Combatting ANTs

Inspirational & Self-Affirming Quotes to keep in mind, and to offset ANTS (Automatic Negative Thoughts)
Find and repeat your favorites, until a more natural, automatic neural pathway is established.
Whatever you practice, strengthens.
The thoughts you repeat to yourself change the structure of the brain.

Use your mind to change your brain in a favorable way.

  • “Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.” – Janis Joplin
  • “The  important thing is somehow to begin.” – Henry Moore
  • “Knowing what you want is the first step to getting it.” – Louise Hart
  • “The  only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the  next.” – Mignon McLaughlin
  • “What   lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what      lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “I   cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody.” – Herbert B. Swope
  • “Experience  is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.” – Aldous Huxley
  • “A  happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of  hardships.” – Helen Keller
  • “If  you’re going through hell, keep going. ” – Winston Churchill
  • “I  have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!” – Dr. Seuss
  • “To face despair and not give in to it, that’s courage.” – Ted Koppel
  • “Little  by little does the trick.” – Aesop
  • “Everything  is okay in the end, so if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end yet.”

Incorporated from Arielle Bair

Whatever it is, try the savored version

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened” —Anatole France

What do you think when you look at this picture?

My Nana and I used to look at pictures and then take turns telling a story about the picture.
She was a phenomenal story teller!

I miss that. I miss her.

I listened to a TED talk recently about happiness.

One of the speakers told a story that really stuck with me.

He said that he had lived most of his life in such a rushed state that he would skip pages of the nightly bedtime story he read to his young son. The boy, who had memorized the story, would call his Dad on it. The dad, partly annoyed and partly impressed with his son’s intelligence and memory, would sheepishly then read the pages he had skipped.
When the dad found an advertisement for ‘one minute bedtime stories’, he was shocked by his own reaction. He wanted to order the series. But, then it struck him.

Reading bedtime stories to his toddler was one of his favorite activities of the entire day, and here he was rushing through it.

What do you rush through, that if you were to savor, you might discover some joy?

Savoring moments is a key feature to happiness.

Whether it is savoring the time with a pet,  with shared storytelling, or with anything you choose,  experiment with moments of savor.

Maybe even some of the more mundane activities of the day could become savor-y? After all, each moment is savor worthy, in some way or other.

Take Pearl Jam’s Advice: Just Breathe

Breathing  is free, can be practiced anywhere, occurs about 20,000 times per day, and requires no special equipment.
The benefits to improving  the way you breathe are vast. Taking deeper and slower inhales and exhales can help your  body increase immunity, lower blood pressure, and heal faster. Taking fuller breaths – inhaling, exhaling– makes you feel more content.
Just watch babies sleeping, and you have a perfect role model!  Sleeping babies draw air deep into their lungs, which then expands their abdomen. They then exhale nice and smoothly. When we as adults can slow down our breathing, we decrease our stress response and elicit the relaxation response. Like a sleeping baby!

Focusing on the breath can ground us in the present moment. This in and of itself can be a useful tool to reduce worry.
“I get bored just focusing on my breath. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. That gets monotonous”, said Katie (not her real name), who wanted to learn ways to reduce anxiety without taking medications. Here are a couple of the strategies she used instead.

1. On the inhale, say a positive word (like ‘calm’, ‘peace’). On the exhale imagine breathing out something negative (like ‘stress’, ‘worry’). You could also visualize breathing in a soft, soothing color. Another option is to count: in on one, and out on two; in on three and out on four, and so on until 10. The sequence can be repeated for up to 5 minutes.

2. Alternative Nostril breathing (Nadi Shodhana) is a common yoga breath practice that balances the left and right sides of the brain. To do it, sit comfortably. Bring your right hand to your nose, with the two middle fingers between your eyebrows. With your thumb gently hold your right nostril closed. Inhale through your left nostril. Release your thumb, and hold your left nostril closed with your ring finger, exhaling through your right nostril. Inhale right, release the ring finger, hold your right nostril with your thumb, and breathe out left. continue this for 5 back and forth rounds.

3. Belly breathing.  Put one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Take a deep breath in through your nose, making sure your diaphragm, and not your chest,  inflates with enough air to create stretch in the lungs. Ultimately, the goal is 6  to 10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day.  This will likely cause  immediate reductions to heart rate and blood pressure. Keep at it  longer and those benefits will last longer.  If you are often in a state of flight or flight, you might be surprised how hard it is to control your breath.  To help train your  breath, consider biofeedback tools such as McConnell’s Breathe Strong app , which can help you pace your breathing.

On a more scientific note, when we breathe deeply we are activating our  parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is responsible for what happens when our body is at rest. It is the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), which stimulates activities associated with the fight-or-flight-or freeze response. The PNS is the calm, and the SNS is the storm.
Of all the automatic functions of the body — cardiovascular, digestive, hormonal, glandular, immune — only the breath can be easily controlled voluntarily
There are so many  breathing tools and techniques to discuss. Stay tuned for more on this topic! I will also show a funny clip from a 1980s movie to help make some of the points of this post more clear.

Do I have Binge Eating Disorder or am I just Overeating?

