Category Archives for "Eating Disorder"

Ending Your Obsession With Food

By Rebecca Capps | Eating Disorder , Uncategorized

How To End Your Obsession With Food

Have ever been a yo-yo dieter or repeatedly tried to lose weight? If so, then chances are you’ve also experienced some MAJOR food cravings along the way. And when food cravings become constant....they can lead to a full-blown food obsession.

Below are the most important steps I recommend you to follow to overcome food obsessions:

1. Stop counting calories – I am NOT in favor of counting calories (in truth, I'd rather have you counting chemicals and decreasing the amount of GMOs you’re ingesting instead). Plus, if your only focus is on eating low-calorie meals…..this means that you're likely missing out on the satisfaction of ingesting AMAZING fats that also provide you with tons of energy and brain fuel (i.e., avocados, almonds, etc.)

2. View food as fuel and sustenance, not just as some reward – A lot of people, whether they have an eating disorder or not, view food as a "reward" or a "treat." Early on in life, you likely noticed that food could provide you with a sense of pleasure. And at some point, you may have decided that you needed that pleasure in your life....and food was THE solution. Food then became a means to distract yourself from what you *actually* feel.

Instead, begin to view food in terms of how it fuels you throughout your day. For example, if I'm going to do a tough workout, then you better believe I'm going to eat some protein and carbs in order to fuel my body! Or, if I'm needing a little mid-afternoon pick-me-up in-between clients....then I'll make sure to grab a handful of nuts.

3. Eat the real thing – While everything in moderation is fine, work on ditching "fat-free" anything, diet sodas, or anything else that’s loaded with tons of artificial sugar. Again, the goal is not to just get by on as little fuel as possible to survive. The goal is to thrive by giving your body the nutrients and minerals that it craves. I SO wish I had learned this lesson earlier…..because it's contributed to the stabilization of my moods and boosted my energy (I have more energy now than I did when I was in my teens or 20s)! If you ask me, eating organic fruits and veggies = the greatest prescription for happiness!

4. Try to avoid labeling your food or having rigid rules—Try to avoid labeling your food as  being "good" or "bad." I know that I just mentioned how I'm a big fan of fruits and veggies, however, this doesn't mean that I don't allow myself to enjoy tasty treats from time-to-time! The minute you start labeling your food as being "good" or "bad" is when you create rigid rules. As with any kind of restriction, when you forbid yourself from it, your desire for it will only grow stronger. So, stop victimizing your food and work on embracing and enjoying it instead.

5. Do NOT strive for perfection – A lot of clients (especially in the beginning phase of therapy) try to push their eating and/or weight-loss goals off (I’ll wait "until Monday," they say). And no wonder why they feel like pushing things off…..because they talk about eating "perfectly" or "clean" for a few days, but then the minute they indulge in a treat, it’s like—‘game over!’ Again, the secret is in allowing yourself to enjoy tasty indulgences here and there.

Enjoy every single mouthful…..while also remembering you can (and will) return back to your regular foods for your next meal or snack. The "I’ll start fresh on Monday" approach just causes you to obsess over food even more because it means that there's all of this pressure to eat indulgent foods before Monday strikes! It means that you're hoping that you'll *finally* be satisfied by the time Monday rolls around because, by then, you'll need to go back to your rigid and structured food routine—where there's zero room to mess up. Do you see how backward this kind of thinking can be? Life is about progress, not perfection……so why not just allow yourself those little treats along the way? You will be better off practicing this in the long-run.

6. Listen to your body – Your body always knows best. If you work on tuning in and listening to your body’s signals, you can learn so much from it. It takes time to learn how to pause and to really question what the intentions are behind your desires. The next time you experience a craving, choose to listen to your body and notice whether you could be tired, hungry, angry, lonely, or bored, for example. The more you can do this, the less food will control your decisions.

