How Taking Yourself Too Seriously Can Cause Binge Eating

How Taking Yourself Too Seriously Can Cause Binge Eating

When was the last time you took something WAY too seriously?

You know what I’m talking about. You dropped the glass jar of jam on the kitchen floor, it shattered, and you wanted to tear your hair out. Or some driver cut you off, then proceeded to cruise along at about 10 mph below the speed limit, and you were ready to rear-end him.

Or you thought, as you are often wont to do, “What if this never changes? What if I have problems with food for the rest of my life?” And that sent you into a spiral of hopelessness and fear, and suddenly the rest of your life started to turn dark grey and shadowy.

We binge eaters have a nasty habit of taking things too seriously.

We get negative feedback at work, and suddenly we’re about to get fired. We get in a fight with our partner, and clearly we’re on the verge of a divorce. Tomorrow.

We are so hard on ourselves!!!

Can you relate?

If you want to stop binge eating, it’s very important to see this pattern, and to recognize what it’s really about.

It’s really about having a lot of negative emotion inside that spills out – and gets triggered – at the most inopportune moments.

Sure, everyone has an off day. Everyone’s patience has a breaking point. But if you find that your responses to life’s little (and big) bumps is often to freak out – either with anger or fear – there’s a good chance that your reaction isn’t really about what’s actually happening. It’s about old stuff, past hurts and wounds that haven’t gotten the attention they need. When there are a lot of old, bad feelings crowding your insides, it impacts the way you see the world. Things start to seem a lot more difficult than they really are. After all, there are plenty of people out there who are able to shrug at a shattered glass jar of jam. Or even to laugh about it.

And guess what – when enough of these irritating or frightening incidents pile up, hour after hour, day after day, and we react in anger or fear, at some point we’re going to need to self-soothe, get high, or shut down. Those of us reading this blog know that one of our favorite substances to use for these processes is food.

That’s how taking life too seriously causes binge eating.

So what do we do instead???

Can you see how a long, hard look at the actual reality of the situation can change your perspective, and vastly change your reaction? By reminding yourself of this new awareness – that your reaction probably doesn’t match the reality; that the shattered glass of jam or the crappy driver isn’t all that horrible – you have a really good chance at shifting your experience.

My clients know that I am ALL ABOUT emotional release. I’m always encouraging them to scream, cry, move around to release their feelings. It’s toxic to keep them pent up inside. So if you drop the glass of jam, and it’s just the last straw, and you feel like you’re going to lose it, let yourself have a yell into a pillow or a frustrated cry.

And then remind yourself of the reality – it’s no big deal. That’s what paper towels and sponges are there for. No one died.

Hey, you may even get to the point where you can look at your reaction and laugh.

“Wow – I got really worked up there. I seem to do that a lot, don’t I.”

Of course, we all know that we have no desire to binge when we’re feeling calm and chuckling at ourselves.

Does this sound far-fetched? I know that for many people, linking negative emotions to binge eating is a new and revolutionary concept. But in my experience, the two are closely linked.

So with that, I’m wishing you a day in which you can laugh at yourself and the world.

Three Common Nutritional Causes of Binge Eating and Bulimia

Three Common Nutritional Causes of Binge Eating and Bulimia

In the past month I’ve spoken with several people who intend to start doing deep emotional work with me around their binge eating. They are interested in the One Day Intensive, or they’d like to meet ongoing.

Instead, I can tell from what they’re saying that at least part of their problem has to do with the fact that they’re nutritionally and biochemically out of balance. I know that once we stabilize their blood sugar and support their neurotransmitter production, along with making sure they are filled with satiating, nutrient-dense foods, their binging is likely to reduce, if not stop altogether.

So I tell them that I don’t want to waste their time. I’d rather we do work just on nutrition first. Often, this alone is enough to stop or dramatically reduce binge eating and cravings. If any compulsive eating remains, we can deduce that it is psychological rather than physiological in nature, and then we can start to work together on the emotional aspect. Yes, I am putting myself out of business. Maybe I should charge more?

It’s true – what you eat, how you eat, and your neurotransmitter levels can either cause or prevent binge eating. Here are the three most common nutritional causes:

1. Not Enough Food

Your body needs a certain number of calories per day. Everyone’s body is different, so everyone needs a different number. If you are not eating enough, your body will force you to make up for it eventually. If you’re skipping breakfast or eating only an apple, you will inevitably be prowling the cabinets at night. This isn’t an issue of “lack of willpower” or “lack of control” – it’s basic physiology.

2. Not Enough Nutrients

When you are hungry, your body is hard-wired to ask for two things: calories and nutrients. That’s why you’re hungry an hour after you eat fast food, or two bags of potato chips. If you get the bulk, but not the nutrients, your body will ask for more.

