© melissalesterlcsw.com 2023
Emotional Eating, Binge Eating and Negative Body Image
Eating Disorders and Disordered Eating are not about the food
Effective Eating Disorder Treatment leads to a deeper connection with Self, with your body and with your true needs and wants. It also leads to a more peaceful relationship with food and intuitive and balanced eating.
Emotional Eating comforts or numbs you with food. This usually takes the form of carbohydrates. Often unconsciously, food quickly and effectively obliterates our ability to feel distressing and/or uncomfortable feelings. Tried and true, this reliable friend requires nothing of us and enables us to “check out.” Entertaining, celebrating and “treating yourself” with food are also signs that you may be an Emotional Eater.
Binge Eating is eating large amounts of food and feeling out of control. If you eat compulsively, or secretly, these are also indications that your relationship with food is out of balance. Eating when not hungry, eating rapidly, eating to the point of physical discomfort can also be signs of Binge Eating. Especially relevant are feelings of shame or guilt that follow a food binge. Often, women with Binge Eating Disorder compensate by later restricting. And restricting, in turn, increases the urge to Binge by triggering the body’s need to compensate for deprivation.
Bulimia is a category of behaviors designed to expel food or calories from the body. This includes self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, diuretic abuse and over-exercising. These behaviors represent an effort to mitigate weight gain, to facilitate weight loss and/or to experience the physical and emotional release often associated with purging. Often, women with Binge Eating Disorder compensate for binging with one or more bulimic behaviors.
Disordered eating behaviors, like other addictions, are efforts to regulate one’s Nervous System and bring the Self back to a tolerate level of activation. Through the work of eliminating former and current Nervous System “triggers,” we can eliminate disordered eating behaviors. At the same time, we create an opportunity to learn and practice new, healthy ways of regulating our emotions. With the reduction/elimination of some triggers and new healthier coping skills, healing from Disordered Eating is possible.
Negative Body Image vs. Body Positivity
Negative Body Image is based in the belief that our body does not conform to externally defined acceptable standards. It is fueled by our culture’s incessant messaging that a body must look and must not look certain ways. An overly fixated focus on body, weight, physical shape, appearance and comparison to others are all typical manifestations of Negative Body Image.
Transient ‘fashion’ and ‘marketers-for-profit’ create and sell the idea that only certain body types and physical traits are fashionable while others ‘are not.’ As a result, we all navigate minefields of conformity and rejection in an effort to minimize our insecurity. Body Positivity, Fat Positivity and Diversity and Inclusion campaigns such as Health at Every Size are healthy options available to us all. But before we can accept these healthy, inclusive options, we must do the deeper work of resolving what prevents us from doing so.
As you likely know by now, it’s not about the food.
Binge Eating Disorder Treatment
I provide online therapy for Disordered Eating, Binge Eating Disorder and Negative Body Image Issues using body-focused trauma resolution methods. Because Eating Disorders and Body Image struggles are symptoms of other issues, it is imperative to address and resolve these underlying sources of distress before it is possible to experience relief.
I look forward to working with you and helping you create a loving, compassionate relationship with your Self.
Clinical Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy
Hypnotherapy is the intentional use of trance in order to help you achieve your goals. It is frequently used to:
What is Trance & What is Hypnotherapy?
While trance is a state the human brain goes in and out of naturally all day long, hypnotherapy is the intentional use of trance that allows us to make desired suggestions to the subconscious.
There is no right way or wrong way for you to experience trance. And trance can be intentionally induced in many ways. My approach to inducing trance is gentle, slow and deeply relaxing.1 You can sit or lie down. You can keep your eyes open or closed. Once achieved, hypnotic trance allows us to access your subconscious by bypassing the critical, logical, vigilant “gatekeeper” of your mind.
It’s important to know that you are always in control of yourself and your intentions during and after hypnotherapy. Hypnotherapy is simply using trance to further your chosen therapeutic goals. When used properly and ethically, there is no agenda other than your own during hypnosis.
Using Hypnosis with Other Therapy Methods
Trance states are often a naturally occurring part of the therapy process, whether they are induced intentionally or not. While I do not use hypnosis as a stand-alone approach or as my primary therapy approach, it is an organic tool that often naturally aids us in our work together – no couch or clock or pendulum required. I do often weave hypnosis into the various ways we might work together. However, if you are seeking hypnosis as a primary approach for your work, I am happy to refer you to some excellent hypnosis practitioners in the Metro Atlanta area.
To read the current research on hypnosis, please visit The American Society for Clinical Hypnosis.
1 While trance often results in deep relaxation, this is not always the case.
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This Coming Out Later in Life Support Group for Women meets certain Saturdays, from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm, either on SecureVideo/ZOOM or in-person in the Dunwoody area.
In order to ensure confidentiality and HIPAA compliance, registration is not automated and meeting locations are disclosed only to those who are accepted into the Group.
EFT Tapping or “Emotional Freedom Techniques”
“Emotional Freedom Techniques,” or EFT Tapping, is a combination of 8 well-accepted mechanisms in psychology, along with Acupressure, that together create a rapid emotional, cognitive, and physical decrease in distress. This results in a regulated emotional state (calm), as well as resolution of the actual causes of distress.
Used by millions of people world-wide since the 1990s, Tapping is well-researched. And the research shows it reduces or eliminates phobia, trauma, anxiety, cravings and addiction, physical pain and more. Tapping is also used for performance enhancement by professional athletes and dubbed “The most effective psychiatric intervention in my 25 years of practice” by Harvard psychiatrist Eric Leskowitz.
Stressed? | Overwhelmed? | Stuck?
