Why Professionals Can Fuel An Eating Disorder

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When working with my clients, I am always surprised by how many eating disorder professionals they’ve interacted with in the past have come out with, what I think are completely unprofessional and shocking comments.

Remarks like:

  • “You don’t look like you’ve got an eating disorder”
  • “I’ve seen worse than you”
  • “But you look like you eat”

I cannot believe that someone who is supposed to be knowledgeable and wants to help can say something so unhelpful.  It amazes me!  But then again, the same thing has happened to me.

After reaching out to my GP the first time I had anorexia, whilst struggling to fight, I developed bulimia.  I was eating and I restored some weight.  So everyone thought I was OK, even though inside I was screaming.  But when I later started restricting and I weighed less than before, I visited the GP again.  He told me he wasn’t going to refer me.  He said I’d sorted myself out before and I could do it again.  How did he know this?  How did he know what was going on in my head?  He’d judged me on how he’d seen me look physically.  But eating disorders are nothing to do with what we look like!!  Eating disorders are all about what goes on in our head.  How we feel about ourselves.  How we think that restricting will keep us safe and in control.

A couple of years ago I went for a routine health check at my doctor’s surgery, and because I no longer weigh myself (that number does not define me!) I told the nurse that I didn’t want to know my BMI and she said that was fine.  I had to go back two weeks later to get the results.  I saw another nurse this time and she started to go through everything with me.  The next thing I know she’s telling me my BMI!! I was gobsmacked and asked how she knew because I didn’t get weighed at the first appointment.  She breezily said that they had used my weight from a previous pill check (I step on the scales backwards) to calculate the BMI.  Shocked and slightly emotional, I explained that I hadn’t wanted to know, that I’d had anorexia and I’d made the choice to not know my weight.  She looked at me and casually said “Oh well, you know now”.

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Luckily I had recovered by this point and had the tools to help relieve my anger about her attitude.  But I couldn’t help thinking, what if I hadn’t fully recovered and this had triggered me?

There are so many professionals doing great things and helping lots of people but it seems that there seems to be a lack in fundamental training in some.  I don’t expect GPs or nurses to be experts.  I don’t expect professionals to be emotional when dealing with patients.  I understand that they must deal with hundreds of people like me, but just because I am number 947 that they’ve seen, doesn’t mean their attitude towards me should be any different to the first person they ever saw.  I am not a number, I am me, and I deserve respect and an understanding attitude.  That’s what each and every one of my clients receive.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, and want help from someone who treats you with respect, understanding and supports you every step of the way, book a call with me today to discuss if I can help you.

 

Are The Introduction of Calorie Measurements on Menus Helpful or Triggering?

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With the introduction of calorie measurements on more and more menus in restaurants and takeaways, I can’t help but wonder whether this is good or bad?

Now classifying as either all good or all bad I know, is very black and white thinking.  But when I struggled with anorexia, that’s what foods were.  They were either good or bad.  No middle ground.  No in between.  They were either safe or not safe.

So will introducing calories into menus make you start counting calories about everything you eat, and will you stop eating the things you love because they are more calories than you originally thought?  This might initially sound helpful, but once you start labelling food in terms of good or bad, once you decide that you’re only going to eat safe, good, healthy foods that have fewer calories, you start to deprive yourself.

Once this happens, you will, sooner or later, end up craving that food type.  And at first, your will power may be strong.  But after time, your resolve starts to fade as the deprivation continues until  eventually you press the “Screw It” button and succumb.  The problem is, that it usually results in eating far more than you normally would so you are then left feeling guilty.  So what happens next?

You resolve to be good this time and try again.  And this pattern continues.  This is typical Yo Yo dieting or disordered eating.  And if things carry on, who knows you could develop a full blown eating disorder, going through cycles of restricting and binging.

So am I saying that introducing calorie measurements on menus could trigger an eating disorder?  Not at all.

People who develop eating disorders are using food to stay in control of their life, they need a coping mechanism, and food is it.

A person who doesn’t require food to be their ‘crutch’ is not likely to be triggered.  For them, providing calorie content will provide awareness which then enables them to make more informed choices.  The measurement is providing guidance to someone who maybe looking to be a little healthier.

But what if you already are on a diet or you have an eating disorder?  Then chances are you will already know exactly what the calorie content is of every item on the menu, although the measurement may provide an element of safety in that it confirms your knowledge.  However, please be aware that the figures given are very approximate and particularly with processed foods in supermarkets, the amount of calories stated can be out by as much as 30%.

