Tag Archive | Binge-eating

Book Release!

My book, Behind the Mask: Our Secret Battle, is in production and will be ready for purchase late November or early December 2012. Women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s who have suffered with lifelong low self-esteem, disordered eating, and body image issues, who have defined themselves by their weight, and experienced the relentless psychological “tug of war” that accompanies these issues, will relish this book as a means to help them deeply understand and appreciate their eating behaviors as a coping mechanism that no longer “serves” them, and as a hands-on skill-building tool.

Behind the Mask first details specific issues that many women struggle with during various stages of life that play an integral role in their disordered relationship with food, through the voices of two adult women with lifelong eating issues and the connections they have made along the way. It then provides my professional detailed three-phase approach to acquire the skills necessary to eat in a more peaceful way, find one’s voice, and practice self-acceptance and self-care. It is a book of connection, hope and tools for recovery.


Stay tuned for more specific information on how to purchase the book!


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Is Recovery Worth It?

“Is recovery worth it?” After you have answered the following questions, you will have a better idea for yourself if recovery is worth it?

Is it worth living a life that isn’t governed by unfair negative punitive thoughts?

Is it worth fighting to eat something, without doubting each and every bite and torturing yourself with catastrophic judgments surrounding a meal?

Is it worth being able to go to an event, party, wedding without obsessing about what you are wearing, or worrying if anyone is looking at you,  or panicking about what food will be served and when it will be served?

Is it worth trying to seek a passion, hobby, or career that fulfills you and makes you want to wake up every day in anticipation of the potential good that can come from the day?

Is it worth communicating effectively, and defending your wants and needs?

Is it worth feeling all your feelings, both positive and negative because it makes your life “real”?

Is it worth placing your energy and time on things that enrich your life, instead of the investment of time that your eating disorder behaviors take up?

Is it worth being free of the physical and emotional pain that your eating disorder inflicts upon you?

Is it worth eating foods that nourish your body and satisfy your appetite instead of eating foods you have convinced yourself you like but you really hate, just because they are “safe” and you incorrectly believe that they prevent you from going out of control?

Is it worth moving your body (if that is your choice) because it makes you feel strong and flexible, instead of hurting your body by exercising because a voice in your head says you need to in order to be “worthy” for the day?

Is it worth taking the risk of exploring who you really are beneath the cloak of the illness that you call your “friend”?

Is it worth really looking at your illness as a coping mechanism that no longer serves you and turning toward healthy coping mechanisms that are as effective as they are unfamiliar?

Is it worth trying not to be perfect as perfection is unattainable, but striving to simply do your best?

Is it worth waking up each day and saying positive things to yourself to start your day?

Is it worth looking back at some point and saying “wow, I am so much happier now than I was while I was in my eating disorder”?


I have never, ever met someone who after having recovered, has said that recovery wasn’t worth the time and effort. Everyone has the power and strength to recover. If you want to recover or even if you think you want to recover but you aren’t positive or don’t have the tools yet, keep moving in that direction and have the faith that you will get there. Step #1 is to make sure you strive for positive thoughts and shut down the negative ones. The positive ones are your foundation…the stepping stones on your personal path to recovery.


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What Does Recovery Look Like?

The second in the series of three questions I am asked the most is:

“What does recovery look like?”

Answer: Wow! I have changed my answer to this question over the years. In my opinion, recovery is a highly personal “picture”. Recovery to one person will look differently than to another. I’d love your answers, in addition to my own!

In my opinion, recovery doesn’t mean being a perfect eater. Recovery doesn’t mean having a preconceived body size. Recovery doesn’t mean eating to be a certain weight or size.

Recovery means consistently not using food behaviors to cope and communicate your needs and desires, because you have developed more effective healthy ways to cope and express yourself.

Recovery means never dieting.  That’s right! You can never diet again. This is such a challenging area for many people. So very often, clients say to me “Normal people diet. Normal people manipulate their bodies. Normal people overexercise. Normal people use diet pills. How come they can do these things and I can’t?”

“Normal” people don’t have a mental illness where any or all of these behaviors are symptoms of the illness, and when engaging in these behaviors are expressing symptoms of the illness and thus making it worse.

