Table of Contents
- How often do you lose control over food
- What does a Psychoanalyst do?
- What does a skinny bitch like you know about binge eating
- You could have heard a pin drop
- My eating problems go back to when i was five years old
- I was constantly focused on the weight I was going to lose or preventing weight gain
- I finally went to therapy, but not for my eating problems…
- How was it that my relationship with food got better if i never told the therapist about my problem?
- “I hate it when people assume things about me because I’m fat”
- That bonding moment lasted throughout our time together
- My work helps my clients to get unstuck and become their most genuine and true selves
- It’s never too late to change
Maybe you wake up every morning with the best intentions. You vow to be “good” and stick to your diet. Over the next several days or weeks, you eat right, go to the gym, and drop a few pounds. Maybe you get your hopes up that this is finally it. You dream of slipping on a pair of skinny jeans, imagining sliding them over your hips with ease.
Before you know it, you fall off the diet wagon by eating one of your forbidden foods. To cope with the feelings of guilt, you polish off the rest of that dessert, pizza, bag of chips, or whatever you were eating. When it’s time to get back on track, there are so many choices: Weight Watchers, Paleo, Whole30, South Beach, Mediterranean, low-carb, high-carb, liquid diet, cookie diet, and ketogenic. You start another diet only to get derailed again and gain back the weight you just lost.
How often do you lose control over food
Maybe you also try counting steps as well as calories, but you wind up with a really cool Fitbit and zero sustainable weight loss. So there you are with two different sets of clothes in your closet—one for the size you are and one for the size you want to be. You’re more than ready for something new, but you don’t know what to do instead of dieting. You’re afraid that if you’re not on some kind of diet, you’re going to pack on the pounds. You’re afraid you’re always going to look like a “before” photo. That fit, slim “after” photo seems like an impossible dream.
I am going to show you exactly how to create permanent, sustainable weight loss. No dieting necessary. Not only will you finally be able to fit into those skinny jeans in the back of your closet, but you’ll also break free from your preoccupation with food and dieting. For so many dieters, the goal isn’t just changing the number on the scale. You want to stop the obsession with food, to stop thinking about every bite.
What does a Psychoanalyst do?
As a psychoanalyst specializing in food, weight, and body image issues, I’m here to help you navigate a path to lasting weight loss without counting calories, fat grams, or carbs. You may be wondering what exactly a psychoanalyst does and how that differs from other kinds of therapy. One of my patients said it best: “Therapy is like snorkeling. You go a little bit under the surface and see some cool things. But analysis? That’s like deep-sea diving to the bottom of the ocean. It’s pitch black and you’ve got to shine a light in the darkness to see what’s down there.”
Shining that light helps you discover the hidden reasons that you’re turning to food. In my private clinical practice and through my online programs, I’ve helped thousands of people all over the world heal their relationship with food, stop binging, lose weight, and gain health.
What does a skinny bitch like you know about binge eating
My work is highly personal and important to me. Early in my career, I created a support group for women who were struggling with binge eating. At the time I was interning at a local counseling center. The staff took care of the entire intake process,
interviewing prospective group members and deciding who was a good candidate. That meant that I didn’t meet any of the group members until our first session. I spent many hours getting ready for that group. This was my first experience as a group facilitator, and I was determined to give these women a mind-opening, body-changing, soul-shifting transformation.
On the day of the first group meeting, I swung open the door to the therapy room. Eight women sat on the overstuffed chairs and slightly worn couch, each of them looking uncomfortable and a bit nervous. Their ages ranged from twenties to fifties. A few carried an extra ten or twenty pounds. Others were a hundred pounds overweight.
“Hi there,” I said, entering the room. A redhead in her late fifties, wearing a brightly colored shirt and a necklace with huge, colorful beads, fixed her gaze on me. Her body overflowed her chair, and her mouth was a tight line on her face. She said, “You’re the therapist? Seriously?” I tried to keep the smile on my face. The group hadn’t even started, and somehow I’d already disappointed this woman. I tried to figure out the problem. Was she expecting someone older? Someone with more experience? Was it totally obvious that this was my first group?
“Yes, I’m the therapist,” I repeated, hoping that my voice didn’t sound as unsteady as it felt. I checked the roster of names on my clipboard. “And you are . . . ?” “My name’s Carole. So, what does a skinny bitch like you know about binge eating?”
You could have heard a pin drop
The room was quiet. Then it got even quieter. My heart was pounding. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Did she really just call me a skinny bitch?
The others shifted awkwardly, avoiding my gaze. At that moment I had an epiphany. I realized when they looked at me, they didn’t see someone who understood them. Someone who could identify with their pain. Who could relate to their challenges and anxieties.
“I know a lot, actually,” I said, taking a seat. Carole crossed her arms, looking skeptical. “Let me put it this way,” I indicated myself with a wave of a hand. “This skinny bitch once ate an entire bag of gingerbread cookies in about fifteen minutes flat.” I had their attention. I added, “And I hate gingerbread.”
My eating problems go back to when i was five years old
I felt the tension easing. The women looked at me with curiosity. “My eating problems go back to when I was five years old,” I told them. “I remember the exact moment I decided that my thighs were too big. I never looked at magazines or watched TV, so I had no media influences. Still, I was positive that if my legs were thinner, I’d somehow be better and I was a perfectly normal-weight kid.”
