonomic nervous system becomes activated trying to handle the discrepancy (Dion, 2015). Most clients in eating disorder recovery are already receiving a ton conflicting “shoulds.” These endless shoulding on yourself voices will often activate the trauma response in the body, especially when their actions don’t happen to match up with their perceived “shoulds.” If clients in eating disorder recovery are hearing endless “shoulds” regarding food, their weight, and following a specific plan, their nervous systems may be over-activated to the point of fight, flight, freeze, or collapse. Because their sense of Self is threatened, they are operating out of fear and are caught in their lower parts of their brain. These clients may not be able to access their prefrontal cortex and cerebral cortex, which are the parts of the brain that can hear rationalization and reasoning. This is why I would...
Eating Disorders and Stress: DBT Coping Skills for the Holidays

Eating Disorders and Stress: DBT Coping Skills for the Holidays

Eating disorders and stress tend to “feed each other.” Let’s be honest about that. This is often a triggering and stressful time of year; the holidays are rapidly approaching, the change in seasons can be tough, and it’s getting dark earlier. This particular year may be even more stressful due to the recent election, no matter what your political affiliation may be. It is very important that we pay attention to stress and try to prevent it from becoming too overwhelming. DBT can help you! DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. The word “dialectical” is defined as, “concerned with or acting through opposing forces.” This can mean that there are often two truths, or more than one truth in any given situation. If you live in Colorado you may have noticed that in mid- November the temperature was in the 70s! The holiday season can often bring on a dialectical feel: on one hand it is a time of togetherness and celebration, on the other hand it can feel isolating or lonely. There are mixed messages around food and holiday eating, too. We are surrounded with sweets and other decadent foods, yet our culture expects us to “be healthy.” This all adds to eating disorders and stress. Using the Distress Tolerance and Mindfulness modules of DBT can be very effective for combatting eating disorders and stress. If you need immediate relief and want to improve a moment follow these steps. Think of the acronym IMPROVE to help guide you. I: Use IMAGERY. You can do this by imagining a relaxing scene – either a place you have been, or create a beautiful scene in your...
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...
New Years Resolution: Don’t Diet!

New Years Resolution: Don’t Diet!

It’s the New Year – and according to Time Magazine, 39.6% of people surveyed set a resolution to lose weight this year. According to the Center for Disease Control, more than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese (BMI ≥ 30). Some of the health risks commonly associated with obesity include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. Many people who are overweight or obese want to lose weight as a means of reducing these risks. However – typical diets, exercise and weight loss programs address the symptom of excess weight through the control of caloric intake and expenditure. The Binge Eating Disorder Association reports that about one-third of people enrolled in commercial weight loss centers have Binge Eating Disorder (BED) – and dieting has been shown to cause binge eating, especially in people who already have BED. There is only so much “willpower” that can be used as a means of adhering to restrictive diets, and numerous studies have shown that 90-95% of dieters regain any weight they lose within 1-5 years. Diets don’t work – so what will work to lose weight (and keep it off)? Here is some “Don’t Diet” food for thought: Stop Trying to Lose Weight – instead, focus on health gains. According to Linda Bacon, the author of Health At Every Size and founder of the HAES™ community, overall health is more important than any number on a scale. In fact, many people who are a “normal weight” or “underweight” may not be healthy. Who is to say what BMI is truly healthy for each individual? With health as a goal, the achievement of a healthy weight...
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,...