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Q:
I go on these junk food binges and I hate myself afterwards. I realize that I do this especially when my mom is stressing me out. How can I end these binges?

A:
The two types of binge eating are as follows:

  • Deprivation-sensitive binge eating arises out of excessive dieting or food restriction
  • Addictive or dissociative binge eating is the practice of self-medicating or self-soothing with behaviors that typically evoke feelings of emotional tranquility or numbness.

Given you have figured out what precipitates your binge eating, it is likely that you fall under the second type. Since binge eaters often report a craving and sensitivity to carbohydrates (including simple sugars), the more they eat, the more they crave.

In most instances, once the bingeing process has begun, it becomes virtually impossible to regain the upper hand, stopping or even slowing down the bingeing ritual. Because blood sugar levels become highly volatile, spiking and dropping, this adversely affects the brain and results in chronic and severe fatigue.

While there are two simple guidelines for ending your junk food binges, it will require effort and discipline on your part. Particularly, when you feel stressed out, it will be more difficult to stay 'in control of' your desire to binge.

The first step is to identify when you feel stressed and stay present with that awareness. Talk it through by telling yourself, "I'm feeling stressed out right now. I'm not really hungry." Second, decide on what it is that you really need in order to feel better in that moment. Choose a positive, proactive behavior in place of eating junk food. By being aware of how you are feeling in that moment, you have control over the choices that you make. You are no longer simply just reacting to your Mom and to feeling stressed.

Some helpful books on this topic include: Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, Elyse Resch; Overcoming Overeating by JANE R. HIRSCHMANN, CAROL H. MUNTER; and It's Not About Food by Carol Emery Normandi, Laurelee Roark.




Q:
My brother just flunked out of university. I'm the next kid to go off to university, and because of his failure, my parents are pushing me harder. All this is stressing me out and sometimes makes me not want to pursue an education. I've told them what they're doing to me, but they aren't doing anything about it.

A:
Given your brother's current situation, it's probably unlikely that your parents are going to cut you some slack. While you can't stop your parents from turning up the pressure, you can control how you react to them. Since talking to them hasn't helped (that would have been my first suggestion as well!) you might want to keep the following points in mind.

  1. Stay positive about your future university experience. Remember that your education and what you create from it, is up to you.
  2. Even though you have good reason to feel stressed right now, keep in mind that your parents ultimately want you to succeed. They may not be conveying this in the most productive way, but know that they do have good intentions at heart.
  3. As a strategic tactic, think of a phrase that you can use when they jump on the 'pressure' bandwagon. Saying something like, "I'm going to do my best" (before you excuse yourself from the room), will actually help to appease some of their concerns while reinforcing what they probably need to hear.




Q:
My girlfriend and I broke up but we want to continue being friends. I've never seen these things work out before. Is there any way we could make this work?

A:
Time and a bit of geographical space after a break up helps immensely. If the two of you were friends before being in a relationship, there is a greater chance of reclaiming your friendship after the breakup. This is because you would have a foundation for that friendship already established. Acknowledging that you both may need to take some time before you regroup as 'friends' is one way to help ensure that a friendship can exist after being a couple. When you do begin to see each other in social circles, think of your 'ex' as a friend rather than an 'ex'. In other words, remember their positive qualities and attributes rather than thinking about how they may have hurt you in the past. In other words, build on the relationship as friends rather than dredging up the past. Be respectful of each other as human beings. As long as it remains important to both of you to have each other as friends, you'll find a way to make this work.




Q:
I like to study with the music turned up loud. My father highly disapproves and we get into huge arguments over this. He thinks I am not concentrating completely but I can't make him understand that I cant study with complete silence around me. I don't think my school work is suffering but I have no way to prove it to my dad. What should I do?

A:
Some people find they need total silence (or at the very least - limited distractions) when they are learning new information. Homework that is routine or requires little mental effort may easily be done with background noise because it doesn't require your full attention or effort. Current research based on individuals suffering from chronic stress suggests that people who feel that they need music, television, or some other kind of background 'noise' when they are working on a task may actually be acclimatized to a higher stress environment. The background noise doesn't necessarily promote better academic performance, but rather the individual is simply used to having the distractions.

If you were to compare study outcomes, you might be surprised to find that it often takes longer to learn new material when background or external distractions are present. Try a simple experiment if you like. Keep track of how you do on tests and assignments in which you have studied in the presence of loud music. Pay attention to how quickly you learn in this setting as compared to a quiet environment. You might also want to check out this site for some additional study tips. www.how-to-study.com.