Q 1 from Sarah H: “Why do I look forward to eating muesli in the evening even though I don’t particularly like it and it gives me a bad stomach?! I am actually sitting here looking forward to it too! 🤯”
There is part of you that needs it because;
“You want what you need.”– Victoria Kleinsman
So get curious. What part of you needs the muesli? You’re a human and so there is never anything that you do without a reason for doing it. And that reason is always emotional. What feeling are you seeking when you eat the muesli? I can already see that part of the reason is because you’re “looking forward to it”… And it feels good to look forward to something right? Why are you looking forward to it?
I will also add that the part of you that was denied muesli for __ number of months or years needs to feel safe that there is enough and that you’re not going to restrict it again. It needs the taste, the carbs, the experience of eating it.
With my hierarchy of needs regarding food, the body doesn’t care about sickness until it’s getting enough food. When the body is getting enough food it will then be able to relax. Only then can you start to pay attention to the body’s communication of what feels good and what doesn’t. When you’ve reached that stage you’ll then be able to make a choice that won’t feel forced or restrictive on what to eat, especially if something makes you feel sick.
One last thing to add is that stress can also give you a bad stomach. And so if you’re stressed in any way about eating the muesli (which I’m assuming you are because you’ve asked this question 😉), that can contribute to the tummy upset.
- Get curious and journal
- Keep allowing
- Connect to your body’s wisdom
- Notice what happens
Q 2 from Claire H: “How do I know how much to eat when I still don’t have a strong physical hunger?”
“I am still struggling to know how much to eat when I still don’t have a strong physical hunger. I think 30 years of restricting has meant my body can’t be arsed telling me anymore – at least it doesn’t trust me enough yet. So while I am eating and I get full, I still eat a large amount of vegetables and salad, I don’t think I am eating enough energy to really get my metabolism going – and fully recover but have minimal hunger. I don’t want to count calories again ( and trying to stop looking at food that way ) but fear the ED is still winning in my overall day of eating.”
What you said about your body “not being arsed to tell you it’s hungry anymore” can actually be true for a lot of people! Hunger signals use energy so if your body hasn’t got enough energy for more vital bodily functions such as breathing, repairing internal cells, digesting etc, then it won’t waste energy on sending hunger signals ESPECIALLY if those signals were ignored previously for a long period of time. It can take a while for your body to trust you again after being restricted for so long.
Also, hunger doesn’t actually only mean a rumbling stomach by the way…! Hunger can be experienced differently from person to person. I know I’m hungry when if I think about eating it feels good to me. My mouth might water or I’ll notice a peak of interest or energy. If I’m not hungry, I’ll have more of a neutral reaction. Yeah, if something magically appeared right in front of me then I might eat it (which is also fine) but I know that I’m not necessarily hungry. I also experience hunger with low energy, a foggy mind or annoyance #hangry! In the stage you are at, if you are thinking about food, EAT!
Why are you eating a large amount of vegetables and salad? You’ve also mostly answered that for me in what you wrote toward the end of your question; “I fear the ED is still winning in my overall day of eating.”
If you are still being held prisoner by the eating disorder, then break free by doing the exact opposite of what it wants you to do. Support is usually necessary with this as as you can imagine, a lot of shit will come up when you start to do this. But on the other side of freedom lies freedom. Your brain is currently wired with an eating disorder but YOU don’t have an eating disorder. You get to reprogram your brain so that it doesn’t have an eating disorder.
Lastly, if the migration response of anorexia is still switched on then your body won’t send you hunger signals… instead it will encourage you to eat less and move more. You turn the migration response off by mechanical eating and gaining weight so that your body thinks you’ve arrived at the land of abundance and you are no longer in scarcity and starvation.
Another Q from Claire: “How to stop being so consumed with what others are eating?”
“I am also keen to hear more about stopping being so consumed with what others are eating. I obsess over making sure everyone else is fed and only really feel allowed to eat myself when others have. It is crazy and I hate worrying so much. Do you think this will go away when I am recovered – is it me deflecting my own issues onto others? Drives me nuts and impacts my whole day. I am always preparing food for others – and worried if I don’t then they won’t eat.”
Ok, so the reason I’ve also chosen to answer this Claire is because it’s quite a straightforward answer…
The reason you are so consumed with what others are eating is because you are currently living with a restricted eating disorder. We become obsessed with what we don’t have but what we want. Your body wants and needs more food!
Feeling allowed to eat only when others have eaten is mostly an eating disorder issue and partially a self-worth issue. It’s because you think eating is wrong and so if others do it then it gives you “permission” to do it too. Not that you actually need permission of course. You were born with the permission to eat simply because you’re alive.
Yes, this will all go away when you recover.
Are you really worried that they won’t eat if you don’t prepare food? This part isn’t about them, it’s about you…
Q from Dawn: “Top tips to live in alignment with your values?”
“Unless you’re planning on using the fig roll question…?! 😂”
I’ll start with answering the fig roll question she asked me on IG…
“Is a fig roll a biscuit or a cake?”
I say a fig roll IS a fig roll 😂😉 If you prefer to see a fig roll as a biscuit then go ahead, and call it a biscuit… If you prefer to see a fig roll as a cake then go ahead, and call it a cake!
