Paleo eating, my diet, and fudge

     People have asked what I ate during recovery. I didn’t share exact details in my book because I didn’t want people to feel like they should follow what I ate, because everyone has different needs. I certainly didn’t recover because of my diet (I am using the word “diet” in this sense to mean way of eating, not a restrictive “diet”); and my diet during that time was only questionably healthy, based on current nutritional research. 
     For example, nearly 7 years ago when I recovered, whole wheat/grain food items were mostly considered healthy; now some experts think they are at the root of many health problems, diseases, and obesity (see this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/gluten-what-you-dont-know_b_379089.html). Also, low-fat dairy seemed to be considered healthier than full-fat dairy; now many experts claim the opposite (see this article: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/why-whole-milk-is-the-healthiest-choice.html) or that dairy isn’t healthy in any form (http://saveourbones.com/osteoporosis-milk-myth/).  What I considered a pretty good diet almost 7 years ago isn’t what I consider healthy today; and sometimes I am not even sure what I consider healthy (see my What is Healthy? post for a discussion about this). Nevertheless, below is a general idea of what I ate when I stopped binge eating.  
     
     Most of the time, I ate 3 meals plus 3 or 4 snacks per day, likely averaging about 2300 calories per day. I usually stayed in the range of 2000-2500 calories, sometimes slightly more, sometimes less. I didn’t count calories at the time, nor do I today; but I was pretty knowledgeable about calories (as most people with a history of eating disorders are), so I knew generally how much I was getting. I was very active at the time, because I was on my feet all day working in a special education classroom with kids who had severe and profound disabilities, and I exercised about 5-6 times a week for 20-30 min. Even though I ate pretty regular meals and snacks, the meal/snack times and what I ate were very flexible; sometimes I’d inadvertently miss a meal, sometimes I’d eat more at a meal, sometimes not as much.  

     I’ve included a small sample of some of the meals/snacks that I ate (obviously, I’d only eat one meal from each category per day).  Any measurement I give is just an average; I didn’t measure my food.  Just to let you know in advance, this is quite the opposite of any sort of “paleo” diet.
    
 Breakfast:
– Bowl of cereal (about 1 ½ cups dry cereal and 1 cup of 1% or 2% milk). It was usually something low-sugar/whole grain like Bran Flakes, but maybe twice per month I’d chose a more sugary option like Frosted Shredded Wheat or Honey Bunches of Oats.  I’d also eat fruit with most breakfasts – something like an apple, ½ or whole banana, some chunks of watermelon, about 15 grapes, an orange, a peach, or a plum.

– 2 whole grain waffles with about 2 tbsp peanut butter, fruit 

– Whole grain bagel with about 2 tbsp Cream cheese, fruit

– 2 eggs (scrambled, fried, or hard-boiled) with 1 or 2 pieces of  whole grain toast and small amount of butter, fruit

– Bowl of oatmeal (2 servings on the container) with a little low-fat milk and some banana cut up in it.

Snack:
-8 oz container of flavored yogurt

Granola bar

– Protein bar

– low-fat cookies like Snack Wells  (about 4)

 – cheese or peanut butter-filled cracker sandwiches (I believe 6 came in a pack)

Lunch:
– Turkey and cheese sandwich (2 pieces whole grain bread, about 1 tbsp mayonnaise, 1 piece of cheese), chips (about 15), vegetable (usually a small can of green beans, carrots, or spinach; or fresh celery or carrot sticks)

1 whole can of soup (lentil, chicken noodle, black bean, tomato) with about 8 wheat crackers or a piece  or 2 of whole grain toast, fruit

– Lean pocket (usually 1, sometimes 2), vegetable, wheat crackers (5-10) or chips

Snack #2:
Generally the same types of snacks as above.  

Dinner:
Whole wheat pasta and meatballs (maybe 1 1/2 cup prepared pasta, 2 medium meatballs, pasta sauce), caned veggies like corn or green peas (3/4 cup), a roll with a little butter

– Pork Chops (2 or 3, depending on the size), Brown Rice (maybe 1 ½ cup prepared) and gravy, veggies, piece of garlic bread

– Tuna salad sandwich: 2 slices of whole wheat bread (I always bought the larger, heartier looking bread), 3/4 can of tuna, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, and chips (10-15)

Snack #3:
Bedtime snack was usually a bowl of cereal (same serving size as I had for breakfast, maybe a little bigger if I was hungrier). It was usually a cereal I thought was pretty healthy; but I’d have the more sugary options probably once every couple of weeks.  

Desserts:
I probably had desert an average of 2 times a week (usually this occurred after dinner). Deserts could have been 1 cup of ice cream, 1-5 oreos or another type of cookie, an average size piece of cake, ½ of a chocolate bar, or just a couple hard candies after a meal. My husband and I used to like to get ice cream from an ice cream shop near our house, and I’d get the small or medium size cup.
Eating out:
My husband and I were not (and still aren’t!) the greatest cooks, and we did eat out a lot. We ordered pizza maybe once every two weeks for dinner, and I would usually eat 2 to 3 slices, depending on the size of the slices. If we went to McDonald’s, I’d get a fish sandwich, a spicy chicken sandwich, or a hamburger, and have fries with it (usually a small size order of fries but sometimes a bigger size).
Drinks:
I drank mostly water at the time, but I’d usually have a cup of orange, grape or apple juice sometime during the day, and I drank a diet soda a couple times a week.  I also drank coffee each day with 1% or 2% milk in it. I had an alcoholic beverage such as 1 beer or glass of wine approximately once or twice a month.


      Considering that I thought whole grains/whole wheat were healthy, this seemed like a decent diet to me. It allowed me flexibility, foods I liked, and variety. But, as it turns out my diet was nearly the antithesis of what many experts are claiming is healthy today –  “paleo” eating (here is a summary of the diet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleolithic_diet). This diet has been popularized especially in the past couple years by books like “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf (2010), and “The Paleo Diet” by Loren Cordain (2010). The paleo diet basically argues against consumption of all wheat/grains, legumes, dairy products, sugar, and processed oils. In this post, I’m going to talk primarily about the elimination of wheat/grains (and legumes), and it’s implications for binge eaters. 
   
     When I first heard about the “grain debate” – whether or not grains (not only the refined ones but unprocessed whole grains as well) are healthy or unhealthy, it honestly caught me off guard. “What?” I thought. “Whole grains are not good for you?” From a health standpoint, I could completely understand why someone would chose to give up sugar/refined carbohydrates/processed food, but whole grains? As it turns out, legumes – another food I assumed was healthy for many years – is included in this debate too.
     
     From a little research, it seems there is some real evidence behind the idea that whole grains and legumes are not the best for us. In short, many believe we are not genetically adapted to digest them, and they act as toxins to our system. There is still a lot of controversy about this, and I’m not saying I’m sold on the idea. There are many studies and experts who refute it (for example, see here:  http://paleohacks.com/questions/82618/anti-paleo-studies#axzz1hn2MaBvO), and some say it’s just another fad diet (http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/09/09/is-the-paleo-diet-healthy/). 