It is not “normal” to do any of those things. Just because something is common, doesn’t mean it is “normal” and it definitely doesn’t make it good or right or healthy or something to aspire to. In my opinion, recovery means not restricting, bingeing and purging, using other substances (diet pills etc), compulsive exercise behaviors, or any type of harmful behavior (even “mildly”).

Once you have an eating disorder, you are VULNERABLE to all things that “normal” people engage in related to food/exercise. That isn’t your fault. It is simply a side effect of having an eating disorder.

Even when you are in a healthy place in your recovery, certain behaviors will still put you at risk. Dieting, for example, is the number one behavior that triggers eating disordered thoughts and can be a catalyst sending you right back into your illness. So you can never diet again…ever. Recovery means redefining “normal”.

How does exercise fit into recovery? Again, remember that you are vulnerable. Exercise (even if it has never been a part of your illness) can be tricky. Everyone knows that movement is good for people. When you have a history of an eating disorder, you have to be attentive to the purpose behind the desire to exercise. If you are healthy and you exercise, you have to be cautious that the purpose doesn’t switch from being healthy to “feeding” your illness. Be honest with yourself and set healthy goals for your exercise. Make sure it doesn’t take on a level of importance where it becomes a “job” or a “behavior”.

Recovery means having a peaceful relationship with food. Food is an essential part of life, but when you are in recovery, food doesn’t occupy all your thoughts. In recovery, you think about food in a neutral or positive way. You don’t have strict black and white rules regarding food, unless medically necessary.

Recovery doesn’t mean having a perfectly happy existence. But, your worst day well will still be better than your best day sick because you won’t be sick and your life will be REAL. Life has ups and downs. Life is difficult at times and joyous at times. Your eating disorder just makes life more difficult on every level, in every way. So, without it, your life ultimately will be less difficult. You will also feel all your feelings – the positive ones and the negative ones. Your feelings are essential, and feeling themwon’t kill you!

Think of all the things you cannot do because of your illness. You will have the opportunity to do any of these things, if you choose, when you are in recovery.  It is freedom.

Recovery means practicing different forms of regular, consistent self-care. Everyone has different ideas of how they can practice this. For some, self care involves having hobbies like reading, blogging, knitting, or doing crossword puzzles. Others like to have creative outlets like singing, painting, playing a musical instrument, or other art forms. Some like listening to inspirational music every day. Whatever you consider self-care, you need to do it regularly.

Recovery is whatever you want it to be. It’s your life. Define it. You only get one life, make it the best one it can be! It’s worth going for!!!


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Can I Recover?

Many clients have been asking me lately:

“Do you think I can fully recover?”

“What does recovery look like?”

“Is recovery worth it?”

It is normal to be asking these types of questions. In my experience treating numerous people who have been and are continuing to go through the process, these questions come up often.

So, I’d like to answer them to the best of my ability in three separate posts. The answers are my professional opinions, based on my experiences.

Question one: Do you think I can recover?

Answer: I wouldn’t be working in the field of eating disorders if I didn’t think it was possible for everyone who has these illnesses to recover. But, what many people don’t often realize is that recovery takes an enormous amount of fortitude, time, insight, skill-building, and hope.

Fortitude during the good times is easier to attain. Fortitude when things are rough is much harder. It is during the roughest times that your fortitude will be tested, but will need to be an essential ingredient in the recovery process so that you don’t regress or relapse.

The time recovery takes varies person to person. I have never seen any individual recover in a short period of time though. You need to change your expectations if you thought recovery was going to be a “quick-fix.” Most estimates are between 4 and 7 years for the process. Some people make a quicker recovery and some take much longer.

Having insight into the origins of the illness as well as insight regarding it’s ongoing purposes is not only a gift, it is a necessity. If you know what your eating disorder’s functions are, you will be able to find better solutions for those issues.

Skill-building is the process during which you will need to practice using healthy coping mechanisms and communication skills in place of using eating disordered behavior. This new way of living is very challenging. It is uncomfortable. Resorting to comfortable eating disordered behaviors instead of healthy coping mechanisms is, in part, what causes the process to take time.

Recovery also takes support – in various ways – professional support, support groups, support of loved ones, friends, family, and peers. That doesn’t mean that you need to have full disclosure to everyone in your life, but seeking support in various ways from others is key.  Financially speaking, seeking the right type of professional support can be challenging, sometimes impossible. There are services that are free (some support groups and other group meetings). Finances may necessitate you being more creative in the types of support you can receive. There are also organizations like NEDA that have mentoring programs and group support via the internet. Project Heal offers treatment scholarships for people through an application process.

