Episode 358: Binge Eating and Goal Setting

Hello, friends! I hope you’re all doing fantastic.   In today’s episode, we delve into the following awesome listener questions:   Our first question comes from a listener who has been dealing with a challenging relationship with food. They described waking up each day caught in a cycle of remorse over their previous night’s eating and anxiety about what the new day will bring. They also mentioned the negative impact this issue has on their relationships and social life. Although they’ve begun therapy, their current therapist has admitted this specific problem is outside of their expertise. Together, we’ll explore this struggle, discussing possible steps toward understanding and addressing problematic eating habits and how to find the right professional help to navigate this journey.   Our second question is from a loyal listener who’s been with us for three years. They’re struggling with setting long-term goals due to anxiety. They aspire to move overseas with their partner in the next 5-10 years but are being held back by worries such as the stability of their relationship and financial concerns. We’ll unpack the complexities of setting long-term goals while dealing with anxiety, offering strategies to establish realistic objectives without feeling overwhelmed, and ways to manage the uncertainties that naturally come with future planning.   As always, I appreciate your questions and engagement with the show. You can send your questions to duffthepsych@gmail.com and find the show notes for this episode at http://duffthepsych.com/episode358.

This episode is brought to you by BetterHelp. If you are looking for some assistance in finding your direction in life, consider enlisting the help of a licensed remote therapist at http://betterhelp.com/duffthepsych

Question 1

First, thank you for your podcast, you’ve both helped me with some of my own issues and you have made me more understanding of other people’s challenges.

I started very sporadic therapy when my job in a call centre helping the most financially vulnerable started to break me. That therapy has made me understand I’m not a glutton or lazy, I’m actually broken on the inside! I wake up see-sawing between horror at my eating the night before and dreading/anticipating what I’ll eat during the new day. I asked my therapist if she could help, while she’s interested in the problem she said straight away it’s not her field of expertise and can’t.  I need to find a path, this negatively affects my relationships with family as I can’t take part in events and I haven’t any friends because I’m scared of being judged so I stay home rather than attend friend meeting events.

I would appreciate any advice you could offer.

Answer 1

Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your experience with the podcast. I’m glad it has been helpful to you. Your question is a good one, and I’m sorry that you’re facing this difficult situation. It can be challenging both physically and emotionally. The shame, guilt, and fear of losing control can be overwhelming. Let’s work together to help you find the right kind of help and move forward.

I’m glad to hear that your therapist was honest about her limitations. It’s better for her to acknowledge that she isn’t in a position to provide appropriate help rather than attempting to address it inadequately. Treating disordered eating behaviors requires specialized expertise, and professionals who focus on eating disorders can provide the most effective support, often drawing from personal experiences.

While I can’t provide specific advice, I can offer some general guidance. Based on your description, it sounds like you may be dealing with binge eating or emotional eating. The lack of control, horror at your eating the night before, and subsequent guilt indicate a pattern that requires attention. Seeking a therapist who specializes in disordered eating is crucial. Look for professionals whose profiles and websites clearly state their specialties and experience.

Additionally, it would be valuable to explore the history and triggers of your binge eating. Reflect on whether this has been a long-standing issue or if it emerged after working in the call center. Understanding the underlying causes and perpetuating factors is essential. One research-supported approach for binge eating disorder is interpersonal therapy.

Interpersonal therapy focuses on significant relationships and events that contribute to the development and maintenance of eating patterns. By examining relationships with parents, mentors, friends, and romantic partners, you may uncover areas that require attention, such as repairing conflicts, addressing mistreatment, or navigating losses. Journaling your feelings and tracking binging behaviors can provide insight into triggers and emotional states associated with the behavior.

Learning skills to better tolerate emotions can also be helpful. Techniques from Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), such as mindfulness, breathing exercises, and grounding strategies, can assist in managing overwhelming emotions that might contribute to binge eating.

Although it’s understandable to isolate yourself due to shame and fear of judgment, avoidance is not the solution. In fact, isolation can perpetuate the binge eating behavior. Bringing your struggles out into the open, confiding in trusted family members, and engaging in supportive social environments can facilitate healing and recovery.

Consider joining support groups, whether in-person or online, where you can share your experiences with others who understand and have gone through similar challenges. They can provide invaluable support alongside therapy and self-help efforts.

It’s evident that you’re on the verge of making positive changes in your life. Despite any fear you may have, with bravery and professional guidance, you can break free from this cycle. I strongly encourage you to seek an eating disorder specialist, and in the meantime, you can focus on the areas I mentioned. Remember, you are capable of overcoming this. You’ve got this.

Question 2

I love you podcast and have been listening for 3 years. I was wanting to send a question for the podcast.  I was wanting to figure out how to set solid long term goals. I struggle with anxiety and long term goals can trigger that, however it’s a bit of a catch 22 because I also feel anxious not having any feeling of direction or idea on how to move through life. Some examples of this is that my partner and I are wanting to move over seas in the next 5-10 years but then I will get the anxious thinking of “what if our relationship doesn’t work?” “what if I can’t save up enough to do this”. I guess i just want to know how to set goals and not stress out about them haha.

Thanks always!

Answer 2

Thank you for your continued support over the past three years. I appreciate it. From what I understand, you feel overwhelmed by the idea of the future. You’re unsatisfied with your current situation, but the fear of the unknown paralyzes you, leaving you feeling stuck. You mentioned a lot of “what if?” questions, which tend to amplify anxiety.

My first suggestion is to defuse these questions by answering them. Rather than letting them linger and grow, finish the loop and consider potential outcomes. For example, if your relationship doesn’t work out while abroad, you would have the opportunity to gain clarity sooner and make necessary decisions. Explore different scenarios and what actions you might need to take in those situations. Recognize that no matter what happens, you always have options.

Remember that setting long-term goals doesn’t mean you have to have all the answers or feel absolutely certain about them. You can start without feeling completely solid about them. This process can help you build self-efficacy and confidence in your ability to adapt and recover when faced with challenges.

To practice making decisions without overthinking, start with small things in your daily life. Allow yourself to make choices without obsessing over the perfect option. Embrace some spontaneity and uncertainty, knowing that you can handle whatever comes your way.

Consider using AI programs like ChatGPT as a brainstorming tool or a virtual coach. Engage in a conversation where you share your struggles with formulating goals and ask for ideas and guidance. Breaking down goals into manageable chunks can also be helpful, and the AI can provide insights on the steps needed to achieve them.

It’s important to communicate with your partner and trusted loved ones about your aspirations and values. Understand what is important to you and align your goals with your values and desired life path. Remember, stress is a normal part of the process, but it shouldn’t hinder you from thinking, planning, and taking action. Embrace brainstorming, introspection, and breaking down goals into smaller components. Set timelines for yourself and recognize that every step forward serves your future self. It’s okay to change your mind, encounter setbacks, or discover new opportunities along the way.

You’ve got this!

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