7. Eat the whole thing – This might seem like a silly one, but if you're one to only eat half a cookie in hopes of exercising some self-control when it comes to food, I say…..just eat the whole damn thing! It's a psychological mind game to only grant yourself half of the cookie, which inevitably will lead to guilt or shame when you go back for that other half. This alone creates a bigger obsession with food because, chances are, you’re going to spend the next several hours obsessing over how you ate it all. Instead, give yourself permission to eat the entire thing and try to enjoy….Every. Single. Bite!

8. Commit to NEVER dieting again – I sort of talked about this already, but I just want to reiterate the fact that diets don't work. They only make you more obsessed with food, numbers, and your perceived flaws….causing you to feel like a total failure. Your relationship with food suddenly comes from a negative place, causing you to feel deprived, which naturally will make you lose control in the end. So, instead, work on building balanced habits that you can uphold for the long-haul.

If you are seriously struggling with food and body image issues right now, I can guarantee you that falling in love with nourishing your body and learning how to savor your food will be what helps you to heal and to stop negatively obsessing over food once and for all.

How to Feel Better in Your Body

By Rebecca Capps | Eating Disorder , Healing , Uncategorized

How To Feel Better In Your Body | Blog Post featured image | Mind Body Holistic Counseling | Santa Barbara, CA 93101

I suffered from an eating disorder when I was a young girl. When I looked in the mirror, I hated what I saw. I wanted to scratch myself out of my body. Every minute felt uncomfortable, and my life felt out-of-control. I viewed starvation as a tool for control and to escape the realm of my emotions. I remember how difficult it was to feel centered back then.

Thankfully, a lot has changed since my youth. Today, I don’t run from my life; I run into it, and you can dive fully into life, too. If you are wanting to feel better in your body and to cultivate an inner sense of calm, try following the tips that I’ve presented in this post that have helped me with my own recovery.

 

Feel Better in Your Body Through Mindfulness and Meditation

Many women do self-destructive and harmful things to mask how they feel in their body and mind. For example, you may refuse to eat because you enjoy the feeling of control and power that come with self-denial. Or, you may drink excessively and do drugs in an attempt to anesthetize your emotions. Whatever is true for you, honor this truth and then start by committing to practicing a daily mindfulness routine. Meditation can be exceedingly helpful to individuals who are plagued by negative thoughts and feelings, or obsessive-compulsive behaviors. Based on my own experience of practicing meditation and deep breathing, I can honestly say that mindfulness has helped me to better deal with my negative emotions and self-destructive urges. Through mindfulness, I feel more optimistic about my life now than ever before.

The beauty of mindfulness is that it involves expanding your awareness of your internal thoughts and emotions, focusing on the now, and on becoming aware of your habitual patterns of responding to life stressors. Mindfulness teaches you to simply observe your thoughts, emotions, sensations, and memories without immediately labeling them as good or bad. By stepping back and observing, instead of being ruled by your emotions, you will be more equipped to choose how you wish to feel and act when faced with adversities.

 

Feel better in Your Body Through Relationships with Thoughts

Negative thinking patterns keep women focused on controlling themselves as a way of coping. Pressures to be thin, coping internally with stress, or feeling overly empathetic toward others causes many women to develop maladaptive ways of thinking about themselves and the world. For those who suffer from a full-blown eating disorder, controlling the body is a way of relieving distress and providing a sense of safety; however, this style of coping is unhealthy for many reasons, including the fact that it is a ripe breeding ground for cognitive distortions to occur.

The eating disordered voice is a cruel, never-ending dialogue that plays in the mind of the sufferer and causes her to think only in black-and-white terms. This negative voice also encourages sufferers to continue following their eating disorder behavior, so it’s easy to see how such pronounced negative thoughts can lead to depression and feeling not-good-enough. If you’re wanting to feel better in your body and mind, then, I suggest keeping a journal with the goal of keeping a daily written record of key events (i.e., situations in which you find yourself feeling sad, negative about your body, etc.), including how you feel about them. This will train you to be a witness to your thoughts, not a puppet.

