2 Types of Hunger

We all experience two types of hunger: emotional hunger and physical hunger.

Physical hunger is what we are honoring when we eat to supply our bodies with more energy.

Emotional hunger is when we eat even though we don’t need food.

Having a healthy relationship with food doesn’t always mean that you only eat when you’re physically hungry, but it does mean you eat with intention.

If I’m not physically hungry, but I want to enjoy a snack, I like to evaluate why I’m wanting to eat it.

If I want to eat because of boredom or to avoid anxiety, I want to let myself feel those emotions instead of hiding from them with food. Food can be used to help us avoid our emotions. Try to notice what you want to avoid by eating instead of avoiding it.

There is a thin line though. Sometimes avoiding certain foods is a way for me to hide from the anxiety of feeling full. Part of having a healthy relationship with food means that I allow myself to eat things that I want to eat.

The trick to knowing what is best is to evaluate whether or not it’s time to eat. Ask yourself these questions:

What am I feeling right now? If it’s physical huger, eat.

Are you trying to avoid an emotion by eating? Then name the emotion you’re feeling and allow yourself to sit in that discomfort. This will help you build confidence that you don’t need to use food to cope with discomfort.

Are you trying to avoid emotional discomfort by not eating this? An example of this is not eating sweets because you don’t want to feel guilty. This can include dieting or restricting food and is another form of avoiding emotions.

Having a healthy relationship with food means also having a healthy relationship with ourselves. As you decide when you choose to eat or not eat, you will be able to get to know yourself on a deeper level.

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Self Care in Action

Recently, half way into a work out, I felt a sharp pain in my left hamstring. I immediately stopped to stretch and take care of my body.

In my eating disorder, not doing an extra rep, working out for an extended period of time or not feeling exhausted afterwards meant that my workout wasn’t good enough.

I’ve made a lot of progress with my thoughts about exercise in the last few years. The thought I changed that has impacted my relationship exercise is, “I love my body and I love to see what it can do”.

For me this thought has changed the focus from changing my body to caring for my body.

My goal this year is to focus on exercises that allow my body to become healthier and stronger. I’ve really been emphasizing core workouts, stretching and yoga because I have a weak core and tight muscles which has caused me a lot of back pain.

In my eating disorder, stopping a workout half way through was something to be ashamed about. Now it is a sign that I’m not pushing myself to the point of injury and I feel peaceful with my decisions.

What is your motivation to work out? Are you taking care of your mind and body or are you trying to burn the most calories? Are you motivated by guilt or love for your body?

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If You Weren’t Thinking About Your Body, What Would You Be Thinking About?

When we are obsessed with our bodies and food behaviors, so much time is spent thinking about calorie counts, meal plans, excessive workouts or bingeing behaviors.

Thinking about food and weight can even become part of our self-identities.

If you want to change your relationship with food, you really need to contemplate what a version of you that isn’t obsessed with her body and food would think about.

Maybe you’d think about the relationships in your life, hobbies, exciting plans and dreams. Write a list. What do you think about in a life free of food and body obsession.

Next time you feel the urge to binge, try thinking about what you might be thinking about if you weren’t experiencing the urge. Catch yourself in the act of your behaviors and decide what you want to be thinking about.

The truth is, if you want to become a person who doesn’t obsess over disordered eating, you need to think like that person. And as you think like that person, you will become that person.

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This is Why You Body Shame Yourself

Do you want to be thin, but you think you are fat? That is a thought, not a fact. You get to decide how you think about your body. And how you think about your body will impact how your care for it.

I’ve met underweight women who have a lower body satisfaction than some overweight women. Some women would be thrilled to have their body, but they aren’t because the thoughts they have about their body.

Shame is an uncomfortable emotion for most people. For me, it is a feeling that makes me want to dive into bed and hide from the world. It feel heavy and empty at the same time.

I have spent a lot of time feeling shame about my body. A perfectly healthy body, a body that does so much for me. Yet, I thought things about my body that caused me to feel shame.

Did you know that you don’t need to think or feel anything? I didn’t.

We tend to believe that certain events have to be interpreted a certain way. But they don’t! You can be happy when you get fired or when a friend betrays you.

The reason you feel shame about your body is because of the thoughts that you have about it. And you have the ability to think anything you want.

This doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily choose to feel happy about everything. But it is important to know you have that power, nobody else can control how you feel.

Isn’t that powerful? Nobody has any control over how you feel no matter what. You have all the power.

I decided I wanted to stop thinking negative things about my body, and instead think neutral and positive things.

It started with, “I have a body” and then I was able to appreciate my body, “My body allows me to do amazing things” and eventually “I love my legs, they are strong.”

These thoughts create a different result in my life. They change they way I treat myself and other people. I appreciate my body and I treat it with respect.

You can do this too. Make a point of noticing your thoughts about your body. If they aren’t helpful, you can try brainstorming new ones.

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What Are Your Reasons to Recover?

Recovery requires a lot of discomfort. You need to persevere when it seems impossible. Knowing the reasons you have for sticking to the process is important.

When you are actively thinking about the reasons you have to recover, you will feel capable of overcoming the uncomfortable emotions that you will need to feel.

Before I even learned about the power of our thoughts, I noticed that my success in recovery depended on me regularly recording the reasons I have to recover. I wrote a list of 100 as an assignment and I rewrote it every time I was struggling.

Listing the reasons I wanted to recover helped me maintain my motivation when the urge to binge and purge was intense. It kept my eye on the prize and helped me persevere until I didn’t even need the list to resist an urge anymore.

Put a pad of paper in your pantry, in your bathroom, on top of the scale or in any place you can access it during an urge.