For a more healthier attitude towards eating, I believe it’s far better to follow these rules (Paul McKenna, I Can Make You Thin):

  1. Eat when you’re hungry
  2. Stop when you’re full
  3. Listen to what your body needs
  4. Enjoy every mouthful

When you have an eating disorder the first two rules are subjective because your sensors which tell you when you’re hungry and full are distorted so it may take a while for your body to get back into a natural pattern.  But it is very possible.

If you’d like to find out more about how you can feel more relaxed and let go of the guilt around eating and food, book a call with me now.

Top 3 Tips for Anorexia Recovery: Tip #3

Tip #3: Learn EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques)

It is an extremely simple yet effective technique that helped transform my life.

I worked with a professional, to deal with the negative beliefs I had about myself ie. not worthy, not special, second best, unattractive, fat, and many more; plus all the memories from past events that would still bother me when I thought of them. These negative beliefs and past events were the reason for my negative mindset, why I beat myself up so much, why I loathed myself, why I was tortured by my eating disorder.

I also used it as a self help technique to help me the feelings of guilt, fear and anxiety I faced on a daily basis.

Although EFT is an alternative method of helping, and may sound a little strange to some people, it has been proved by science as a way of retraining the brain and because it works with our subconscious rather than just the conscious mind, has showed it can be more effective than traditional talking therapies.

And for those who have painful memories that they’d rather not re-visit, there are extremely gentle methods that can be used which allows you to deal with these memories without reliving the pain.

EFT has turned my life around and has given me a tool that I can use for life. It’s effect on me has been so amazing that I qualified as a practitioner and now use it to help others to transform their lives. The best thing about EFT when working with people with eating disorders is that I don’t focus on food, weight or eating. I just focus on getting rid of your negative emotions. Because when there is no fear or guilt attached to food, for example, it is simply food … and you can feel relaxed.

I encourage everybody to learn EFT. Why not start today?

Top 3 Tips for Anorexia Recovery: Tip #2

Tip #2: Focus On The Facts

Your mind is being starved, your thoughts are distorted, you cannot see the truth because your emotions are clouding your judgment. All the fear, guilt, frustration, worry is consuming you.

Often when we aren’t given the full story we’ll fill the gaps in ourselves. For example, if we go into a shop and the sales assistant looks at us and gives us a half smile. How would that feel? Would you think she was being friendly? Or would you interpret it to mean that she feels sorry for you, you won’t find anything that looks nice on you in this shop, and you may as well turn around now?

I know this because that’s exactly what I did.

But instead of letting yourself think these things, try this exercise:

Imagine you’re in a courtroom and you’re presenting evidence to the judge. You’ve told the court that you went into the shop and that the sales assistant looked at you and smiled, but that you were sure she was being patronising. What would the judge say? Where is your evidence? Where are the facts to prove this is true? You haven’t got any, have you? It’s only your opinion. The judge would throw the case out of court. And so should you.

If you’re anything like me, I didn’t like myself at all and would always beat myself up. It’s no wonder that I imagined people were thinking hateful things about me, because that’s what I was doing. I’d think that people were looking at me because I looked so awful.

But if you try and focus on the facts, rather than your current opinion of yourself, with continual practice, it’ll help to change the way you think and feel about yourself.

And if you feel better about yourself, it’ll be easier to let go of your eating disorder.

Top 3 Tips for Anorexia Recovery: Tip #1

Tip #1: Decide You Want Things To Change

I know how difficult it is living with an eating disorder.

Your mind is so consumed with thinking of food that it’s difficult to have a conversation. You may have isolated yourself from other people.

You just want to feel safe. You just want to feel in control.

You have continued with the rules and rituals for a long time, in the hope that you will finally feel good enough and happy. But all it’s bringing is endless torture.

It feels like there’s an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. You have no idea who to believe. What is right. What is true.

But know this:

Happiness comes from feeling good about yourself

Change the way you think about yourself

Happiness will never come from anything external ie. a new car, more money, your weight

Your eating disorder is not making you happy

Your eating disorder will never make you happy

Make the decision today that you’re not happy and you want things to change. Don’t think about tomorrow, just focus on now. Don’t get overwhelmed by looking too far ahead. What can you do differently to feel good about yourself? Because doing the same thing won’t change anything.

Keep making that decision every day and every time you’re tempted to go back; and just keep doing your best to move forward.

Can Clean Eating Manifest Into An Eating Disorder?

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The idea of clean eating has been around for a few years now, and the concept has been immensely popular.  Public figures have been seen to be following the diet, facebook pages set up, and there have even been claims that clean eating can help prevent cancer.

But is clean eating good for you?

