Therapy That Works...

Weight Loss - Resisting Self-Sabotaging Thoughts About Eating - By Chris Gearing

Monday, July 21, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe some of the most common self-sabotaging thoughts about eating and how you can stay on track to your weight loss goals - click here.

Over the years, I’ve become convinced that the chief reason diets fail is that we don’t really understand the psychology of dieting.

We are usually competent at a million other things—our work, our marriage, parenting our kids. But the task of really taking care of our bodies and regulating our food is often left for another day. Now here are some important things that you can do to dispute your negative thinking about dieting:

Plan, Plan, Plan

In Dr. Judith Beck’s best selling book, she reminds us that planning for dieting is essential. We know that a clearly defined path bolsters successful change. Without a dedicated food plan, exercise regimen, and proper psychological tools, dieting will be much more difficult.

Disputing Hopelessness

Dr. Beck’s brilliant method of response cards can help you dispute the negative thoughts that float through your mind and undermine your resolve. With each negative thought, write a positive reply that reinforces reality. For example, if you say to yourself that dieting is hopeless, reply that you’ve done harder things before and there is always a choice in what you eat.

Meditating For Success

Dr. Beck recommends using the skills of mindfulness to calm your mind and prevent overeating. Try taking slow, deep breaths for ten minutes while you allow your body and thoughts to slow in pace and intensity. Taking the time to calm your mind will help you establish full control over your food choices.

Savor The Moment

Dr. Beck also recommends using mindfulness techniques when you are eating. Slowly and carefully chew each bite while sitting. Allow your body to consume the food without stress or hurry. Taste each bite completely and focus on how full you are feeling. Redefine your concept of feeling full and when to stop eating.

Self Congratulate

Once you begin to lose weight, make sure to acknowledge your accomplishment. Most of us forget that positive self talk is the fuel to keep us going. Taking a moment to congratulate yourself will help you hit the next weight loss goal!

For the best and most comprehensive guide to successful dieting using the power of cognitive techniques, read Dr. Judith Beck’s books on the Beck Diet Solution.

If you know someone who is struggling with the emotional and psychological aspects of weight loss, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

"The Beck Diet Solution" Series by Dr. Judith Beck

Weight Loss - Identifying Overeating Triggers - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how you can identify triggers that may cause you to overeat even when you're dieting - click here.

In order to control your eating effectively, you have to identify your own triggers to overeating.

Here are some of the most common overeating triggers:

Environmental Triggers such as being near food or seeing food online or on a TV show.

Mental Triggers like thoughts about a meal or a particular type of food.

Emotional Triggers such as when we use food as a coping tool to manage our stress, anxiety, or depression. However, food can also be used to express happiness, excitement, or even for a celebration.

Social Triggers are one of the main ways that many of us struggle. We love to eat out with friends and family, and its hard to turn down family cooking too.

Another important step is to identify your self-sabotaging thoughts:

Denial: We deny how important it is for us to regulate our food.

Hunger: The discomfort of deprivation can be difficult to withstand.

Feeling Full: Some of us insist that we feel full at the end of a meal rather than learning that tolerating some slight hunger is normal and acceptable.

Emotional Eating: The most common sabotaging thought and the most difficult to regulate since it can be so entrenched.

Shame and Self-Loathing: Often these thoughts can lead us into despair, which can lead us to excessive eating.

Entitlement: Witnessing the eating habits of others who can eat without worry and not gain weight is difficult. We often feel angry and resentful that our bodies are not similarly wired.

If you know someone who is struggling with the emotional and psychological aspects of weight loss, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

"The Beck Diet Solution" Series by Dr. Judith Beck

Weight Loss – Is Emotional Overeating Sabotaging Your Weight Loss? - By Chris Gearing

Monday, July 14, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how emotional overeating may be holding you back from losing weight - click here.

One third of Americans meet the medical definition of obesity and many others carry excess pounds that their doctors wish they would shed.

As intelligent and resilient as most of us are, it is confusing why we struggle so much with food. Here are some key factors that can derail you from weight management success:

Begins In The Mind

All weight loss begins in the mind. Without understanding your relationship between your emotions and food, you cannot change the habits that interfere with your ability to lose weight. All overeating begins the same way: a trigger leads to a thought, the thought creates an emotion, and the emotion leads to a choice to eat.

