Friday, August 30, 2013

Scary what if thinking and obsessive thoughts

If you struggle with anxiety, you might have obsessive thoughts or scary “what if” thinking.
People who have anxiety, often times, have very vivid imaginations.  All it takes is one simple word like “thunderstorm” and we have the whole scenario played out in our heads in a matter of seconds.  First, there is lightning, hail, torrential downpours, and then a tornado.  The violent winds knock down houses and business.  Families are destroyed, memories are lost, and the Red Cross has to step in for relief.

Before the storm even gets close, we put ourselves in a state of panic.

The reality is; 99 times out of 100 nothing bad happens.  The panic and anxiety was for nothing.  Everything always turns out OK.

This anxiety is sometimes called “what if” thinking or “anticipatory” anxiety.  It can be brought on by a number of things.  A lot of people have anxiety with: driving, going out to dinner, going anywhere, flying, going on trips or vacations, going to the doctor, the dentist, the hair dresser, going to church, being in small rooms, in hotels.  Feeling trapped is a huge trigger for anxiety or panic attacks.  If you are someplace where you feel like you have “no way out”, then that could cause you anxiety.

Our life experiences sometimes determine which things cause us anxiety and which things don’t.  If you let anxiety and panic run your life, however, you will eventually experience anxiety doing everything.
The more you let anxiety rule your decisions, the more you have to obey them.

Sometimes, people who deal with chronic anxiety experience obsessive scary thoughts.  For example, “I am afraid I am going to hurt someone or myself”.  When I am experience too much stress, or if I am in a panic situation, my mind focuses on scary thoughts.  Like, “What if I crash my car into oncoming traffic” or “What if I go crazy and run away and leave all my loved ones behind”.  I have thought the most ridiculous thoughts, you'd be surprised.  There is really no end to my twisted thoughts during a panic attack.

Recently, (from the Attacking Anxiety and Depression Tapes) I learned that this reaction is the mind’s normal coping skill.  Think of it as your mind’s way of distracting you from what’s really bothering you.

The scary obsessive thoughts only come around when you are in the midst of severe anxiety.  The truth is; you are experiencing the “what if” thinking because you don’t want to face the main problem(s).

For me, when I had the most scary thoughts it was when I was trying to keep a very stressful job.  What I really needed to do was talk to my boss and let them know that I couldn’t keep up.  Instead, I just obsessed about crashing my car on the way to work.

Other examples of scary thoughts people have during anxiety: killing yourself, injuring your children, going crazy, dying of cancer or a heart attack, etc.

Lots of people suffer from scary thoughts.  What not many people know, however, is how to deal with them.
Here’s the key: you are never going to act of your obsessive scary thoughts.
Scary thoughts are a symptom of anxiety.  You will NOT act on them.  Thoughts are just thoughts.  They come and go like the weather.  Your thoughts do NOT dictate your actions.  You are not your thoughts, you are so much more.

Unfortuately, at first, you do not have control over your scary thoughts.  With time, you can retrain the thoughts by practicing.  You have to redirect your scary thoughts and remind yourself that they will pass.  If you can’t stop the bad thoughts from tormenting you, sit down and wait for them to pass…they will pass, I promise…  The important part is to remind yourself that you will NOT act on them.  You are NOT crazy, you are just like millions of people in this world.   You WILL be OK.

You won’t believe me at first.  You’ll feel like you’re the worst case in the history of man and anxiety.  And, you’ll feel like there is no hope for you.  I was the same way; I felt like I was incurable too.  But, millions of people are just like you in the way you struggle with anxiety.

What will separate you from the rest is how you deal.  What you have to do is replace the “what if” or “scary” thinking with empowering thoughts.  Purposefully change your thoughts from negative to positive.
For example:
Instead of “what if” I make a fool of myself, I go crazy, I have to leave, I lose my mind, I lose my job, I jump off the balcony, I go crazy on the plane, I have a heart attack, I have cancer, I lose my friends, I fail…
Think: these are just scary thoughts, I will NOT act on them, I am NOT crazy, I am normal, I will be OK, I am a strong person, I can get through this, I choose not to give in to these thoughts, I am more than my thoughts, feelings are NOT facts, I am capable of getting through this, I have coping skills to help me in these situations, etc.

Another helpful tool is dwelling on the negative for little bit.  So what if these bad things happen anyway?  What is the worst possible scenario?  If you must, take it to the negative, realize what you are truly afraid of, then go to the positive.  Click here to read more.

