Holidays, Binge Eating, and Leftovers – Dr. Lisa Ortigara Crego

Holidays, Binge Eating, and Leftovers

Holidays, Binge Eating, and Leftovers

Be comforted dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds.
~Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Thanksgiving a Day of Thanks…

Okay, so Thanksgiving has come and gone. How did you do? Did you eat healthfully or did you find yourself eating to oblivion? Thanksgiving should be a day of thanks, a day of praise, a day of gratitude, but often for the food addict it’s a day of all out gobbling. Sure, there’s gratitude but it’s not front and center in the addicts mind—food is!

Thanksgiving is a day of thanks, a day of praise, a day of gratitude for the fortunate. Who is fortunate? Is it the rich person? Perhaps the one with a roof over the head is lucky? Or is it purely existence? Is the fortunate one the person present living? It’s different for everyone. My fortunate is the ability to stay present—in the now—and give thanks and praise. Present living was not always a possibility for me in the past, but now, living in this moment befriends me. Of course it’s not always so easy when life is filled with trials and tribulations.

It was only days before Thanksgiving my dad passed away. I hurt. I’m still processing the loss. Yes, he had a very long and beautiful life but letting go is never easy. I believe one of his favorite holidays was Thanksgiving. He loved good food. I love good food. And today I love good, clean non-processed food.

Food Addiction and the Holidays…

Holiday season for the food addict is like line after line of cocaine for the cocaine addict who is trying to abstain. Nobody would think to offer the recovered drug addict lines of cocaine, but little thought is given to the binge eater on this festive season. Heck, she/he should just “control” the food intake and eat in moderation. Sure!

Although with good intentions, moderate eating often is the plan…the simple solution…but impossible if the doorway to platter after platter of decadent holiday baked cookies, candies, hot mashed potatoes lathered in gravy, hot rolls drenched in butter and one amazing specialty dish after another is in plain sight with an open invitation—especially once the food addict puts the chemicals (sugar, flour, wheat) into the system which ignites the binge.

Hi, my name is Lisa and I’m a food addict (in recovery!) and I know what the horror of this disease is like, especially from Halloween to Thanksgiving and the days to follow.

Is There Always Light Behind the Clouds?

Yes! There is always light behind the dark…always.

No matter how dark life can be, and surely at times it is super dark, you will find the light, maybe not at first, but little glimmers of light will begin to seep back. I promise.
So as you power through some tough stuff life dishes can you remain true to your clean eating now that Thanksgiving is behind us and the holiday season including parties and celebrations is in full swing? Are you afraid with all the festive foods ever-so-present every time you open the refrigerator, pantry, or look on the counter tops? Let’s get real, these foods are calling you and you are blaming yourself for indulging.

Can you move through this holiday season and connect to the present even if there’s a dark cloud over you?

Living in the Now…in the Present…

Have you ever tried to stay quiet in the mind driven by gratitude? It’s pure heaven. The mind always wants to think about what needs to be done next or what we already did. It’s not so easy to focus on the here and now and bask in grace and gratitude when daily worries distract you from the abundance that is yours. Mortgage payments, troublesome spouses, out of control children, roofs leaking, a headache, even sour milk can interfere with your gratitude on this holiday season, but your Higher Source (Whomever you turn to—God, Jesus, Sun, Energy, etc.) during challenging times showers continuous blessings and love down on you.

What helps me stay fixed on the  present when chaos and sadness envelopes me, it is deep breathing my way to calm—the now. Like you, many of my loved ones are not here on this holiday season, they died or live in another state but they remain in my heart, which encourages me to sit still in gratitude for what I have in the here and now.

I took a long luxurious walk this morning along the Inter-coastal and Atlantic ocean with the most spectacular view before me side by side with Southern Grace my puppy. As we walked our way up the bridge we witnessed the sun peak out over the purple/orange backdrop just above the ocean shoreline while breathing in the sea air. My legs are strong and my energy abound. My pup moves with me as if we are one. A new day is about to begin. I am in the now—present.

It’s Not Your Fault You have a Food Addiction—A Dark Cloud Over You.

Food addiction is not something we sign up for. Like…oh yes please…(waving your hand in the air like a good student!) I’ll take the food addiction for my life learning here on earth school. Yeah right! Food addiction is a loss of control over eating coupled with the physiological tolerance and psychological dependence that occurs when a specific stimulus (food) is ingested. Typically, this addiction can result in negative consequences for basic life functions and relationships with family; social situations; intimate relationships; the sufferers relationship with God and spiritual development; or in relation to the law, health, and work life. Nope, I don’t think we intentionally sign up for food addiction.

Early in childhood I was fixated on sugar—never getting enough and going to great extremes to obtain it by stealing, hiding and hoarding. Although I didn’t have an awareness of food addiction, I knew something was wrong with my relationship with food. In hindsight, I realized I ate out of control and bargained with myself and God to stop—after this one last pastry.

I felt shame if I got caught stealing food or money to buy food; yet, I didn’t have the mentality to understand I was compulsive eating until my adolescent years when weight began to pile on. And even then I didn’t know there was an actual eating disorder called, binge eating disorder—and that I had it.

The depiction of addiction to food resembles the hallmarks of any addiction. The food addict is caught in the grip of a compulsive, habitual behavior that can’t be controlled.

For sure the holiday season was not always a time for me to sit in gratitude. I’m a recovering food addict, and in the past Thanksgiving marked the eating frenzy that launched my holiday food-frenzy. Actually, truth be told, that’s not quite correct, my out of control food fest began from Halloween until January 1 when I’d make my New Year’s resolution.  On Halloween I’d dig into candy and eat until I could eat no more—until the food was all the way up to the rim of my throat and my pants cut into my bulging stomach—promising I’d diet come Monday. And Monday never came.

Recovering food addict…

I am an addict addicted to processed foods and this holiday for most food addicts it is lethal because there is no end to the eating or at least until we are so full the pain is greater than the need for that one more bite.

So what do you do now that you know food addiction is a loss of control over eating coupled with the physiological tolerance and psychological dependence that occurs when a specific stimulus (processed food) is ingested? How can you avoid the negative consequences as a result of eating unnatural  foods? You treat it like any other addiction. Abstain. Yes, move away from the sugar, flour and wheat and fill up with family; social engagements, intimate relationships, God and spiritual development and fuel with exercise and positive work relationships.
Today I practice mindfulness. The dictionary defines mindfulness as calm awareness of one’s body functions, feelings, content of consciousness, or consciousness itself. I am totally conscious of my fingers dancing over the keys putting words together. I am told mindfulness is the path to liberation and enlightenment. It is the intense purpose of staying in the now. I get this.

So, get present. Refuse to think about what needs to be done next or what you already did rather stay in the now. Stay present with each breath in and out. Stay present to the sounds of birds singing and the whispers of the wind as it folds through the trees out your window. Be here…live now. What will make you fixed on staying present is the peace and tranquility it brings.
This holiday season is just that a lovely holiday season. No guilt. No shame. Go forth and continue to eat four healthy meals spaced four hours apart—and life goes on—in recovery.

How did you handle Thanksgiving and the holidays that are now upon us? What about the leftovers? What would you do differently?

Hugs to you! I care….

Dr. Lisa

Check out my book: Release Your Obsession with Food: Heal from the Inside Out.

About the Author Lisa Ortigara Crego

Speaker, writer, licensed clinical psychotherapist, PhD in addiction psychology, eating disorder professional, hypnotherapist changing the view about compulsive eating one addict at a time.

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