Releasing Tension

Many of us eat to soothe internal tension or anxiety. Your raging emotions tell you that eating will calm you down. Once the decision is made to eat, you feel a little better. What many of us miss is that we can also reduce our tension by deciding not to eat. The active decision to not eat can provide the same tension release as choosing to eat.

There Is No “Try”

Most of us take our self-sabotaging thoughts about food at face value. We try to not eat popcorn at the movies or we promise to not have another cookie at the party. But then we read an upsetting text or see an ex-girlfriend. The uptick in emotion can cause us to lose self-control in the moment.

If you know someone who is struggling with the emotional and psychological aspects of weight loss, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

"The Beck Diet Solution" Series by Dr. Judith Beck

Weight Loss - How Does Overeating Start? - By Chris Gearing

Monday, July 07, 2014

Watch Dr. Sylvia describe some of the ways overeating can start and why it can be so difficult to overcome - click here.

With one third of Americans meeting the medical definition of “obese,” we are struggling as a society to understand how to manage our relationship with food. Lifelong weight issues can sometimes be caused by metabolic issues or other medical problems. However for those of us without medical issues, we must be aware of some key issues with how we treat food that prevent us from weight management success:

Basic Instinct

Our relationship with food begins at birth. As infants, we learn that food quiets our rumbling tummies, is pleasurable, and can even bring a certain degree of comfort. Food begins to be associated with security, wellbeing, and happiness from an early age.

Inescapable Need

Like the air we breathe, we cannot escape the need to eat food. We can’t “give it up” or swear to never touch it again like drugs or alcohol. The fact that food is unavoidable is one reason why we struggle with it.

Eating To Soothe

Since food is so centrally associated with feelings of comfort early in life, many of us tend to use it to regulate or soothe difficult emotions. Since our emotional math is simplistic as children (such as,“I’ll eat this to feel better”) it is understandable why overeating becomes so entrenched early in life as a coping skill.

Overeating Cycle

Whenever we gain weight, there is an automatic emotional cost. Self-loathing and anger are common. We then overeat to regulate the negative feelings that come from unwanted weight gain. Round and round we go, and the cycle can overwhelm us before we know what’s happened.

Binge Eating

Many of us who struggle with food develop Binge Eating Disorder in which we lose control over how much we eat. Here are some of the symptoms of BED:

  • Overeating in a rapid fashion
  • Regularly overeating at meals and in between
  • Rituals with food such as eating only in the car or secretive eating behaviors
  • Feelings of shame and disgust

Weight loss can be sabotaged by significant psychological and emotional challenges. If you know someone who is struggling with the psychological aspects of weight loss, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

"The Beck Diet Solution" Series by Dr. Judith Beck

Weight Loss - How You Can Help Your Child Lose Weight - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how parents can help their children lose weight and live healthy - click here.

With child obesity rates climbing every year, many parents worry about their child being left behind.

They may sign them up for sport teams, summer camps, and even weight loss programs, but many teens and kids still struggle with their weight.

So, why do our children find it so difficult to manage their weight?

Images of Perfection

Previous generations of boys and girls have struggled with body image, but these issues are at an all time high. Our children are inundated with images of physical perfection especially with our celebrity culture. The demand for perfect bodies has grown worse over the past two decades leading to weight concerns in boys and girls as young as six years old. But channeling energy into appearance and away from normal developmental tasks can disrupt, if not completely sabotage, a child’s self esteem and ability to tolerate stress.

Helicopter Parents

The current generation of well-meaning parents are micro-managing their children's emotional and physical development. Being "ordinary" or just “okay” has lost its allure for too many of today's parents who insist on cushioning their children from the blows of reality. Frustration, rejection, and even failure may even be harder on the parents than it is on the kids. Parents project their own anxiety onto kids who need to deal with the consequences and solve problems on their own. Over protective parents can actually make children more anxious and likely to gain weight, and weight gain can be an unintentional consequence.