Resources are available. Support is available.

The question I often ask my clients when they ask me if they can recover is “Do you think you can recover? I believe in you, but you have to believe in you!” Often when people are in the throes of these illnesses, they truly don’t know the answer to this question.  They are unsure, scared, and haven’t build the confidence necessary to truly know. If you don’t know the answer to the question for yourself, you need to trust that others have gotten better and with time, strength, and practice, you can too.

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I Just Want To Have My Ice Cream!

A patient of mine who struggles with binge-eating and who also has been a casualty of years and years of dieting came in this week and was clearly excited (well, maybe not quite excited) to share with me a “successful food experience” from the past week. She is getting much more adept at distinguishing between her healthy voice and the critical voice of her eating disorder.

She described a day when it was really hot and humid (this isn’t hard to imagine for Jersey in June). There is a “famous” ice cream store in this area called “Hoffman’s”. It has the best ice cream and people come from great distances to enjoy it. She decided she would take her children there to get them ice cream since she was in the area. When they arrived, she had an internal conversation that went like this:

“You don’t want any ice cream.”

“Yes I really do.”

“Do you really want ice cream?”

“No…I guess I don’t.”

“Why would you want ice cream when you constantly complain about your weight?”

“You’re right. I hate my body. I don’t want ice cream.”

“That’s right. You don’t. You will never look the way you want by eating ice cream and other foods like that.”

“But it’s so hot out and I know I won’t be coming back for a while.”

“Everyone here will look at you if you order it because you don’t need it and shouldn’t be here in the first place.”

“You’re right. Everyone will notice me and be making comments about me under their breath. I’ll just get ice cream for the kids.”

“Just buy the kids their ice cream and go home.”

“It looks so good. I’ll just order a ‘small’.”

“You will regret it. I promise you.”

“I might regret it, but I might regret more if I leave without having any.”

“You are a fat pig. Don’t get the ice cream. As soon as you walk out of here, you will beat yourself up.
If you get it, you better not eat dinner.”

“Ok, maybe I’ll get it and skip dinner.”

“You know you can’t do that. That never works. You are too weak. You’ll eat the ice cream, still eat dinner and you’ll end up bingeing and ruining your day. Don’t get the ice cream.”

“I’m so sick of the same old stupid conversation. I’m sick of arguing with you. I’m sick of feeling bad about myself. I’m sick of listening to you. I’m sick of feeling this way. I want the stupid ice cream. I’m entitled to make this choice. I just want to have a nice day with my kids. The ice cream is not going to make or break my day. I can eat ice cream whenever I want. I will never diet again. I’m taking charge of this eating disorder. I will not be bullied into avoiding foods I like and then bingeing because I feel like a criminal. I’m working hard at recovery and I’m not going to let one dish of ice cream on a hot sunny summer day turn into a battle ground where I lose AGAIN!”

This conversation with herself lasted about 2 minutes. It was a loooong two minutes. She went up to the counter, ordered her kids their ice cream, ordered herself a dish of “Rocky Road”, paid for it and walked out. She sat outside with her kids, and enjoyed her ice cream. She ate most of it but at some point she was a little full so she got a lid for it and took the rest of it home. She had never done that before. In the past, she would always finish it, even if she was full, because she would feel so guilty about eating it in the first place and would swear that she would never buy it again. On this day, she made a deal with herself that from this day forward if there is a day that she wants ice cream, she will drive to Hoffman’s and get herself ice cream.

On that day, she successfully took the power away from the food and away from her eating disorder. She had mixed feelings after the whole incident was over. She felt victorious, but also a little guilty, sad, and exhausted too. You see, although her ice cream adventure was ultimately a success, the struggle is still there. Conversations like this will happen in her mind again and again and again. Each time they happen, she will have to fight with all her energy. Her eating disordered voice is very loud, critical and unwavering. She has to fight equally as hard for herself, against it. In time, her skills will get better. Her own voice will get stronger. It will not happen over night. Her eating has been an issue for her since she was 5 years old. She is 45.

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Does This Really Work?

I am asked the question “will this approach really work?” almost on a weekly basis by most, if not all of my binge-eating clients who are in a larger body than they want to be in. The other question I hear regularly is “are you sure this process will help me lose weight?”