 

Stop Judging Thoughts, Witness and Observe

The critical eating disorder voice is one that tells you that you won’t be happy until you are thin and that your worth is measured only by external merit. However, you will not feel happier or better in your body until you learn how to truly love yourself, which ultimately, requires developing healthier relationships with your thoughts. If I asked you to finish the sentence, “My body….,” what is it that immediately comes to mind? If you’re like many people, your initial thoughts will involve something related to how your body looks. To gain a more balanced perspective, try shifting the focus from how your body looks, to what it can do. Try writing one thing per day about your body that you’re grateful for in your journal. Notice any thoughts that cause you to feel down about your appearance and begin to reframe them with thoughts related to the overall functionality of your body (i.e., “I appreciate that my body enables me to give birth, to walk, etc.”).

 

Forgiveness Helps You Feel Better in Your Body

You can achieve emotional freedom from your suffering. It has always been with you, however, now you must learn to connect with it. Before you can connect to and feel better in your body, you must first focus on the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not for the faint-hearted, especially when you have been wounded. However, to feel better in your body and to live a more meaningful life, this requires work and sometimes involves doing the harder thing.

Forgiveness is a practice of extending grace, one that takes dedication and courage. If you follow the path to forgiveness (of yourself, others, or both), this will give you room to release any shame, resentment, sadness, or anger and make room for more peace in your mind and body. When genuine forgiveness occurs, you will have a greater capacity to connect with both yourself and others in a more meaningful sense.

 

Fuel Your Body with Nourishment and Movement

It is essential to look after the health of both your mind and body. Fueling your body through healthy practices will allow you to; take charge of your life and feel good about the choices you make; feel energized and more positive; find more enjoyment in life, and; connect to your body’s wisdom. I encourage you to mindfully choose food by paying attention to how you feel instead of using harsh “rules” that promote restriction.

In addition to choosing colorful food and intuitively eating, another great way to fuel the body is through yoga. Yoga teaches you how to connect to yourself from the inside out. It shines a bright light on your core strengths, as well as supports you to take small steps to make healthier choices in your recovery. I know that for me, as I kept showing up to my mat, over time, I learned how to be more compassionate with myself and comfortable again in my own body. Practicing yoga has revealed to me that at my core, underneath my sense of aloneness, devastation, and shadow self, there was an unshakeable desire and capacity to heal. In addition to therapy, yoga gave me my first dose of freedom after feeling isolated for so many years by the weight of trauma.

Remember that any significant lifestyle change is an ongoing work in progress. Start by setting smaller, more achievable goals that are simple to add to your everyday routine. Even though it takes time to make lasting lifestyle changes, taking care of your body is one of the most vital connections you can make in this life. Why settle for an unhealthy and fear-based life when you can feel amazing, from the inside and out?! I wish to give others a way to feel as confident and sure about their recovery as I try to be because I know that it’s possible to live a joyous life without an eating disorder. I have discovered that when you take care of your body and mind, you are more prone to adapt to stress and able to amend maladaptive automatic thoughts, which in turn, leaves room for more happiness. And the more joy that you cultivate from within, the more joy you will grow within your relationships. Ultimately, your relationship to your body is a direct reflection of your thoughts and actions—so be mindful of what you want it to reflect.

Miracles Are Your Birthright; Manifesting Through The Power Of Intentions

By Rebecca Capps | Eating Disorder , Healing , Miracles , Perspective

Manifesting Miracles; Eating Disorder Recovery | Blog Post featured image | Mind Body Holistic Counseling | Santa Barbara, CA 93101

When you have a clear vision about what it is that you want, this will enable you to live with greater intention and with purpose. Setting intentions involves choosing what you want in life, holding this vision in your mind, and then making this happen until it becomes your reality. Through the act of intention-setting, you are sending a clear message to the Universe that you are open to receiving miracles.

