Compulsive Overeating, Binge Eating Conference
online conference transcript
Bob M is the moderator.
Bob M: Good evening everyone. We are ready to begin tonight's conference on Overeating. My name is Bob McMillan. I'm the moderator. For those of you who aren't aware, this is Eating Disorders Awareness Week. At Concerned Counseling, we consider Overeating, Binge Eating, as important a disorder as Anorexia or Bulimia. Our guest tonight is Glinda West. She authored a book entitled The Fat Fairygodmother's 5 Secrets to Being Thin Forever: End your Addiction to Food and Start Your Life. Good evening Glinda and welcome to the Concerned Counseling website. I'd like to have you start by telling us a bit more about yourself and your own experiences with overeating.
Glinda West: Hello Bob and all. I first had an eating disorder when I was about 14 years old. I was anorexic. By the time I finished high school I was bulimic. A few years later, I was a compulsive overeater. I suffered from compulsive overeating for 10 years.
Bob M: What led to your compulsive overeating?
Glinda West: I absolutely could not control my bingeing. When I was bulimic, I began to vomit blood and have terrible stomach pain. I decided that being thin was not worth dying for. When I began to eat again I was not able to control the bingeing.
Bob M: And you say this went on for 10 years. Would you describe your overeating difficulty as stemming from an emotional or physical problem?
Glinda West: I believe the problem was emotional. Knowing the overeating cause, however, was not all that important in my overcoming it.
Bob M: Before we get into that part though, we're you able to discover what led to your overeating?
Glinda West: I think part of it was the deprivation I had suffered for so long by trying so hard to control what I ate. There was a definite physiological component.
Bob M: For those just coming into the room, Welcome. I'm Bob McMillan, the moderator. Our guest tonight is Glinda West. She authored a book entitled The Fat Fairygodmother's 5 Secrets to Being Thin Forever: End your Addiction to Food and Start Your Life. Tonight's topic is Compulsive Overeating. And I'm already receiving some audience comments, so I want to clarify one thing before we continue. Ms. West's book and this conference are not about "dieting". As we go on, I think you'll be a little surprised by what you hear. When you say that you "tried hard" to control what you ate, can you explain that in further detail please?
Glinda West: Well, as a bulimic and former anorexic I was always trying to control my food intake in one way or another. However, it only led me to binge more. I wasn't fully ready to give up "dieting."
Bob M: Over the 10 years, had you tried diets? or any other solutions to deal with your binge eating?
Glinda West: Oh my gosh! I had tried everything on the planet. I tried diets, diet pills, food supplements, fasting, electric shock... you name it. Nothing worked.
Bob M: Just one other question before we proceed. I would like to know your emotional state as the years progressed and you weren't able to get a handle on your eating.
Glinda West: I became severely depressed, almost suicidal at times.
Bob M: We have a couple of audience questions for you Glinda, then we'll proceed:
cloudburst: I haven't read your book; however, I find the title problematic. The implication being that one must be thin. Please explain. Thanks!
Glinda West: For most people the ultimate goal is to be thin. Overcoming the obsessive thoughts about food is far more important.
Bob M: And how did you reach that point?
Glinda West: I took it step-by-step. I challenged the obsessive thoughts and my eating patterns on a daily basis.
Bob M: At the opening of your book, you say "You will be liberated from dieting hell! Welcome to your new life". The first thing you say is "food is not the issue". Can you explain that?
Glinda West: Focusing on food will only create more of an obsession. People need to look outside and find a good life while they are challenging the obsession.
Bob M: In fact, you mention that you lost many good years of your life because you were obsessing about food. What did you do to break the obsession?
Glinda West: I tried to take the obsessive thoughts as they would come. I would say "Stop" in my head, and immediately substitute another thought about something else.
Bob M: Did you keep a diary or use some other tool to measure your thoughts?
Glinda West: No. I only tried to be aware of what my thoughts were. As I would begin to have a thought about food, I would immediately substitute another. This is only one technique. The obsession will only go away when you make a minute-to-minute effort to fill yourself with thoughts about your life, not food.
Bob M: One of the things that I've always heard is that when it comes to "recovery", you have to learn self-acceptance. Did that happen to you? and what did you come to accept?
Glinda West: To be honest, I don't think I am that different now, than when I was suffering from the eating disorders. I think people can often be too cerebral about this. Behavioral changes can make all the difference.
Bob M: Ah...but one of the things you mentioned in your book, which I want to bring up, is that you said "The first thing I had to accept was that I was fat". And secondly that the diets you tried just weren't working. Was that a hard point to get too?
Glinda West: You are correct. You must accept yourself as fat. No, it was not difficult to get to that point. I finally decided that I was a worthwhile person no matter what my size. If people did not want to accept me that way, that was their problem.