Okay, back to the serious question… “Top tips to live in alignment with your values?”
- Get clear on what your values are.
- Do these current values support who you want to be and the goals you have? (If not, change them.)
- How would living in these values make you feel?
- What does it look like to live out your values day to day in thought, feeling and behaviours?
- What is blocking you or what could come up to block you from following through with the answer to the above?
- Work through any blocks by visiting where the fears, limiting beliefs and stories came from, meeting yourself with compassion, finding evidence to prove them wrong and then taking action anyway. #growth.
- Enjoy the fulfilment you’ll feel when you are living in alignment with your values.
Q from Michelle: “How do I help a loved one whose anorexia has morphed into bulimia through the recovery process?”
This is what happened to me.
You didn’t mention if this person is also bingeing before the purging. I will assume that they are but this isn’t always the case.
The anorexia is trying to find a way to compensate for the food that has been eaten. Every eating disorder is a restricted eating disorder so if anyone has a history of restricting, any bingeing and bulimia is born from the restriction. The only exception to this is actual binge eating disorder (not binge eating in response to previous, current or impending restriction) which has a genetic and biological component to it and shows itself in very early childhood. There is a genetic ‘malfunction’ in the way the body responds to leptin.
Leptin is a protein hormone predominantly made by adipose cells and its primary role is to regulate long-term energy balance. As one of the major signals of energy status, leptin levels influence appetite, satiety, and motivated behaviours oriented towards the maintenance of energy reserves.
This can be such a hard pill to swallow but all you can do to best support this loved one is to let them know that you are here for them. And also to show them that too. It can be so heartbreaking if the person doesn’t want to recover and you’re watching them become half the person they were in so many ways. You can see the pain they’re in and there’s nothing you can do to help them unless they want to recover.
The only exception for this is if the person is a child and you can enrol them into a recovery centre but even then the child still needs to want to recover. The weight gain that will happen in the recovery centre can help get them out of the migration response which can be hugely beneficial but it is also ESSENTIAL this child is getting emotional support and seeing a very good therapist who specialises in eating disorders. Otherwise, if the root cause hasn’t been healed, the eating disorder will manifest again.
How to help:
Ask the loved one what you can do to support them in their recovery and watch this video and this video of my previous client who is chatting with her husband about how her recovery journey and his part in it.
If they don’t want to recover then all you can do is:
- Love them unconditionally.
- Don’t give up on them or label them as bulimic or anorexic.
- Treat them like they don’t have an eating disorder, as the more you see them as that identity, the more they will identify with it – eg don’t stop asking if they’d like dinner or would like to go out for lunch etc. This may make them angry but when they want to recover they’ll one day say yes and will be grateful that the offer is still there and that you’ve been asking all along.
- BE the example of someone who eats freely and who accepts their body and loves themselves. NO diet talk, weight loss or body negativity talk of any kind.
- Make it easy for them to eat and difficult for them to restrict or purge. Always have food available. Show safety around food and eating. If they purge via vomiting, make it challenging for them to use the bathroom after eating etc.
- Believe in their recovery and the likelihood that one day they’ll be free. Talk to that. Allow them to buy into your vision.
- Get support yourself. This is so important. Eating disorders impact families and loved ones greatly. Make sure you are getting the support you need.
Q’s from Hita: “What exactly are you supposed to eat in ED recovery?”
If you have physical and mental hunger then follow that without question. Even if that looks like chocolate for breakfast lunch and dinner, if that’s what you’re craving, eat it. Trust that your body knows what it needs. It will likely need a shit ton of calories (I was eating around 7-10k calories a day), but don’t count calories. As you progress in your recovery, you’ll start to notice that you’ll want other things such as potatoes, cheese, burgers, pizza, vegetables etc. Allow it all.
If you don’t yet have physical or mental hunger start with a minimum of 3 meals that each contain fats, carbs and protein and 3 snacks a day. Include at least one snack that is processed such as a chocolate bar. Go against all the eating disorder rules. Repeat.
Q2: “How long will you keep gaining weight?
For as long as your body needs to… You have a set point weight so you won’t keep gaining weight forever. Your body will defend your set point weight (both ways). If you lost your menstrual cycle then getting that back consistently is a good indicator that your body is on its way to optimal health and weight.
It’s your job to eat unrestrictedly for the rest of your life and build a relationship with your body and its needs and then your body will be the size it will be.
Q3: “How can you make sure to completely recover and ensure this won’t come back?”
- By healing the root cause (childhood trauma, abuse, codependency.)
- By understanding and healing the reasons why the eating disorder is serving you.
- By rewiring your fear of weight gain.
- By reparenting yourself throughout life and giving yourself and little you what you need from within.
- Choosing never to restrict as a coping mechanism and instead find self-caring ways to cope instead of self-harming ways (restriction).
- Self-love work.
Q from Milja: “Could you speak to Food Addiction – Is there really such a thing?”
I’m going to dedicate a whole episode to this one as there’s a lot I want to go into. I’ll record and release it in the first week of November. Thank you for this great question.
