Yesterday, Ellen Shuman, an emotional eating and binge eating disorder recovery coach, talked about the many myths surrounding BED.
Today, she talks honestly about her own struggles and recovery from the disorder. Ellen also explains how she helps clients overcome similar issues to become emotionally, physically and spiritually healthy.
By the way, Ellen offers a free informational telephone seminar about emotional eating issues and binge eating disorder. If you’re interested, you can register at www.aweighout.com.
Stay tuned tomorrow for the last part on treatment.
Q: You also struggled for years with binge eating and emotional eating. Can you talk about some of your personal struggles and how you were able to recover from BED?
A: I started bingeing as a kid. I did a fair amount of therapy in decades past. I gained a lot of insight into my childhood and family of origin issues. I did not have any abuse in my history but I did come from a classic dysfunctional family full of people with depression, binge eating issues, and absolutely no healthy emotional regulation skills.
After years of therapy, I was no longer depressed, but I still had a problem with turning to food whenever I felt any intensity of emotion; happy, sad, bored, angry, and everything in between.
I reached a point where I had had it with people suggesting I take a walk around the block when I felt a binge coming on. Most infuriating was when a well-meaning person would suggest that I was “stress-eating,” so maybe I should take a bubble bath and relax.
I remember thinking, they so don’t get it! If I can’t stand being in my own skin at that moment when I want to binge, why would I be willing to get into a hot bubble bath and stew in the very feelings I can’t tolerate?
I knew something was missing. I needed a “bridge” so to speak–something I could do in my head that would help me tolerate the initial intensity of feeling long enough to figure out what I really wanted to do.
Maybe a walk around the block or a bubble bath would be helpful. I just couldn’t get there from where I was.
I needed what I now call my ‘”emotional handrails.” I needed a process I could hold into in my head…to help keep me on track and away from bingeing. When I learned specific tools around mindfulness and emotional regulation, I finally saw full recovery from my binge eating disorder.
Q: Your coaching program, A Weigh Out, “offers a way out of the self-defeating cycle of disordered eating, dieting, weight obsession…and shame,” according to your website. How do you help clients overcome these issues?
A: We offer people an opportunity to challenge the judgments and assumptions we face in our thinness-obsessed culture—it’s a world that tells us we should be ashamed of our body. Under significant influence, we buy into it and we respond accordingly.
We diet. Then we binge because we feel deprived. Then we feel lousy because we believe we have failed, yet again, on our latest diet.
We internalize those feelings of failure and our body hatred and turn it into self-hatred. Then we eat more to stuff down our shame and frustration because we “feel” fat and that affects everything.
But we don’t have to keep doing this. Instead, we can learn how to challenge old beliefs and pursue self-nurturing behaviors that both improve our health and help us feel good about ourselves.
Once a person has been exposed to new ways of thinking and behaving, when a person learns how to self-soothe without using food or any other compulsive behavior, and starts treating his or her body better, healthy eating and exercise start to feel like a choice, rather than something we’re told we must do to be “socially acceptable” or loved.
And then, we get to choose behaviors that match what we say we want in life, rather than always feeling “out-of-control” and “bad.”
At A Weigh Out, we specialize in teaching those emotional regulation tools I’ve been referring to. We teach people how to replace old self-defeating thoughts, routines, and habits with ones that are more in line with the life they say they want to live.
We show people how to identify and change underlying intentions that are lurking and causing trouble. We explore core beliefs that keep people stuck.
We shift people away from a diet and weight focus and empower them, instead, to develop healthy, sustainable, daily practices around emotional health, physical health, nutritional health, and spiritual health.
In our experience, that’s a person’s best shot at reducing binges and allowing their weight to gravitate toward a natural weight for their particular body.
Our paradigm is “Health at Every Size.” You can be healthier today, whatever you happen to weigh, if you choose healthier behaviors, emotionally, physically, nutritionally, and spiritually, today.
And when people start making healthy changes–motivated by self-care, rather than by body and self-hatred–the behavioral changes they make are much more likely to stick.
In our therapy work, in our coaching work, and in our online Membership Circle, I’ve seen the powerful impact a non-shaming, non-diet approach can have on a person’s binge eating disorder.
I know it takes courage to ask for help. I know recovery is hard work. But I can say, without any hesitation, it is so worth the effort!
Ellen Shuman is the founder of Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, A Weigh Out Life Coaching, and the A Weigh Out Members’ Circle, www.aweighout.com. She is an emotional eating and binge eating disorder recovery coach, the Vice President of BEDA; The Binge Eating Disorder Association, and Co-Chair of the Academy for Eating Disorders “Health at Every Size” SIG. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (513) 321-4242.
I’m incredibly thankful to Ellen for her honesty and insight! Don’t forget that tomorrow we’re talking about treatment for BED.
P.S., Check out my seven tips to improve your body image at One Medical Group!
Also, you can still write your post on creativity and email me at mtartakovsky at gmail dot com with your link. Just send me your link by Monday night. Thank you!
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Last reviewed: 19 Jan 2011