Posts filed under Emotional Eating Recovery

How to Love your Body Even if You Still Struggle with Food or Haven't "Lost the Weight" Yet

One common misconception is that if you love yourself now, you’ll stop going for what you want and become a lifeless vegetable. I find this is far from the case. At certain times, choosing to love your body now might mean to stop the striving and fighting especially if you realize it’s not working for you and isn’t getting you closer to what you truly want in life. At other times, choosing to love yourself and your body might mean challenging yourself to work harder to move towards what you truly want.

So how do you practice loving yourself and your body even if you aren’t yet where you want to be with food? Here are 3 ways to start practicing today:

Mindfulness and Brain Science - Why Mindfulness helps people overcome binge eating, emotional eating, and more

For a long time, I told myself I wasn’t a meditator.  I had countless attempts at meditating only to find quieting my mind to be so difficult. Sure, I had heard why it was useful for you but it wasn’t until I worked with my first meditation teachers that it became a habit for me.  I realized it was a mix of technique & accountability that helped me to finally make it a habit.

One of the interesting “side effects” of meditating more for me was improving my eating habits, actually.  I found that meditation helped me to feel more calm and centered, making wiser more centered choices rather than to be compulsive and emotional with choices (hello emotional eating).  It took some time and practice to become a habit but each time I practiced it became easier and easier.

I often use mindfulness as a tool these days to help my clients overcome binge eating, overeating, emotional eating, and more.  As shared in my last post, mindfulness has a vast array of benefits including but not limited to: a greater sense of peace and calm, the ability to weather strong emotions, and the ability to make wiser, more rational choices.

When I first started, I could feel a visceral difference when I got centered and meditated in simply how I felt.  Later on, I learned more about the neuroscience which helped me to buy even more into the habit of meditation.

As discussed in a previous blog post, we can think of two separate brains when it comes to retraining binge eating and compulsive overeating. First, we have our animal brains (i.e. limbic system) which is our emotional brain, the seat of our habits loops. Second, we have our sane brains (i.e. prefrontal cortex) where we make wiser choices, plan for the future, and so on.  When we meditate and focus our attention, we actually are strengthening the pre-frontal cortex, associated with these wiser decisions.  Like a muscle, what we use, we strength and what we don’t use, we lose.  Over time, we can strengthen our ability to stay centered and calm even in stressful events and times where we normally would act compulsively and emotionally from the animal brain, which might look like stuffing our face with fries.

One of the main tools I use with my clients is mindfulness because it actually strengthens our ability to make wiser choices. Research has shown that mindfulness has been proven to dramatically decrease instances of binge eating and compulsive eating.


So how do you start developing a practice of mindfulness? In my work, I usually start my clients with developing a basic meditation practice. There are plenty of free resources out there or you can consider looking for a meditation teacher or group. In my work, combining mindfulness with coaching, nutrition, etc. have been the keys to help my clients stop binge eating for good.

Mindfulness - A Practice that Can Help You Beat Binge Eating & Emotional Eating

I recently finished up a course on Mindful Eating through Mindfulness Based Eating Awareness Program (MB-EAT), which was developed by Dr. Jean Kristeller.  I decided to participate in order to deepen my own understanding and knowledge of mindfulness as a means to break free from the diet culture and have a  more peaceful relationship with food.

What is mindfulness, you ask?  Mindfulness is simply the act of being fully present.  Our minds are often thinking about the past or imagining the future rather than being FULLY in the present moment.  Mindfulness itself has its roots in Buddhist meditation (Vipassana) and is a key element in many spiritual practices & religions.  But whether you are spiritual or not, in a world full of distractions, 24/7 connectivity through our cell phones and the internet, mindfulness is definitely becoming more challenging and equally more more important.

How Loneliness & Isolation Perpetuates the Binge Eating Cycle

 Just as physical hunger is the signal for us to eat, and thirst is the single for us to drink water, loneliness is a signal for us to seek connection.  Unfortunately, what keeps so many people stuck from seeking the connection and support they need is shame.  Shame is the belief that inherently there is something wrong and broken with us and therefore we are unworthy of true love and belonging.  This differs from guilt, which is a signal that we have acted out of alignment of our values. While guilt says we’ve done something bad or wrong (that could be changed), shame insidiously tells us we are bad or wrong.

The cycle so often goes like this for food and so many other addictive-type behaviors:

Feel intense loneliness and shame —> binge eat —> isolate oneself and feel more lonely and shameful —> continue binge eating

I’ve seen from my experience and that of my clients that feeling out-of-control with food in itself is painful.   Add on top of that feeling like you’re alone and the only one struggling with the issue and the experience can be excruciating.

A Brain Science Perspective on Binge Eating + How to Break Free from the Habit

I’m sitting her in a coffee shop where I just enjoyed some tea and a cupcake (gluten-free for me ;), having fully enjoyed experience of eating.  To think, in the past I feared cupcakes and would avoid them at all costs…

Flashback to 2013….I remember a particular morning I woke up, feeling bloated and disgusted with myself.  I had binged the night before going completely mindless with food. For me, binge eating started as an occasional occurrence in middle and high school, but once I started my first year of college, it had become an daily nightmare.  I was in my 4th year of college at the time, which had been incredibly stressful with the number of classes I was taking, trying to balance my extracurriculars and social life, and uncertainty about my future career.

I look back with compassion on the writings of my younger self.  I wish someone could have told her that overcoming binge eating wouldn’t always be a linear process.  There were some days I would learn a new concept or tool and do really well my eating.  “Yes!!! Finally!  I’d tell myself… this is the answer.”  Inevitably, the new “diet high” would wear off and I would be back to where I started.  Then I’d beat myself up and wonder if something was wrong with me or even binge to escape the sense of unworthiness I felt.

Looking back, I wish someone had told me to be gentle with myself.  After all, I was doing my very best.  I wish someone had told me that change and healing isn’t always linear.  At the time, I think it’s something I understood theoretically but didn’t fully embody especially having come from a culture and expectation of “Straight  A’s” all the time.

So let me tell you this, if you struggle with the dieting-binge eating-repeat cycle, there is nothing wrong with you.  You just need a better understanding of yourself and your biology.