Sunday, July 17, 2005

Clues Below the Surface

In the practice of self-hypnosis, we work with active imagery/metaphors to help us understand complicated concepts, so that we can effect change with less efforting. The octopus is an excellent image for helping us to see the different aspects of disorderly eating.

With the above octopus image, you can see the disorderly eating poking it's head out of the sea. While this is so in most cases, there are some individuals who have little awareness of how badly they eat. One of the reasons for this is cultural. Our current society has truly slipped nutritionally & there are few good role models walking around. It worries me to think about the future. Who will our children emulate? Certainly the food industry is not set up with this in mind!

Below the surface we can see some of the tentacles that are involved in disorderly eating issues. I'll be discussing these in greater detail later in this blog. These are all covered in our book Beyond Disorderly Eating: The Truth About Sugar & Bingeing & How to Stop.

A good assessment of family & personal medical history is paramount in managing any & all disorderly eating issues. There are certain disease states that may be present in parents & grandparents that cause the pancreas of the individual with the disorderly eating to over-produce insulin & to build insulin resistance. This is a huge connection, not only to weight issues, but also to emotional & compulsive issues.

A trip down memory lane to the early placement of triggers, patterns, behaviors, etc. is extremely beneficial. We all began our food relationships at the beginning of life. We also connected our body image, self-image, self-esteem & other mind programs to our food relationships. In the practice of self-hypnosis, we can edit what doesn't work, while also enhancing what does work. We can also give our early child new tools, new choices & new outcomes. The subconscious mind believes whatever is placed in hypnotic suggestion, even if it didn't actually happen. However, there is an exception & a very important one. The inner mind will not accept any suggestion that is against the value system of the individual.

There are a few other tentacles under the surface. They include important relationships, such as that with a significant other, addictions history & emotional balance or imbalance. All of these need awareness & tending. The tools of interactive self-hypnosis help us to explore these important areas & to mind-edit changes, just like with the early child experience mentioned above.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Lifestyle Behavioral Patterns

Today I went back to workout at the local YMCA. It's been many years for me, and it has been on my mind for quite a long time. As I examined my procrastination, I came to believe that it was a scheduling time-thing, and with a bit of subconscious mind programming, I was able to readjust my daily schedule so as to fit this in on a regular basis. However, today I couldn't help but notice how nervous I was about beginning. I had lots of thoughts in relation to this fear, as well as breaking my old lifestyle behaviors and patterns. I thought I'd share part of my book that addresses this kind of thing. I actually utilized this for myself today.

There are many areas of lifestyle behaviors that are on automatic pilot. The areas in the above box represent only a few. It helps to imagine that each automatic pilot area has a separate folder in your subconscious mind. As you work with your personal assessment, you will be opening these folders and researching the many aspect of the automatic pilot programming. Some aspects may need to be deleted, changed or mind-edited in some way. Other parts may appear to be fine, but it's a good idea to review these anyway. Your subconscious librarian may have suggestions to make these even better than before.

We all tend to think within certain boundaries, but unfortunately when we do so, our innate creativity can be curtailed. Practice allowing your mind to open and flow. Your subconscious mind will apply this to other areas of your life Each time you encourage creative thinking. Very soon you will find yourself doing so on automatic pilot, and this is a great creative self-gift.

While automatic pilot has some benefits, it also has drawbacks. When you are not fully awake, you give up your rights to observe, assess and manage your thought processes. Thoughts are goals. Whatever you play in your mind becomes your goal for that moment. If you decide to brush your teeth, you will most likely participate in an automatic pilot program designed for oral hygiene. While this may be a safe, automatic mind program for you, suppose that you have a tendency to over-brush, therefore injuring your gums. Since this type of continuous abrasion can lead to some serious gum problems, you will want to dismantle your old automatic program.

As you practice heightened awareness, you will be able to edit many of these subconscious mind programs, allowing them to better serve you and your desired outcomes. If any of these come to mind now, make a note of them in your journal. Consider them awareness gifts from your subconscious mind librarian.

You can actually encourage these to surface. Here’s how to do that. Relax into the chair where you are reading this. Sense the chair pulling your gently down. Pay attention to what you are reading. You are currently in the process of reviewing and perhaps editing lifestyle behaviors. Notice if you are managing any addictions or if there is disorder in your life. Perhaps you binge on food or some other substance. Ask yourself if any of your automatic programs are blocking your goals for a healthy life.