Q from Dana: “I would love to hear your thoughts on black-or-white thinking. What causes this, why would I feel a pull to return to it and how to break free from it forever?”
The main reason is because it has served you well in the past: the first diet you went on was most likely “successful”. You would have stuck to the diet plan without wavering, weight loss would have happened and you would have been very pleased with yourself.
But here’s what I’m guessing would have happened after that…because you would have
1; dieted yourself to below your natural setpoint weight, your body would have fought to bring your weight back up to where it wants to be and
2; you would have been missing all the foods that you had given up and craving them like there’s no tomorrow and BOOM, you’d find yourself knee-deep in cookie dough (or fill in the blank) and bingeing your face off. You would gain the weight back again and then you’d start another diet, only you’d promise yourself that you’d be even stricter this time to ‘make up for it.’
The dedication and commitment (‘all-in’) you had would have been worth the sacrifice at the time. You would have felt amazing, proud, and strong when you were ‘on it’. But when you had inevitably ‘fallen off the wagon’ you’d have felt like absolute shit. You’d have been drowning in a shame spiral.
This would have most likely continued for years…
how right am I?
There’s also a perfectionism and overachieving component to this which will be linked to your childhood. You wouldn’t have felt good enough or loved and accepted just as you were and so you’d need to be as close to perfect as possible in order to feel safe and worthy of receiving love.
Other reasons why black-or-white thinking is adopted:
- Simplification: Our brains often seek simplicity and categorization, making it easier to process information. This can lead to oversimplification of complex issues.
- Emotional reasoning: Strong emotions can make it challenging to see shades of grey. When you’re upset or anxious, it’s easier to think in absolutes.
- Past experiences: If you’ve had negative experiences where middle-ground solutions failed, you may be more inclined to resort to black-and-white thinking.
- Social and cultural influences: Societal and cultural norms can reinforce this type of thinking. For instance, media and social narratives sometimes promote polarized viewpoints.
- Insecurity: Feeling uncertain or insecure can lead to wanting clear, unambiguous answers and conclusions.
To break free from black-or-white thinking
- Heal the root: of your need to be perfect, your need to be an over-achiever and your need to prove yourself. This is why you keep being pulled back to it. This includes self-love, inner child and trauma work guided by a professional. “Why is it not safe to be in the middle ground even though I want to be?”
- Awareness: Recognize when you’re thinking in extremes. Mindfulness can help you become aware of your thought patterns.
- Challenge your thoughts: Ask yourself if there could be middle-ground solutions or alternative perspectives. Try to consider the nuances of a situation.
- Embrace uncertainty: Understand that not everything has a clear-cut answer. It’s okay to be uncertain or to have mixed feelings.
- Seek diverse perspectives: Engage in conversations with people who have different viewpoints. This can help you see the complexity of issues.
- Practice flexibility: Train your mind to adapt to changing circumstances and consider multiple possibilities.
Breaking free from this thinking style can take time and effort, but with healing of the root cause and practising self-awareness, you can learn to think more flexibly and make more aligned decisions in various aspects of your life.
Q from Tammy: “I would like you to talk about how healing the inner child and shifting focus to recovery actions look like with practical scenarios in real life.”
Scenario: You’re in the supermarket and you want to buy a fear food (to then eat, obviously) to neutralise the fear. You get to the chocolate section and you automatically go into fight or flight mode. Your fear brain is screaming at you things such as;
“This food is a threat, you cannot eat that!”
“You can only eat low-calorie foods, this is NOT safe!” ETC
What to do:
Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that right now;
“I am safe. I am just standing in the shop, looking at chocolate bars. There are other people buying them and they’re not combustion into flames. It’s OK.”
Then check in with little you. How is she feeling and why? For example, she might be feeling scared, ok let’s be honest, petrified because calories might equal weight gain (if you’re currently below your set point). And weight gain isn’t safe. It’s not safe because when she gained weight as a teenager she was bullied at school and was judged by her family. She felt rejected and like there was something wrong with her. She was cut off from unconditional love which is what children need to feel safe.💔
What does she need right now? Reassurance? Comfort? Be there for her. Energetically. Emotionally. Say to her things such as;
“It’s OK that you feel scared. I understand why. It’s not fair that you experienced that as a child. I love you and I’m sorry you went through that. It doesn’t mean that history will repeat itself and even if it does, I’ve got you now. I love you and what is important is that we let go of this eating disorder that used to make us feel safe. It’s damaging and dangerous and it’s keeping us stuck and scared. I’m ready to support you and love you for who you naturally are. I won’t suppress you anymore. You deserve to take up space in all the ways. Part of our journey to authentic self-expression and self-love is to eat what scares us. To rewire our fear of weight gain. We can do it together. It starts with buying the chocolate eating it and then sharing our celebration with Victoria. I’ve got you. It’s okay. Let’s do this!”
And that’s a wrap for today Queens. Please share this episode with anyone who you think it might help and stay tuned because very soon I’ll be sharing something VERY exciting that will be starting in January and I’ll be capping it at 10 women so if you don’t want to miss out then make sure you’re subscribed to my email list as I’ll be offering it to my group coaching clients first and then my email list second before sharing with the rest of the world.