A miracle can be something as simple as a shift in perspective and setting an intention is the vehicle that will get you there. In my practice, I like to encourage patients to set their intentions regularly, as this demonstrates an openness to choosing to cultivate loving thoughts over fear-based ones. As Dr. Wayne Dyer declared, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change.”

If you wish to set intentions that will actually benefit you, then, you must first choose how you want to feel. Once you are clear on how you wish to feel, it becomes easier to choose actions that are in alignment with those feelings. Thoughts become reality, therefore it is important to understand that you are the one who can influence your feelings through the thoughts that you choose to think.

As you create a narrative in your mind for how you wish to feel, make sure to think of it in the present tense, as if you’re already experiencing the feeling. If you believe that your body is ugly, or that you’ll never have enough money or reach your goals, then that’s exactly what you will notice more of. Like attracts like, and everything you encounter will support those beliefs and expand. However, if you consciously work to cultivate a more loving narrative tied to your body image or money beliefs, believing in your mind that you are human and worthy of achieving anything you want, then you are actually training your brain to look for evidence to support these beliefs.

Spend some time meditating and visualizing what it feels like to have all that you desire in-the-now and allowing this to inform your energy and emotions. Trust that the Universe has a plan for you and that you are amazing, just as you are today, because the more faith that you place in your healing process and the power of intentions, the more powerful you’ll become at manifesting that which you desire.

Learning How To Deal With Your Emotions

By Rebecca Capps | Addiction , Eating Disorder

Feel Your Feelings | Mind Body Holistic Counseling | Santa Barbara, CA 93101If you are looking to gain more control over your emotions, the answer to this question is, in part, based on the intensity of the emotions and also your reaction to them. When intense feelings arise, you simply can’t just will them away (and nor would you want to), because they may be communicating something important that you must pay attention to. If the emotion is just a mild irritation, you can likely talk yourself out of feeling it or through distraction. However, if what you’re feeling is deep-seated anger, then clearly you’re going to have to work harder to shift your mood. In either case, it would be crucial to explore what you are feeling and why before choosing a particular response.

If you are wanting to effectively manage your emotions, then you must shift the beliefs that underlie them. For example, if it’s your birthday and your officemates failed to recognize the occasion, you may initially choose to believe that they don’t really care about you, which would lead to you feeling hurt and disappointed. But if you shift your thinking and realize that they may not even know that it’s your birthday, you’ll wind up feeling less sad and rejected. Ultimately, your beliefs create your feelings and your feelings produce your behavior. So if you really want to benefit from your emotions, you’ll have to conduct an extensive examination of your belief system to see which thoughts lead to which affects. It is worth mentioning that the goal isn’t necessarily to control your feelings but instead to effectively handle them as they arise.

In order to effectively handle your emotions and feel healthier in the mind, you must stop trying to avoid feeling bad and instead welcome all of your emotions without judgment. I promise that exploring and allowing yourself to experience your emotions will open your life up for the better. You will no longer look to food, alcohol, shopping, sex, or whatever else you were using for emotional comfort. Happiness does not arise from a magical number on the scale or the fleeting high tied to starving yourself. When you are focused on numbing your emotions rather than processing them and using healthy coping strategies, you stop yourself from living a full and meaningful life.

By familiarizing yourself with your emotions instead of running from them, you will know exactly what it is you need—a new challenge, a divorce, a beach vacation, a good cry, to grieve the loss of a loved one, alone time, etc. The more that you come to accept your feelings, the more you will learn to substitute a new feeling focus in exchange for your old obsession with food (or whatever else you were using as a means to cope). And lastly, remember that you are not going to overcome your addiction or eating disorder simply because you want to. Intent must be paired with consistent action for you to change. Even though everyone deserves to live their best life, only those who work hard to achieve self-insight and personal-growth actually get it. 

 

Here’s an “Emotional Do & Don’t List” to help get you started:

Do…..

  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable with people you trust
  • Fully experience every emotion
  • Be open and accepting of the range of your emotions
  • Be curious rather than judgmental about your emotions
  • Use people to comfort you when you feel down, instead of focusing on food
  • Let your emotions come and go as they please without fear or worry
  • Hang out with people who nourish your soul and are emotionally mature
  • Use your feelings along with your judgment to help you reach your goals

Don’t…..

  • Pretend not to feel anything when you do
  • Ignore or minimize painful feelings
  • Believe that anyone knows your emotions better than you do
  • Let people shame or tease you for having or expressing emotions
  • Avoid feelings because they make you uncomfortable
  • Be so concerned about hurting other people’s feelings
  • Focus on food or alcohol/substances when you’re experiencing a difficult emotion 
  • Dwell on your feelings after they’ve given you the information you need to make necessary changes in your life.

Understanding the Signs and Symptoms of Eating Disorders

By Rebecca Capps | Eating Disorder

Understanding The Signs & Symptoms Of Eating Disorders | Mind Body Holistic Counseling | Santa Barbara, CA 93101Eating disorders are a serious matter that affects millions of people, especially women. They also have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. It’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible because when untreated, an eating disorder can result in a destructive and potentially lethal cycle. You may know someone who suffers from an eating disorder, but they try to hide or deny it whenever confronted. It can feel emotionally draining, as well as challenging to know when a person’s thoughts and behaviors associated with dieting has become dangerous. In order to know how to respond best, it is useful to understand the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder. Below I have outlined the most common signs and symptoms associated with eating disorders.

What are the Typical Symptoms of an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorder symptoms include a drastic change in normal eating patterns, an intense fear of gaining weight, and a disturbance in how one experiences their body weight or shape. Different types of eating disorders exist, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Their characteristics, as explained by Healthline, include:

  • Anorexia is a psychological disease that is characterized by a distortion of body image and an obsessive fear of weight gain.
  • Bulimia symptoms include compulsive eating followed by deliberate purging, the use of laxatives or excessive exercise to prevent weight gain.
  • Binge eating, which resembles bulimia, is characterized by eating excessive amounts of food at one time until one is physically uncomfortable. Binge eating differs from bulimia in that there is an absence of purging.

What are Common Warning Signs of Anorexia?

If the person:

  • Is thin and continues losing 15% or more of her ideal body weight.
  • Continues to diet and restrict foods.
  • Has a distorted body image and feels fat, even when she is underweight.
  • Denies hunger.
  • Complains about feeling sick or bloated, despite eating a less than average amount of food.
  • Steps on the scale frequently.
  • Obsessively exercises.
  • Loss of menstruation.
  • Loss of hair or thinning of hair.
  • Feels cold, despite a normal temperature.

What are Common Warning Signs of Bulimia?

If the person:

  • Goes to the bathroom frequently after meals.
  • Overeats as a reaction to stress and negative emotions.
  • Unable to voluntarily stop eating.
  • Has swollen glands.
  • Experiences menstrual irregularities. 
  • Fluctuates in weight.
  • Obsesses overweight.
  • Feels out of control, shamed, or guilty about eating.
  • Tries to diet, but generally does not succeed in efforts.
  • Has up and down mood swings.

What are Common Warning Signs of Binge Eating Disorder?

If the person:

  • Eats copious amounts of food, even when not physically hungry.
  • Eats faster than normal.
  • Eats until being uncomfortably full.
  • Often eats in isolation due to shame or embarrassment.
  • Has a history of marked weight fluctuations.
  • Feels depressed, guilty or ashamed after eating.

How sufferers, their loved ones, and culture at large view eating disorders sets the tone for treatment and recovery. Eating disorders cut across race, color, gender, and socioeconomic groups. Nobody is immune. Moreover, even though there are common elements tied to the experience of an eating disorder, each person’s journey and their recovery is unique. Recovery isn’t an easy or short-term endeavor either. However, recovering from an eating disorder can also turn out to be one of the greatest triumphs of a person’s life. True recovery means no longer compromising one’s health, or using eating disorder behaviors to cope with or distract from problems.

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