     Personally, I still eat grains and beans, albeit less and especially less wheat; and I’ve been eating more meat/eggs, fresh veggies, and lots more fat – in the form of coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados. (On a side note, I still eat dairy as well; but now I always buy full-fat dairy.) If grains are a culprit in a lot of health problems in our society; I for one, find this news really hard to take. One walk through the grocery store shows that most food manufactures promote “whole grain” food as a healthy option, or a positive addition to any food. It’s one thing when you eat sugar/processed food and you know it’s not the best for you, but also fine in moderation; but it’s quite another when you eat something for years and years thinking it’s healthy, and you find out it might not have been healthy after all. 

     The most bothersome part about this is that I’ve fed a lot of whole grains and beans to my children, basically since they started eating solid food. I bought a book called “Super Baby Food” by Ruth Yaron when Max – my first born – began solids. This book, which was more vegetarian in nature, recommended starting a baby’s day with a breakfast of homemade porridge, consisting of natural whole grains and beans blended together. It argued against meat, and said that all protein could be received from grains/beans/nuts/seeds/eggs/dairy/veggies. When I think of all the whole grains and beans I bought in bulk from Whole Foods, and all the nights I stayed up late cooking beans and grains for my babies, and how I went through a lot of extra trouble to lovingly feed them something I thought was healthy; I feel a little sick to think all of it may have been in vain, or even toxic to their systems. Again, it’s one thing to give your kid a cookie or candy knowing it’s primarily for pleasure and they aren’t getting much nutrition from it; but it’s quite another when you find out the majority of the “healthy” food you’ve fed your kids might not have been healthy at all.
But enough of me venting,…how does this relate to recovery from bulimia/BED?

…Because I’m noticing more and more that “paleo” eating is suggested as a cure for binge eating.

     Special diets as cures for binge eating/bulimia is nothing new. In my book, I talk about the “Addiction Model” of treating binge eating. Addiction treatment is based on the idea that the foods a binge eater typically binges on – usually foods high in sugar and carbohydrates – are physically addictive; and to recover, the binge eater must abstain from those addictive foods, often indefinitely. One of the pioneers in the addiction model of treating binge eating/compulsive eating/food addiction (not necessarily bulimia) was Anne Katherine, author of “Anatomy of a Food Addiction.” In her book, Katherine recommends avoiding what she believes are the culprits of a food addiction – sugar and refined carbohydrates. She recommends “converting to whole wheat eating.” She says that “nearly every beloved flour product can be replaced with a sugar-free, 100 percent whole-wheat product.” She also recommends converting to other whole grains, like eating brown rice instead of white rice.[i] 

     Now, some are taking it one huge step further, by making a paleo diet a requirement, or at least an important step in recovery (for example see this link: http://paleopepper.com/2011/02/curing-physiological-drivers-of-binge-eating-with-a-paleo-diet/). The author of the blog I’ve linked above also recommends giving up all fruits, which is more strict than most forms of a paleo diet. While this might work for some, I would hate to see a situation where binge eaters using the addiction model of recovery are told they must give up everything but meat/veggies/healthy fats in order to live free of binge eating. To make these types of sweeping changes in the way you eat is very, very, difficult. I know several extremely health conscious people, and none of them follow a perfect paleo diet, and all of them certainly eat fruit. Quite simply, asking binge eaters to only eat paleo foods is asking too much, when even a normal eater can struggle greatly with this. 

     The reality is, grains are everywhere and we have learn to live with them. If we choose not to eat them, I believe it has to be just that – a choice – not a requirement for recovery.  Avoiding those foods for health reasons might indeed be a healthy choice (even though there is no absolute proof either way) as long as the individual is making sure they are eating enough and getting enough nutrients/vitamins/minerals. However, as far as being helpful in recovery from bulimia/binge eating, I think there are several reasons why a paleo diet might not be the answer, which I’ve listed below.
  1.  Avoiding certain foods with the belief that one bite will spiral into a binge can be self-fulfilling.  What happens if the former binge eater decides to eat grains again one day? Does this mean they are destined to relapse?  Feeling like you can control yourself around any food seems to be the safer option.    
  2.  Binge eaters can binge on ANYTHING.  Even though carbohydrates are the most common binge foods, the reality is that binge eaters can and do binge on all types of foods. Without breaking the binge eating habit, the animal brain will be looking for opportunities to binge, and will likely find them on any eating regimen, including the paleo diet.
  3. The pleasure problem – binge eating alters the reward system in the brain and it becomes a habit of pleasure. A paleo diet is not going to take away that desire for the pleasure of binge eating…at least not right away. It might take a while for a paleo diet – if it’s going to work in altering brain/body chemistry – to work; and the binge eater has to know how to deal with the urges for the rewarding nature of the habit until then.
  4.  Telling a binge eater to eat a paleo diet fails to address behavioral conditioning. The habit becomes wired into the brain so that the brain can produce cravings for it automatically, regardless of what one is eating. 
  5.  The self-control issue. A sense of lack of control over eating is fundamental to all cases of bulimia and BED; so telling a binge eater to simply avoid grains (which requires a ton of self control) doesn’t seem to make much sense. When one feels they can control themselves around any food, they are free to make any dietary changes they see fit.  

     Getting past these reasons, if binge eaters could manage to eat a paleo-type diet for a while, would it eliminate the urges to binge?  If they managed not to binge during that time, then yes, the urges would fade.  If they did binge on paleo foods, then no, the urges would persist.  But beyond the obvious…assuming they managed to not binge, would the urges go away quicker than mine did, and would they have less urges to deal with?  Possibly.  If grains/sugar/carbs are “trigger” foods, then eating a paleo diet would eliminate some triggers and eliminate some urges. But, on the other hand, feelings of deprivation are also very common triggers for a lot of binge eaters, so might the elimination of all grains/sugar/carbs create even more urges to binge?  Absolutely.  Furthermore, given that many binge eaters claim stress triggers urges to binge; then it’s possible that the time, effort, and money it would require to eat a clean paleo diet might end up triggering more frequent urges. 

    I didn’t eat a paleo diet, and neither have many others who have found recovery; yet somehow we managed to recover. Maybe if I would have eaten no sugar/dairy/wheat/grains/legumes/fruit, I would have had less urges to deal with…or maybe more?  Either way, looking back, I’m glad I recovered the way that I did; because now no food is dangerous to me.  I can eat whatever I want without having to worry about it leading to urges to binge or to relapse. And, I don’t have to worry if (and when) science makes new discoveries that change what we currently know about nutrition, and gives us a whole new set of guidelines to remain food-addiction free.    
     
     To end on an amusing note, my husband tried to eat a little more hunter/gatherer like for a while, to see if it would help him gain more energy and feel better. During about a three-week time frame, he was pretty strict about it; and during that time we also vacationed to Gatlinburg, TN with some friends. One of our friends bought some fudge from a candy store and brought it back to the cabin where we were staying, and offered us some. I had a couple pieces and so did he. I sort of looked at him funny (in a joking way) when he was eating it and he laughed and said, “what? she (our friend) went out and gathered the fudge, didn’t she?… It’s not about eating what a caveman would eat thousands of years ago, it’s about eating what they would eat if they were alive today.”  We all had a good laugh and agreed that if the cavemen were here today, they would certainly gather some fudge.   