Bob M: Here are a few audience comments on what's been said so far, then we'll get to audience questions.
CeeJay: Food is so important to me. I can't imagine what it must be like to be free of its control.
Glinda West: It feels incredible. Like finally being free to live!
cartoongirl: Don't you think it's time for "overweight" people to take a stand and tell everyone to shove it? I mean...it's like telling a person he should feel guilty for being 7 feet tall!!!
Glinda West: Yes, but you could waste your whole life doing that. Some people will never accept fat people. You must get on with your life.
Kaet: How overweight were you when you felt you needed to get a handle on it?
Glinda West: I was approximately 80 or so pounds overweight. The most important thing was that I could barely go a minute without thinking about food. That, was the real problem!
Rob2: Glinda, how do you stop obsessing about food, when you have received numerous counseling sessions and you have more knowledge than you can deal with? Also how do you deal with the shame, especially if you are a registered dietitian?
Glinda West: Ah, 2 problems. First, I believe you can spend your life in counseling and never get over the eating disorder because you just go round and round with the causes. Enough already. There comes a time when you just have to take action. Secondly, I feel for you having an eating disorder with the career you have. Look to the future, you can beat this. Concentrate on that and don't worry what others think.
nbp: So you're saying that you don't feel it's necessary or even beneficial to address underlying emotional/psychological problems? I was under the impression that this was the most "mainstream" method of dealing w/ eating disorders. Why do you feel that your approach is better?
Glinda West: I think you can get lost forever in therapy for eating disorders. If you take action today, you can begin extinguishing the eating disorder in a relatively short time. I may still not be psychologically perfect, but who cares? I beat it that's what matters.
CeeJay: Was secrecy and hiding food part of your struggle? I seem to enjoy the secrecy..like a game.
Glinda West: I used to love the secrecy.
Bob M: Before we go further, because I'm getting some audience questions on where to purchase the book. It is not available in bookstores, but you can get it through Glinda's website. Can you give that to us please Glinda?
Glinda West: Thank you. At the fatfairygodmother site.
Bob M: And while she's typing that out, I read the book. It's about 50 pages.. and a very good read.
Glinda West: I'm glad you liked it.
Bob M: So we've gotten to the point where you decided to stop obsessing about food. What did you do next?
Glinda West: Well, I couldn't stop immediately. It took constant vigilance. Then I began to stock up food. I found by accident, that when I stocked all of my favorite binge foods, so much of them that I couldn't possibly run out, I began to binge less.
Bob M: What was the reason for that?
Glinda West: Because if I wanted to eat cookies and there was half a bag left. Guess how much I would eat? The entire bag. However, if my favorite cookie supply was virtually endless, I would stop on my own.
Bob M: So essentially what you are saying is that your favorite foods were no longer "very special". And when you had everything you wanted around you, food-wise that is, you were able to reach a point where you said "enough is enough".
Glinda West: Well, I still loved them. I still do. But the urgency and deprivation were no longer there. Also, I began to want different foods.
Bob M: And the different foods were lower in calories and healthier for you?
Glinda West: Not always. Counting calories or fat grams was irrelevant to me. I ate what I wanted.
Bob M: So are you saying, you just ate less?
Glinda West: Yes, I did not stuff myself as much because I could have whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and I did not let myself feel guilty about what I ate. The important thing was to minimize the obsessing over it. And to lessen the amount of time I thought about food.
Bob M: The second thing you did...and I can sort of hear a groan from the audience right now...is begin exercising.
Glinda West: Wrong. I hate "exercising." Never exercise to lose weight or burn calories. I found my "inner athlete." I found the sporting life. I found that I liked sports. Even an unathletic, overweight girl like me, found a sport she liked doing. I began doing the sport for the fun and challenge of it - not to lose weight. The side benefit was that my metabolism became more efficient.
Bob M: Your statements are spurring audience comments and questions. Here are a few:
CeeJay: I very much understand the urgency and deprivation feelings. Stocking up on food sort of lessens the panic of it being all gone or taken away, I guess.
Rob2: Exercise is the KEY to it all. I will not talk to my patients at all about weight loss unless they address the activity factor. It changes your whole frame of mind. On the days that I run, I do not overeat.
Connie21: So that is the answer just keep loads and loads of food on hand? So the key to beating obsessing over food is just to allow yourself whatever you want, whenever you want it?
Glinda West: If you keep loads and loads of food on-hand, I guarantee you there will be a calmness that wasn't there before. This is only one aspect. Please don't take it out of context. I cannot condense the entire book in one hour.
nbp: My husband overeats as a means of dealing with stress and depression. He is overweight, continuing to gain, and beginning to experience health difficulties such as high blood pressure. I have expressed to him my concern for his health and happiness, but he refuses to seek counseling. What steps can I take (w/o nagging) to help him?