Notice if you are wearing a belief coat that no longer fits, or one that you never wanted in the first place. Notice that you can edit or correct whatever you choose. Take your time in this moment. Your subconscious mind may send some suggestions now, or later, but your questions will be answered. You can ask questions in the forms of words or through imagery. Place an image or an idea on your mind screen and how to achieve this. It’s as simple as that.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Addictions are Connected

Hopefully you can read the above small print, but if you cannot, I'm going to repeat the most important statement there. Sugar is the underlying addiction to all addictions. This isn't something that I made up, but well documented by professionals and researchers in this field. Take the time to notice someone addicted to one of the substances above and look for the connecting addictions. I'm sure you will find them. I don't think that I've ever had an addicted individual in my practice who hasn't been around the block with at least one or two of these.

I've had issues with sugar addiction since I've been a young child. In truth, it's only been better over the last fifteen years when I came to design the 4 steps for managing disorderly eating. They have literally saved my life many times over. I was very ill from my eating issues for several decades, although their many aspects were never pinpointed as the reason for my variety of illnesses. All came to light in a series of serendipitous happenings.

Being an RN, I lived under the belief that my eating habits were quite good. Certainly I realized that I liked junk food and sugar, but never thought very much about it. I always had a huge appetite, and even though I always seemed to be hungry, it never dawned on me that there was anything odd about that. For me, I simply considered this being unlucky, accepting that I'd probably be on a diet of some sort forever, and most likely would never be a size 6. In fact, I often laughed at my perceived dilemma, never realizing that I was finding humor in something that was ruining my quality of life and actually had a potential for killing me. As I look back, it is amazing how out of touch I was with myself and the real truth about my disorderly eating.

I am reminded about this every day in my private practice, as well as when working online with my discussion groups. You can check those out at

Patients come to see me to manage their addictions or to unravel their messy lives. As I go through their personal assessment, I'm reminded of myself over and over. Some individuals are very ill, much of it stemming from their undisclosed disorderly eating. I keep asking myself, "how do we get so sick without knowing why? What's missing from our general education? Why didn't my parents know how to take care of me?" I'm sure my very own children are asking the same questions about how I fed them. Both of my sons have had addiction issues, and as I look back to some of the things I allowed in my shopping card, I feel so very bad.

The other day I read an article in the Herald Tribune about how parents are getting tired of trying to get their children to eat healthy foods. These parents are burned out in their own lives, and when they come home they simply don't want to go through what it takes to implement changes. Well....I know what that feels like. However, it is our job as parents to be responsible. It's different when you don't know, but when you do, I can't imagine not pushing forward for what will make your children's life safer and healthier in the future.

I tend to think that parents still do not understand what happens inside the body when the food intake is not what the body and mind needs. I find this very frequently in my office practice and when counseling parents. I have to keep emphasizing that these are not small, unimportant issues. They are, indeed, major and can lead to some very deleterious outcomes in the future, major addictions included.

Somehow I would like to think that if parents were educated in the seriousness outcomes, they would be more willing to make the effort. However, perhaps I'm having pipe dreams. I remember one little patient of mine who had trichotillomania. She didn't have a hair in her head, nor an eyelash in place. She came to my office clutching a little bag of candy. When I interviewed her mother, she told me that she "herself" ate sugar out of the sugar bowl and consumed at least six cans of regular cola per day. While she wanted her child to stop pulling her hair out, she was not willing to change her role-modeling, nor to wean her child off of the candy. She preferred to stay in complete denial about the effects of sugar on obsessive compulsive disorders, such as that of her daughter. What was especially interesting to me was the look of fright on her face when I suggested that she also stop her sugaring because of the dangers it also presented to her own mind and body. If you are addicted, or know someone who is addicted, I'm sure you do recognize this feeling and/or look.

When I encountered my earlier mentioned serendipitous events, I learned that I would have to change each and every one of my eating behaviors. I was stunned. Part of me was delighted to find the culprit and to feel better, but the other part wanted nothing to do with it. That, as I mentioned before, was/is my child-self. She adores being undisciplined in relation to food and doesn't particularly care for regular meals, nor protein or even vegetables. She was a white flour, white rice, white potatoe, refined food junkie, so I do know what it means to change. She loved caffeine, food and sugar. Fat, salt, and sugar !!

I tell this to my patients and readers. While the journey was/is difficult, the rewards are absolutely incredible, surpassing anything I could have ever imagined.