[i] Katherine, Anne.  Anatomy of a Food Addiction:  The Brain Chemistry of Overeating.  Carlsbad, CA:  Gurze Books, 1991.  P. 189-190

47 thoughts on “Paleo eating, my diet, and fudge

  1. I am in sheer misery because of binging. I just came across your name on a web forum & can’t wait to find out more about your book. After listening to several OA podcasts, I’ve ruled that out because I can’t bear the idea of living in terror of food. The problem is I don’t know where to start. So thanks for the food for thought (no pun intended!).

  2. I’m sorry you are struggling with binge eating; I know how awful it can be. OA didn’t appeal to me either, although it does help some binge eaters. I truly hope my book/blog can help you in some way. Please feel free to contact me anytime, and I’ll do what I can to help(kathryn@brainoverbinge.com).

  3. This is such an interesting post Kathryn…thank you! As I have expressed to you before, I am trying to follow a strict “diet” to heal my many health issues (resulting from years of food restriction and mass bingeing) and it excludes sugars and grains. I have noticed that the triggers do decrease when I follow it closely–so there is definitely logic in that approach–however, like you noted, when my brain wants to binge, it will binge on anything…even “safe” foods. This is an important topic, and I am so appreciative to you for bringing it up! I am STILL struggling with the decision between putting ED recovery first and making sure I’m not skipping meals in order to reduce urges…and following this incredibly restrictive, but effective health program. Hmmmmmm.

    1. Hi Anjali,
      Good to hear from you again. Thanks for sharing your experience on a grain/sugar free diet. I also think this is an important topic that will be discussed/debated more and more among those who suffer from and treat eating disorders. I understand why you would struggle with the decision to follow a strict health program or take a less restrictive approach. Ultimately, it will come down to what you feel more comfortable with and what works for you; and of course what is medically necessary/advised by your doctor to deal with the health issues you are facing.

  4. I’ve dabbled in the Paleo eating before in attempts to “cure” bulimia cravings. That being said…

    1. Having suffered from bulimia and normal weights (BMI above 19) and low weights (BMI under 18.5), I can say that I’ve noticed a personal trend: when I am underweight, I desire to binge on fatty/savory foods, and only sugary foods that include some fat (like starburst). I completely echo your thoughts that it is possible to binge on a paleo plan, here. I also wonder if low-weight bulimics show some differences in food cravings (like my trend) due to low body fat or nutritional deficiencies. No clue.

    2. A lot of bulimics seem to express some stomach issues, especially when they first stop bingeing and purging (some anorexics, too). Eating can be seriously uncomfortable due to bloating, gas, not digesting food, not going to the bathroom, et cetera. The worst of these is probably not digesting food. How easy is it to digest a fatty burger or steak, a salad or fibrous veggies vs. a white bread turkey sandwich? A paleo or even traditionally healthy diet (e.g. the RDI of ~25 grams of fiber) may be especially torturous in the beginning of recovery. While I’m not ruling this kind of eating out totally (who could argue against veggies?), there’s just certain difficulties that must be addressed. Certainly, for someone with just binge eating (and not purging), the issue might be very different.

    Just some thoughts.

  5. Very interesting. Thanks for your comments.

    I could never make myself throw up (extreme exercise/diet was my form of purging); so when I quit binge eating, my digestive challenges weren’t severe. But you are certainly right that the ease of digestion should be an important consideration when bulimics are deciding what to eat in the early part of recovery, and I can see how paleo eating would present some challenges.

    I have not come across any studies linking the weight of a bulimic to what she/he desires to binge on, but it is very possible that low-weight bulimics crave more fat because their bodies are deficient. However, I think an important thing to remember is that – while the types of foods a bulimic typically binges on might give some clues to her dietary deficiencies – there is never a true need to *binge* eat. Furthermore, once the binge eating (and purging) habit forms, correcting any dietary deficiencies may not turn off the desire to binge.

    Hopefully, science will help us learn much more about this in the not too distant future.

  6. I just bought the Kindle edition of your book, and look forward to reading. Having a wt loss blog, naturally I rub elbows with others of the same ilk. We’ve been having quite the discussion about your book, flinging our opinions around. 😉 So, I decided I needed to read the book before spouting off any more.

    My highest wt was 460, so obviously I know how to binge, with a capital B. Years ago, I tried OA (and a jillion other things over the years) but could not accept the idea of 1) “having” a disease and 2) that I will forever BE a compulsive overeater. I’ve gotten some of the wt off, with much struggle, following the behavioral modification ideas from Dr Phil and others. But… I am not at peace with food yet.

    I made significant progress in the battle when I stopped eating sugar and flour in March 2009. Haven’t had that same level of tortuous urges since, yet they are still there, just not as strong. The physical cravings are gone, but the “emotional” attachment is there. That is what drew my interest to your book… and your different approach.

    I must admit, I was annoyed at first, since I misunderstood, and thought you were simplistically saying “just ignore it and it will go away”. I know now… there is more to it than than. That’s why I will read the book. :-)

    One book you might find of interest, which helped me a lot, is Wheat Belly by Dr William Davis. http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2011/10/why-wheat-makes-you-fat/

    In case you are curious about the rambling of a bunch of women talking about your book, I invite you to visit the blog of the culprit (Deb, my friend) who started it all: http://satisfiedwithgoodthings.blogspot.com/2012/01/brain-over-binge-exerpt.html We had quite the discussion in the comments. :-}

    Sorry this is so long… off to start your book, with a heart full of curiosity… and hope.
    Loretta

  7. Hi Loretta,
    Thanks for your interest in the book. I truly hope it helps you in some way. I don’t expect it to resonate with everyone, and I know it is controversial to some; but I am hoping to offer an alternative perspective to those who might find it useful. People can take what ideas they like and discard the ones they don’t.

    Yes, it’s definitely more than “just ignore it and it will go away” (as you may know by now if you’ve been reading). Even if that is what it ultimately boils down to, it takes 328 pages to explain the why and how of it – at least as it applied to me – so it’s not as simple as saying “just quit.”

    Thanks for the Wheat Belly book recommendation. I will definitely read it. Thanks also for the link to the blog/discussion about my book; I will check that out soon (a good debate can be a healthy thing:-))

    I commend you for taking steps to change your eating habits and become healthier; congrats on the progress you’ve made!

  8. Hi! I am slightly more than half way through your book. I am a chronic overeater with a weight problem. I many ways your book is resonating with me, but I’ve been struggling with the idea of not being restrictive. Since I’m so overweight, I feel like restriction is a requirement for me to become healthy. I know in my heart that a paleo diet is what is needed for optimal health. So this post is great because it helps resolve some of my inner torment the past few days while reading your book and mourning sugar, bread, etc. thank you!