Glinda West: I don't know if you can do it for him. Sometimes people have to come to this readiness on their own. Even when I knew the secret to overcoming the eating disorder, I took my time, because I was not completely ready to give up food.
Bob M: Was there something, an event, that brought you to that point? Or was it merely a realization, either immediately or over time?
Glinda West: Well, there is that funny story in the book. That kind of did it for me. Supreme humiliation was kind of a good motivator. I was also just plain sick of thinking about food and my weight.
Bob M: Glinda's book is: The Fat Fairygodmother's 5 Secrets to Being Thin Forever: End your Addiction to Food and Start Your Life. You can purchase it at the fatfairygodmother site.
So far, we've touched on:
- Secret 1: Get a life...don't make food your life.
- Secret 2: Make food and your weight "non-issues". Start thinking about other parts of your life...and take action on the food part.
- Secret 3: STOP DIETING. Get off the dieting yo-yo.
Glinda West: The ultimate goal is to learn to eat like a normal person again according to your body's cues.
Bob M: And you mention Glinda, that dieting is not good for you or your body. Why?
Glinda West: Dieting will only cause obsessive thinking about food. It is always a losing proposition. Also, you will slow your metabolism and end up gaining weight on less food.
Bob M:Secret 4: Find your inner athlete. Find activities that you enjoy doing...and do them for yourself, not to lose weight, but for the challenge and enjoyment of them.
Glinda West: Exactly. Bob
Bob M: And Secret 5: LEARN TO EAT NORMALLY. And this may be the hardest step of all, right Glinda?
Glinda West: Yes. Many people who are compulsive overeaters have no clues about hunger and fullness. This does take some time.
Bob M: How did you rediscover them...the feeling of hunger and fullness? and what did that take to accomplish?
Glinda West: Like I said, I started by allowing myself to eat at will. When the urgency to binge began to subside, when I knew I could eat whatever I wanted for the rest of my life, I began to feel hunger and fullness more often. Also, paying attention to my life, not concentrating on food, but on other activities, helped me feel hunger more often. I wasn't standing in front of the refrigerator as much.
Bob M: At the beginning of tonight's conference, you said you had been through anorexia, bulimia, then compulsive overeating. That last phase, bingeing, went on for 10 years. How long did it take you to get through this 5-Secret process?
Glinda West: It took approximately 6-8 months before I knew the obsession was lessening for good. I was bingeing less frequently and did not have the urge to stuff myself beyond fullness as much. At about the same time, I noticed I was not thinking about food as much. The psychological changes continued for about another 8 months during which I was losing weight gradually, but consistently. I lost almost all of the 80 or so pounds during that 16 months - really without effort. I am currently 5'3" and weigh about 105 pounds or so. My anorexic weight was 86 pounds. I do not obsess about food in any way. It has really become unimportant to me. I don't think the process needs to take this long for everyone. I had to experiment. Remember, I discovered this method, by accident. There was no book for me.
Bob M: Here are a couple of comments:
Ceejay: Before this is over, I want to say that I admire your will and determination to overcome your problems with food. It gives me the hope that I needed tonight and a renewed will to fight. Thanks.
Glinda West: You are absolutely capable of this. I am no different from you.
cartoongirl: Health clubs and shrinks are capitalizing on your guilt and vanity. It's time for people to see that the real problem lies in prejudice and if society wants its people to be thin, then it had better demand more from genetic medicine! Society WANTS us to feel shame...it controls us...makes us spend money to fix us.
Glinda West: Forget about society, its too big to change. This is your only life. Be happy and work on yourself.
Diane: Even if you have the knowledge to eat normally, it doesn't mean you will do it on a daily basis.
Glinda West: I eat more on some days, less on others. The important thing is not how much I eat, but how much I think about food. Don't forget this.
Bob M: One last question from me tonight. Do you ever worry about slipping back into the overeating habits, or have the new regimens become ingrained...and this is the new you...the everyday you?
Glinda West: I know I will never "slip back" because there is no deprivation in how I eat. I am not drawn to food obsessively. I enjoy it. Anybody want to take me to dinner?
Bob M: I want to thank Glinda for coming tonight and sharing her experiences and knowledge with us. And thank you to everyone in the audience for participating. I hope you found the conference helpful and inspiring.
Glinda West: Thank you Bob for inviting me.
Bob M: Glinda's book can be purchased on her website. It's called "The Fat Fairygodmother's 5 Secrets to Being Thin Forever: End your Addiction to Food and Start Your Life". For more information go to the fatfairygodmother site
Glinda West: Goodnight, and know there is hope for all of you.
Bob M: Good Night everyone.
Last Updated: 19 April 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD