Binge Eating Disorder Treatment, Food Addiction

Binge Eating Disorder – There’s hope for you, too!

binge_eating_disorder“Just another bite won’t hurt me. The damage is done. I might as well keep stuffing my face and start fresh tomorrow.” Does this sound familiar? I’ve been dealing with food issues for most of my life and I want to share my struggles and recovery with you.

Somehow, dieting didn’t work for me…

Since my teenage years, I tried every food plan under the sun in hopes to find “the one that worked.” I’d do well for a few weeks, hit a tough spot, craved, binged, and undid every bit of progress I’ve worked so hard for in just a weekend. As the years went on, these cycles intensified. I felt like a failure, because I didn’t have the discipline to even follow a simple diet plan. I was obsessed with food, especially the kind I would not allow myself to eat. Those foods were forbidden… but I had to have them and my mind wouldn’t rest until I caved in to my cravings. I could always start fresh tomorrow.

Fighting & Giving Up

With every new diet, my confidence that this would be the one to save me from my cravings skyrocketed. Soon, however, I realized that this new diet was just another variation of the one that failed me just two weeks ago. My bookshelves were overflowing with self-help, diet, and cookbooks, yet, I didn’t feel any better than before. I felt worse. Another failed promise. “Why do I even try,” I thought. There was no hope, only disappointment.

I Needed Help

About 6 months ago, I hit rock-bottom. My blood-sugars where constantly out of whack, and one day, I had to go to the ER at work because I was dizzy and couldn’t formulate my words right. That’s when I realized that I needed help. This had to stop! My blood-pressure, my blood-sugar issues, my obesity – all were a direct result of my bingeing. It suddenly became clear as day: If I wanted to get better, I needed to deal with my food addiction. But how? I’ve read a ton of books about this topic, but wasn’t able to get my binges under control.

I opened my laptop and searched for therapists specializing in eating disorders in my area. I found several, but had doubts that I could afford them. After continuing my search for a while longer, I found an evening intensive outpatient program as part of the Eating Disorder Center of Denver in my city. I contacted them the next day and found out that I was accepted in the program. I was officially diagnosed with having a binge eating disorder, which was just recently recognized as an actual disease and is now covered by most insurances. Knowing that this could be my one and only shot at this level of recovery, I threw myself at everything this program had to offer. After 11 weeks of outpatient treatment of 3 long nights a week, my therapist suggested that I should consider stepping up to a partial hospitalization program in Denver for a few weeks. (I always thought that these recovery centers were only for the rich and famous, but my insurance covered most of it, to my surprise). So I went.

I want to share my experience with you!

For years, I was looking for help and wasn’t sure how to find what I needed. When I came back from treatment (I was pretty open to where I’ve been for the past couple of months) friends and co-workers opened up to me about their struggles with food, asking me about treatment, how to stop eating, etc. I told them that I can’t offer advice (I’m not a therapist and I don’t want to go to jail), but I can certainly share my own journey and experience with them and point them in the right direction to find help.

I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to go through treatment and I know that there are many of you who wish they could or don’t know where to start. I’m a writer (usually paranormal romantic comedies), but I felt the strong urge to share my story with you, to give you hope and inspiration. DON’T GIVE UP ON YOURSELF!

Want to stay in touch? Follow my blog and get notified when I publish a new post.

To find help, check My (Growing) List of Binge Eating Disorder Resources

Dining Out, Low-Carb Diet

Who Said You Can’t Eat Low-Carb at Carrabba’s?

Sirloin Marsala with Sauteed Spinach, topped with Fresh Parmesan

Eating out low-carb is not really that difficult at all.  Today, we went to Carrabba’s Italian Grill.  At first, I thought my choices would be limited, since pasta and bread are part of most Italian dishes (at least here in the U.S. & Germany, but not so much in Italy – but that’s another story).

Before we left, I did a quick online menu check and discovered that Carrabba’s actually has a gluten-free menu.  I looked it over and actually found several dishes that I would like to try, like the Shrimp Scampi, the Sirloin Marsala, or the Chicken Bryan.