3. Not Enough Protein

This works in two ways. First, protein gives us energy. If we don’t have enough protein making sufficient energy, we will reach for refined carbohydrates or sugar as a substitute. Second, protein stabilizes blood sugar. If your diet is too carb-heavy, your blood sugar will spike and then crash; when your blood sugar is low, it’s common to have intense cravings for refined carbs and sugar. I see these dynamics a lot with my vegetarian and vegan clients who are not getting enough protein, and I can tell you that the ten years I spent as an almost-vegan (I ate dairy but no other animal products) were marked by weekly sugar binges. I recommend my clients eat at least 15 grams of protein per meal.

Of course, there are many other nutritional causes of binge eating; these happen to be the ones I think are most prevalent. What have you noticed about the link between how you eat and your cravings?

Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work (and what does)

Why Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work (and what does)

“I just need to change my perspective!”
“I need to be grateful for what I have, and appreciate the little things in life!”
“When I’m anxious, I’ll just ignore it, ’cause when I focus on it it gets worse. When I’m depressed, I’ll just try harder to talk myself out of it.”

Yeah…how did that go for you?

Positive thinking is the biggest scam in the self-help / psychology industry. (Well, maybe it works sometimes, for an hour, or a day, but before you know it, the anger/fear/pain/shame/depression rears its ugly head again, like a shadow looming over the rest of your life.) But in general…IT DOES NOT WORK. And when you learn these few simple facts about brain science, you’ll understand why (very simple, bear with me):
Your FRONTAL CORTEX is the part of the brain that governs reason and cognition.
Your LIMBIC SYSTEM is the part of the brain that stores and processes emotion (mostly unconscious, by the way).
So if you’ve got all kinds of negative feelings in the limbic system – fear, anger, sadness, shame – but you’re trying to deal with it by engaging your frontal cortex (i.e. “thinking your way out of it”), you won’t get anywhere. It’s like knowing you have a dirty kitchen, and stressing about it day after day, but cleaning your living room instead. Your living room will sure look nice, but nothing in the kitchen has changed, and it’s still making you nuts.
This also explains why insight alone usually doesn’t lead to a change in behavior. Have you ever thought “I totally understand my issues. I get why I binge eat. I just can’t make myself stop.” Well…you may understand it, but I can almost guarantee there are piles of painful feelings floating around your subconscious. And they’re the ones that are “driving the bus”, so to speak – not your rational brain.
This also explains why willpower alone doesn’t work. Just wanting something more, or working harder, or beating yourself up and resolving to do better, doesn’t end emotional eating if the emotions themselves aren’t getting addressed.

So…what DOES work?

Well…this is kind of what I do for a living and it takes quite a while to teach it. But here’s a summary:

Slooooowing down – giving yourself time and space to breathe.
Acknowledging your feelings. They need a voice!
Letting yourself feel your feelings. Don’t run away!
Helping these feelings move through and out of your body by figuring out what you need (screaming? crying? deep breathing? a bath? lying in the grass?) and doing it.
Time and time and time again.
Yeah, it’s way more involved than trying to think positive, or trying to ignore that gnawing anxiety or depression. It also works. Try it!
The Two Word Mantra For Conquering Bikini Season Body Hatred

The Two Word Mantra For Conquering Bikini Season Body Hatred

After 34 years I finally discovered the two-word recipe for ditching the self-criticism, once and for all.

It’s May!!!! Crocuses, sunshine, warm and springy grass. The smell of bbq grills, the sound of birds singing up the dawn. New growth. New life. A time for new beginnings.

But you’ve got a secret about the onset of spring. For you, May marks the start of a season of dread. You think about trying on swimsuits and scrutinizing your body from every angle. Your heart sinks as you imagine the cellulite and fat rolls and droopy parts that you just know you’ll see in the mirror.

I’ve got a secret for you: accepting your body is NOT about embarking on the latest crash diet. You know that if you do, you’ll just gain the weight back, because it’s happened before. And it’s not about plastic surgery. Did you know even supermodels are critical of their physiques? Clearly, for us women, there is no way that we can achieve the perfect figure. ‘Cause you know there will always be something you wish looked different…


You take on the following mantra.


Your mantra for bikini season (and for all time) is

“Fuck it.”

FUCK IT. I’m alive, my limbs and organs work; I can see and hear and smell and taste.

FUCK IT. I’m ____ (fill in your age). How much time am I willing to waste focusing on my flab rather than enjoying the salt air and the waves???? Seriously??

FUCK IT. If I think that woman over there is looking at me critically, I’ll feel sorry for her. She hates her own body so much that she’s got to focus on my flaws.

FUCK IT. When I hear that critical voice in my head, I will say “fuck it, critical voice!”. I’ll understand that I don’t need to follow its every edict like a slave.

FUCK IT. In a larger sense, when we as women refuse to limit our lives because we think we look wrong, we unleash a tremendous force of power. There’s nothing more dangerous than a confident woman, and I mean that in the best way possible.


It can be quite liberating.

Did I offend you?

Good. Let me shake you out of your old ways.

What My Sugar Addiction Cost Me

What My Sugar Addiction Cost Me

“This food / allergy / addiction thing is so out of control. Today I got really upset, as I tend to do when my skin looks like a cesspool…and cause all day I had been giving myself a pep talk that I’ve got to work with the body I HAVE, and…at least I can not be a white flabby monster. But I think this and then I can’t stop myself from eating four more cookies.” – entry from my journal, summer of 2001

What has been the cost – financial, emotional, physical and spiritual – of how you have been relating to food and your body?