What are your reasons? Make a list on your pad. Rewrite it on this on your paper when you are struggling.

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Exercise and Eating Disorder Recovery

I come from an incredibly active family. My brothers and I were playing sports year round starting at a young age. My parents do triathlons and long distance running.

Being active has always been part of who I am. I have always found running particularly therapeutic. It’s a great time for me to reflect on life and enjoy being outdoors.

I took a break from most exercise in the beginning of my recovery. I did yoga and some dance classes in the treatment center I was at, but I didn’t run or do strenuous activity. I think this was important for me to have a mental break. I learned to not NEED exercise and a gained a greater appreciation for it when I did exercise.

So many diets preach exercising as a way to change your body and burn off the “sinful food” you ate on the latest special occasion. I had mixed my love of being active with a desperate need to burn calories to ease my anxiety about the food I was eating.

But exercising from a place from fear is not only unhealthy for your relationship with your body, but it isn’t productive. It isn’t sustainable or satisfying for most people.

When I started exercising again, I would only do workouts approved by my treatment team. I journaled before and after and recognized the thoughts that came up.

I picked the ones I like and focused on only thinking them. Things like “I feel strong”, “my body can do amazing things”, “the scenery and fresh air is so beautiful”.

Working out with these kind of thoughts is truly healthy for me. My mind, body and spirit all benefit. And I don’t NEED to do it to stay sane.

If you work out right now, try noticing the thoughts you let yourself think about working out and try to recognize the thoughts that serve you and ditch the ones that don’t.

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This is What is Holding You Back

You want to stop bingeing, right? But do you really believe you can?

What would life look like if from this day forward you stopped feeling the insatiable desire to gorge yourself with food?

I got honest with myself about this in recovery. I realized it would be hard. I’d feel really uncomfortable emotions. Fear, anxiety, sadness, shame, anger and disappointment. I’d have to feel it all without escaping with bingeing. Or try to solve it by restricting my food or coming up with a new diet.

Food wasn’t going to solve any of my problems. I had to learn to use the power of my mind to overcome my demons.

Man using scissors to remove the word can’t to read I can do it concept for self belief, positive attitude and motivation

I had to get really uncomfortable and sit through really uncomfortable urges, but eventually I realized I was capable of sitting through them.

Believing that I wasn’t a slave to food freed me. The thought that food controlled me gave food even more power over me. Believing I could feel ANY emotion helped me take back the power.

So start with the thought that you CAN start your journey to recovery. And then practice believing it over and over again. Because you CAN!

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When to Let Go of the Eating Disorder Label

People disagree on whether or not you can fully overcome an eating disorder. So early on in my recovery I wondered “will I always be labeled as Bulimic?”

The DSM criteria, which diagnoses eating disorders, eventually no longer applied to me, but I still carried the label.

Something I’ve learned, is that you only need to hold onto the labels that serve you.

I noticed that the label of my disordered eating didn’t serve me. I’m not ashamed of it, but I defined myself by that rather than the things I wanted to become.

The labels I choose for myself are labels that help me define the person I want to be: entrepreneur, life coach, wife, intuitive eater, daughter, sister, friend, daughter of God and so many other wonderful things.

So spend less time worrying about your past or what other people might label you as and decide what you want to label yourself as.

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How I Ditched the Diet and Took Control of My Life

I started a diet to get in control. Then I lost control and started bingeing. Then I’d try to regain control by restricting food again.

This lifestyle of control is the most out of control thing I have experienced.

I couldn’t control the people around me, I couldn’t control the depression, the anxiety or the things going on in the world around me. This scared me, so I tried to control my food.

And I lost even more control.

But I eventually learned something I could control. My thoughts. This gave me the power to decide how I wanted to experience my life.

Here are some lessons from this process:

1. Be willing to feel all emotions

No feeling can hurt you. Being scared of feeling anxiety just makes the anxiety worse. But I’ve never felt one emotion forever, it always comes and goes. Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable gives you the power to feel anything.

2. Notice emotions and the thoughts causing them

Our emotions are great guide post that can lead us to understand our minds so much clearer. What are you feeling at this moment? Why?

3. Decide What You Want Your Life to Look Like

If you don’t know what the end result will look like, you won’t be able to get there. I decided what I wanted to think about myself, food, other people and my goals.

4. Use Your Thoughts and Feelings as a Guide

You will have thoughts and emotions that won’t lead you to the life you want. It is your job to notice them. Sometimes the garden needs weeding. Take out the “I’m not good enough”, “I will never recover” and anything else that doesn’t belong.

5. Practice

Using your mind as a tool is a skill that takes practice. Be patient with yourself as you notice the thoughts and emotions you want to change.

My passion is teaching other women who battle with food on a daily basis to learn how to harness the power of their minds.

Your thoughts are the most powerful thing you have, so learn to use them. Schedule a mini session with me if you need help with this. It’s free.

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Getting Started

Why can it be so hard to take the first step towards recovery? When we don’t have any evidence that we can be a person who is “in recovery” it is hard to believe it was possible. But we will never have any evidence until we try.

We hold ourselves back by not believing we can recover. I know recovery from a life long eating disorder might feel like a big task, but putting it off by not believing in yourself might be the only thing holding you back from getting started.

But what if you truly believed that recovery was possible? Not that it will be possible one day or that you want it to be possible. You truly believed that the person you are today is capable of life long recovery. Because you are.

The only reason we live in the shame, discomfort and pain of the eating disorder is because we don’t believe it’s possible to recover. But then we show ourselves it IS possible and then we have the hope we need when the desire to overeat or purge is overbearing.

But what if you believed that you could recover today? Then you’d be able to feel the confidence necessary to resist the overbearing urges. So why don’t you try and see what happens?

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