For some people who use this diet for the short term, as a detox, and a kick start to eating more healthily in the long term, I can see the benefits.  IMO, diets just don’t work because they involve depriving ourselves of foods we enjoy.  As soon as we deprive ourselves, that’s when we start to desperately crave them, and then it’s just a case of how much willpower we have before we crack.

But what if our willpower doesn’t crack?  Can clean eating manifest into an eating disorder?

When I had anorexia, I created a long list of rules and rituals around my food, eating and behaviours which I thought, at the time, kept me safe and in control.  I’d have a list of safe foods that I could allow myself to eat and over time, this list got smaller and smaller as my anorexia took hold of me even more.

Orthorexia, which hasn’t been defined as a diagnosable eating disorder but has been acknowledged that many people struggle with, is a term used where someone has an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food.  So could clean eating lead to Orthorexia?

Many people started a diet on New Year’s Day and some have already gone back to their old eating habits and maybe put on more weight as a result.  Some may be able to lose what they need to and keep it off.  Some may end up being obsessed and not allow themselves to eat anything else.  So what’s the difference?

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IMO, as a recovered anorexic and now professional who works with women with eating disorders, it comes down to our mindset.

Eating disorders are never a choice, but a subconscious reaction to dealing with an aspect of our life that we feel we can’t control or cope with.  Just like a person uses an addiction ie. drugs, alcohol, smoking, gambling, etc. to cope, someone with an eating disorder uses food, either by restricting, overeating or a mixture of both.  They use an unhealthy coping strategy to fulfil some emotional need.

I developed anorexia after I found out my husband was cheating on me and we divorced.  My appetite disappeared and I just wasn’t hungry.  And that’s what I’d keep telling myself, and it was true to begin with.  But then a part of me was aware that it was no longer about not wanting to eat, it was more that I couldn’t.  I’d eat the same things every day, but the amount would reduce each week as I got more sucked in, where I listened and trusted in the voice in my head more.  She was willing me not to eat, telling me that I was doing so brilliantly, that everything would be good and I’d be happy if I continued to keep going, if I stayed in control.

At that time I wasn’t happy and I didn’t feel worthy, special, like I belonged, I felt second best.  I was restricting as I thought it would make me feel better.  But it didn’t, it just brought more misery.  It was only when I dealt with this negative beliefs that I felt happy.  And I could see how distorted my mind was.

So, getting back to clean eating.  Not everyone who follows this will develop an eating disorder.  But for some, who tell themselves it’s fulfilling a need in them, and this is the guaranteed answer to their happiness, may develop an unhealthy obsession.

An eating disorder is a mental illness, which involves a particularly negative mindset and not everyone who follows a clean eating diet has this.

If there’s a part of you that’s concerned that you’re not relaxed around food and eating, please seek help.  Book a call with me. Find out how to be really happy, in a more healthy way.  Because the answer’s not in restricting or using food.

 

10 Steps To Feeling Better About Yourself

Beach Coast Sand Calm Coast Explore Relaxation Concept

When I was struggling with anorexia, I felt tortured every hour of every day.  It was like I had a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other, each telling me different things.  I didn’t know who to believe.  I didn’t know which was true.  But I knew that I felt safe if I stayed in control of my eating, and if I continued with all the rules and rituals.  But it’s not that easy, as my mind was thinking about food all the time.  No wonder really, as it was starving, and it was trying to keep me alive.

But I didn’t care about that.  Part of me that felt I didn’t deserve to be here anyway, I deserved all this pain, I was a burden, I was bad.  I wouldn’t have wished anorexia on my worst enemy but for me it seemed OK.  Why was that?

My problem was that I didn’t like myself.  Actually I loathed myself.  Everything about me.  I wasn’t good enough.  I wasn’t special.  I was second best.  I wasn’t worthy.  I was a failure.

But Ana wanted me to feel this way because then it was easier to manipulate and control me.  Although I felt that it was me in control, I know now I wasn’t, and I certainly wasn’t safe.

But how did I get out of that dark place I was in?  Reaching out for help in terms of recovery was the scariest thing ever as I thought everyone would monitor my behaviours, I’d lose control and I’d be made to get fat (which was my worst nightmare).  So why would I want to do that?

But then I realised that the key to my recovery was learning to like myself, to feel better about myself, to feel good enough.  So that’s why I aimed for.  That became my goal.  And it worked.  And it can work for you too.

I’m now recovered, a qualified Practitioner and work with women with anorexia and other eating disorders to help them feel more confident, more positive and better about themselves so that they no longer have the same urge to use the eating disorder behaviours in order to feel safe and in control.  They can Kiss Goodbye To Ana.

And by working towards feeling better about yourself, rather than focus on a goal weight or meal plan, it feels less scary too.

So do you want to like yourself, feel better about yourself and feel good enough?  Download the 10 Steps to Feeling Better About Yourself now.canva-image

If you’d like online support, please join my Anorexia Support Group on facebook.

I believe in you, and you can too! x

The Comment “Screw You B*tch” Didn’t Affect Me!!

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My how things have changed for me!  Yes I already know I’ve recovered and I feel good about myself but it’s not until I was tested by someone, did I realise just how far I had come.

A comment like “Screw You B*tch” would have instilled anxiety, dread, punishment, self blame and torture.  It would have triggered so many beliefs such as I’m not good enough, I’m inferior to others, I must make others happy, etc.  I would have seriously been affected by this, not just for that day, or week, or month, but that comment would have stayed with me forever, and would have been yet another reason why I wasn’t worthy and things were always my fault.

I set up a support group on Facebook last September, in order for people to see that they’re not alone in their struggles but also that getting better, is totally possible.  I wanted to give hope when they felt there was none.  Providing hope and inspiration is a big thing for me, but that’s another story.  So anyway, the group.  The group have been getting to know me and I have given Facebook Lives, posted positive quotes, and given support.  They have also been getting to know each other and have built up good  relationships.

There are some rules with group members must adhere to.  They must not use numbers or describe specific behaviours, as others can find this triggering.  It’s a hard line when trying to decide whether to approve a post, when someone is asking for help, but the content could be extremely triggering for other group members.  I do have to delete some posts because of this, although I do ask for the person to amend appropriately and resubmit.

So I was quite prepared for this element, but call me naïve but I never expected a guy to request to join the group (that’s not the surprising bit btw), request group members as friends, then ask for underwear selfies and make sexual suggestions!! He obviously looked to prey on vulnerable women.  He was immediately blocked.

And last week, I had a woman request to join, which I approved.  She quickly settled into the group, commenting on others posts but I did sense that she was a straight talker.  But this straight talking came to ahead when she started criticising other members comments. When they mentioned they were afraid, she told them to just get on with it.  She commented on profile pics and started picking at them.  I asked her to stop, but she stated that surely she should be allowed to talk freely.  It was obvious, that she would continue this behaviour, so I felt I had no choice, I blocked her.  Within seconds I had a message request from her which said, Screw You B*tch.  I have to say I was a little shocked at first, but then felt so relieved that I’d taken the decision I had, and not subjected the group to her any longer.

But to see this message and not react like I definitely would have done years ago, felt extremely liberating.  You see, I knew that the problem was with her, not me.  I knew it was nothing I’d done.  I didn’t blame myself.  I was confident in myself and my actions.  And if you’re in that place, then nothing that anyone says to you can bring you down in the same way.  I didn’t look to punish myself by restricting even more or working extra hard in the gym.  I just felt sorry for her.  Because as you know, we are our own worst critic, our own worst enemy.  If she was able to say that to me, I can only imagine what she’s saying to herself.

If you would like to join the facebook group, the link is www.facebook.com/groups/AnaSupportGroup/

If you would like to feel better about yourself, to feel more confident, to stop punishing or blaming yourself, book a discovery call with me today.

Get To Know Me in 31 Days

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Hi.  You might know that I work with women with anorexia and eating disorders, helping them to feel more confident, positive, empowered, relaxed, happy and content so that the need to use eating disorder behaviours become less and are more easily challenged.

You might also know that I am a recovered anorexic myself and as well as providing professional support, with techniques that helped me, I like to think I’m giving hope and inspiring others that recovery is possible.

You might be struggling with an eating disorder right now but are scared about reaching out for help, because you fear losing control and being made to restore weight.  You are conflicted between being desperate for help but wanting to keep your behaviours secret and telling yourself you can do it on your own.  You might also tell yourself that there’s no point because nothing can help you, and you’ll never get out of this place you’re stuck in.

Well I’m here to tell you that feeling better is definitely possible.  Yes you’re scared but clients I work with become less scared and more motivated as we work together.

You might know that I’m all about focusing on changing mindset, rather than on weight and food.  My goal is not about you restoring weight, it’s about getting you to a point where you can:

  • feel good about yourself
  • let go of the rules
  • feel relaxed

I’m sure this sounds great in theory to you, but there’s probably still some hesitation, something stopping you from picking up the phone or emailing me.  So how can you:

  • get to know me more
  • start helping yourself by learning some great life long tools and techniques
  • see if the way I work is right for you

Well I’ve put together an “Introductory Package” which can be purchased as a stand alone package or as an introduction to a 1:1 package with me.  It costs £147 and includes:

  • 31 Day Planner
  • Videos
  • Worksheets
  • Questionnaires
  • Guides
  • Further resources

Please click here to sign up and your package will be delivered straight to your email inbox.