Exploring Dieting & Nutritional History

I came to understand that many of my disorderly eating habits started very long ago.....some as far as infancy. In the beginning denied that these far away patterns or habits had anything to do with my adult habits, but now I'm absolutely convinced. As I work with patients and students of different ages, I can see how they came to where they are. It is very clear indeed and the stronger the pattern, the more it is etched into the subconscious mind.

While I remember my food connection to the death of my father and what transpired after that, I stand convinced that my issues began even earlier than that. On that particular day, I can truly remember feeling happy that I was given so many cookies without even having to ask for a single one. There is a remembered level of joy attached to that particular memory that then attached itself to my isolation and sadness. I suggest that you begin to work with active imagery as you self-examine your own memories and attached emotional states. For example, imagine a pot on the stove where you are adding ingredients. As I disassemble my own disorderly patterns, I need to place my newly found ingredients in some sort of a self-hypnotic container. The pot works!

In my book Beyond Disorderly Eating - The Truth About Sugar and Bingeing and How to Stop the reader gets to explore hundreds of working images designed for managing lifestyle change, as well as optimum health and performance. Interactive Self-Hypnosis is a very powerful tool for dissecting behaviors or patterns, and then editing them.

The self-exploration of early childhood, teen years and those that follow does take time, but this is time well spent. It is imperative to uncover these links, so the child can heal. Then the mature adult-self has less problems in managing the old programs. Do know that when you hit a roadblock, it will be the child-self trying to hold on to the otherwise unwanted behavior or pattern. I see it in myself, as well as in my office practice. Some patterns are stuck with the early child-self, others with the teen-self, and some with the insecure adult self. True age is not the issue here. One can be 25 or even 50 years old and have a pattern that is child-self related. We can all identify with this, once we stop denying and fighting ourselves. Tell yourself that it is OK..... we are all the same. You have lots of company with these problems, but now you can find the way to a higher level of physical and/or emotional health, as they are both connected.

Each day, if I'm willing to look, I can identify child-self patterns that are related to my disorderly eating issues. It may be in the area of shopping, or snacking, or walk-by-eating, or emotional-craving management. Perhaps it is giving myself the bigger piece of cake, or hiding something just for me, or making the coffee stronger so the kick is bigger. Many times I'm not fully awake as these things are occurring, but the child-self knows that this is the best time to get her fix.

Here are some other examples. I often find things in my supermarket cart that I don't remember thinking about. This is an example of mindless shopping. My child-self loves that feeling. This kind of pattern doesn't only occur in the supermarket, but just about anywhere. Think if you have ever had a release-feeling when purchasing, especially with a credit card. The feeling is often lessened when using real cash. Start to pay attention and once you bring these patterns to awareness, you will begin to find more of them. They have a potential for being very destructive, mainly because the child-self is in charge, and not your mature adult-self.

Becoming Self-Honest

We all get the opportunity to climb the 4 steps thoughout the day. In the beginning the steps feel awkward. We may think that we want to be be in control. Unfortunately it is not that simple. Only a part of us wants that. I call this part my mature or parent-self. There is, however, another part that prefers to be lost in the addiction or disorder. I like to call this part my emotional child-self. Mine communicates with me through different genres of emotional states, some more uncomfortable than others.

As a therapist and author, I communicate with my patients and readers through my own truths. For me to be therapeutic, I must be willing to stand in the light....not to be frightened of self-exposure. Quite honestly, the only difference between myself and my patients or readers is that I am well-versed in the 4 steps and have carpeted mine with motivating images.

I have some very powerful emotions that have integrated themselves in my own disorderly eating patterns. I mentioned in an earlier post that I have clear recollection of eating/bingeing to manage sadness and isolation. When an emotional state connects early to eating issues, it tends to be even stronger than those that come later. It is very important to learn to wake up to these emotions and to be willing to label them in some way. Many of us tend to be hard and harsh with ourselves. This means that we are hard and harsh with our child-self. It's no wonder that we are not willing to see ourselves or our disorder. When the child-self feels so highly criticized or judged, she or he hides. One cannot get better in this way.

It takes time and practice to be willing to see without judgement or harsh criticism. For me, this is an ongoing process. Quite honestly I wouldn't want it any other way. Each day brings new opportunities to show and tell.
Yesterday I came in contact with my bored and listless self. I just returned from presenting seminars in Spain, and had my busy re-entry back to work. There is a part of me that loves having too much to do. This is the same as working best under pressure. Many of you may be familiar with that part of your personality. Once the pressure is off, the bored self often presents itself. That's what happened to me yesterday. To top it off, we were waiting for Hurricane Dennis and so we were house-bound. It's not uncommon for my claustrophobic child-self to appear in moments like these. You can see how the stage was being set for me to manage my emotions with food. I remember wishing I had bought soda and other junk, so I could sit in front of the TV and chill-out. "After all, didn't I deserve some enjoyable down-time? " The child-self continued, "Do I have to work all the time?" I'm sure you have all been in similar scenes such as this.

When we are familiar with working the 4 steps, it is possible to counter this without too much trouble, but without the steps it would become a disasterous day for disorderly eating and all the outcomes that follow it, both short and long-term. In the past, it took me days to get over a binge experience. I could count on headaches, upset stomach, outrageous cravings, extreme fatigue and roller-coaster emotions. That's quite a lot to pay the piper, and that doesn't include the long-term problems....for the mind and body do not forget. I tell my patients that the body is like a bank account. What you eat, drink, swallow, inhale, etc. is added to your already present balance. Sooner or later you will get to pay the piper.

It's still raining, but I'm feeling better today. Each time I work on the 4 steps I become stronger and can deal with more difficult challenges. I look forward to today, wondering what's around the corner for me.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The 4 Steps

My patients are often surprised when they come to understand what it truly takes to manage disorderly eating, bingeing, sugar addiction and related issues. While it is about food, it is certainly about much more than food. Even in the nutritional area, food choices are only a part of what needs to be understood in order to make a plan that works. For example, many patients are completely unaware of the workings of their body and mind in relation to a healthy body fat percentage and weight. For some, the mindbody connection has never even entered the mind. The idea that food choice, amounts of protein, fat and carbohydrates, as well as the timing of meals do play a large part in how the mind and body communicate and function on a moment to moment basis, has remained outside the knowledge loop for most.

I have a clear recollection of entering the world of disorderly eating and emotional bingeing when I was 3 years old. My father died unexpectedly on my 3rd birthday. In those years, deceased were waked or viewed from the home. I remember thinking that all of the people who were arriving were coming to my birthday party. I distinctly remember noticing that they didn't bring presents and cried when they looked at me. I was told to stay in the kitchen and play with my doll, but instead I entered the living room and saw my father "sleeping". As the story goes, I went over to him and told him to wake up. Of course, this was met with screams and a very quick removal from the area. I was sent to the garden with a bag of cookies and clearly remember feeling so sad as I ate them one by one. To this very day I have a tendency towards bingeing when I'm feeling sad or isolated.

I grew up with all sorts of emotional issues, but the biggest error was that no one in charge knew what sorts of foods I needed for my particular family and personal medical history. It would be decades before I found out about this, and during those years my life was filled with all sorts of medical, health and emotional problems. As we work through this blog project, I'll share some of those with you. I know from my many years of research and experience in this field, that those of you reading this will certainly recognize yourselves. It will be through this recognizing that your own personal journey in recovery, healing and growth will begin. And make no mistake, your life will change in ways well beyond your breakfast, lunch and dinner.


I've been working in the field of disorderly eating and related addictions for many decades. I've come to know that there are 4 steps to winning the game of healthy lifestyle change.

We are all pretty much the same. I find with others, including myself, that we are all in such a hurry to climb the steps to success, that we often forget to do the research that is needed to set a proper plan in action. It is not enough to buy a book or go on a diet. While food choices are important, solving these issues goes way beyond that first step. Unfortunately, most individuals do not go beyond this and thus the reason for so much failure and frustration.

Most of us are sick and tired of our problems and want to be free of them. Many of our problems are heavy weights, interfering with our life as a whole. Other problems prove to be annoyances, big and small. Sometimes we don't even know "what we don't know" and so, it becomes a mystery as to what to do. All we seem to know is failure.

A question I hear all the time is "how can I be so successful in one part of my life, and be such a complete failure at things like eating and drinking that appear so simple on the surface?"

Have you ever considered that perhaps these things are not as simple as they appear? What if I told you that disorderly eating and bingeing fall into this very category? Would you be willing to re-visit your old beliefs and to explore these areas of your life with me?

You can do that right here in this blog... or by joining a free online class...or by joining the Boot Camp or other discussion groups. Those links are on my website at or You can also choose to work with my books or CD programs. No matter what you choose, do know this. It is, indeed, possible for you to learn to manage your disorderly eating and binge behaviors. You can curb sugar addiction.......and you can better your health and your life performance.