The following article was in the “Huffington Post” several days ago. It is about Geneen Roth’s new book Lost and Found, which chronicles the parallels between her relationship with eating and her relationship with finances and shopping. In her book, she describes her “binge shopping followed by periods of budgetary self-deprivation”. Below are a few quotes from the article that illustrate the process of healing from binge-eating disorder.”


Q: How do you explain how Oprah could say she found the answer in “Women Food and God,” and yet still struggles with her weight?

A: I can’t speak for Oprah or about Oprah, but I can say when you find something that speaks to you, when you find something that feels like “Now I’m at home,” that’s the beginning, not the end. That “a-ha” moment is wonderful, but when it ends, and it always does, it needs to be followed by some kind of commitment to take action on your own behalf, a daily decision to be there for yourself.

Q: How do you decide to be there for yourself?

A: You can’t do it alone. Support helps you follow through, and the desire to follow through helps you get support. It can’t just be the support of one friend giving you advice. Advice doesn’t help so much. The problem with all the advice we’ve been given is we don’t know how to follow it. When people don’t feel instant change, they think it’s not working. This is a failure. I’m a failure. At that point, they need support in asking the right questions, like: What am I feeling? What happened in that moment when I went to eat when I wasn’t hungry? When I went to spend when I was feeling hurt? Unless you become interested in those moments, you’ll always turn to food or money to fill them.


The bottom line is that the process of healing from binge-eating disorder (or any other eating disorder) first involves the development of a good amount of insight about the relationship between your emotions and your eating, tracing back to when you were a child (presuming you are an adult). Making connections in an “objective” way, like being a detective, is key. So many of my clients focus on their disordered eating episodes, time after time in a self-critical way, which prevents them from seeing beyond or beneath the behavior to try to understand what the behavior is trying to “tell” us. When people with binge-eating continuously focus on the feelings of failure associated with their current eating patterns and current body, they prevent themselves from digging deeper into the origins of their disordered eating and the reasons why it is perpetuated.

Does insight translate into a different body? No. It doesn’t. It is one step on the journey to healing. Without insight, the same disordered patterns will continue day after day, month after month, year after year.

With insight, there necessarily has to also be a commitment to challenging the disordered behaviors. This is tricky because many, if not all binge-eating clients have extensive disordered behaviors and disordered thoughts that accompany these behaviors. Challenging disordered thoughts and behaviors runs the gamut of challenging restriction, deprivation, diet thinking, as well as binge eating, overeating and self-deprication. For example, most, if not all of my clients who suffer with binge-eating have been on numerous diets, to the point where they have no idea how to look at food in any other way than through the lens of a diet program. They feel guilt and shame if they are not restricting something or things out of their diet. Then when they can’t take the dieting anymore, they rebound binge once again…focusing only on how they “failed” to follow the diet plan.

Challenging the urges to restrict or diet ALWAYS makes my clients fear that they will gain weight. After all, they have spent a lifetime in the “black and white” pattern of restriction and weight loss followed by rebound bingeing and weight gain. Usually when a binge eating client comes into my office, they are absolutely “done” with dieting, but also want to lose weight. This impasse is very complex and not “fixable” in a short period of time. Years of disordered eating and thinking, and yo-yoing cannot be eradicated quickly.

Committing to stopping dieting is a huge step but will not necessarily create weight loss. Recovery from binge-eating disorder IS NOT A DIET IN DISGUISE. It is a healing process in which the goal is to considerably diminish the use of food as a coping/communicating mechanism over time, and ultimately have a more peaceful relationship with yourself, your food and the world. Stopping dieting is another essential step in the process. It is not the end point.

After a binge-eater commits to quit dieting and begins to develop insight about the complexities of her eating, she will need to develop the skills to identify her needs and emotions so that she doesn’t NEED the food to cover all of it up. This is very difficult and will not only take time, but considerable commitment, weathering the storm of ups and downs, and trying not to focus on weight loss. I know…this sounds crazy, right? It sounds especially crazy when you are in a body that feels extremely uncomfortable and you are used to continuously trying to fix your life by fixing your body. When that fails, you continue to experience disordered eating and you have gotten nowhere. Recovery from an eating disorder is a COMPLETELY different approach. You must be ready to try something new, imperfect and extremely challenging, in order to be free from your illness.