When we arrived at the restaurant, I asked the greeter if they have a gluten-free menu I could look at.  She nodded and brought me the menu.  A few moments later, the waiter took our drink-order and I asked for my usual unsweetened ice-tea with a lemon, no sweetener required (I quickly adapted to the slightly tart taste when I quit diet coke).

I looked over the menu again and decided to go for the Sirloin Marsala.  I let the waiter know that I was ordering from the gluten-free menu and to please let the chef know not to use the basting sauce for the meat.  He nodded and asked me what veggie I’d like with it.  I opted for the sauteed spinach, something I have never tried before.  He then asked me if I wanted soup or salad, and I chose the side-salad with Parmesan cream dressing.  My husband, a non-low-carber, then ordered his baked Seafood Cannelloni and an order of Shrimp Scampi as an appetizer for us to split.  The waiter kindly asked if we wanted the garlic bread that comes with the dish, so I told him that he can bring it and my husband would eat it.

A few minutes later, the fresh dipping bread appeared.  Don had a slice, then put it aside.  I, then, took my spoon and took a taste of the seasoned olive oil.  I know, it sounds strange, but I did get the flavor without the added carbs and wheat, that makes me swell up like a balloon.  Yes, I love that bread, but it was not worth the set-back and puffiness, so instead, I was looking forward to the shrimp scampi.

When the waiter brought the shrimp, we set it in the middle of the table and we ate it straight out of the dish.  The sauce was so flavorful and creamy, the few pieces of shrimp were gone way too soon.  I took one more spoon-full of the sauce and hubby mopped up the rest with his garlic bread.  It was so tasty, that I tried to taste out the ingredients and wrote them down, so I could replicate the dish at home one day.

Side Salad with Parmesan Cream Dressing

Next came the salads.  Mine was a basic lettuce with tiny bits of celery, a few olives, and a few pieces of shredded carrots, topped with a creamy Parmesan dressing.  It was wonderful and light.  I’m not a fan of olives, so I pushed them to the side of the plate, and I took it easy on the carrots, though there weren’t that many slivers on the plate to begin with.

Once we were finished with our salads, the main dishes arrived at our table.  I looked at my plate and then said to my husband: “Whoever said that you can’t eat good stuff on low-carb, doesn’t know what they’re missing.”

My dish was a nice piece of sirloin steak, cooked medium done, and was covered with a creamy mushroom sauce.  My sauteed spinach looked yummy, too, with oil still glistening on the perfectly cooked leaves.  The waiter offered some fresh, grated Parmesan for my husband’s dish, then I asked him to put some on my spinach.  It was a new taste for me, the spinach, not the cheese, and I really enjoyed it.

When I was finished, Don snuck the last bite of steak off  my plate (I done anyway).  The waiter offered us some dessert, but  we have gotten out of the habit of eating desserts at restaurants, especially since I started eating low-carb, so we declined.

We left the restaurant comfortably full.  The outing wasn’t exactly cheap, since we basically ordered 3 entrees, but it was well worth it.

Hints for the road:

  • Check online for a menu to see what foods are available.
  • Check if the restaurant posted a gluten-free or special menu for people with food allergies.
  • Decide or narrow down beforehand what you will eat.
  • Remember why you are eating low-carb, before you order and when you’re tempted to eat off of someone else’s plate.
  • Make the best choice from the items that are available.

Enjoy your next dining out!

Hypertension, Low-Carb Diet

A Low-Carb Friendly Military Healthcare Provider – Really?

English: Blood pressure measurement.
English: Blood pressure measurement. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few days ago, I scheduled an appointment at the clinic of our new duty station to get some blood work drawn, mainly to have a baseline to measure my progress for next year’s low-carb cruise.  I was so inspired by the success stories of this last cruise, that I made a promise to myself to make this year count.  I was particularly inspired by the stories of Andrew DiMino from Carbsmart, Dana Carpender, Amy Dungan, Susan Winkler, Kent Altena, Kim Eidson, and Vanessa Romero, just to name a few.  With all this motivation, this is definitely the year to get healthy!

