Food & Emotions

**Giving credit for this blog in part to the “Food and Feelings Workbook” by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. Thank you for your amazing work**

The 7 most difficult feelings for disordered eaters:


Have you ever considered that maybe your eating habits affect your emotions and your emotions affect your eating habits?

I highly recommend, if you are noticing that this may be true for you, keeping a food log. Write when you eat, what you eat, the emotions you have when eating, and the emotion you have an hour after eating. **yes, I know, this is time consuming and not easy. but it will give you an idea if how your eating habits are truly affecting every aspect of your life**

For Example:
You may realize that when you are upset you tend to eat a lot if high carbohydrate foods. A few hours later you are fatigued, depressed, or even purging. Another day you may see that eating a certain fruit made you feel happy or energetic an hour later.

Why Does This Help?
If you know that craving carbohydrate foods is likely because you are upset, you can CHOOSE to eat the fruit that tends to make you happy instead. Suddenly, your mood has changed, you are happy, and less likely to indulge in disordered eating behaviors.

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

Yes, Eating frequently is HARD. Finding time to put food in your body every 3 to 4 hours is NOT EASY. Eating because you have to is usually NOT FUN.  I hear it over and over again, from myself, my friends, my families, my clients “I know I should but……….”

Well here is the thing  there will ALWAYS be a if, and, or but if you want there to be —

It is the successful, motivated, positive, growth orientated people who say how do I overcome the if, and, or but? So here is a blog with some suggestions on how to make eating so frequently a little more compatible with your day.

Typically you find yourself waking up feeling hurried to get yourself and your family (if you are luckily enough to have one) ready for the day. Usually, you end up getting everyone else ready and forget yourself (yes, I have heard that excuse before too). You rush out the door (without eating) and get to work only to find yourself slammed with 15 hours worth of things to accomplish in an 8-10 hour work day. You may or may not get a 20-30 minute lunch break, which you may spend doing work, making phone calls, scheduling appointments, running emergency errands (yes, heard that one before too) only to find out you don’t have time to eat. You return to work, finish up the day, clock out, pick up the family, run them to their next set of activities, pick them up and suddenly it is 8 or 9 o’clock before you sit down and realize you didn’t eat today. You also then realize that you are tired, angry, upset, over emotional, closed-off, easily annoyed ext. Did you make the connection between your eating habits and your emotions yet? 

Teenagers, I know you don’t work, but you do go to school. And the same applies for you. But you can also add fear of being judged by your peers or teachers for eating in class. Tired of the extra “attention” because you are always eating. Forgetting to grab something during passing times. *YES, I have heard these excuses too* and not to mention, you already feel “not thin enough” compared to the ones who are always “asking” why you eat so much. I GET IT. It is NOT EASY.

 HOW do I add food into my day?

*Make sure you eat breakfast: IE cereal, cereal bars, protein shakes, easy fruit

*ALWAYS keep snacks in your car: protein bars, fruit, crackers, granola

*ALWYS keep snacks in your desk/office at work

*ALWAYS keep snacks in your purse/bag

*ALWAYS keeps snacks in your locker (yes, teens, in your locker)

*Make sure they are fun snacks- stuff you like to eat, stuff your peers will be jealous of you eating

*For those of you who “forget to eat during passing time” Put snacks in a fun container in your locker BUT put that container in your way. So you have to reach into it to move it in order to get to your stuff during passing time


*Write yourself sticky notes to remind yourself to grab some food before you shut the door of the house or locker

*Set alarms on your watch or phone that go off every 3 to 4 hours reminding you

*Take a “bathroom” break and eat there, where others can’t see you or judge you

I think this is a pretty good list to start with. If you have other suggestions, please leave them in the comments. If you have any excuses that keep you from eating, leave those in the comments too. I would love to address each of them!

Rule of 3’s


I am frequently asked, when should I eat, how often, how much? I tend to refer to the book “Nutrition Counseling in the Treatment of Eating Disorders” by Marcia Herrin and Maria Larkin. Both of whom, are dietitians who have spent their lives dedicated to eating disorder treatment.

They developed and stand by the rule of 3’s.

So what is the rule of 3’s?

3 meals

3 snacks

3 hours apart

What are the Benefits of the rule of 3’s?