So, to answer the two most commonly asked questions.

  1. “Will this really work?”
  2. “Are you sure this process will help me lose weight?”

1.  In my opinion, this process begins working from the moment you take the first step. It continues to work every single time you develop an insight, make a connection, avoid a disordered behavior, feel a feeling, eat foods you like, don’t restrict, challenge unhealthy thinking. It is always working…

2.  When you have worked on all the steps and have a considerably healed relationship with yourself, your eating, your feelings, and your world, your weight will reflect your new life…whatever body shape or size that may be.

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What Are You Addicted To???

Disordered habits are addictive. Healthy non-disordered habits are difficult to adopt, let alone adhere to. So many times, clients will say to me:

“I didn’t think it was a big deal to skip that one snack.”

“I only wanted to binge once. I figured then I could give it up.”

“I promised myself that after this binge/purge, I’d never do it again.”

“I wanted to push myself to do more exercise just once, to see if I could do it.”

Eating disordered behaviors are addictive. You NEVER want to engage in them “just once”. Once you engage in them one time…just one time, you CRAVE them. You may not like them, they may be painful, they make you feel terrible about yourself, but you become addicted to the “high”, the relief, the numbness you get from them. Unfortunately, each time you use eating disordered behaviors in order to numb out, avoid, distract or lower your anxiety, you set yourself up for having a more difficult time stopping them and finding new “healthy habits” such as effective communication, feelings and needs identification and coping mechanisms.

Don’t fool yourself into believing that if you engage in an eating disordered behavior today that you will “want” to give it up tomorrow or that it will be easier to give it up at a time in the future. It is HARD giving up disordered behaviors. It will bring up anxiety and discomfort when you resist using disordered behaviors. It is hard finding healthy behaviors in place of disordered ones. That’s why recovery is arduous and using eating disordered behaviors is more comfortable (even though they are painful). Each day you engage in disordered behaviors like restriction, bingeing, purging, overexercising, use of other addictive substances like laxatives, diet pills etc, you are making it more difficult to live without them.

The “high” isn’t worth it when it sets up an addiction that is so difficult to break and prevents you from leading a healthier life and learning healthy habits. You must resist the instant gratification of the addictive behavior. You must try to look beyond it, and think of how you want to feel in the long run. What is your choice…short-term gratification for long-term pain and suffering OR short-term discomfort for long-term health and recovery? It is ALWAYS a choice!

I found three quotes that I felt accurately illustrate this topic!

Habit, if not resisted, soon becomes necessity.  ~St. Augustine

Habits are at first cobwebs, then cables.  ~Spanish Proverb

Bad habits are easier to abandon today than tomorrow.  ~Yiddish Proverb

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Dieting Linked To Eating Disorders


The above article in Medical News Today discusses some of the findings of research done in England by the British Association for Counseling & Psychotherapy on the effects of dieting on the development of an eating disorder.

“Findings indicate that many clients who do/have dieted solely to lose weight have low self-esteem, and that once dieting starts the clients’ psychological issues become more profoundly associated with their physical appearance. Emphasis then becomes increasingly centered on losing weight rather than addressing the underlying self-esteem issues and a strong link between such clients’ low self-esteem/confidence and body image emerges; it also seems that many such clients primarily tend to use dieting in an attempt to control/improve their lives.”

Also noteworthy is how, since dieting is “normalized” in western societies, many individuals who diet regularly may actually suffer from an eating disorder and go undiagnosed.

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Health at Every Size from NYTimes.com

Health at Every Size, an article in Wednesday’s NYTimes.com, discusses how Lent can be another time for people who are discontent with their bodies to give up certain foods in an attempt to lose weight (a diet in disguise, perhaps?).

The article goes on to discuss the ineffectiveness of dieting for long-term weight loss.  “…a weight-focused approach geared toward losing weight is — surprise! — not especially effective in either reducing the weight or creating healthier bodies. In fact, they say, such an approach can unintentionally lead to weight gain and worse health.”

Instead of using this time as one to restrict, why not use it as a time to make peace with the body you have?


If you are already suffering from an eating disorder, restriction of any kind at any time of the year is dangerous and may potentially exacerbate your illness.