Sins of the Parents

Many mothers and fathers struggle with their own weight issues every single day. Children and teens often learn eating habits from home, and they may inherit their own weight issues from mom and dad.

Surging Hormones & Anxiety

Rates of teen anxiety and depression are at an all time high, so eating issues flourish when puberty hits and mood disorders descend. Many teens develop eating issues as a response to their depressed mood and anxious mind.

Parents, here’s what you can do to help your child:

Change Starts At Home

Since many kids learn eating habits at home, long-term change usually begins at the dinner table. Parents are especially influential on their children’s eating habits, so be mindful of what eating behaviors you are modeling. What you say and how you handle yourself emotionally and with food will set the standard for your child.

Learn The Facts

Most kids and teens don’t truly understand nutrition and positive eating habits. Make sure that they have all the information and understand the connection between what they eat and how it affects their bodies and their lives. Teach your child or teen what is good to eat and how to stay away from foods that will pack on the weight.

Focus On the Goal

Encourage positive attitudes toward your child's new self-image. Do not shame or embarrass them, but try to focus on the new body you can build together. Keep the focus on the goal of a healthy weight instead of their current situation.

Mind-Food-Body Link

For many kids, food is an escape from anxiety and stress. They can temporarily distract themselves from their problems with a sugary snack or calorie-laden drink. Try to coach your child about how to deal with negative emotions by talking them out instead of distracting with food. Remind them that setbacks are temporary and that they can cope with whatever they are facing. Emotionally resilient people don’t use food as a way to calm down or distract themselves.

Eating issues can lead to very serious eating disorders.

If you are worried about someone you know, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

The work of Dr. Martin Seligman

"Generation Me" by Jean Twenge

“The Beck Diet Solution” by Judith Beck, Ph.D.

How Gearing Up Treats Eating Disorders - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe how Gearing Up treats eating disorders and some of the most effective therapies for eating disorders - click here.

Eating disorders affect millions of people every year and despite valiant efforts, many patients remain mired in unhealthy eating habits. At Gearing Up, we are committed to coaching our patients to maximum success.

We believe in evidence based treatments and utilize well executed approaches to eating disorders including:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:

This approach focuses on the relationship between core beliefs and thoughts, and negative emotions and behavior. By evaluating and challenging negative thinking, we can achieve an improved accuracy that leads to healthier eating and more effective living. CBT helps people with eating disorders to correct larger misperceptions about their body and their unhealthy lifestyle.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy:

This approach emphasizes skills building in the face of strong, negative emotions. Managing strong emotions often requires a set of skills to distract, sooth, and tolerate emotional distress. Developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan, DBT teaches clients that dysfunctional behaviors must be replaced by more effective skills. Since many eating disorders thrive with impulsivity and distressed minds, DBT can be a critical intervention to stop unhealthy eating cycles.

Maudsley Based Family Treatment:

This treatment approach recognizes the parents’ central role in guiding and leading their child back to health and is one of the most effective therapies for eating disorders. In addition to intensive individual therapy, we work closely with parents in family therapy and in nutritional counseling to plan and support their child’s recovery. Hopefully, interventions throughout the home and family will create an atmosphere for recovery and healing.

Psychological Testing:

We often utilize personality testing to evaluate psychological resources at a deeper level including cognitive style, emotional and informational processing approaches, affective features, self-control and willpower, the ability to tolerate stress, tendencies toward impulsivity, and self-sabotaging behaviors. Testing gives us a kind of psychological x-ray so we can pinpoint the issues that we need to address and direct treatment effectively.

Coordinated Care:

To effectively address an eating disorder, we coordinate with other professionals including a nutritionist and a physician to round out our understanding of diet, nutrition, and physical health. With every professional coordinating treatment, we have the best chance at effectively treating the eating disorder.

Sources:

The New Maudsley Approach (http://thenewmaudsleyapproach.co.uk/Home_Page.php)

The National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov)

The work of Dr. Marsha Linehan

Eating Disorders: Not Otherwise Specified - By Chris Gearing

Monday, March 04, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing discuss the "Not Otherwise Specified" diagnosis for eating disorders and what they mean - click here.

Anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are the best-known eating disorders and among the most lethal. However, Eating Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified is also a dangerous, persistent eating disorder that can disrupt an otherwise successful life.

This eating disorder diagnosis is reserved for those patients who do not meet all the criteria of the previously mentioned eating disorders. For example, a patient may severely restrict her diet but not to the point where she experiences an absence of menstruation.

According to some experts, approximately 70% of eating disorders fall under the “Not Otherwise Specified” diagnosis.

The presence of this type of eating disorder suggests several important points:

Progressive & Evolving:

Eating disorders are dynamic illnesses and do not always follow one, strict course of development. For example, a young girl may begin her eating disorder by restricting food and then move on to bulimia in which she regularly binges and then purges. The “Eating Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified” diagnosis indicates that the eating disorder is responsive to the environment and to the developmental and life changes that often come during adolescence and early adulthood.

Fluid Symptoms:

This type of eating disorder also demonstrates how difficult it is to classify this illness within one static category. The fundamental problem in eating disorders is the effective management of the self, both emotionally and cognitively. While the symptoms may vary, the basic problem often remains the same.

Processing Issues:

Since eating disorders can be such stubborn mental health issues, psychologists and neuroscientists are beginning to explore the neurological aspects of eating disorders. For instance, people with eating disorders tend to have difficulty with more abstract thinking and executive functioning – they tend to notice the details and miss the greater picture. At other times, they may be show a lack of cognitive flexibility which means that they struggle to be less rigid and adaptable in handling food and how they feel about themselves.

Eating disorders are very serious conditions, and they can even be lethal. If you think you or someone you know may have an eating disorder, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

http://thenewmaudsleyapproach.co.uk/Home_Page.php

The work of Dr. John Lock

The National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov)

Eating Disorders: Binge Eating - By Chris Gearing

Friday, March 01, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe what Binge Eating is, what it looks like, and signs of when it's time to get help - click here.

Eating disorders are serious emotional and behavioral mental health conditions that disrupt the individual’s ability to handle food appropriately.

Food becomes an “emotional thermostat” and is used by the individual to control emotions and to lower stress. Routine eating disorder habits include food restriction, excessive consumption of food, purging of food usually by laxatives or vomiting, and compulsive overeating in a short amount of time.

The most common of all eating disorders, binge eating disorder can be a chronic and painful problem.

It affects women more than men and it can last hidden for years by a veil of shame, secrecy, and stress. Since this eating disorder does not involve purging behaviors or excessive exercise, the people suffering with the disorder present with either average weight or are overweight. As with other eating disorders, binge eating involves a central focus on food and the power of food to modulate stress and adversity.

Binge eating disordered patients tend to have higher levels of depression.

In one study, researchers found that these patients had about twice the risk of depression over their lifetime. In addition, these patients struggle with feelings of inadequacy interpersonally, often due to the distress about their body and their disordered eating. Many sufferers reported the disorder affecting their work and impairing their regular activities. It is difficult to be your best when healthy eating is a challenge.

Rapid Consumption:

Frequently, rituals of food consumption are built into daily schedules. The food is most often purchased, either through an impulsive or scheduled visit to the store or fast food outlet and is consumed rapidly in a short amount of time. Rapidity of consumption is usually one of the main clues to this disorder.

Emotional Seesaw:

Following the binge, the individual often experiences an uptick in mood. The food is calming and soothing in the short run. There are usually momentary feelings of control or satisfaction. However, they are soon followed by feelings of shame, self loathing, and depression as they begin to deal with the realities of overeating. Clothes don’t fit, bodies are bloated, energy is sluggish, and any possible weight goals are compromised or eliminated.

Here are some other signs to watch out for:

  • Excessive eating when they don’t feel hungry
  • Eating until there is discomfort
  • Eating rituals that emphasize isolation, secrecy, and control
  • Anger and resentment if any eating ritual is interrupted
  • Depression, negative mood, and feelings of being out of control following the binge cycle
  • Ineffective dieting caused by the caloric overload of binging

Eating disorders are very serious conditions, and they can even be lethal. If you think you or someone you know may have an eating disorder, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

"Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Binge Eating and Bulimia" by Debra L. Safer, Christy F. Telch, and Eunice Y. Chen

The National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov)

Eating Disorders: Bulimia Nervosa - By Chris Gearing

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing describe what Bulimia Nervosa is and how it begins - click here.

