I mentioned years ago on my blog that I wanted to see an eating disorder specialist for help with my binge eating, but there wasn't one near enough that it wouldn't mean 3 hours round trip for a visit. Finding someone who would take my insurance was another issue. After I stopped binge eating on my own, I no longer felt the need to see a specialist. But this year's been tough, recovering from 2 years of chronic pain and the loss of loved ones in my life, so I did think seeing a regular counselor would be worthwhile and helpful... and it is. But when I've talked about the way I still like to turn to food for comfort, and how I'd like to stop *all* of the obsessive food thoughts, she's not been able to address that. In fact she told me it was pretty normal to overeat when you're stressed. She laughed and told me she sometimes buys a box of chocolate covered ice cream bars and takes them home, and before the night is over the box is empty. Well, yeah, I can relate to that, but my counselor is healthy and thin and doesn't really *get* the eating issues I struggle with. She's adept at lots of other kinds of counseling, but even she thought this was out of her realm. So she found me an eating disorder counselor.
Apparently this ED therapist just moved here a month or so ago and happens to also take my insurance. I had no idea she existed, but my regular counselor set me up with her and I was really excited to go! I don't know if I technically have an eating disorder now or not, but was willing to see what a professional thinks. So on Friday I drove to her office and waited, kind of excitedly, in the waiting room.
When Cloe (not her real name) opened her session room door, my first impression was what a lovely person she seemed to be: smiling, well dressed, young, hair and makeup very nicely done, and she was warm and friendly. My second thought was, "oh no... she's fat too." My third thought was to feel terribly guilty and judgmental for thinking that. But... if you are obese, and you want to see a specialist to help you fix whatever might be keeping you obese, and that specialist is ALSO obese... I dunno, I felt a little bit of disappointment. Like, will she be able to understand me and help me change my life? Or is she struggling with the same issues and has not been able to change her *own* life? I mean, logically I know that there are plenty of reasons someone can be obese, and they don't all have to do with eating disorders, so I just told myself to stop wondering about her (possible) issues and focus on my own.
Cloe was very kind and easy to talk to. She has a lot of background working with anorexics and bulimics (which I have never been) and training in disordered eating. She asked me a lot of questions about my eating patterns and habits, feelings, my dieting history, and my past. After about an hour of deep probing, she told me some things I didn't really want to hear.
She said I need to "normalize" food. Told me that I should go ahead and have my coffee and donut if I want it... just don't have TEN donuts. She told me at the end of the day I might think "Hey I didn't have any sweets yesterday, so I will go ahead and have a cookie tonight after dinner." That would be the goal. She said I should not feel bad if I have a slice or two of pizza for dinner; it is just food and what I should pay attention to is that I have a normal serving... not a whole pizza. She told me when my brain tells me I am craving potato chips, to just go to the store and buy a small, single serving bag and have my chips.
That part, I did not want to hear at all. I have been told that same thing before, by other people, even here in the comments of my blog. I am *highly resistant* to this advice and think it is all wrong *for me*... because one cookie leads to many, one slice of pizza is never enough. Because my doctor told me to get off gluten ("so have gluten free cookies then, they make those now right?" she says) and because I know from experience that sugar does bad things for my mental and physical health. But this is a specialist. It makes me stop and look at everything again and see if she is right.
I still think it is bad advice, for me.
She also said I should go to the gym and take classes or swim or do something, anything, for my depression. That, I fully agree with. She asked how being busy versus being not-busy affects my eating, and I told her that on busy days when I am focused on other things, I am far less likely to eat junk or eat too much. It's when I have a lull between activities, or a day of "rest," that I start obsessing about food. She said to sub the gym for food at those times. She said when I have that urge to get in the car and go buy a cake, get in the car and drive to the gym instead. I think that was pretty good, simple advice.
Finally, she looked at my history and patterns and told me she felt I did have Binge Eating Disorder, triggered by extreme stress, but that I no longer fit the criteria for that diagnosis. She said if I write down what I eat (foods and times) and turn it in to her, it will help her "make sure there is not some other ED involved here." She said "I am not sure this is actually an eating disorder, so the food log will help me determine that." She also said that weighing every day is a bad idea.
I go back in a few weeks for another visit, but I admit I didn't get as much out of this as I'd hoped. Not sure what I was imagining would happen: some magical insight into my psyche, some special key to ending the food thoughts and cravings, something. But I will take at least the latter portion of her advice while I think about the first portion. Maybe there is something to be said for normalizing food, even if I need to do so in a gluten-free, dairy-free context (if that is possible).
I am 38 years old, female, a degree-holding stay-at-home-mom, and I weigh 278 pounds. I have been obese for ten years now. Time to get out of this fat prison I have made for myself.
--This is the original introduction I wrote when I first started this blog in 2007. I leave it as a reminder to myself of where I came from. Currently, I am 46 years old and weigh significantly less...see the blog for details. I lost 103 pounds, then had a partial regain, and am once again working at weight loss and better health.
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