Friday, July 18, 2014

How to help someone struggling with weight, food & body image issues

Originally published by Walden Behavioral Health:



What Not to Say: How to Help Someone Struggling with Weight, Food, and/or Body Image Issues.

Mother soothes crying daughterThere are no quick or easy solutions to help anyone who’s struggling with weight, food and/or body image issues.  Whatever is going on with food is only a symptom of the problem; the real problem usually is not about food.
People who binge are often trying to cope with uncomfortable or painful emotions.  They eat as a way of comforting or distracting themselves from these difficult emotions and conflicts, and can get so accustomed to using food that they never recognize the emotional trigger.
Therefore, it’s important thing to recognize that whatever is going on with food, it’s not about willpower.
In order to change their behavior with food, people have to identify and process painful, upsetting ideas, thoughts and emotions, and then change the way they respond when triggered.  You cannot make those changes for them.  All you can do is support them.
Allow yourself not to know all the answers about how to help the person you care about.  This does not make you any less of a friend, partner, parent, or sibling.  Admitting your lack of understanding of the problem demonstrates that you are human.  There are resources for help.  You do not have to be the expert.
Here are some guidelines for how to help.
DO NOT BECOME THE FOOD POLICE
Do NOT say, “Do you think you should eat that?”
Do NOT say, “Maybe you should make a healthier choice.”
Do NOT say, “Do you really need a second portion?”
Such a comment has never made anyone put down a fork, and declare, “I never thought of that.  I shouldn’t eat this.  Thank you for enlightening me.”
Avoid getting in discussions or arguments over weight and food. Do not give sermons about eating or get into battles about losing/gaining weight (you will lose that battle!).
DO NOT USE LOGIC
Do NOT say, “If you want to lose weight, just eat a little less.”
Here’s why logic doesn’t help.  What seems like a weight problem or a food problem is usually not about food at all.  Whatever is going on with food is a “symptom” of the problem.
In gardening, if you chop off a weed it grows back.  To eliminate a weed permanently, you have to dig out the root. Overeating is the equivalent of a weed.  To stop overeating, people have to identify and work through the conflicts and emotions that lead to overeating.
Talking about food or being logical isn’t going to help, because the focus is on the wrong thing.
DO NOT OFFER REASSURANCE
If your friend, spouse or loved one complains of looking fat or feeling fat, do NOT reassure them by saying, “ What do you mean? You look great.”
Think about it.  If you say, “You look amazing” to someone, has that person ever said, “Really? Thanks, I don’t feel fat anymore.”
Fat is a substance, not a feeling.  If someone feels “fat” she (or he) may be using the term “fat” as a default description for feeling unsatisfied, or wishing for more of something they’re not getting. They may feel fat because it’s preferable to feeling emotional.
Telling someone they look great doesn’t reassure them if on some level they’re using “fat” to express a fear that they’re not good enough, or because it’s easier to feel fat than to feel anxious, scared, vulnerable or upset.
DO NOT TALK ABOUT APPEARANCE
Although, overeating is about deeper issues than weight and food, commenting on anyone’s appearance can actually trigger abehavior. When people feel bad about themselves (comparing themselves to a celebrity who lost all her baby weight in three weeks can create bad feelings) they might turn to food for comfort or distraction.  Or they might feel as if they are under scrutiny.
All of this leads to feeling bad, which makes people more vulnerable to turning to food for comfort, distraction or just to numb out.
Thus far I have addressed what not to say.  If you want to find the right words to help, keep the following in mind:
DO ASK (CERTAIN) QUESTIONS
Ask what someone is thinking and feeling (not about what he or she is doing). Keep the focus on the inside person, not the outside appearance.
An effective way to communicate is to ask open-ended questions, which are questions that that can’t be answered with a yes or a no and which delve into the person’s thoughts, feelings and experiences.
A classic open-ended question is the classic question from therapists, “How do you feel?”   In contrast, closed questions are, “Are you upset?  Are you happy?”
Here are some examples of open-ended questions:
  • What do you want more of right now?
  • What would make you happier?
  • What are your hopes and fears about closeness?
  • What aspects of your life are satisfying? Unsatisfying?
  • What are you feeling right now?
  • What worries you?
  • What can I do to help?
Notice that all these questions are about the needs, wants, wishes, hopes and fears of the other person, not about their behavior with food.
DO TALK ABOUT FEELINGS:
The person you care about must feel safe to express disappointment, sadness, frustration, anger, fear and other emotions.  Do not protect her (or him) by avoiding uncomfortable topics.
Feelings are reactions to situations, not evidence of wrongdoing.  If someone you love or care about has an unhealthy relationship to food, you might feel worried, helpless, frustrated, angry, and bewildered.
Instead of judging and criminalizing your emotions, give yourself the right to feel what you feel.  Go ahead, get annoyed, frustrated, or enraged, but with this caveat:  allow yourself to be angry at the person’s behavior, not at the person.
Express your love and affection, as well as your concern and frustration. You will sometimes feel angry, frustrated, helpless, afraid, powerless, enraged and more.Expressing those feelings is good, as long as it’s done in a caring, gentle and non-judgmental manner.
By showing your feelings, you are providing the most direct permission for others to feel and express their feelings.   By communicating effectively, you can better understand the other person, and develop more a trust and a deeper connection.
Eventually, that may help your loved one turn to you for comfort and connection instead of to food.