Bulimia nervosa is an insidious mental health disorder that can cause extraordinary pain and suffering.

Women are more likely than men to develop Bulimia and sufferers tend to start the cycle of Bulimia in late adolescence or early adulthood.

Bulimia begins with eating an unusually large amount of food, often in an impulsive but ritualized manner. During the binge eating, it’s almost as if another consciousness takes hold and the food is their total focus. Afterward, they’re often consumed with overwhelming feelings of self-loathing and remorse. Binging is often followed by getting rid of any evidence of the binge and then different behaviors to curb any weight gain – like extreme amounts of exercise, harsh food restriction, use of laxatives, or even purging the food from their system by vomiting.

These post-binge behaviors come from a need to reverse the damage they have done to their body and to lower their soaring anxiety. Ironically, these efforts often end up causing more damage to their bodies and increasing their anxiety instead of helping to resolve the problem.

Similar to other eating disorders, people with bulimia often are highly self-critical, scrutinize their bodies, and hold themselves to an impossible standard. There can be considerable distortion about what they look like and they may be extremely inaccurate about their appearance. Relentless cognitive self-criticism can easily lead to destructive eating habits that are not only bad for their physical health but are emotionally addictive. The binging and purging become a coping mechanism that temporarily allows them to feel less anxious, in control, and even euphoric in some cases.

Eating disorders such as bulimia are difficult to beat even under the best of circumstances.

According to some studies, people with bulimia have higher levels of depression, anger, and shifting moods. Since they primarily involve problems in emotional regulation, cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy are extremely effective and have high rates of success.

Eating disorders are very serious conditions, and they can even be lethal. If you think you or someone you know may have an eating disorder, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

"Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Binge Eating and Bulimia" by Debra L. Safer, Christy F. Telch, and Eunice Y. Chen

The National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov)

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (www.nami.org)

Eating Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa - By Chris Gearing

Monday, February 25, 2013

Although all eating disorders are extremely damaging for your physical and psychological health, anorexia is also the most lethal.

According to some estimates, up to 10% of patients suffering from anorexia will die from the disease. While both genders can die from metabolic complications and starvation, anorexia is also highly correlated with suicide.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anorexia is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • The presence of extreme thinness or emaciation
  • Highly restricted eating
  • An obsession with being thin and a fervent opposition to gaining and maintaining any new weight
  • There is often a constant self-loathing of their body
  • Low body weight is redefined to be commendable
  • Sufferers often have extreme denial about the physical emaciation and any health risks

Anorexics engage in two types of approaches to food:

1.) Severe food restriction that is rigid and systematized. There is an unforgiving stance toward eating food and there is a refusal to face the problem with eating.

2.) Binge-eating followed by purging, the possible use of laxatives, extreme food restriction, and high amounts of exercise to keep the body slender.

Anorexia, as with other eating disorders, can often co-exist with other serious mental health disorders. Depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder commonly co-occur with eating disorders.

Eating disorders are very serious conditions, and they can even be lethal. If you think you or someone you know may have an eating disorder, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.

Sources:

Arcelus J, et al. “Mortality rates in patients with anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders.” Archives of General Psychiatry, 68(7):724-731.


Hudson JI, Hiripi E, Pope HG, Kessler RC. “The prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.” Biological Psychiatry. 2007; 61:348-58.


Zhao, Y., and Encinosa, W. “Hospitalizations for Eating Disorders” from 1999 to 2006. HCUP Statistical Brief #70. April 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.hcup-us.ahrq.gov/reports/statbriefs/sb70.pdf


Lock J and Le Grange D. “Family-based treatment of eating disorders.” International Journal of Eating Disorders. 2005;37 Suppl:S64-7.


Lock J et al. “Randomized clinical trial comparing family-based treatment with adolescent-focused individual therapy for adolescents with anorexia nervosa.” Archives of General Psychiatry. 2010 Oct. 67(10):1025-1032.

The National Institute of Mental Health


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