Specific forms of therapy have proven to be very effective for those who struggle with any extreme eating patterns. You know the drill: the holidays hit, we overeat or eat all the nutritionally weak foods, then resolve, usually in January, to stop all sugar intake or eliminate total food groups like “carbs”. We’re disciplined for 2 or 3 weeks then our body feels deprived and we do a complete 180. Does this feel like banging your head against a wall? It does to me!
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) offers 4 techniques to find balance in eating.:
1) Sequence NOT Elimintation. The order in which we eat foods does make a difference. Try to eat nutritionally dense foods FIRST, but don’t eliminate food groups altogether. Eliminating ALL SUGAR or ALL CARBS leave us feeling deprived and the psychology behind that process increases our desire for something. Often nutritionists recommend eating lean protein first because as it is more filling, then vegetables/fruits, then grains, then desert. One client I worked with 5 years ago lost 50 pounds just be adopting this technique. She lost her strong desire for sugary deserts over time because she didn’t feel deprived of them (she could have them if she wanted them….just after the healthy stuff). She set herself up to succeed not fail. It took 6 months, and by then it was a lifestyle for her,. Today, 5 years later, she still wears the same jeans.
2) Measure progress with Feelings not Numbers. Rather than weighing yourself everyday, try tapping into how you feel at the beginning of each day. Do you feel bloated? Do you feel fatigue? My guess is over time, after eating healthier, you will wake up feeling energized, more relaxed about food having a sense of control over your health. Scales increase anxiety whether you have lost or gained weight. If you are down, you become more anxious increasing worry about maintaining that weight; more rigid in food choices, and ultimately set yourself up to buckle under pressure.
3) Start and end your day with Breathing Techniques. Ideally, a trained therapist can teach you these skills, called “mindfulness skills”. DBT offers one skill called 4 Square Breathing which leads to balanced food choices throughout the day and relaxation at night.
4) Stay in the Present Moment. When you make unhealthy choices, don’t dwell on it day after day or even hour after hour. Stay present and start making heathier decisions now. Beating ourselves up about poor eating habits only lead to extreme cycles once again. Stop the head banging once and for all! Personally, I eat chocolate cake to prevent binging! To learn more about mindful eating contact our office about enrolling in a 6 week DBT course.
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