Don’t get me wrong; bad things do happen occasionally.  That’s the unfortunate thing about this world.  And it’s OK to prepare for them realistically...realistically.  (If you're not sure what "realistic" reactions are for you, talk to a trusted friend or family memeber.)  I am not saying that you shouldn’t be responsible anymore.  I am not saying that you should throw out your budget, walk down a dark alley at night in the city alone, or even do everything by yourself.  It is OK, to be realistic, responsible, and to take care of yourself.  Our society is trending toward fear-based decisions and over-cautious reactions.

I think because of modern media, news, internet, etc, we hear too much of the bad in the world and not enough of the good.  Think of all the scary things that are on TV.  Think of all the scary movies you’ve seen.  Think of all the horrible news you’ve heard on a daily basis.  No wonder millions of people suffer from “what if” scary thinking and anxiety!  The culture is not helping our cause.  You won't get better if you are constantly emersed in media.

Take a break from the news and fear-based media.  Do a technology fast for a few weeks.  I guarantee it will help you overcome your anxiety.  Then when you’ve developed good coping skills, you’ll be able to hear it again and not be as affected by it.
In conclusion, scary, "what if" thinking is normal.  You are not crazy and you are not alone.  The best way to deal with your obsessive anxiety is to confront the real issue.  Anxiety is just the mask.  It is also important to be kind to yourself and remind yourself that you will NOT act on your scary thoughts, and the bad "what if" things in your head will NOT happen either.  If it is helpful, do a media or technology fast.  It will only speed your recovery.
Good luck on your road to peace.  Thank you for reading.  See you next time!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I am the best quitter I know…

So many times I want to quit because I think I am not good enough.

I am a really good quitter.

I might even quit this blog.  Sometimes I feel good about my writing. I think it is helping people and effectively getting across the message I want to get across.  Most of the time, however, I feel like I am rambling into an empty abyss and not making sense at all.

I could come up with thousands of reasons to quit this blog.  People have worse problems than me.  Who wants to hear about my wimpy-ness.  My page is amateur, people probably think the whole thing is lame, I am not a good enough writer, I am not savvy with webpage writing and html script, and so on and so on…

The moment after I decide to quit blogging, God reminds me that I am a “rusty tool”.  Meaning, I am not perfect or in the best of shape…like an old tool in your garage.  However, just because I don’t look the best doesn’t mean He can’t use me in His Workshop.

(The term “rusty tool” is from the Militia Immaculata (or Military for the Immaculate Conception) founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe.  It is a movement of the Catholic Church for lay people and consecrated alike.  Thousands of people have enrolled in the M.I. and are spreading the Good News of the Gospel through the devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mother.  If you want to check out the M.I., you can view their website here.  If you’d like to learn more, you can email me at craigmaryborchers (at) gmail (dot) com.  I’d be more than happy to give you information.)

So, for the time being, I’ll keep plugging along with this blog.  I’ll keep going because, I believe, God can use me as an instrument to work in other people’s lives.  Even if I don’t think I am doing a good job (even if I feel rusty and old and useless), I can still work.  I am still alive and capable of, at least, trying to do my best.  He can still use me to bring about a greater good.

God can work miracles, even today.  But he needs our cooperation.

We don’t have to be perfect to cooperate with God’s will.  We just have to be open.  By sharing my difficulties and sufferings with others, God can use my imperfections to bring about a greater good.

I shouldn’t stop working with God, just because I don't think I'm good enough.

One way I remind myself of this truth is by purposefully not making my blog the best it can be.

For example, I don’t mind typos.  It’s a good reminder for me that I am not perfect.  This is just a blog.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  I am human just like you.  If the typo changes the whole meaning of the sentence or what I am trying to say, then I’ll fix it.  Otherwise I’ll just let it go.  It’s challenging sometimes, but it is good practice for me to not give in to my perfectionist tendencies.

And it helps me to keep things in perspective.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Depression and Sleep

Depression has many physical symptoms as well as emotional symptoms.  Emotional complications being: despair, feelings of worthlessness, extreme sadness, loss of interest in everything, etc.  Physical obstacles include: fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, back aches, and many others.

Since recovering from depression, most of my symptoms are nonexistent.

Fatigue is the last of my physical symptoms to go away.