    What are your thoughts on recovering from bed (non purging) when there is weight to shed? I plan to adhere to a paleo lifestyle, but then my husband wants to know if it is a long term reality. He wants ice cream and bread…

  9. Hi Martha,
    Thanks for writing. This is a really tough question. My focus is using my own experience to help people stop binge eating, not necessarily to lose weight. Yes, stopping binge eating can help most people lose weight (as it did for me), but what if it doesn’t?

    I know for me, even if I never would have lost a single pound after recovery, recovery would still have been 100% percent worth it. However, I was not overweight, and I realize that will add some complications to the equation, especially by tempting a person to go on restrictive diets.

    I mentioned in my book that I’m not against healthy weight loss. I am not a weight-loss expert, but personally, I believe calorie-restrictive diets are terrible. I think the typical “calories-in, calories-out” weight loss diet of, let’s say, 1200-1400 calories for a woman is starvation; and it’s especially detrimental for those susceptible to binge eating. No one can maintain that for a long period of time without experiencing ill effects.

    In a way, paleo-type diets are much less restrictive, in that you supposedly don’t have to slash calories to lose weight. You can nourish your body well with healthy foods instead of trying to live on weight-loss shakes and salads. One could even argue whether or not paleo-type eating should be called a “diet” at all, if it’s not a calorie-restrictive diet, but instead a way to become healthier (that is, if it’s true that this is the best way to eat for optimal health). Of course, paleo will continue to be marketed as a weight loss diet, because that’s what sells; but I believe the health focus should be much stronger (and when the body becomes healthier, it will shed necessary weight.)

    I share the same concerns as your husband though about whether or not it’s a long term reality, and I’m more in the “everything in moderation” camp. Maybe I’m just thoroughly disorganized, but I find myself sometimes struggling through the day and barely managing keep some sort of food on the table for my family. I try to be thankful that we have anything to eat and not worry too much about the unhealthy ingredients that may be in it, because obviously worrying is not healthy either.

    Probably the two healthiest people I know say that “clean” eating/paleo-type foods make up about 75% of their diet and the other 25% is much more flexible – in an effort to maintain a more realistic approach and not feel like they are being too restrictive. It’s a tough call, and a decision only you can make. I think as long as you are nourishing your body well and not trying to simply lose weight fast, then I think paleo is a much, much better approach than simply slashing calories and eating low-quality/low-calorie foods. However, for the reasons I outlined in this post, I don’t think it’s a cure for binge eating.

    I hope this helps a little and answers your question.

  10. Hi Kathryn,

    I read your book a few months ago and found it incredibly insightful and helpful … for a while. But somehow, my urges to binge were so strong that I would deliberately avoid having the detached dialogue, that is, the process of listening to my “animal brain” make up excuses and choosing not to follow them. It’s as though I want to binge so badly that I choose not to listen to my animal brain in a detached way, because I know that if I do, I won’t binge, and I really, REALLY want to binge. Did you ever experience anything like this during your recovery, and if so, how did you overcome it?

    1. Hi JW,
      Since I wrote the book, I’ve noticed that the most common reason people give for this approach not working for them is exactly what you described – that even though they may understand why they binge, and they can recognize all the irrational thoughts of the lower brain; they still really want to binge and feel it’s worth it to them somehow.

      When I quit, yes, I had the advantage of knowing without a shadow of a doubt that “I” didn’t want the habit anymore (of course, my lower brain still wanted to binge more than anything). I knew whatever pleasure binge eating brought wasn’t worth it to me, and without that knowledge, would it have been as easy to stop? Probably not. For people like you who still feel like they really want to binge, it may take a bit longer to separate from the urges and stop acting on them.

      Someone asked me a great question which is similar to this one, and that was: “Do you believe in stopping acting on the urges to binge before you fully want to?” Simply put, yes; but I’ll explain in a little more detail. First of all, whenever you decide to quit, you will never “fully” want to. There will always be the resistance of the lower brain which wants to cling to the habit/pleasure for dear life.

      Since your urges make you want to binge, you aren’t going to “fully” want to stop until after you stop, and the urges begin to go away. So, ultimately it can be a matter of taking that leap to stop acting on the urges, and disregarding any thoughts/feelings that tell you that you don’t want to stop…and then, and only then will you realize that you never truly wanted or needed it.

      You don’t have to disagree with those thoughts/feelings telling you that you really want to binge, or try to convince yourself that you don’t, because that’s going to be next to impossible. You can just acknowledge those thoughts, and know that they will pass and you’ll soon realize that “you” never wanted to after all.

      To illustrate this…here is a little analogy:

      Have you ever really, really wanted to hit someone who angered you badly? But, you don’t hit him/her no matter how much you want to? For most people in this situation, 100 percent of the time they are SO glad afterward that they didn’t take that wrong action and hit the other person. Of course there are countless ways binge eating is different than hitting someone, but can you see how it’s slightly similar? At the time the other person makes you angry, that may trigger an urge to be aggressive; and you may feel like you really, really, REALLY want to hit that person (because your primitive brain is in the drivers seat); but you don’t, and soon, you are back in control and relieved that you didn’t do the wrong thing. With binge eating, when the urges are present, you feel you really want to binge; but if you can separate yourself from that feeling in the moment and not act on it – you’ll soon realize you didn’t really want to binge after all (you only felt like you wanted to because the primitive brain was in the driver’s seat). In your mind, binge eating has to become “not an option,” just as hitting someone isn’t an option.

      I know it’s not a perfect analogy, but it might make you realize that there are other things in your life that you might really, really want to do at times, but you don’t. With binge eating, I truly believe that if you don’t follow the urges – over and over again – you will stop wanting to.

    2. Wow, thank you for the thoughtful response! I agree with what you are saying. It’s just difficult to get over the hump of ignoring the urges the first handful of times, when they are the strongest. After that, I’m confident they will grow weaker and weaker with each passing day.

      I also think that, while I hate binge eating and don’t want to continue doing it, I need to be honest with myself and realize that as long as I keep focusing on weight loss and attempting to restrict my eating, I’m going to keep binge eating. I know you addressed this in your book, but like many dieters, I thought that *I* would be different and *I* could overcome binge eating while also restricting my calories. Looks like I’m going to need to change course and really focus on overcoming binge eating before anything else.

    3. Wow thank you for that response Kathryn! I purchased your book and totally understand why I still binge, but after going 3 days following your advice, I would eventually give in and binge. I have been doing this since I bought the book and it’s frustrating me. I know that after I break the habit my urges will be gone forever, but I’m having a hard time WANTING to quit.

      I agree with what you are saying, and I need to understand that I will never actually WANT to quit and when I’m having an urge, it will be completely normal and expected for my animal brain to be going crazy and telling me it wants to binge more than anything. I have to understand that it will be uncomfortable at first, but every single time I say NO to my animal brain, I get closer and closer to quitting this habit.

      I have committed to 60 days being binge free, and every day I will mark on my calendar how many days I have left. I chose 60 because in your book you stated that for the first two months the urges were very strong but after those two months, they died down. I know the length of time may be different for me, but for right now I am committing to getting through these 60 days without giving in (even when my animal brain really really wants to). I hope that each time I say no it gets easier and easier.

    4. I hope it gets easier too, and I hope after 60 days the urges are nearly nonexistent. I agree with you that the timeline is going to be different for each person.

      I think making a commitment is great, but also keep in mind that it’s the choices you make in each moment that are going to add up and matter most. In “Rational Recovery,” the author talks about the importance of remembering that the animal/lower brain has no concept of time, and recommends thinking of recovery in terms of “now”(I will never binge “now”…and it’s always “now,” right?). If you can not act on urges “now” over and over again, even when they are strong; then 60 days, 100 days, and “never again” start to become a reality.

      I hope it’s going well!

    5. That is a really excellent point and probably another reason why I am still struggling! I have to focus in terms of now, and stop making promises to myself that I always break. (duh it never works) Obviously, it’s only going to work if I commit to not binge eating “now”, every time I get the urge to, every day, over and over. That and truly not listening to the excuses my lower brain is telling me about why it’s okay that I have “one more binge”. I ordered Rational Recovery and I’m waiting for it to come in! Thanks again for the helpful response.

  11. Hi I’m so glad I found your book. I stumbled across it on my kindle. I really feel that this approach and way of life is the only way I can recover. I have tried everything and always find it to be so so difficult to stay in recovery due to triggers being alone life in general. After reading your book and now blog it makes sense that I don’t have to act on the urge that I once thought helped me survive. What a huge blessing and anwser to my 10 yr battle. Thank you so much!! Seriously can’t thank you enough for giving me this knowledge. I am at a family weekend where I usually binge and purge the entire time and have been able to.listen to my higher brain instead of animal;). I do have a question when you were pregnant did you have challenges with not wanting to gain to much weight body image issues. I am pregnant and it has been wonderful but my head is starting to spin about dieting weightloss etc. It is my first baby and I don’t want to miss out on the beautiful process because I’m obsessed with food weight and exercise. Any advice would be appreciated. Thx for sharing your recovery Mindy

    1. Hi Mindy,
      Thanks for your kind comment. I am glad the book has helped you. Congrats on the pregnancy!

      Body image issues can be difficult to deal with, and like I say in the book, even if you stop the binge eating/purging, it doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly have a great body image. That’s one of the reasons why I think it’s important not to make developing a great body image a requirement for recovery. Even “normal” women (and men) can struggle with body image, and ESPECIALLY pregnant women. I am not trying to minimize your dilemma in any way, but I have yet to meet a pregnant women who does not complain about her body in some way or worry a bit about gaining an appropriate amount of weight, or worry a little about losing the weight after the baby..etc.

      The body goes through so many changes during the course of 9 months, and it can be uncomfortable and even overwhelming at times. One thing is for sure – most women don’t look in the mirror every single day and see a glowing pregnant woman, even if others may see that. However, body image issues shouldn’t interfere much with enjoyment of the pregnancy or life in general; so if you feel what you are experiencing isn’t in the realm of normal, then of course it makes sense to address the problem.

      The biggest body image concern I had when I was pregnant actually had nothing to do with weight. I developed awful, awful varicose veins on my legs, which have gotten much worse with each pregnancy. Even wearing compression stockings, and trying to put my feet up…etc, didn’t help at all. I know that, in the grand scheme of things, what my legs look like is not important; but that still doesn’t mean I felt comfortable wearing shorts!

      I can’t tell you how to have a great body image or how not to worry about your weight during or after pregnancy; but I can tell you that once that baby arrives, your focus will likely turn away from your body and onto that precious little one you will be taking care of. When the hospital staff brings you that first meal in the hospital (or wherever you give birth) after labor and delivery, I guarantee you won’t be worrying about starting a “diet” to lose the pregnancy weight. You will be so hungry, and so tired, and SO thankful for something to eat! When you are up on many sleepless nights, you likely won’t be thinking about your exercise plans, you’ll be thinking about how you are going to catch a nap later in the day to survive!

      And, I guarantee you, your baby will think your body is just PERFECT. When you feel that little one’s head on your chest, you won’t care about a few extra pounds you might still have on your belly.

      I think it’s important to give your body time after delivery to go back to normal. If you are breastfeeding, this may happen much sooner than you think. I wrote a blog a while back about being challenged to maintain my weight while breastfeeding(posted on 5-26-2011)..it’s truly surprising how much energy it takes. Also, for someone with a history of an eating disorder, I think it’s especially important not to “diet.” If you want to eat healthy that’s great, but restricting calories below what you need for the purpose of weight loss, I believe is dangerous. Your goal should be to nourish yourself and the baby, and your weight will take care of itself.

      Sorry, I’ve written a second book here. This is my favorite topic! I truly hope you are able to put your body image issues in perspective and truly enjoy the life that is growing inside of you. It’s so amazing..not every day..but the whole process is like nothing else. I wish you all the best.

  12. Thx just what I needed to hear;) also do u recommend reading rational recovery or does your book cover the details. Thanks again for taking the time and living in recovery no matter your circumstance. You truly inspire and give me much hope!!

    1. I think it’s a great book; obviously it helped me tremendously, and I’d recommend it to anyone suffering from any type of addiction. My book does summarize it; but there are many things that are different about my book and RR. I think it would be especially useful if you need a little extra push to quit, because RR is more of a hard-hitting approach.

  13. Kathryn,
    I read your book and really loved it. What a relief to be able to stop believing I am damaged and need to fix everything before overcoming my ED! You are so right! I do have a few questions though.

    Did you eat specifically from a plan (eg one of the options you listed above for each meal and snack) when you first recovered? I feel like it might make it easier for me to recognize the lower brain voice if I am tempted to deviate from a plan, otherwise it is fuzzy and my innocent desire to have a little bit of something becomes a lot more/finishing the container before I even recognize what has happened. I worry about the plan concept because when I’ve tried a plan in the past I haven’t known exactly how to feed myself and also it can be a set up for wanting to rebel. I’d love to just be an intuitive eater and feed my body what it wants in appropriate amounts, but it’s hard for me to know what that is after all this erratic eating. Your story is very similar to mine (except I lost a lot of weight from being depressed after a breakup, then tried to keep it off which led to the rebound ED.) I’ve gained all the weight back and then some but am really struggling to get it under control.

    Anyway, if you have any thoughts about plan vs. no plan, I’d love to hear them.
    Thank you!
    Anne

    1. Hi Anne,
      Thanks for writing. I think plan vs. no plan is definitely a personal choice and either way could work. I mentioned in the book that there may be people who feel they truly don’t know how to eat normally; and those people might need the help of a meal plan or nutritionist at first to regulate their non-binge eating.

      Personally, I did not eat from a plan. The meals/snacks listed above are simply examples of some of my choices – there were many, many more. I realize it does look a little like a meal plan as it’s written above, but my eating was flexible. I enjoy eating regular meals and snacks; that’s the way I’ve eaten since I was a kid (aside from the extreme dieting and binge years) so it feels more natural to me. If I’m more or less hungry at certain times of the day, I still eat relatively regular meals/snacks, I just naturally adjust the quantities or times based on how I feel, or sometimes I add a meal or snack if I’m more hungry. So, for me, this way of eating is not abiding by meal plan; it’s just a personal choice of how I like to “structure” my eating.

      I understand what you mean about worrying that an innocent desire for something more will spiral out of control. I think, in this situation, what may be more useful than going on a meal plan is awareness of how your lower brain uses a innocent desire for something more to get you to binge. When I was in doubt of whether or not I truly wanted/needed more food, I personally usually erred on the side of eating something when I felt hunger, even if I wasn’t exactly sure if it was true hunger or not. Like I said in one of the other blogs, I think I would have driven myself crazy if I would have questioned every hunger signal, or viewed as neurological junk every desire to eat when I might not have been truly hungry. If I were hungry or felt an innocent desire for something more when I thought I “shouldn’t” eat anything else, I’d often set a mental limit on what I was okay with eating (for example – 1 bowl of cereal, or a sandwich, or a small container of yogurt, or an apple, or another cookie…depending on how hungry I felt or how long it had been since I’d last eaten). Then, if I still felt unsatisfied afterward and felt an urge to binge creeping in, that’s what I labeled the neurological junk (not the original questionable hunger signal).  

      I knew when I followed those questionable hunger signals/innocent desires for more that my lower brain would likely use them to try to get what it wanted – a binge – so I was well aware that urges would likely arise and I was prepared for them. Maybe setting a limit before following an innocent desire for something more, and then detaching from any thought that encourages you to eat more than that limit might work (of course, eventually, you should be able to have much more flexibility). Eating is so individual – everyone has different needs and preferences, so it’s impossible to say what’s the best approach. With some experimentation, I hope you are able to find a way of eating that works for you.

  14. First of all, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your book. I think it has and it will change my life–an “emotional eater/binger” from childhood (mom was a bulimic), I’m now 46 and feeling so grateful that I can take the rest of my life back! It feels like that last scene in the Wizard of Oz…

    I wanted to comment a little on the paleo vs. unrestricted diet thing, which is an issue I think has got to be resolved on the basis of an individual’s biochemistry and psychology. I myself come from a long line of diabetics who’ve died from their disease, in the bad old days with no alternative voices to the ADA (the American Death, oh, er, Diabetes Association) preaching that starches are good for diabetics and that sugar is OK in moderation. When I eat sugars/starches, my poor pancreas pumps out insulin like there’s no tomorrow, and so I get really ravenous shortly thereafter. For me personally, eating these things gives my Addictive Voice a lot of fuel because they make my body think it’s starving due to my screwed up biochemistry. Not everyone is like this (though many are).

    I realize of course that this biochemical response does not move my hand to the cookie jar and from there to my mouth on its own, that my frontal cortex has to be engaged here, and that I do have the ability to say no. But I know that avoiding these things makes it much simpler and more pleasant, and I have a feeling of health, energy and wellbeing when I do. Sometimes I do get in a funk of feeling deprived, but I try to remind myself that I am choosing, because on balance, life without these things is so much better. Now that I understand better the brain messages, from your book and from Rational Recovery, I can see that these internal conversations will be a lot shorter!

    That said, I like what you wrote in response to the addiction model, because I have in the past made a kind of a scary taboo out of these foods, and once the line was crossed, that did lead to a (n erroneous) feeling of powerlessness…and you know what I did then.

    Thank you again, deeply and sincerely. You’ve done a great mitzvah.

    1. Thanks so much for your comments and for relating your experience. It adds a lot to the discussion here. This is can be a tough issue for some, because sugar affects everyone in different ways; and I agree with you that the decision of unrestricted diet vs. paleo has to be resolved on an individual basis. Even people who don’t binge (and likely everyone) can experience negative biochemical reactions to sugar and have cravings for more even after a reasonable amount; but for some people, those cravings are much more intense, frequent, and difficult to resist.

      For me personally, I’d spent my entire life (pre-eating disorder) eating normal amounts of sweets/desserts without it ever being a problem. Of course, I often had a desire for a bit more; and sometimes I’d have a bit more, and sometimes I’d chose not to. That was normal for me, and when I quit binge eating, I wanted to get back to normal. If that’s never been normal for someone, then she/he might have to modify what worked for me to their specific situation.

      I do think this is one of those issue that is not specific to binge eaters. There are many diabetics, hypoglycemics, people with metabolic/hormonal/insulin issues whose biochemistry predisposes them to have problems with sugar but who do not binge eat. They may have similar negative reactions like you described – that make them feel very hungry soon after eating something with sugar – but those biochemical reactions do not lead to binge eating. However, for a binge eater (as you said and I agree with), those physiological responses can give fuel to the addictive voice.

      Someone without a desire to binge can use the physiological response and the feelings of being ravenous shortly after eating sugar as signals to try to remedy the problem – by possibly eating something that will stabilize blood sugar and balance body chemistry – whereas a binge eater might use that same reaction as a justification for a binge, which of course perpetuates and worsens the problem.

      I think that’s where knowing you are not powerless comes in. If a person decides to eat something that their body reacts badly to, it doesn’t have to lead to binge; it can instead be taken as a signal to do something right for the body.

      I think this issue falls more under the umbrella of the non-hungry cravings, which I blogged about here and you may have already read: http://brainoverbinge.blogspot.com/2011/11/non-hungry-cravings.html. I think sometimes one approach is needed to deal with the binge eating, and another approach might be needed to deal with issues with sugar/biochemical reactions to certain foods (even though the two can be related in some ways). I tried in my book to remain as binge-specific as possible, because I do not have much personal experience in what you are describing.

      I agree with you that giving up sugar and other problematic foods is beneficial for some and can greatly improve quality of life, and I’m glad you’ve found that it helps you. I simply don’t believe it should be a requirement for the cessation of binge eating. Ultimately the lifestyle a person chooses in terms of eating depends on what works best for them.

      Thank you also for your kind words to me about the book, I truly appreciate that.

    2. I am one of those type 1 diabetics that has BED (non purging). Pretty much since the day I was diagnosed I became obsessed with food. I was put in the hospital after my diagnosis for diabetes and taught how to count carb exchanges and insulin ratios. Good blood sugar made me feel good physically and also psychologically; high blood sugar did the exact opposite. I then binged and made my blood sugar even higher. Now, 18 years later, I have a hard time not following this ingrained habit of mine. Thankfully I came across your book and will look more into the RR book as well. I wonder if there are more type 1 diabetics out there who have BED and struggle with the “monitoring” part of diabetes as well as our natural appetites and moods. It is very frustrating, however, I realize there is no way around it. I also realize that a super low carb diet is not for me since I do binge and restricting carbs (even the healthy, gluten free ones and fruit) is a trigger (I believe you mentioned this in another comment and you hit the nail on the head). Just wanted to share. God Bless.

  15. Hi, I just found a recommendation online for your book trying to come to terms with my own eating, which has spiralled into bingeing again after years of steady weight gain led me to start dieting.

    I agree, from experience (over 20 years) that cereals are NOT the panacea and golden foodstuff they were held to be during much of my lifetime so far, although I think the hardcore paleo-ONLY thing is just an unhealthy swing in the oppostite direction. Humans don’t seem given to moderation, these fad swings seem to come and go…

    Anyway I just wanted to say that I primarily binge-eat cereal-based foods, and I read somewhere that foods which go from crunchy to creamy in the mouth are the biggest attraction to over-eaters and bingers, I’d be interested to hear what you think? Any possible mild inflammation they cause that creates reactions is possibly also a factor.

    I can have chicken, tuna and full fat cheese in the fridge, but I’d never personally binge on them – there’d have to be flour-based gravy or sugary salad-dressing for the meat and fish, and potato, crackers, or bread involved, and for anyone like me I think taking a good hard look at your expectations around what’s a healthy level of cereal is worth doing.

    On the other hand, back in Elizabethan times when people ate a VERY meat-heavy diet, kidney stones were so common they get a mention in every medical treatise, and most contemporary fiction, right up to the era of Pepys.

    For me, wholewheat cereals and pasta etc, which I like better, are bigger binge-triggers than white bread, which I can take or leave, or white-flour pastry, both of which have been demonised for decades – it took me a long time to trust my own reactions and ditch the supposedly healthy wholewheat cereals that left me RAVENING 2 hours later, for some white toast or a white bagel, which held my hunger at bay (specially with a bit of cheese) until lunch.

    That’s left me thinking conventional wisdom is a crock, which is a pretty scary place to be when the warnings about the hazards of every possible food group just keep flooding in from all sources, both “official” and alternative fringe groups.

    Sorry for the unstructured comment, I just wanted to say I’m very interested in your ideas and your own recovery, especially the idea I don’t have to become some kind of super high-functioning saint with an “optimal” diet before I can get things sorted. I don’t have a Kindle and don’t have much money so not sure when I’ll be able to get your book, but as soon as I can afford it I’ll grab a copy.

    1. Hi Becky,
      I posted a response to you yesterday (well, I thought I did), but for some reason it’s not showing up here. Forgive me if you get 2 responses, but I’m going to try this again…

      I too get frustrated with “conventional wisdom,” because 1.) I don’t think what’s healthy/right for one person is necessarily healthy/right for another, 2.) What is considered “healthy” changes so often that it’s hard to trust what the experts say (not to mention that experts can have vastly different opinions).

      Those are just some of the reasons why I feel recovery shouldn’t depend on having an “optimal diet,” because who really knows exactly what that means? I believe that, even though some people might react negatively to certain foods (experience mild inflammation, like you mentioned, or have other adverse reactions); those foods still aren’t the cause of binge eating. Sure, some people might want to change their diet to improve their life and feel healthier, but I think that when recovery depends on those changes, recovery can be elusive for a lot of people.

      I’m sure what you said about foods that go from crunchy to creamy in the mouth being the most appealing to binge eaters probably has validity. I personally think this would simply be because of the types of foods that have those qualities – cereal, chips, crackers…etc., which are highly pleasurable, easily accessible binge foods. However, I’m sure each binge eater has her/his own patterns and preferences.

      I would be glad to send you a copy of my book (obviously no charge). Email me at kathryn@brainoverbinge.com and let me know how to get it to you. I truly hope it can help you in some way.

      Thanks for writing and for your insightful comments about paleo eating.

  16. Hello Katherine,
    First of all thank you for giving the world a new way to recover and new hope. I am 33 years old and was anorexic from age 13-15, then bulimic from 15 till just last August. I have been abstinent since August 2011, almost 10 months. This is the longest I have ever been free of purging. When I was in my ED life, I would have massive binges and then one or two purges daily. I felt like a “functional addict” because I managed to work and live, however difficult it was. My ED did indeed interfere with my life at every level and in every way, but I was of course in great denial. Because of what therapists had told me when I was 14-17, I felt like I was broken and didn’t know how to fix myself; I felt like damaged goods, and therefore thought that I just had to learn how to live my life with the binging and purging… but then it started to really scare me. I started blacking out a lot, and having seizures. I was too scared to tell anyone, but was rushed to the ER a couple of times. The last time was on June 30, 2011, and my brain nearly hemoraged and I had a concussion from hitting my head on the tile repeatedly during my seizure; I had been purging in the toilet and started convulsing when my world nearly ended. Laying there alone in the ER made me realize that I truly didn’t want to live like that anymore… I was too scared of the consequences and for the first time in over 20 years, I didn’t feel like I could outsmart it. I had already lost most of my teeth (replaced with bridges, of course nobody can tell…) and been in and out of the hospital for seizures and sicknesses all related to my ED, but I never truly felt scared by it… I felt like I was a pro and could master it, like binging and puking was the only thing I was really good at. I was sick. Anyhow, on June 30, 2011, that all changed. I was terrified of my behavior and realized that if I didn’t stop, I would surely die, and I didn’t want to. I want to live.
    I went to OA for the first few months because I didn’t know where else to go, but recenlty in the last couple of months I have started to question some of their beliefs. I don’t like being told that if I miss meetings or homework assignments that I’m “bad” or feeling threatened. I have been abstinent since August 1, 2011 because I made a decision that I don’t ever want to purposely hurt myself again. I started off with a Paleo diet, then during the holidays I had some non-Paleo foods and didn’t binge… and realized it is not about the food. But explaining that to my OA people was hard; some of them are very strict with their abstinent foods and don’t like hearing about someone breaking their food plan. Well, I want to live life and enjoy what life has to offer; I remember being a healthy little girl and not obsessing about food and eating whatever I was craving, and not being fat. I was healthy! I know I can get there again…
    so my point to this entirely too long rant is that your blog and book (which I am ordering!) has shown me that I can recover and stay recovered without having to follow some strict eating rules. I’ve managed to eat all sorts of things that I never thought I could have eaten a year ago because I was just convinced they would trigger a binge… and when I ate them, guess what? I enjoyed each bite and didn’t binge! The times that I have overeaten has ironically been with Paleo foods because I was craving something non-Paleo and didn’t give into my craving, but instead binged on sweet potatoes and butter. Yes, it is very possible to binge on anything. You are spot on about that!
    Thank you is not nearly enough, but I am honored to have come across your site…
    Peace

    1. Wow, what a powerful story. Thanks for sharing it here. It’s scary what you went through, but I’m so glad to hear you came through it okay and used your terrible experience as inspiration to recover for good. Congrats to you for making that decision to quit and sticking to it.

      I’m also glad to hear you’ve had success being flexible with your diet. It sounds like you are doing amazing; I hope you are enjoying living life free from the addictive and life-draining binge/purge cycle.

      I hope you enjoy my book, I think you’ll be able to relate to a lot of it, especially after having the experience of giving up the habit in basically one day and never turning back.

      I wish you all the best!