If you could put a price tag on it, how much would healing these issues be worth to you?

Cost Isn’t Just About Money.

(That’s an important part of it.)

But what about mental, emotional, physiological and spiritual cost?

When I set out to heal my relationship with food, the cost initially deterred me. I did NOT want to spend my extra dollars on therapists and nutritionists! I wanted cool boots, and to continue getting takeout whenever I chose. But the reality was that my dysfunctional relationship with food ITSELF was costing me dearly, financially and otherwise. Here’s how:

– l spent thousands of dollars on visits to various doctors to treat health problems caused either partially or fully by my diet. (I also probably spent hundreds, if not thousands of dollars over the years on “binge foods”).

– Some of these health problems caused me to experience physical pain, while others caused a great deal of shame and self-hatred. (While I don’t want to go into detail here, trust me when I say these health issues were multiple, varied, and part of my life on a daily basis for over a decade.)
– My relationship with food itself caused shame and self-hatred. Why couldn’t I just stop?

– Some of these health problems also caused me to inhibit doing activities I enjoyed, or to have really problematic repercussions when I DID do them. (Sometimes this happened monthly, and sometimes it happened multiple times per week).

There’s no doubt about it – my relationship with food was costing me dearly, in many ways. And healing my relationship with food took money, and it took time. That’s what happens when unhealthy patterns have been going on for years or decades. There’s no “quick fix” (I’ve looked for it, trust me!).

But for me, the cost of NOT healing was far greater, and I could see that.

I didn’t want to keep living in a body that I hated. I didn’t want to keep feeling so out of control. And I didn’t want to keep eating in a way that was already creating a multitude of health problems, which were likely to only get worse over time.

And guess what? Now that’s behind me. I no longer feel experience shame and frustration about these issues, because they are no longer issues. I no longer spend money on medication, because I don’t need it. I no longer spend money on practitioners to help me heal my relationship with food, because it has healed. And having a joyful relationship with food, and an accepting attitude towards my body? That, for me, is priceless.

So now I ask you again –

What has been the cost – financial, emotional, physical and spiritual – of how you have been relating to food and your body?

If you could put a price tag on it, how much would healing these issues be worth to you?

Consider this “food for thought” for the New Year.

The Link Between Junk Food and Violence

The Link Between Junk Food and Violence

Tragically, at this point, it seems like at least once a month now, there’s some kind of mass shooting in America.

Everyone’s got theories as to how these violent acts could have been prevented. The most common debates, at least on my FB feed, center around gun control and increased access to mental health treatment. Yes, and yes, to both. But how about the strong link between nutritional deficiencies and violent behavior?

We have become a fast-food culture. And we are collectively suffering the effects. Fortunately, the impact of junk food on emotional health is starting to become mainstream news. Here are a few examples:

  • The American Journal of Psychiatry has published a study indicating that kids deficient in zinc, iron and B vitamins demonstrated a 41% increase in aggression at age 8 and a 51% increase in violent and antisocial behaviors by age 17.
  • A Japanese university surveyed 270 adolescent “delinquents” and found that, compared to their peers, they were 25% more likely to consume junk food, and three times more likely to skip breakfast.
  • The National Institute of Health discovered that an additive found in many fast foods may trigger violence and depression.
  • A study from the University of Vermont found that teens who drank more soda were more likely to be violent than their peers who consumed little to no soda.
  • A UK prison study found that when inmates’ diets were supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids and multivitamins, the number of violent offenses they committed while in prison dropped by 37%.
  • Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, founder of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome diet, has identified that children can display violent and aggressive behaviors as a result of food intolerances or allergies (which in turn result from an impaired digestive system).

It makes sense. You may have seen it in your own life: as you eat cleaner, healthier food, you begin to feel better, both physically and emotionally.

Conversely, when you eat junk, you feel sluggish and irritable. That’s because when you eat junk, you are depriving your brain of the nutrients it requires to execute its necessary functions, such as making neurotransmitters (brain chemicals that carry messages throughout our body). Quite literally, your brain is not working right.

The good news is that by improving your diet, you can significantly improve your brain function. I’ve done it myself! There’s a whole world out there of fresh, local, organic and delicious meats, veggies, and grains. Start exploring, and reap the benefits.

Even being around food growing in its natural state is healing. Have you ever visited a farm, picked apples, or planted a garden? You can’t help but feel calm and relaxed when you’re in the presence of the natural world. Without a doubt, nature has a soothing effect on the mind.

It’s a vicious cycle: people eat junk food when they’re in emotional pain, and the junk food creates emotional pain, which prompts more eating of junk food. I do know that the Standard American Diet is causing thousands of Americans to feel depressed, irritable, and in some cases, outright belligerent. If this concept makes sense to you, please consider forwarding this blog post to your family, friends, and coworkers who you think might need to learn about the link between junk food and mental health.