I have zero energy.  I feel tired all the time.

For a while, it was really bothering me.  “Why can’t I just be normal?  Why can’t I do all the things normal people do?”  This reaction is common among depression treatment patients: the wanting to be normal part, and the fatigue part.

I recently came to the conclusion that, maybe, just maybe, I have unrealistic standards of how much sleep I’m supposed to get.

How much sleep should one get in order to function?  To answer this question, I immediately look to the minimum.  A normal person should be able to live off of 5-6 hours of sleep a night, right?  I know some mothers that can survive on less.  I’ve heard the horror stories.

If we want to feel successful and worthy of life, the ruthless world demands that we only take the minimum amount of sleep.  Most people try to get less than 5 or 6 hours of sleep each night and still try to get everything done.  Not only are we expected to be successful at our jobs, but we also have to have side projects, start our own business, raise perfect kids, have an immaculate house, invent something as good a sliced bread, defeat world hunger, and save everyone from harm.

I have a difficult time not feeling guilty with my quiet life and 8 hours of sleep.

I know I’ve fallen into the comparison trap.  I feel bad if I sleep more than 8 hours a night.  “Am I taking more than my share?   Am I wasting my life away?  What will people think of me?

When it comes to sleep, just like a lot of things, everyone is different.

For me personally, I know that I need more sleep to take better care of my mental health.  It’s not optional; it’s mandatory.  I am a different person when I have had sufficient sleep.

I don’t want to just survive; I want to thrive.

I have to remind myself that it is OK to take care of myself.  I don’t want to go back to the way I was.  I have to stop worry about other people’s standards.  If other people think I am a boring, lazy, good-for-nothing then that’s their problem.  I am going to take care of myself in the best way I know how.

So with that said, I will try not to beat myself up so much when it comes catching my ZZZZ’s.

Cheers to afternoon naps!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Guilt and Worry

Guilty and worry are other forms of anxiety disguised under different names.

Guilty feelings have to do with the past.
And worry has to do with the future.

First let’s talk about guilt:

“I did this, and I did that, so I don’t deserve to be happy.”  Sometimes people wallow in their anxiety because they feel like they did something to deserve it.  Feeling “good” can cause anxiety too because you feel you don’t deserve it and you are afraid that you are going to have to pay for the happiness somehow.

Are you letting feelings of guilt, or shame, determine how you live your life?

If you do anything out of guilt, eventually, you will resent doing it.  Because “guilt” is not an honest feeling.  (Not that it’s made up or that you are experiencing a feeling that isn’t real.)  No, guilt is from the enemy.  It is usually based on fiction or some unrealistic expectation.

This is where the distinction between “self-esteem” and “self-respect” come into play.  Self-esteem has to do with the past.  It is one’s view of him/her self based on past accomplishments or achievements.  In today’s society, adults are worried about the “self-esteem” of the kids and feel like they have to give everyone a trophy.  Everyone wins.  They think this will help them develop a positive self-image.  This approach, in my opinion, is not effective because it is not real life.  The real world is not fair and not everyone wins.

Self-respect is the better attitude to have.  It is about the here and now.  It doesn’t matter what you did in the past, what accomplishments you achieved, what you did or didn’t do, or your’s or other’s expectations.  Self-respect belongs to every person no matter what.  Because you are alive, you have self-respect.  Because you are created by God, you deserve to be treated a certain way.  Most people don’t realize that they deserve “self-respect” because they are too busy trying to fit in. 

OK, now about worry:

Worry is, specifically, the dwelling on things that have not yet happened, things that are more or less out of one’s control.

Do you worry about your physical health, like getting cancer, or another illness, or dying?  Are you a hypochondriac?  Are you worried about outrageous things like being poisoned, being the victim of a crime, physically being hurt by someone?  Are you always concerned with how you feel, or the things you eat?  How about the country, the president, politics, etc?  Or are you worried that you will go crazy and lose your mind?  Do you worry about other people’s problems?

Sometimes, when we worry, we make believe we can control the situation just by worrying about it.

Worry is hereditary.  We learn how to worry from our parents and those close to us.  It definitely runs in my family.  My mom and my dad are worriers.  When we were kids, we used to hide when we got hurt because our parents (mainly mom) would overreact.

When you have anxiety, little problems become big problems, big problems become catastrophes, and other people’s problems become your problems.