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Donna’s Top Ten Reasons Not to Diet

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Ten Most Pervasive Myths about Eating Disorders

The following is an excellent resource for people who want to educate themselves about eating disorders. Not only is the article Ten Most Pervasive Myths about Eating Disorders well-written and informative but when you scroll over each myth topic, you will find additional enlightening videos and articles. Thanks to Radiology Technicians Schools for producing such an exceptional resource.


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“With self-compassion, if you care about yourself, you do what’s healthy for you rather than what’s harmful to you.”  

This is the last line from a quote in a New York Times article that discusses a new area of psychological research called “self-compassion” and a new book on the topic by Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind.

The first thing I tell a client that comes into my office with an eating disorder is “This illness is not your fault.” The second thing I tell my clients is that “You need to be kind to yourself in order to heal from this illness.”

People who suffer from eating disorders – anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder, are extraordinarily sensitive, kind-hearted individuals. They are the types of people who make others feel good about themselves with their compliments, love, unending ability to listen and empathize.  Unfortunately, these sufferers reserve their adoring ways for others, and when it comes to themselves, they are self-critical, self-loathing, unforgiving, and merciless. They overinflate their flaws and minimize their attributes. They beat themselves up for the most insignificant “mistakes” and struggle to see their strengths and successes – in the food arena as well as in other areas.

This article emphasizes that negativity and self-criticism are not motivators for change, whether they come from others or from within. These tactics breed negativity and helplessness, two states of being that reinforce sickness, depression and lack of motivation for positive change. 

Self-compassion is not only the first step in healing, it is an essential step. If you suffer from an eating disorder, remember to treat yourself with the same kindness and respect you would bestow upon your friends, family and other loved ones. You will be pleasantly surprised at the power a little compassion can have in the recovery process.

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An Innocent Diet Can Lead to an Eating Disorder

An eating disorder can start before a person even realizes it has happened.

Many people start making food changes innocently, to feel healthier. They have no idea that they are setting the stage for a possible eating disorder.

Placing a child on a restrictive diet can have long-lasting negative physical and psychological effects. Tomorrow’s post is going to be about the effects of children and diets. But, for now…

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How many times have you gotten to the same place with your eating disorder recovery and then “quit” and gone back to the old familiar disordered patterns of behavior?

What makes you get so far and then quit???

What causes it? How long does it take before you quit?

Does it take one “bad” meal, one binge, a “bad” day, a week, a month???

I was with a patient this week who told me that she would get through part of her day or her week and then something would trigger her to “fall off” the recovery wagon and she’d say “screw it” and just throw in the towel and dive back into eating disordered behaviors. Then she’d say to herself “See, I can’t do it. I’m a failure at recovery.” But when we’d look in detail at the situations that triggered her, she could see that at any given time, she could have turned things around and kept on moving forward. It was the attitude of defeat that created the “failure” of a day or a week or a month. It was the obsessing over the “failure” that prevented her from achieving her next success that might have been right around the corner!

Having an attitude of defeat will only create or exacerbate defeat and stop you from attempting to get better. Please remember that eating disordered behaviors are addictive and you most definitely will be much more inclined to “want” to use them than to “not want” to use them. They have served a function that is very strong and powerful, and they are exceptionally familiar and comfortable.

In order to get better you need to actively, mindfully, and yes imperfectly strive to fight your negative self-defeating thoughts and disordered behaviors each meal of each day. If you slip, you haven’t failed unless you want to fail. If you want to fail then you may want to stay sick. If you want to get well then you have to want to succeed and you have to have an attitude of success. BUT, you have to also realize that recovery is based on a series of successes and failures (let’s call them “slips” from now on). No one recovers in a day, a week, a month…etc. No one recovers without slips. I’m not saying that you should negate or minimize your slips, but you have to be able to pick yourself up after a slip, put it into context, learn from it, and move past it. Eventually, the successes will outweigh the slips and you will begin to see recovery much more clearly. Your attitude is key!!! If you look at your slips as slips and not as failures, you will want to continue to try again and again and again until you regain your life. If you have a positive mindset, you will allow yourself to experience and appreciate your successes and not define yourself by those slips. Then, in time, the fruits of your efforts will emerge and you will experience recovery to its fullest.

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Interesting Facts!


With the exception of infancy, we grow faster during adolescence than any other time in our lives.

Approximately 20% of our adult height and 50% of our adult weight is gained between 11 – 19 years of age.