At first, I was worried about the reaction of my new doctor, because every time I went to see one at the military clinic at our last duty station, which was usually a different physician each time, and mentioned that I was eating low-carb, they were appalled that I did not eat any HEART-HEALTHY GRAINS and that I ate SATURATED FAT.  Of course, they told me that what I was doing wasn’t healthy.  At that time I didn’t have any ammo to counter with yet.  But this time would be different!

Before my appointment, I made sure to do my homework.  I asked my new expert buddies at the Low-Carb Cruise Facebook Group, which additional blood tests I should get done, and made my list:

  Standard tests
  Full Panel Thyroid
  LDL Particle Size
  A1C
  Vitamin D Level

 I also played out in my mind what I’d say to the doctor, when the low-carb thing would come up.  None of my previous physicians were open to this lifestyle, so I wanted to be ready.  Some things I wanted to say were:

  I eat more veggies than ever in my life.  What’s wrong with that?
  Isn’t this how diabetics should eat?
  Isn’t this how food addicts in recovery eat?  Nobody says that that’s unhealthy.  Why can’t I?

So, confident that I was ready for my appointment, I drove to the post hospital, ready for battle, if the need would arise.

At the clinic, a Red Cross volunteer took my vital signs.  I was shocked that my blood pressure was 154/105.  What?  It’s never been that high!  Yes, I had high blood pressure for years around 145/95, which was easily controlled by meds.  Then, after I lost some weight by eating low-carb, I stayed off my low-dose HCTZ and monitored my blood pressure, which was usually fine.  When I returned from the cruise, it was still normal for a few days, then shot up to the 150s/90s and I thought my machine at home was broken.  Since I had no way to test it, I just waited a few days for my appointment to verify that my blood pressure machine indeed went belly-up.  But I was wrong.  We checked twice.  Yep, I was really up there.

The volunteer then told me that my physician assistant will be with me shortly and left the room.  What?  I’m seeing a PA?  Nothing against PAs, but I really expected a doctor.  Oh well, nothing I could do at that point.

A few minutes later, the PA came in.  After some small-talk, she asked me why I was here.  I told her that I’m due for a physical and that I just came off the Low-Carb Cruise with a lot of experts and that I wanted some blood work done, so I can compare results right before the next cruise.  She nodded and got her pen ready:  “What tests do you want?”

Really?  No push-back?  I like that lady!!!  So, I rattled off my list to her.  She repeated the tests to me to make sure she got them all, did a quick physical and then we discussed the blood pressure issue.  She thinks that it could be the altitude, since I just came from a week at sea-level back to Colorado at 6200 feet.  She wants me to come back in two weeks for a follow-up and to see if my pressure goes back down.  We’ll then discuss my test results and if I need to get back on blood pressure meds.  As I went down to the lab, I was still amazed about my PA’s reaction, or non-reaction.  That was easy!

Update:  Thursday afternoon, I received a phone call from the nurse.  My PA wants me to come in sooner to discuss my thyroid test results.  Great, now I have to wait until Tuesday to find out what’s off on my results…

To be continued…

Low-Carb Cruise, Low-Carb Diet

2013 Low-Carb Cruise Success-Story in the Making

If you have never been on a Low-Carb Cruise, you’re missing out!  This year’s cruise departed from Galveston, TX and stopped in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, and Cozumel, Mexico.  When we weren’t having fun playing with the stingrays and sea-turtles in the Cayman Islands, we got to hang out with all the low-carb experts (and yes, they are normal people, just like you and me), learned a lot from awesome lectures during sea days, and made tons of new friends.