But, here’s the thing with worry: 99 % of the time, everything works out OK.  The bad things you worried about don’t happen.

Worry is a waste of your precious time.

Learn how to “under-react” instead of over-react.  Being an “under-reactor” means that you take time to think about the situation realistically before you respond.

Another way to put it is:

Work on being less affected and more effective.

You have no control over your surroundings or you environment most of the time.  And you have no control over what other people do.  If you let situations or other people get under your skin, you will be ridding an emotional rollercoaster.

Instead of focusing on being a victim of your circumstances, focus on how to be more effective.  You DO have control over yourself and your actions.  Maybe you can’t change the negativity of your co-workers, but you can change whether or not you have a positive attitude.

So the moral of this story is; get off the guilty and worry marry-go-round because it’s not taking you anywhere and only making you dizzy…

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What will they think of me?

I used to have a difficult time going places because I was afraid I would not be able to handle the situation.  I was afraid of having a panic attack in public.  My anxiety got so bad that, eventually, I could not go anywhere alone.
Even the grocery store was a major problem.  And what was I afraid of?  I was afraid that I would freak out, run out of the store crying, and leave all my groceries in the middle of an aisle.  What if someone I knew was there?  What if people saw me crying?  What would they think of me?

On the “Attacking Anxiety and Depression” tapes I have been listening to, the speakers talk a lot about panic attacks.

Over and over they reminded me that “a panic attack will not hurt me”.  In the moment, however, an anxiety attack feels like the end of the world.  Panic is one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced in my whole life.  But, something for you and I to remember is, no matter how bad it feels, a panic attack will not hurt you.  No one has ever died of a panic attack.  And neither will you and neither will I.  You will not die, or have a heart attack or stroke.  It is just anxiety.

What is the absolute worst thing that can happen to you when you are having a panic attack?

For me, the worst possible thing was making a fool of myself.  I was so afraid of what people thought of me.  I had to keep up a certain appearance.  I wanted people to think I had it all together.

Would my family and friends look down on me and treat me different if they knew I struggled with anxiety?

Here is reality; no one is paying that much attention to you.

I thought that everyone was so focused on me, watching my every move, and talking about me behind my back.

But the truth is – everyone is too concerned with what is going on in their own lives to focus on yours.  Seriously, no one is looking that deep into your soul that they can see what you are grappling inside.

To help you get in touch with reality; think about how you look at other people.  Are you really spending that much time dwelling on someone else’s life?  I doubt it.  You’ll forget about them as soon as you leave the room or something else catches your attention.  I know I don’t look at other people in the way I am afraid – I’m too concern with my own life!

Even if someone would notice you…so you are the center of their attention for mere minutes, no big deal.  They are not going to judge you as harshly as you think.  Let’s say they do judge you (for the sake of thoroughness); who cares what they think anyway?  If someone judges you or says mean things about you, then they are not worth your time.  If someone treats you disrespectfully, they have bigger issues within themselves.  Their comments say more about them, then it does about you.

It was an enlightening moment for me when I realized that no one cares.  This realization (and lots of practice) helped me to better cope with my anxiety.

Practice is important because you can’t wait until your anxiety goes away.  Many times, I told myself, “I will go to store when my anxiety goes away” or “I will go out with my friends when my anxiety finally goes away”.  But in all honesty, your anxiety will never go away unless you put yourself in those situations that give you anxiety.

You can’t wait until you are perfect to start living.

Practice by putting yourself into the situations that give you anxiety.  But do this slowly and in a controlled environment.  Set yourself up for success.  On a day you generally feel good (don’t plan too far ahead otherwise you’ll get anxious about it), decide to do something that causes you anxiety.  For me, it was going to the store.  Maybe for you it is difficult to drive, go out with friends, stay at a hotel, get your hair cut, or anything.   Whatever it may be, choose to be proactive and make yourself do it.  Make sure you are in control and have an “out” in case things go badly.  The more you practice the easier the situations will become.

Remember: if it is worth it, then push yourself through those difficult emotions.  Facing your fears, at first, might cause you more anxiety.  But don’t despair, this is a natural response, and it will get better.

And also remember: you will never be free from anxiety or stressful situation.  How you deal with the stress is what makes the difference between a healthy, peaceful life or an anxious, miserable life.

After you practice confronting your anxiety head on, then, give yourself praise for your accomplishments.

The more you do something and the more you survive it, the more confidence you will gain.

