Disordered Eating


I had a great radio show a few months ago where I had Mindy Gorman-Plutzer, who recently wrote a book called Freedom Promise.  Her book was motivated by her personal struggle to deal with “disordered eating.”  She said she had a choice, “to stay buried in the dark hole of addictive behaviors, or embrace the light.”  She chose the light.

Mindy explained that disordered eating is when a dieter becomes obsessed with dieting and the need for perfection takes over.  It differs from eating disorders of anorexia, bulimia or non specific eating disorder.  Mindy explains that we are constantly getting conflicting viewpoints from different groups in the dieting industry, a $60 billion industry, based on science as to what the best diet is and that we really need to be told what to eat by them to be successful.

Mindy, as an eating psychology coach, looks to see what, how, when and why we are eating. Things that happen in life effect our relationship with food. She further discussed how people are creatures of habit and that the habits need to be broken and new healthy eating habits need to be formed.  The best way is to learn about triggers you suffer from in your distorted eating and have strategies to deal with these triggers. Recovery, according to Mindy is possible when we change the mind and the fear of food. For recovery you need forgiveness, acceptance and compassion.

One issue that we discussed that is important to me is what message are we giving our kids. I have teenagers and a daughter, and we need to give the right message to our kids. We discussed on the show the need to teach our kids, and ourselves, to eat for fuel and not out of emotion. We also need to talk to our children about inner beauty, paying it forward and focus on how we live and how we have relationships with others.  When my kids eat junk food (my daughter loves her Doritos) I try to be careful in my message to them and have them think of ways to counterbalance the junk food, because after all, the old cliche is still true, we are indeed what we eat.

I often have patients that either tell me that they are never hungry or that they are hungry all the time.  Patients hope that their surgeries will stop them from being hungry and stop their urge to eat.  But, Mindy says you need to ask yourself what are you hungry for? Are you hungry for food or something else that you are yearning for in your life?  Patients often tell me that during the day they are able to stay on track and as soon as it is nighttime they go on binges. (Most likely because during the day we are with others and busy with the day and don’t think about food as much as at night.)  Mindy explains that these binges are caused by triggers and to stop them you have to look within.We talked about my favorite, and America’s favorite cookie, Oreos.  A few months back, I tweeted about the study that came out which compared them to cocaine addiction. (I am quite aware that three cookies has 150 calories and has many things in the ingredients that I can’t pronounce.) Food companies study how additives affect the brain and these additives in Oreos have been found to have the same affect on the brain as cocaine.  (Not to mention the ingredient list that you need to be a chemist to understand,) Created food affects neurotransmitters in the brain, but natural food does not. And we all know real food is the way to go!!!

We had a great discussion about binge eating and how it comes from stress.  When we are stressed we want to check out from the stressful event and sedate ourselves to take away the stress and the pain.  To counteract the stress which can lead to binging, one thing we can do is conscious breathing, which tricks the body into thinking it is relaxed. I do this often to relax myself!  And it works!

Another way to stop a binge, according to Mindy, is mindful eating.  Never stand at the pantry and eat out of bags or in front of the freezer eating ice cream from the containers.  If you stop and put the food on a pretty plate or bowl and eat it at the table you will be able to focus on the food, what you are eating and how it feels to eat it.  This makes it a controlled and positive experience and then put it aside.   Mindy also suggests that you need to look at relationships, spirituality, careers and physical activity for pleasure, not only food.  Also don’t practice obsessive punishing exercise, but look to create movement of the body.With weight loss surgery patients, many times there are transfer addictions to drugs, alcohol, or my personal favorite (and yes I do engage in this) retail therapy.  These actions make us feel good and takes away the stress or pain.  It is the same high that you get from food.

Mindy’s book, The Freedom Promise, will be coming out this fall. I know I will be reading it and have some in the office to have my patients read!   She has a website if you want further informationwww.thefreedompromise.com.