  17. Dear Kathryn, your book flew over the ocean and landed in my Kindle in France. I’m more than half way through and must say “oh, what a gift to us all”. It has helped me a lot since I first dived in and I’m not even at the end of your 5 steps to recovery! Amazing. I’ve just discovered your blog and regret that it has to be put on hold, but I perfectly understand your reasons – God bless you and your soon enlarged family. Merci!

    1. You are welcome! Thanks for contacting me and for your kind words about the book. I hope you continue to find it helpful. I want to get back to blogging soon; however, I’m having a hard time finding a spare minute lately (my littlest one is now 4 weeks old). Maybe a couple more months:-) I hope you are doing well.

    1. If you submit your email address in the “Follow by email” box (on the top right of this page), you will receive an email each time I add a new post. Thanks for your interest.

  18. Eating a paleo diet has actually been VERY helpful for me in overcoming my issues with binge eating. However, I eat maybe 75% paleo each day. I know my limits because I have tried the strictest possible paleo diet there is (nothing with sugar or soy, etc) and started binge eating again because of it. I’ve tailored it to my own life. I eat eggs and bacon for breakfast, cooked in coconut oil and I juice (using fruit!). My lunch is usually the meal that isn’t paleo. I’ll eat an Amy’s organic burrito and a Kind bar. But really, eating this way has stopped my bread addiction which is something I never thought would happen. It’s just taken me multiple trials and tweaks to get to a point where I feel good about the way I eat. I’m 100% convinced we are supposed to be eating the way our ancestors did before 10,000 years ago when agriculture was introduced. But yes, I will enjoy some chocolate too. I just try to make it in the form of dark chocolate.

    1. Since I wrote this post, I’ve come to believe that yes, in an ideal world, paleo would be the healthiest way to eat. However, as it stands now, paleo can be difficult and costly (and if it’s done right – organic, grass-fed, unpasteurized- it’s VERY costly). I do think it’s something that has to be tailored to one’s own life, and I’m so glad to hear that you’ve been able to do that.

      As a way of eating, it’s very nourishing and satisfying (we are meant to eat a lot of fat!); and for binge eaters, I think paleo-type foods are a much better choice than trying to eat “healthy” by eating low-fat.

      I think some people can fall into the trap of believing that they have to either eat either 100% paleo or binge, when that’s certainly not the case. Thanks for sharing that here. Nourishing foods can be incorporated, and healthy changes can be made without it having to be a rigid, restrictive “diet.”

  19. I have been bulimic for over a decade. I found the Paleo diet 3 years ago and I stick with it 80/20. It cut down my bulimic activities from daily to 4x a week and therapy has brought it down to 2x a week. It has kept me healthy between purges and at a healthy weight. However Bulimia is not just about food and body image it is about self soothing, affect disregulation, dissociation, coping mechanisms, emotions. Food is comforting, food is addicting every social event has food in it. Food can trigger emotional flashbacks that causes a binge/purge session. Learning to deal with what ever emotion that is causing the trigger and finding a non food way to satisfy it is the only way to recover fully from an ED. Diet is just a piece of it. Unfortunately, unlike alcohol, we can not abstain from it. Alcoholic drown their emotions with alcohol, BED/Bulimics do the same with food. I have binged/purged on Paleo foods(beef,chicken, broccoli, berries).

    1. I am very sorry that I haven’t replied until now, I’ve gotten a bit behind lately. I’m glad that a combination of paleo-style eating and therapy is helping reduce your binge episodes. That’s great news.

      I don’t know if you’ve read my book or not, but in it I talk about why trying to deal with the ’emotions that triggered the binges’ was ineffective for me. When the urges came, nothing else would satisfy besides food; I was binge eating to cope with the urges to binge, not with emotional problems. The path to recovery you describe definitely works for some and if it’s working for you, there is no need to change it. I’m just offering an alternative point of view. Thanks for writing!

  20. To me it makes no sense to believe that Paleo is a healthy way of eating. If we consider the fact that genetically we resemble primates very much (more than 99 % of our genes are the same as those of chimps, I read), and that wild chimps eat about 50% fruit and 25 – 50 % greens and no more than 2 % meat (and even that is disputed) it is not logical to assume that our bodies should be made to eat lots of meat and fats. See for example books like ‘Eat to Live’ and ‘Green for Life’.
    That said I am very grateful for your book, Kathryn and I think you must be right in that what we chose to eat is not essential to be able to quit binge eating.

    1. Thanks for your input! I love paleo critics:-) I’ve never fully bought into the paleo “science,” although I think that there are definitely some good points of paleo – like eating real/unprocessed foods. I don’t think we can definitively say what is the healthiest way to eat. We all have to make educated guesses, based on the advice that makes the most sense to us and how the food makes us feel.

  21. Your book has been very helpful to me and has resolved my overeating/binge eating. Every time I think about overeating, I just say to myself “no animal brain don’t think so” and it is actually easy. Completely brilliant, you have changed my world.

    I would like to chime in though. I too have tried many diets including paleo but after reading extensively regarding the issue: a plant based diet is irrefutably the healthiest. A paleo diet is better than a sad diet but it is complete junk science that beans and grains are unhealthy. We were never meant to consume such large amounts of meat and could have never obtained same in the wild. If you look at the centenarian societies, they basically eat a plant based diet: lots of fruits, vegetables, grains, very little meat and dairy. Check out Eat to Live, Disease Proof your child, (best selling books by Dr. Fuhrman) and Forks Over Knives (documentary on netflix, please find the time to see it) to start.

    Dr. Atkins died of a heart attack and so did the latest leader of the Weston A Price society. Heart disease is completely preventable with diet so is type 2 diabetes. Many times cancer can be prevented or reversed with a plant based diet. This more important than you think.

    1. Hi Kathleen…sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. Like I said to to Anonymous above, paleo critics are awesome:-) It’s become such a pervasive fad in the last few years, it drives me crazy. It’s difficult to sort through nutritional information, because there are societies (both current and throughout history) without Western diseases, but their diets are so varied that it’s hard to pinpoint any one as the “healthiest.” I think everyone has to make educated guesses based on the research they find the most convincing, and what makes the feel the best long term. I think there are so many more factors involved in health and disease than just what we eat. Thanks for the resources and sharing your opinions!

  22. My binge eating completely spiraled out of control after 3 months on the paleo diet last year. The quantities I binged on were greater than ever and more frequent than ever afterwards. Paleo is a wonderful concept for someone who lives in a Paleo world with a Paleo society. I was also told I had a vitamin D deficiency and low levels of estrogen during that 3 months, prior to which were normal. I just ordered your book and read the first 3 chapters online in like an hour. It felt like I was reading my own story. I am really looking forward to the book.

  23. Been there done that. I swapped to Paleo and that’s when my ED came back. I cannot break it. And yes, completely possible to binge on Paleo like you said – because when it first started, I was binging on 15 – 20 oz of ribs, 5 – 6 apples, 3 – 5 bananas, nuts, nut butters, and even bags and bags of steamed veggies.

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