To conclude, I leave you with some of the best advice I found for dealing with anxiety.  I call them the Seven Steps to Calm:

1. Slow down – stop what you are doing or slow way down
2. Recognize – realize that you are experiencing anxiety
3. Permission – tell yourself that you are allowed to be feeling the way you are feeling
4. Breathe – take intentional breaths for a period of time
5. Positive Talk – “I’m OK.  I can do this.  I am strong.  I am in control.”
6. Just Anxiety – anxiety will NOT hurt you
7. Smile – find something to laugh at about the situation

Thanks for reading.  Have a nourishing day!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Is anxiety keeping you from living a peaceful, fulfilling life?

I’m still listening to this wonderful tape series call “Attacking Anxiety and Depression” by Lucinda Bassett from the Midwest Center for Stress and Anxiety.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about the tapes and what I’ve learned from listening to them.  If you’d like to read or re-read those posts about anxiety, you can find most of them by searching "Curing Anxiety" in this blog, or you can click here to get you started.
Recently, I’ve been struggling less with depression (hooray!) yet more with anxiety, especially when it comes to food, weight, and appearance.

Anxiety can attack you in many ways.  For me, a lot of my anxiety is the result of continuous worrying about my weight.

For you it might be: constant concern about your health, about other people’s problems, relentless worrying about your children’s well-being, guilty feelings about your past mistakes, a high-stress job or obligation, hypochondriac-ism, panicking or over-reacting in non-emergency situations, anticipating bad things to happen, obsessions or OCD behaviors, or “what if” or “catastrophe” thinking.

All of those reaction attitudes can turn into debilitating anxiety if you do not have health coping skills.

If you are frequently in a state of worry or stress, then your life is probably miserable.  Constant anxiety is not fun.  It controls your life, brings you down, and keeps you from doing the things you want to do.

You may think you have to live with it.  You may think that’s just the way you are.

But that’s not true.  You DON’T have to live with anxiety.  Anxiety is a part of life – that much is true – you can never escape it completely.  Yet, if you directly deal with anxiety in a healthy manner, you can have a more peaceful life. 

-First, you have to recognize the anxiety in your daily life.  (What it looks like, why you have it, and how it controls you.)

-Then you have to retrain your thoughts to steer you away from feeding into your anxiety and, instead, lead you to realistic thinking.

What are you missing when you give in to worry and anxiety?  Are you losing focus with your job or your hobbies?  Are you afraid to go places because bad things could happen?  Are you missing out on key moments in your children’s lives because you are too worried about their future?  Do you have trouble sleeping at night because you can’t turn off your brain?

Mainly, is anxiety keeping you from living a fulfilling life?

Personally, before I started confronting my anxiety, I was afraid of being in public places, I was afraid of not being in-control, I had a difficult time going to parties, I constantly worried about bad things happening, I made other people’s problems my problems, and I had extreme expectations of myself to be perfect in all things.  I had so much anxiety that I would make myself sick.

By listening to the self-help tapes, I realized that lots of other people feel the same way I do.  I wasn’t alone in my feelings and problems.  Better than that - I also realized that many people got over their anxiety and got back to their lives.  Well, after they dealt with it, they actually had better lives!

How you deal makes all the difference in the world.  The good news is; dealing with anxiety is a learned behavior.  You can change your behaviors.  Your habits got you to where you are now, so different habits can get you to a better place.

Your anxiety is NOT a characteristic that makes up who you are.  It’s not like your height or your eye color - you can’t change those aspects.
Anxiety is the result of years of negative thinking.

You can change the way you think.  It will take time and practice, but it is possible.  It may feel easier to change your height than your anxiety at first.  But with time, changing your habits WILL get easier.
The first step is believing that you can.

Come back next time to find out more!

Friday, August 9, 2013

"So, you had a bad day..."

{Photo credit to Craig Borchers}
(Sorry if that song gets stuck in your head.)

So, I’ve had a bad morning.

Many many times, when something goes wrong, I just want to throw my hands up and say “forget it”.  I guess I give up easily.  I think I am this way because I am a perfectionist.

A perfectionist wants everything to be perfect.  So if something is not perfect, all is lost.  It’s the end of the world.