However if you would like to talk to me about working with me 1:1, please book a call with me to discuss your options.

 

 

Understanding The Lies We Tell

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Someone who has never experienced an eating disorder for themselves will never understand what it’s like.  Do you agree?  Yes, if they are a family member, they can have a certain degree of knowledge.  But just as we can not fully understand how difficult and painful it is for them to watch someone they love, ultimately destroy themselves; they cannot understand the sheer terror and gut wrenching guilt that we feel most of the time.

And it is down to that terror and guilt that we automatically lie about what we’ve eaten and what we’re going to eat.  We hate doing it, we know it’s wrong and we hate hurting our family.  But we’ll justify our lies by saying that we’re protecting them.  I guess it’s the old saying “What they don’t know won’t hurt them”.

I know the fear behind being honest with people about what we’re really doing, what rules and rituals we have to follow to keep us safe.  And we don’t want anyone to take these away from us.

It’s like someone who has an OCD and washes their hands to keep them safe,  the thought of not doing this, is incomprehensible.  They are washing their hands, not because others see them as dirty, but because the person feels the need to stay in control and keep safe.  Just like others can’t see the uncleanliness of a person’s hands, others can’t see our issues with our body.

The person with OCD and the person with an eating disorder are similar in that unhealthy coping methods are being used.  There is always a root cause, an event that we couldn’t cope with or control, negative beliefs that we learned about ourselves from childhood and other past issues that are still affecting us.  Unless we address these issues, we will still feel the need to use our coping method, we will still have that fear and guilt and we will still automatically lie to keep ourselves safe.

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But who are we lying to?  Yes we are lying to others so that our methods aren’t taken away from us but we are also lying to ourselves regularly.  Lies such as “Nobody needs to know, I can do this on my own”, “Everyone’s got their own issues, they don’t want to be helping me with mine”, “I’m just a burden”, “People are better off without me around”, “Things will never change”, “I’m such a failure”, “I’m not good enough”.

And the biggest one ….. “Everything will be better and I’ll be so much more happier if I keep restricting and I get to X stone/kgs”.

You see, that’s Ana talking.  She’s telling you this, and you’re still believing her.  She’s taken your soul, isolated you from everyone around you, and has convinced you that your family and friends are the enemy .. and you shouldn’t listen to them as they just want to make you eat and be fat.  Ana’s manipulating you and she will not stop until she’s destroyed you.

According to B-eat, Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, from medical complications associated with the illness as well as suicide.  20% of anorexia sufferers will die prematurely from their illness.  In all cases, anorexia severely affects the quality of life of the sufferer and any carers.

I know it’s terrifying but please reach out for help.  You can not do this alone.  You may think your lies are saving you, but you’re lying to yourself that Ana is going to save you.  It took me a long time to work this out, but now I’m stronger, I can see this and I’m never going to trust her again.

I know you’re struggling and you’re not sure if or how you can get out.  The fear is holding you back.  The fear of letting Ana and your safety go.  But I’m not lying to you when I say, she’s not keeping you safe.  You don’t have to know how to get out, you just need to choose to want to.  It’s not an easy decision to make and some people say it’s not as simple as just wanting it enough.  It’s not simple at all.  Because you have to make that same choice every moment of every day.

I said to a client the other day it’s like trying to climb Mount Everest several times per day, but with huge rocks and boulders being thrown at you as you try to climb, trying to stop you from achieving your goal.  It’s so easy to give up and fall back.  I know this.  But once you get started, it does get easier.

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Just make the choice that you want things to change.  That’s a great place to start.  Then create a plan with full support to help get you there.  You can learn tools to help with your fear and guilt.  You can work with qualified professionals to help you address the root causes of your eating disorder.  If you don’t find the support you need straight away, keep looking.  It will probably require investment of your time and money, but it would be worth it!  If you don’t think so, you’re lying to yourself again.

I’m going to tell you the truth now.  I have been where you are.  I know what it feels like.  I know the pain, the torture, the fear, the guilt, the battle in your head.  I didn’t think I’d make it out.  But I chose to want to get out.  I put my trust in others and not Ana, even when I was terrified.  And I’ve surprised myself at how far I’ve got.  I’m at the top of Everest and I’ll tell you now, the view is amazing and so worth it!

If you’re ready to choose to want things to change and you want help with the next step.  If you want to talk to someone you can trust, please book a call with me.