It is normal to gain between 40 and 50 pounds between the ages of 10 and 16.

For girls, weight is often gained in the breasts and hips, mainly in “estrogenic” or “female” fat.  This is healthy and necessary for menstruation and pregnancy.

During the teenage years, girls will experience a widening in their hips.  This is normal and necessary for childbirth.

Women have up to twice the amount of body fat as men do.

Genetics play a huge role in determining the size and shape of our bodies.  You cannot change your genetics.


Facts About Advertising

The dieting industry generates 50 billion dollars a year with products we buy because we are dissatisfied with our bodies.

The average person in America sees over 3,000 advertising images in one day.

The average person spends approximately 3 years of time during his/her lifetime watching television commercials.

Television commercials/advertisements cost, on average between $250,000 and $500,000 each.

Approximately 180 billion dollars is spent each year, on advertising.

Advertisers use professional models to sell their products.

Computers have digitally altered the professional models that you see in magazines.  What you see is not reality, but an image that was created to make you spend money on something!

Many models have had plastic surgery to improve their appearance.

Many models have eating disorders, smoke and use drugs to try to prevent them from eating normally.


Check Out Our Obsession With Looks

Women looking for pouty lips are now pumping their lips full of Gore-Tex, the same substance that makes your winter coat waterproof.

If store mannequins were real, they would be too thin to menstruate.

The average lipstick wearer will swallow 10 pounds of lipstick over 40 years.

Americans spend over $40 billion on dieting and diet-related products each year.

American women spend $130 million a year on cellulite creams, which are as effective as smearing your body with glue to temporarily tighten your skin.

In 2002 about 54,000 teens had chemical peels and just under 53,000 underwent microdermabrasion. More than 19,000 teens had nose jobs.

400-600 advertisements bombard us everyday in magazines, on billboards, on TV, and in newspapers. One in eleven has a direct message about beauty, not even counting the indirect messages.

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), over 220,000 people under 18 years old had a cosmetic procedure in 2002.

Average cost of a one-year gym membership:  $450.

Most fashion models are thinner than 98% of American people, yet they are the people that we are made to believe we should look like. 


5 – 10 million women and 1 million men struggle with eating disorders, in part because of our culture’s obsession with thinness, obtaining the perfect body and valuing people on the basis of physical appearance rather than inner qualities and strengths.


 What You Can Do To Help Prevent Eating Disorders

Learn all you can about anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Share your knowledge with loved ones. Genuine awareness will help them avoid judgmental or mistaken attitudes about food, weight, body shape, and eating disorders.

Discourage the idea that a particular diet, weight, or body size will automatically lead to happiness and fulfillment.

Choose to challenge the false belief that thinness and weight loss are great, while body fat and weight gain are horrible or indicate laziness, worthlessness, or immorality.

Avoid categorizing foods as “good/safe” vs. “bad/dangerous.” Remember, we all need to eat a balanced variety of foods.

Decide to avoid judging others and yourself on the basis of body weight or shape. Turn off the voices in your head that tell you that a person’s body weight says anything about their character, personality, or value as a person.

Avoid conveying an attitude to yourself and others that says, “I will like you better if you lose weight, or don’t eat so much, etc.”

Become a critical viewer of the media and its messages about self-esteem and body image. Talk back to the television when you hear a comment or see an image that promotes thinness at all costs. Don’t watch shows that you know promote these views. Rip out (or better yet, email the editor about ) advertisements or articles in your magazines that make you feel bad about your body shape or size. Better yet, don’t buy these magazines

If you think someone has an eating disorder, express your concerns in a forthright, caring manner. Gently but firmly encourage the person to seek trained professional help. If you suffer from an eating disorder, speak up and get the help you need.

Be a model of healthy self-esteem and body image. Recognize that others pay attention and learn from the way you talk about yourself and your body. Choose to talk about yourself with respect and appreciation. Choose to value yourself based on your goals, accomplishments, talents, and character.

Avoid letting the way you feel about your body weight and shape determine the course of your day. Embrace the natural diversity of human bodies and celebrate your body’s unique shape and size.

Support local and national nonprofit eating disorders organizations — like the National Eating Disorders Association or the Binge Eating Disorder Association.

Reprinted in part from Teaching Body Confidence, by Rebecca Manley, M.S.



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