Dr Daniels, I never really know if I am hungry or full, and sometimes eat so much that I feel uncomfortable afterward. Do I have Binge Eating Disorder?

Overeating: What is it?

​Overeating at times is part of normal eating. Examples of overeating include having an extra helping at a meal because something tastes soooo good,  or eating beyond fullness at a special holiday meal or celebration.

Binge Eating: What is it?

​The American Psychiatric Association defines Binge Eating Disorder (BED) as eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances. The key is feeling a loss of control. 

Disgust, guilt, or embarrassment are also common, as is eating in secret.   While overeating may happen at times for everyone, a person with BED has recurrent episodes of bingeing without purging.

There is often emotional and physical distress.  Episodes occur at least 1x per week for 3 months

BED is more common than Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa; 5 million women and 3 million men in the United States struggle with this disorder. Though this eating disorder is prevalent in our country, it can easily go undiagnosed.   

​If you are unsure if you or a loved one may have BED, seek professional help from an Eating Disorder expert.  BED is unlikely to go away on its own. With proper treatment, recovery is completely possible!

Bulimia: No reason for shame

The year was 1986. Meredith Baxter Birney played a Step-ford wife named “Kate”, who was married to a handsome successful attorney.  The name of the movie is “Kate’s Secret”.
When the film aired, bulimia was  taboo. While bulimia may be less of a taboo topic now, there is still a lot of shame associated. And lots of misunderstanding.
It is not unusual for men and women who suffer from bulimia to  feel embarrassed and disgusted about their behavior and about themselves. They may develop secretive habits to hide their behavior.

Questions parents ask when their child is diagnosed with bulimia include: What is bulimia? Is it treatableHow many people have it? Is it contagious? Is it our (parents’) fault?

Bulimia is an eating disorder categorized by eating large amounts of food and then compensating to ‘undo’ the binge. The compensation can be by inducing vomiting, fasting, and/or compulsively exercising. It becomes a very entrenched cycle that is hard to break.

But the cycle can be fully broken, with the right kind of treatment.
Treatment may involve psychotherapy, taking medication, and/or family therapy. The goal is develop a healthy relationship with food and the body, and to overcome feelings of anxiety, guilt, and shame.

Bulimia affects males and females.

It is not contagious.

 There is no  single cause of bulimia.

Poor self-esteem and concerns about weight and  body image play major roles, and there are many other contributing causes. In most  cases, people suffering with bulimia—and eating disorders in general—have  trouble managing emotions. Eating can be an emotional release,  so it’s not surprising that people binge and purge when feeling angry, depressed,  stressed,  anxious…or when feeling anything. Eating and purging numb emotions.

One thing is for sure. Bulimia is a complex emotional issue. Major causes and risk factors  for bulimia include:

  • Negative body image: The emphasis on thinness and beauty can lead to body dissatisfaction; all of us are bombarded with media images of an unrealistic  physical ideal.
  • Low  self-esteem: Women or men who think of themselves as  inadequate, unattractive, or inferior to others are at risk for  bulimia. Contributors to low self-esteem include  perfectionism,  comparisons, and a critical home environment.
  • Transitions: Bulimia can be triggered by stressful changes or transitions, such as the physical  changes of puberty, going away to college, starting at a new school, a pet’s death, or the breakup of a relationship.  Binging and purging may be an attempt to cope with stress that would otherwise overwhelm
  • Appearance-oriented  professions or activities: People who are involved in activities where there is pressure to look a certain way are more vulnerable to developing an eating disorder.

If you are living with bulimia, you know it feels very scary to  feel so out of control.  But hear this: change is possible.
Taking steps toward recovery is tough. It’s common to feel ambivalent  about giving up  binging and purging.
Treatment for bulimia is much more likely  to succeed when you stop dieting. Once you stop trying to restrict calories and  follow strict dietary rules, you will no longer be overwhelmed with cravings  and thoughts of foods.
The secret to recovery is to learn how NOT to diet and how to effectively manage emotions.

By learning these skills, “Kate” no longer has a secret.

​For more information about bulimia, please contact me or check out

Do Not Wish You Had Anorexia Nervosa

“Dr Daniels, when you give talks on anorexia please let people know it really sucks to have this problem. I hate when I hear people say they wish they had anorexia. Do they wish to think of nothing but food 24/7? Do they wish for self hatred and disgust? Do they wish their brain would shrink, their organs would shut down, and they would feel cold all the time? Tell them anorexia is a monster that takes over the mind and body.” 

—-a 29 year old woman in treatment for anorexia nervosa

(Who by the way is doing great in treatment! Anorexia is completely 100% treatable with the proper treatment.)

​What is anorexia?

​It is the most deadly mental illness
It is NOT  just about looking thin.
A person never chooses anorexia.
Anorexia accounts for more deaths than any other type of mental illness.
The person with anorexia says she’s “fine”. But her brain has shrunk, and she’s in denial about the seriousness of  her condition. She may not even believe or acknowledge that she has anorexia. (Denial of the diagnosis and its seriousness is one of anorexia’s  main symptoms.)
Families often feel angry with the person suffering from anorexia.  They see her hurting herself and the people who love her. They may consider her to be a ‘selfish, stubborn, vain girl’ who won’t eat.  That is not what she is.
What is she? She’s sick, with a mental illness.
She didn’t choose this any more than someone chooses cancer.
Family members and friends feel frustrated that their efforts to help are often unhelpful. “Why can’t she just eat?” is a common sentiment of family and friends. It is akin to asking why someone without anorexia can’t just eat a sneaker.
Anorexia – as all eating disorders – is a complex disease. There’s no one cause. It is no one’s fault. It is not that simple.
Current research reveals that anorexia  can be inherited. Not everyone with the genetic predisposition will develop anorexia, though.
Environmental influences can trigger, and worsen, anorexia. Such triggers include: society’s obsession with thinness; puberty; dieting; going away to college; major life transitions;  a loss/death;  a traumatic world event, or a more personal one, like a breakup.
There are still a lot of misunderstandings about anorexia, even among health professionals.
Treatment can be hard to find. Ideally, treatment is  multi-disciplinary: on the treatment team are a psychologist, a physician and a nutritionist.
Risk factors for anorexia include:

  1. Worry about weight, shape
  2. Parents’ body dissatisfaction
  3. Family emphasis on appearance
  4. Childhood anxiety
  5. Harm avoidance
  6. Perfectionism
  7. Negative self-image
  8. Rigidity/inflexibility
  9. Goal-oriented family or personality
  10. Being considered “sensitive”

Signs of anorexia could include:

  1. Cutting food into small pieces or moving them around the plate instead of eating
  2. Exercising all the time, even when the weather is bad, they are hurt, or their schedule is busy
  3. Going to the bathroom right after meals
  4. Refusing to eat around other people
  5. Blotchy or yellow skin that is dry and covered with fine hair
  6. Confused or slow thinking, along with poor memory or judgment
  7. Dry mouth
  8. Extreme sensitivity to cold (wearing several layers of clothing to stay warm)
  9. Wasting away of muscle and loss of body fat

The key take home message here is that ANOREXIA IS COMPLETELY TREATABLE….and is unlikely to go away on its own.
Contact or for more information.
Consider me a resource too!

“I Had No Idea”: EDAW 2014

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW) is being held February 23rd to March 1st, 2014.
The theme this year is “I had no idea”.
What ideas do you have about eating disorders?
There are lots of misperceptions.
For example, when people find out I specialize in the treatment of eating disorders, they assume I meet solely with teenage girls. Nope. Girls and women, boys and men, of ALL ages, shapes, and ethnicity present with eating disorder symptoms.

Get the facts!

Eating disorders are complex conditions with serious consequences for health, productivity, and relationships.
They are not a fad, phase or lifestyle choice.

People struggling with an eating disorder need to seek professional help.
The earlier a person with an eating disorder seeks treatment, the greater the likelihood of physical and emotional recovery.

In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS). I will have separate blog posts on these disorders as the month of February progresses.

For lots of  reasons, many eating disorder cases are not reported. In addition, many people struggle with body dissatisfaction and disordered eating attitudes and behaviors.

The best-known contributor to the development of anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa is body dissatisfaction
By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat.

Eating disorders are serious! They affect a person’s emotional and physical health. In the United States alone, 30 million people will be impacted by an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime.

These conditions affect all kinds of people and don’t discriminate by race, age, sex, age or size.

“Marissa” (not her real name) is blonde, blue eyed, and thin. She works as a fitness trainer and looks like a model from Shape  magazine. Yet, she is absolutely convinced that she is not perfect enough. She believes that she will be happy if she could only have more control over her weight and eating. Twenty four/seven she thinks about food and calories. Marissa feels like a complete fake because she has kept her eating disorder a secret from everyone, including her husband and family.

“Allie” (another fictitious name) is either on a diet or about to start one.  Just before she is about to start a diet, she eats large amounts of foods that she otherwise avoids. She categorizes food as ‘good’ (e.g. fruits, vegetables) or ‘bad’ (e,g. pasta, baked goods, ice cream), and believes she is ‘good’ if she eats ‘good food’ and is ‘bad’ if she eats ‘bad food’.  When she eats a lot of food, she  then compensates by throwing up or over-exercising. Life is all-or-none for Allie. She is constantly thinking about food and her weight. Every time she eats a lot of food, she promises herself it is the last time she will ever do that. But, it keeps happening.

“Katie’s” body is larger than she would like it to be. However, she is very comfortable in her own skin. She is athletic, active, and loves clothes. She enjoys being out with friends. She never criticizes her body, out loud or to herself. She eats a variety of foods and loves chocolate.

There are lots of reasons why an eating disorder develops. Many of us believe that changing our body will fix everything.  Hence the weight loss industry yields  so many billions of dollars. We erroneously think that body size is the cause of our problems and, therefore, if we change our body, we find the solution to our problems. Many of us believe that being thin equals being special.  Another NOPE!

The good news: Eating Disorders are completely, 100% curable, with specialized treatment.
Many people incorrectly believe that once a person has an eating disorder, s/he will always suffer from an eating disorder. NOPE!

Get the facts! Inevitably, someone close to you is suffering from an eating disorder.  Knowledge is power.