*Decreases preoccupation with food

*Decreases binge eating, overeating, emotional eating and under eating

*reduces purging and vomiting

*Decreases negative self-talk and feelings

*Restores hunger and fullness cues

*Manages body weight

*Restores metabolism otherwise lowered by under eating

*Prevents storage of body fat otherwise caused by restrictive eating

*Improves problem-solving abilities and concentration

The RO3s provides your body with all the nutrients it is needing which means you are able to function physically, mentally, and emotionally at your optimal level. It also recalculates your hunger and satation cues so you can trust your body when it says “I’m Hungry” or “I’m full”

“An Unquiet Mind”

I recently read the book “An Unquiet Mind” By Kay Redfield Jamison for a psychopathology class. Kay is a practicing psychiatrist with manic-depressive disorder (MDD) and her book is an autobiography of her struggles with MDD, her education and relationships.

I highly recommend this book to anyone working in the health care profession, it is truly a fantastic read.

The first of my reflection paper on the book is such:

Towards the end of the book, Kay writes a few lines that truly summarize this book, her experiences, my experiences, my thoughts towards counseling and change, and my thoughts in regard to mental illness:

“We all build internal sea walls to keep at bay the sadnesses of life and the often overwhelming forces with our minds. In whatever way we do this- through love, work, family, faith, friends, finial, alcohol, drugs or medication- we build these walls, stone by stone, over a lifetime. One of the most difficult problems is to construct these barriers of such a higher and strength that one has a true harbor, a sanctuary away from crippling turmoil and pain, but yet low enough and permeable enough, to let in fresh seawater that will fend of the inevitable blackness.” “It is, at the end of the day, the individual moments of restlessness, of bleakness, of strong persuasions and maddened enthusiasms that inform one’s life, change the nature and direction of one’s work, and give final meaning and color to one’s loves and friendships.”

I truly believe that one of the hardest parts in life is finding the balance between protecting ourselves, our thoughts, beliefs and emotions while at the same time allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and open to other people’s thoughts, beliefs and emotions. It is a tricky balance that many never find and one that I believe as a key to healthy and happy living. I also believe, as Kay says, that is the individual moments when life seems to fall apart that we learn who we are, what our strengths are, what our life looks like, what we want it to look like, and how to change it. I also believe that it is in the moments, that we are more likely to take the steps needed to make those changes.

Another point that I loved about reading this book was that it put a face and experience to what it is like to live with a mental illness. It paints a picture of life with a mental illness that is more real and life altering; As opposed to just a set of criteria to check off in order to categorize, or neatly organize, a person into a diagnosis.


One of the scariest moments in the life of someone who struggles with an Eating Disorder is when a doctor, or health care professional, finds out because something in your physiology is wrong or not working. Yet, very rarely, does that stop someone in the midst of a binge or purge.

Most of you probably know what you are doing to your body but a reminder of everything you are doing, is always warranted.

Depression, seizures, addiction, swollen glands, tooth decay, sore throats, esophageal tares, irregular heart beats, electrolyte imbalances, stomach ulcers, liver damage, kidney damage, muscle weakness, constant bloating, abdominal pain, scar tissue, loss of menstrual cycles and kid barring abilities, bowel muscle damage, dehydration… I could go on but I think you get it.

Sometimes, knowledge creates fear and fear creates behavior. Hopefully, this knowledge leads to a healthy fear that can lead to healthy behaviors.

DSM-V Changes

The new DSM-V is being released in May.

I know you are probably thinking what does that mean, how does that affect me, and why do I care?


The DSM is the book of diagnostic criteria for mental health conditions. More often then not, the diagnosis that is given affects insurance claims and if they will fund an individuals care. The changes being made: less strick criteria for Anorexia and Bulimia as well as adding Binge Eating disorder.

The HOW:

This means, for all of you currently under the not otherwise specified (ED-NOS) diagnosis may be given a more clear diagnosis such as AN, BN or BED. It also means, that you are less likely to easily flow between the various diagnosis depending on the day and the provider.

The WHY:

This means, that if you haven’t been able to get the treatment you need and DESERVE because your diagnosis was NOS and not AN or BN you may now be able to get the funding to seek the support and resources that will help you.