My obsession grew worse as I got older. Every page of every one of my journals was filled with numbers. I wrote down what I ate, what I didn’t eat, how much I weighed, and how much I was going to weigh after the next diet. I fell asleep counting calories and fat grams, wondering if I’d lose weight the next morning or gain it
I was constantly focused on the weight I was going to lose or preventing weight gain
When I hiked with friends, I wasn’t focusing on the beautiful day. I wasn’t actually enjoying time with my friends. Instead of connecting with them, I was focused on how many calories I was burning. I was always on some crazy diet that was usually extremely restrictive. Eventually, my willpower failed and I would binge and then take laxatives or use other measures so I wouldn’t gain weight.
I finally went to therapy, but not for my eating problems…
I finally went to therapy. But I went for anxiety, not for my eating problems. I shared my boyfriend's issues, my goals, my dreams, and my fears. I was open with my therapist about every aspect of my life—except one. I never told her what was going on with food. I was too ashamed to admit the truth.
In the months that followed, I began noticing small changes. I stopped counting calories instead of sheep to fall asleep. I started paying more attention to my feelings. When I got upset I stopped getting frustrated with myself. I became a friend to myself instead of a critic. Those crazy binge episodes began occurring less frequently.
Eventually, I completely stopped using food to cope. By the time I left treatment, all of my destructive food behaviors had disappeared. Interestingly, not once—not a single time—did I ever tell my therapist about my horrible relationship with food.
How was it that my relationship with food got better if i never told the therapist about my problem?
How was this possible? After all, I was a self-described poster child for eating disorders. How in the world did I liberate myself from a continuous cycle of dieting and bingeing without ever talking about food? Simple. My behavior was a solution to the real problem, which was my toxic relationship with myself. When I made peace with myself, I made peace with food too.
I finished my story and looked into the gaze of the group members. For several horrible seconds, I regretted what I had said. Had my self-disclosure made things worse? Was I a bad therapist? Did these women hate me?
Sharing My Story Helped to Bring This Group Together Carol said, “You were only five years old. Why in the world did you think your thighs were big?”
I told her that as a child I was considered “too much” to handle. My parents, who were college professors, were intellectual and academic. Their idea of spending family time was visiting the library on a Sunday morning. We scattered to different parts of the library to find books. Afterward, we went home and read those books in different rooms.
Reading wasn’t my idea of a good time—I was more spirited and energetic. My family told me that I was too loud, too sensitive, too dramatic, and too emotional. The overall message was that I was “too much” to handle. My five-year-old mind translated this as being literally too much, too big. My issues with food and body image reflected a wish to be smaller and somehow more acceptable.
“I hate it when people assume things about me because I’m fat”
Carole said, “I hate it when people assume things about me just because I’m fat.” She took a moment and heaved a sigh. “I hate to admit this, but that’s what I did to you. I made assumptions because you’re thin.” Another woman spoke up. “That happens to me every day. People assume I’m lazy, greedy, or have no willpower.” “Me too,” said someone else.
Just like that, the group found common ground. We started talking about what it was like to be judged by our appearance. One woman shared the humiliating experience of asking a flight attendant for a seatbelt extension. Another cringed as she recalled the judgmental looks from shoppers at the grocery store as they passed her shopping cart, which was filled with boxes of cookies and ice cream. A mother tearfully talked about the time her tween daughter shared how embarrassed she was to have an overweight mother.
That bonding moment lasted throughout our time together
That bonding moment lasted through the rest of our time together. Carole scared the heck out of me at first, but ultimately she taught me an important lesson about vulnerability. Instead of being “the therapist” and positioning myself as an expert, I realized I had to trust my humanity and share that part of myself with my patients.
The artist Michelangelo created some of the world’s most beautiful art, including the iconic statues of David, Madonna of Bruges, and countless other pieces. Someone asked Michelangelo how he turned those great blocks of stone into statues. “Every block of stone has a statue inside it, and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
My work helps my clients to get unstuck and become their most genuine and true selves
I love this story because it’s a perfect description of change. People who struggle with food often describe themselves as “broken” and think there’s something wrong with them. They aren’t broken. They’re just stuck. Our work together is always to chip away at what keeps them stuck, so that they can be their most genuine and true selves.
It’s never too late to change
It’s never too late to change. I’ve helped men and women from their early teens to their late seventies transform their relationship with food. No matter what life stage you are in, no matter what you’ve endured, no matter how hopeless you think your situation may seem, there is always hope. It really is possible to free yourself from your fixation with food and to enjoy your life.
As one of the clients in my online program wrote, “Thank you for freeing me from forty years of dieting and living on low-fat foods and sugar-free this and that. I’m in Paris and enjoying some tasty French food, with no inner critic bullying me. Here’s to freedom and living life to the max!” Would you like to be a part of a supportive group that understands what it is like to struggle with food? Join my FREE Facebook community.
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Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin is a psychoanalyst, author and radio host specializing in binge eating disorder. She is the author of The Binge Cure: 7 Steps to Outsmart Emotional Eating and Food for Thought: Perspectives on Eating Disorders, and co-editor of Beyond the Primal Addiction. She hosts The Dr. Nina Show radio program on LA Talk Radio.