Research shows EFT Tapping can:
Once learned, you can Tap on your own, in the privacy of your home, car or office. You can also work with an EFT Tapping Professional for more complex issues and for greater support. Once you learn how to Tap safely, you have the tools to take charge of your emotional, mental and physical pain.
Get ‘unstuck.’ Feel better. Move forward.
EFT Tapping for Trauma
We all experience various forms of 'trauma' in our lives. These range from day-to-day interpersonal interactions that leave their mark on us, to large disastrous events that we all recognize easily. Regardless, the impact trauma has on our lives is considerable. By reprocessing thoughts, feelings and experiences with Tapping, we eliminate the distress associated with them once and for all. We lessen the overall stress on our Nervous System, improve multiple physical symptoms, strengthen our immune system and clear the way for our bodies and minds to function with less activation, less hyperarousal and less ‘clutter.'
How Does EFT Work?
Research and clinical experience with EFT Tapping shows the following actions at work:
Placing yourself in a memory with your imagination.
Tapping on specific points in the body that move energy rapidly.
Somatic, Emotional and Cognitive Activation (CNS Activation)
Causing the rapid flow of sensations, feelings and thoughts.
Amygdala/Prefrontal Cortex Rewiring & Deactivation
Relaxing and slowing the fight, flight freeze part of the brain.
Information Processing & Reprocessing
Experiencing and re-experiencing information.
The forming of new/different thoughts.
Memory Re-consolidation The completion or changing of memories to accommodate new awareness.
Eye Movement and Reprocessing
Eye movements are associated with brain function.
Most of us are familiar with one or more of these mechanisms. EFT Tapping elegantly combines all of these into a seamless and intuitive process that is simple to learn. We may incorporate EFT Tapping into as much of our work together as you like in order to achieve as much relief as quickly as possible. EFT Tapping Intensives are available as “individualized workshops” to achieve much progress in a short period of time.
If you have any questions about EFT Tapping, please feel free to email me.
The Science of Tapping
In a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of fifty veterans diagnosed with PTSD, 86% of them no longer met the criteria for PTSD after only 6 sessions with EFT. These results were sustained at 3 and 6 month follow ups. This study has been repeated with similar results.
Other studies reveal a dramatic reduction in participants’ cortisol levels (down 24-49%) after Tapping. Cortisol is a hormone that regulates the stress in our bodies and contributes to the disease process.
Although EFT Tapping meets the definition of an 'evidence-based modality," the APA has not included it on their list of 'evidence-based' treatment approaches. Therefore, I am ethically obligated to advise you that the APA considers EFT Tapping 'an experimental modality.'
I encourage you to try Tapping with a professional and to make your own determination about the relief it may offer you. I also encourage you to read the research at EFT International’s Research Page.
EFT Tapping Trainer
I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Georgia and an EFT Tapping Trainer certified by EFT International. I have studied and practiced EFT Tapping since 2013 and have seen it do amazing things in people's lives.
EFT Tapping has truly transformed my therapy practice and the lives of many clients I have served. For me, that is the bottom line on EFT Tapping.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Slowing down, doing less and being still can feel like an uphill battle in our culture. I’ve learned from my clients over the years that “FOMO” or “Fear of Missing Out” is, indeed, very real. I tend to think of FOMO as a by-product of the Social Media Age, where curated images are force-fed to the unsuspecting as though it is “real life.” Everyone else has a somehow better life in pictures than could ever possibly be real.
In addition to our own “FOMO,” we often experience cultural backlash for simply saying “no,” politely declining invitations, plans, and chronic overstimulation in favor of doing less and “being” more. Making different choices often causes others to question their own. And that can make people uncomfortable.
“In an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.”
~ Pico Ayer
We practice meditation and mindfulness in order to be present for the only moment that exists — the right now. Or because we long to show up for Self and be powerful in our own life. Or because we know somewhere deep down, “There’s got to be more than…this.”
In an age of extreme distraction and frantic levels of activity, we are depressed, anxious, and lacking meaning in our lives. Our minds, hearts, and spirits are rarely in the same place as our toes. You can choose to slow down, do less and simply notice…what you notice.
Come As You Are
A meditation and mindfulness practice is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Some people meditate alone while others meditate in group. Meditating in nature can feel essential for some. Others opt for their favorite couch or chair. Some gravitate toward stillness and silence. Some folks prefer motion, movement, and vocalization. Regardless of your approach, meditation is an invitation to Self, and then, to everything greater than Self.
Best of all, no special clothes or poses or equipment is required. It’s portable. We simply “Sit.” Or walk. Or stand. And notice what we notice. Grief, restlessness, thoughts, anxiety, “Am I doing this right?” We make room for all that presents itself. Often, we return our focus to a single point of awareness – the breath, the bottom of the belly, an imagined blank blackboard, a sound. Always back to a single point of awareness. This is the practice.
The effects of meditation and mindfulness are in the moment and cumulative. Each time we “Sit” (or walk or stand) we are a bit closer, connected and known, to Self. With consistent practice, it is possible to become more connected than not.
The Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness
The benefits of meditation and mindfulness are well established in various scholarly articles and referenced in self-help pieces. Meditation and mindfulness reduce depression, anxiety, physical pain, and insomnia. These practices can strengthen our immune system, and improve countless other aspects of our physical, emotional, and spiritual experience.
Meditation and mindfulness can also offer us a path to greater spiritual connection, to knowing and expressing our truest nature, and to trusting Self as a manifestation of the Divine. Meditation and Mindfulness have the potential to be a deeply meaningful practice that nourishes you in ways that have no words.
“Go slow. Or don’t go.”
~ Yours truly
© melissalesterlcsw.com 2023