Perfection and expectation go hand in hand.  I have such high expectations of myself.  I am expecting myself to rigorously train for a 10K, eat healthy meals that help my moods, sleep no more than 8 hours a night, read new books, paint every day, keep the house spotless, try new recipes, accomplish everything on my to-do list, and so on, and so on…

This morning I woke up with a bit of a cold.  I thought it was allergies at first, but it’s definitely a cold.  So, I went to bed early and slept in a little.  Now, because I slept almost 10 hours, I am beating myself up.  Since I didn’t live up to my expectations, I might as well just forget the whole thing.  I think the popular, yet salty, phrase is “F it”.

Since I’m keenly aware of how not-perfect I am, I might as well go back to bed, only eat chocolate all day long, and forget everything I wanted to get done today.  If I can’t be perfect…then…well…

I notice people do this a lot with food and diets.  If you “give in” to eating a “bad” food, then the rest of the day is shot.  You feel like you might as well eat all the “bad” food you’ve wanted to eat.  Then by the end of the day you feel terrible.  (This is only one reason why I don’t believe in diets.  If you want to read nine more, then check out the post, “10 reasons to give up diets”.)

I will admit there is truth to the belief that each day is a fresh start.  There is a natural rhythm to the spinning of the earth.  Each new morning, new week, month, season, or year can be a new beginning.

But, you also have to be realistic and accept that life is not going to be perfect.

Just because it’s a new day doesn’t mean you are magically going to wake up with new habits and a new life.

Why wait until a new day or a new year to start living a better life?

Today, all I want to do is crawl back in bed and forget.  But, it’s not even 11 o’clock.  There is so much time left in this day – time to make it better.

So today is not perfect, so what?

So, I’ve had a bad morning.

But just because I’ve had a bad morning doesn’t mean I have to have a bad day.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What to do the day after a binge…

In case you haven’t read any of my other posts on this topic, I’ll first start with... “What is Binge Eating Disorder, or B.E.D.?”
Well, everyone overeats from time to time.  Quotes are from another blogger who personally struggled with, and beat, Binge Eating Disorder.  You can find her article here.
“Okay, so we’re ALL human, well I hope so.  We all eat and sometimes we overeat.  How many times can you remember taking a second serving at Thanksgiving, or Dinner?  Maybe even a third….Well it’s normal.  Self control sometimes goes M.I.A. (missing in action).  This may seem like binge eating, but it’s definitely not the same as Binge Eating Disorder.”

So, what is B.E.D.?  (Also quoted from the above link)

“If you eat until you are full and have no control over what you are putting in your mouth until you are painfully full several times a week or maybe even daily, this is a sign of binge eating disorder.  The binge episodes usually put you in a state of guilt and shame.  After a binge or even during a binge you may keep telling yourself “I’m going to stop tomorrow", or “I’ll go on a diet for the next couple weeks" but, most likely, you will end up over eating again because your body will be deprived.”

“Feeling out of control when you are eating is a huge sign of B.E.D., but here are some more:

·         Eating faster than a normal person would.
·         Feeling painfully stuffed and continuing to eat.
·         Being content and not hungry at all but unable to control the urge to eat and eat.
·         Eating alone because of the embarrassment
·         After eating feeling guilty and out of control
·         Depression related to eating.
·         Binge episodes without purging, starving or use of laxatives.
If these symptoms happen a couple times per week over a couple months then you should see a doctor about the issue of binge eating disorder.”

So, with that covered, what should you the day after a binge eating episode?  Sometimes, it’s hard to get help right away.  You might be put on a waiting list to see a counselor.  Or you might not have a good doctor – his recommendations might do more harm than good.  You need help now.

You can’t forget what you ate yesterday and are full of shame and guilt.  You can still physically feel the food sitting in your belly.  You have a terrible headache.  All you want to do it go back to bed and try to forget.
I found this quote from "Healthy Girl".  Check out her book "Food; the Good Girl's Drug".

“Handling the day after a binge episode is most certainly not for the faint of heart; it is one of the most difficult challenges that we face in overcoming emotional overeating and binge eating. When all we want to do is hide under the covers is the precise moment at which what we need to do is call on all of our reserves and prepare for battle. We are no longer just fighting against the temptations of trigger foods, but also against the insidious voices that try to undermine our recovery.”  ~ The Binge Diaries: The Morning After

Don’t look to Oprah, or Shape Magazine to help you get over B.E.D.  I might have thrown a brick through their headquarter windows if I read one more piece of advice that said to go for a walk when you feel a binge coming on.  They have no idea the severity of this disorder or what to do about it.

If you want to stop the cycle before it starts again, then you have to begin with addressing the day after.  If you continue with the same routine day after day, then you will not see any changes.  You have to try changing your daily schedule and then working with a professional to help you deal with the main issues that are causing the disorder.  You have to get to the root, but you also have to work on changing the habit simultaneously.

The morning after, you’ll feel like going back to bed, calling into work sick, skipping breakfast and lunch, cancelling your plans, and stewing in your guilty, shameful emotions for the duration of the day.  But, that is a recipe for disaster.  If you give into those feelings, it will only result in yet another late night binging episode.  And then you’re back at square one.

When you wake up the morning after a binge eating episode, try these practical tips to help you get back on track.

Eat. This one may seem like a no brainer to some people.  But to people with eating disorders, this is not something we can think of on our own.  The day after a binge, you must eat.  Do not try to justify the food you ate the day before by making up for it the next day.  Our bodies do not work that way.  Machines work that way.  Every human person has a body, mind, soul, spirit, emotions, intellect, etc.  Skipping meals will mess up your psyche and cause you to be overly hungry late at night.  Skipping meals starves your body and your soul, no matter how much you ate the day before.

Binging foods usually involve lots of carbohydrates, sugars, and salts. If you can, give yourself protein options first on the day after a binge. Yet, only if it sounds good and you are hungry for it. If not, that’s OK too. The key is to listen to your body.

“Many of those who binge tend to do so on high carbohydrate foods, and there’s a scientific and perfectly comprehensible reason for this. Carb-rich foods help the amino acid tryptophan to produce serotonin – the “feel-good chemical” in our brains. When we binge and eat lots of carbs, we increase our serotonin levels and voilĂ ! – we feel good. But as you might expect, as our blood sugar and serotonin levels even out or drop, we can feel sluggish, irritable, and depressed. Eating protein-rich food ensures we’re getting enough tryptophan and keep our mood in check.”

Call a good friend and vent. Talk about your problems. You don’t have to bring up food if you don't want, but talk about some of the real issues that are bothering you. (There are always other issues that trigger the episode.) If you don’t have to go to work that day, meet for coffee. If you do, call them on your way to work. Even if you don’t talk about anything at all or even if it is just for a few minutes, just talking to a trusted friend or family member will lift your spirits enough to help you get to the next thing. Talking to another living human being will help you come to terms with reality. It’s not the end of the world. Life goes on. Some people will recommend journaling. However, journaling did not work for me. It might work for you, so that’s why I’m putting it out there. Yet, for me personally, journaling only exaggerated my negative feelings. The more I wrote the angrier and the sadder I became. It was better for me to just talk it out to a level-headed, understanding friend.
Get rid of the rules.  Diets inevitable lead to binge eating.  There is no such thing as bad food.  You are allow to eat today, and you are allowed to eat tomorrow.  You can eat now and you can eat later too.  Eat what you want and what sounds good to you.  Do not eat something just because you think you should.

Be kind to yourself.  Treat yourself like your own best friend.  Imagine a good friend going through the things you are going through.  Cut yourself some slack.  Forgive yourself.  I know, I know...much easier said than done.  But you have to start somewhere.  Start with being gentle and loving toward yourself.

Exercise in moderation.  You'll want to beat yourself up.  You'll want to exercise until you drop.  But what your body needs is a light walk or bike ride; something to get your blood flowing and the exercise endorphins going.  Binge Eating is a traumatic experience.  Do not expect to train for a marathon.
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Monday, August 5, 2013

Fact Checking the Fear-based Food Article

If you’ve been online recently, then you might have read the popular article titled “8 Foods We Eat In The U.S. That Are Banned In OtherCountries”.

A few weeks ago, I saw it and then skipped it because experience has taught me to stay away from this kind of “fear-based” food information, true or untrue.

Everyone knows not to believe everything they read on the internet.  But who’s to say that you aren’t still influenced by the information you learn, even if it’s false?

The other day, I was happy to find that an organic chemist did an actual “fact check” study on the 8 banned foods piece.  He went through the article and showed how each claim was either flat-out wrong, or information was taken out of context to prove a point.  To my surprise, most of his counter article was not written in the uber-intellectual language that I was expecting.  I enjoyed it, but I guess I am a bit of a geek.  You can find the whole article here.