The talks were so informative and motivating and I have learned that even a little bit of wheat acts like an opiate and can wreak havoc in the body, in my case, my hands and ankles swell nicely.  Who needs that?  Another interesting fact I picked up was that consuming artificially sweetened food, can still cause an insulin response, when the food passes taste receptors in the intestines.  If you ask me, I am not interested in increasing my diabetes risk even more than it already is.  Especially motivating was the touching presentation of success stories from some fellow low-carbers on this cruise.  Wow, if these people can make such a huge difference in their lives, I thought, so can I.

My biggest motivator, however, was winning the Low-Carb Cruise grand prize of $500 towards a stateroom of the 2013 Low-Carb Cruise, which is setting sail in New Orleans next May.  I’ll post more about that when I know more.  Anyway, my goal for next year’s cruise is to have a success-story myself.  I really want this!!!

So, What Would I Consider Success?

  No more swollen ankles
  Awesome blood-work
  Comfortably wear a size 14 (or smaller) jeans

My Action Plan:

♥  Stay entirely off wheat (which causes my swelling)
♥  Ditch the diet coke (can cause weight-loss stalls)
  Lay off all sweeteners (can cause insulin response)
♥  Shape-Shift (tone up twice a week)
  Journal and blog at least once or twice a week about my progress
  Get blood-work done ASAP & again before the cruise
♥  And, of course, continue to eat low-carb

So, one day after my return from the cruise (did I mention that I did not gain a single pound on the trip), I’m off to a good start.  I finished off my last diet coke, stayed low-carb all day, and my ketostick was a nice pink.  I like it when I burn fat and make ketones!

Stay tuned for more progress…

Binging, Food Addiction, Low-Carb Diet

Culture Shock – Primal Living in the USA

Whole Foods MarketAfter a 3 year tour in Bavaria, Germany, we finally set foot on U.S. ground again.  Since then, my mind has officially been blown with the low-carb opportunities that are available to me here in the States.

During our move, I have been off my primal plan, not only because I wouldn’t be able to eat many of my favorite German foods for a long time, but also, because I knew it would be extremely difficult to stay on track while living in hotels for an extended time, with only microwaves to cook with.  It was a conscious decision, yet my body did not thank me.

As soon as I went off program, I immediately started to feel puffy, sluggish and irritable, although, the crankiness could be attributed to all the stress of getting the house ready for the movers to come, selling the cars, and working until the last minute.  We’ve been living in hotels for 3 weeks until we moved into an extended stay place, where we actually have a small kitchen to make our own meals.  I never thought that I would ever get tired of eating in restaurants, but over the last 2 weeks, my body was screaming for real food.  Yes, the fresh waffles and bagels in the mornings at the other hotel were nice, but come lunch-time, I was a shaky, wobbly wreck… I hate when my bloodsugar drops like that and my addiction runs rampant.

Today, I made an effort to stay off of sugar and flour.  I didn’t have much suitable food in the fridge, but I made it through the day.  Not surprisingly at all, I felt calm and my head seemed clearer for the first time in weeks.  Then, while we were in town in the evening, we ate at a restaurant.  I had no problems with staying on plan.  I wanted something light and stuck to a Cobb salad, which left me comfortably full and satisfied. In retrospect, I easily could have been back on plan as soon as we arrived here, because most restaurants will work with their customers, but it just seemed too tempting to try to eat all these foods I thought that I missed out on in the last 3 years.  Again, that’s the addiction talking.

Culture shock really hit me when we walked into the Whole Foods Market for the first time in 6 years.  The assortment of primal foods in the store were overwhelming, and I didn’t buy anything other than some coconut hand creme for my psoriasis on my hands.  I did try some yummy salmon samples and a small cup of sports tea, while cruising the isles, but my head is still spinning, when I think about the massive inventory of foods they carry.  I made a mental note to do my homework before I shop there again (some of the food, I saw at our Commissary for much cheaper.)

Finally, now that we’re in Colorado, I want to explore the nearby farms and farmers markets for free-range eggs, grass-fed beef and local produce.  I can’t wait to get started with that.  I’m ready to let go of the junk!

Until next time,

Nickie