About the author:
dnphotoNina Savelle-Rocklin, Psy.D. is a Los Angeles-based psychoanalyst who specializes in emotional eating.  Her personal experience gives her a unique understanding of what it’s like to struggle and she knows that change is possible.  She brings insight and hope to men and women who struggle with weight, food & body image issues.
Dr. Nina is a recognized expert on binge eating, interviewed for her expertise by the Los Angeles Times, Prevention, Real Simple, and other publications.
She is passionate about sharing a fresh perspective to the understanding and treatment of disordered eating, educating people about “why” they turn to food instead of focusing on the behavior itself.
Her award-winning blog, Make Peace With Food, has been named a “Best Eating Disorder Blog” by Healthline for three years in a row.  Dr. Nina’s podcast, Win The Diet War with Dr. Nina, was named “New & Noteworthy” by iTunes and she recently launched The Dr. Nina Show, a video series on YouTube.  She is currently writing a book about how to stop bingeing for good.
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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Get a FREE guide to cope without food



Nearly every day, people from all over the world ask for my help to stop emotional eating.   Their questions usually are along the lines of this:

"How do I stop emotional eating?"
"Why can't I just let these feelings go, like other people?"
"What else can I do to cope?  
"Why is it so hard for me to stop eating?"
It's very difficult to stop eating for comfort or distraction.  Why?  Because it helps.
Yes, that's right.  Helps.  And also hurts. 
Eating helps you distract, numb and comfort yourself from uncomfortable states, but also causes shame, guilt, discomfort and self-recrimination.  It's important to cultivate new ways of responding to yourself, and that's why I am writing to you today.

I created a blueprint of 25 Strategies To Cope Without Food to provide a 
step-by-step method to express your feelings, plus a list of healthy distractions that really do work.
Get your FREE blueprint now! 



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  www.winthedietwar.com
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Legal Disclaimer:  The content on this site is for educational and informational purposes only.  It is not intended as psychotherapy or as a substitute for psychotherapy advice, diagnosis or treatment. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Declare Your Independence From Eating Disorders!

















This is the July 4th Holiday weekend in the United States, when we celebrate American independence.  Let’s take the opportunity to declare independence from the oppressive ideas, thoughts, and beliefs about yourself that hold you hostage and keep you from the freedom of self acceptance.

Ideas, thoughts and beliefs lead to feelings, which lead to behavior.  If you think negative thoughts about yourself, you will feel bad, and be vulnerable to using food (whether turning to it or from it) to comfort, numb and distract yourself from those painful and upsetting emotions.  When your ideas shift, you feel better, and you won’t need comfort or distraction.

List some negative ideas about yourself:



Where do these ideas come from?  Family?  Culture?  Friends?




What qualities about you need to change?   Why?




Do you have to be perfect to be lovable and acceptable?




What does “perfect” mean?



When you think about self-acceptance, what do you imagine?



Declare your independence and liberate yourself from self-doubt, self-criticism, anxiety, fear and anything else that makes you feel bad about yourself or feel unsafe around people.

NEW!   Subscribe to The Dr. Nina Show!

  www.winthedietwar.com
Comments and questions are welcome.  Please share on Facebook and/orTwitter so more people can benefit from the information on this blog.
For media inquiries:  Online Press Kit

Legal Disclaimer:  The content on this site is for educational and informational purposes only.  It is not intended as psychotherapy or as a substitute for psychotherapy advice, diagnosis or treatment. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Men & Food: Men Get Eating Disorders, Too.


Got questions about manorexia or bigorexia?  Dr. Nina explores the topic of male eating disorders, explaining the specific issues that pertain to guys, and how to address them.


Check out this episode!

Men & Food: Men Get Eating Disorders, Too. (video)


Got questions about manorexia or bigorexia?  Dr. Nina explores the topic of male eating disorders, explaining the specific issues that pertain to guys, and how to address them.

Check out www.winthedietwar.com


Check out this episode!

Friday, June 20, 2014

How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious

Are you self-conscious about being in public?  

Do you think people are judging your appearance?

We feel self-conscious when we think others are looking at us with critical eyes.   

Often the way we see ourselves directly impacts our expectations of how other people will see us.  

If you think you're overweight, unattractive, stupid, or bad in some way, it's easy to imagine that other people are thinking those same things about you.

The good news is that the more you develop a positive view of yourself and experience yourself as likeable, lovable, smart, interesting, kind and good, the more likely you are to imagine other people will like you, too.

One method to stop feeling self-conscious is to be an observer instead of feeling observed.   When you are focused on what you see and think, you’re less likely to feel under observation.

Food for thought:

What do you think of yourself? 

What do you imagine other people are thinking about you?

What do you think of others?  

Are you as critical of other people as you are of yourself?

Where do these ideas about yourself come from?

What do you see in other people if you’re not focused on appearance?

When your eyes are focused outward, on what you think of other people and situations, and your attention on them, you are far less likely to have a sense of eyes on you.  When that happens, you feel less self-conscious and more at ease.

NEW!   Subscribe to The Dr. Nina Show!

  www.winthedietwar.com
Comments and questions are welcome.  Please share on Facebook and/orTwitter so more people can benefit from the information on this blog.
For media inquiries:  Online Press Kit

Legal Disclaimer:  The content on this site is for educational and informational purposes only.  It is not intended as psychotherapy or as a substitute for psychotherapy advice, diagnosis or treatment.