I am not a scientist (No! Really?).  I cannot vouch for the original article or the rebuttal.  However, I was happy to see someone out there (albeit a scientist!) not letting this one go.  In the Buzzfeed article, the author claimed “research”, “studies”, and “statistics”.  In my own short inquiry, I found she quoted studies that didn’t exist and her links were misleading or dead end roads.  The title of her article says “8 Foods…” but it’s not about food at all; it’s about chemicals, substances, raw elements, etc.

Who do you want to believe?  The BuzzFeed staff member writing to create a “buzz”?  (She has over 5 million views currently.)  Or an organic chemist working on his Post-Doc in Germany?  (That’s something you do when you have studied everything you’ve possible could and there’s nothing left to study.)  I'm just saying...

So, now on to some interesting information.  The chemist and author writes (referring to the other post):
"This whole article is soaking in several assumptions about food, about chemistry, and about toxicology, and that's one of the big ones. In my experience, people who write things like this have divided the world into two categories: wholesome, natural, healthy stuff and toxic chemical poisons. But this is grievously simple-minded. As I've emphasized in passing above, there are plenty of natural substances, made by healthy creatures in beautiful, unpolluted environments, that will nonetheless kill you in agony."

I like what he says here.  Being who I am (constantly tempted with the black or white, all or nothing dramatic here to read more about that) I can nod my head and relate...graciously.  Food is among the many things that causes me anxiety.  And mainly, it's because I lump it into one of the two categories that he is talking about: healthy or poison.  But that's not reality.  That's not life.
So, anyway, point for point, claim for claim, the author, Derek, breaks down each topic showing its flaws and shortcomings.  An example of one of the "foods" in question:

"Number Four: Potassium Bromate. The article helpfully tells us this is "Derived from the same harmful chemical as brominated vegetable oil". But here we are again: bromate is different from bromide is different than bromine, and so on. If we're going to play the "made from the same atoms" game, well, strychnine and heroin are derived from the same harmful chemicals as the essential amino acids and B vitamins. Those harmful chemicals, in case you're wondering, are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. And to get into the BuzzFeed spirit of the thing, maybe I should mention that carbon is found in every single poisonous plant on earth, hydrogen is the harmful chemical that blew up the Hindenburg, oxygen is responsible for every death by fire around the world, and nitrogen will asphyxiate you if you try to breathe it (and is a key component of all military explosives)."

The original article is having the reader believe that there are poisonous chemicals in our everyday foods and we should be afraid, very afraid.  The chemists makes a good point about chemicals (believe it or not) in that certain deviations are harmful, yes, but that doesn’t make the main source harmful, i.e. oxygen.  (You know, the stuff we breathe?)
Reading this article really makes me question why we have to know so much about the chemicals in our food anyway.  Azodicarbonamide (It was number 5 on the list) is in baking soda and yeast, I think he said 45 parts per million.  I would have never thought twice about putting the stuff in my baked goods; it’s just part of the recipe.  Should I worry though?
My reaction:  Fear of food can distract you from more important things.  If you're not careful, fear can consume you and take over your life.  Living in fear is not healthy either.  It will destroy you.

The chemist seems to have a similar belief:
"Another assumption that seems common to this mindset is that when something is poisonous at some concentration, it is therefore poisonous at all concentrations. It has some poisonous character to it that cannot be expunged nor diluted. This, though, is more often false than true. Paracelsus was right: the dose makes the poison. You can illustrate that in both directions: a beneficial substance, taken to excess, can kill you. A poisonous one, taken in very small amounts, can be harmless. And you have cases like selenium, which is simultaneously an essential trace element in the human diet and an inarguable poison. It depends on the dose."

In the spirit of "quoting", we’ll let the chemist do the conclusion today:
"Finally, I want to return to something I was saying way back at the beginning of this piece. The author of the BuzzFeed article knows painfully little about chemistry and biology. But that apparently wasn't a barrier: righteous conviction (and the worldview mentioned in the above three paragraphs) are enough, right? Wrong. Ten minutes of unbiased reading would have served to poke holes all through most of the article's main points. I've spent more than ten minutes (as you can probably tell), and there's hardly one stone left standing on another. As a scientist, I find sloppiness at this level not only stupid, not only time-wasting, but downright offensive. Couldn't anyone be bothered to look anything up? There are facts in this world, you know. Learn a few."

Oh snap!  I do believe that was a burn, good fellow!