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Empower Your Self by Addressing Your Eating Issues

For some of us Self care around food and eating creates a conundrum. Competent and successful in most  areas of life, if you cannot stop eating when you are full… or despite knowing a lot about nutrition, you are unable to apply that information, you may have an eating disorder and you are not alone. According to the ANA Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation website, there are 3.6 million nurses, and we “are less healthy than the average American. Research shows that nurses are more likely to be overweight, have higher levels of stress, and get less sleep.”  Self care supports your ability to respond rather than react to the circumstances of your life. It enhances your sense of integrity with yourself, nourishes your sense of well being and may be reflected in positive self-esteem, having energy, and feeling connected to others. Is self care around the topic of nutrition a huge challenge for you?  If you experience discouragement, shame, confusion and depression related to your weight, if you cannot eat like “normal people” and your weight is unhealthy for you, you may have an eating disorder, and you are not alone.

Eating disorders are now recognized to be both medical and psychiatric and serious health issues. Eating disorders affect men and women, can occur at any time in the life span and the symptoms can be quite varied. It is beyond the scope of this blog to go into the details of the various manifestations eating disorders other than to say Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS), has been revised and refined in the DSMV to Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorder (OSFED). It is applied when an individual’s symptoms cause significant distress but do not fit neatly within the strict criteria for anorexia, bulimia, ARFID , Binge Eating Disorders (BED) or Compulsive Overeating. For most people, admitting to having an eating disorder is difficult and emotionally painful. For some, their eating disorders may be or will become addictions. However, knowing that it is not just a matter of willpower, self control or a moral issue can remove some of the stigma. You have a treatable disease and you are not alone. With support in living with the disease of an eating disorder, you can get help in applying all of the accumulated information you have about healthy eating. You can recover. Your recovery is Self care.

I remember sneaking back to the break room to get more of whatever was in there. I remember staff gatherings where I was paying more attention to the food on the table than to my interesting and caring colleagues who brought in their favorite specialties.  I sensed something was wrong with me because I could not stop eating once I started. I tried many diets and eating behaviors to try to gain control of my intake. Puzzled by this, I eventually began to experience shame as I could no longer manage not only my eating but the weight. Years later, I came to understand that I had an eating disorder.

Here are some of the symptoms of Compulsive Over Eating, BED and OSFED:

  • Regularly eating large amounts of food and unable to stop when you feel full- experiencing a lack of control.
  • A constant concern about food and weight, restricting food and obsessing about caloric intake.
  • Do you meet the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa, but your weight is in the normal range?
  • Meet the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa, but still having your period.
  • Chewing food and then spitting it out, or vomiting to maintain a normal body weight.
  • Eating normally with others and then eat more when you are alone.
  • Sneak eating.
  • Eating quickly so that you can eat more before feeling full.
  • Experiencing embarrassment, guilt, disgust, depression and/or shame over your inability to control your eating after an episode of over eating.
  • Obese and at risk for the consequent health issues of heart disease, diabetes type II, joint and muscle pain, cancer, osteoarthritis etc. and unable to get a handle on getting to a normal weight.
  • Feeling like you are alone with your eating issue.


If you think you might have an eating disorder, you have a number of options. You can discuss this with your primary care provider.  You can check out Over Eaters Anonymous which despite the name, welcomes all who have issues with food by working a 12 Step Program which is “a spiritual solution to a physical problem”, you can do nothing about the issue and of course you will continue to explore the issue until you find a solution that works for you.

 Vitality in Progress: Healing and Preventing Burnout for Nurses is a 9 week program that supports nurses in developing their personalized Self care plan. Some participants have chosen to address their eating patterns in the program. With successful completion of the program, you also receive 39 CNE’s! Check us out, as the next series starts in January 2018 and there is an early bird discount.


In the meantime, Join our  Free Virtual Connecting Weekly Call-in for Nurses

Self Care for Vitality

Phone 712-432-3066                Pin 177444
There is a guided relaxation, followed by a short time for silence in community and optional sharing. We present tips and strategies for Self care on a variety of topics such as:
Setting boundaries, balance, healing, self love, vulnerability, and other topics as they arise.
You can join in with a share or just listen in.           Wednesdays 6:30-7:00 pm EST

Please share with us your experiences of your challenges with healthy eating and the solutions you have found.


Have a beautiful week taking good care of your precious Self by eating healthy foods in moderation.

With love, Padma

Other Resources:

Nurses and Addictions: https://www.drugrehab.com/addiction/nurses/

A Nurse’s Guide to Eating Disorders  http://onlinedegrees.bradley.edu/nursing/dnp/a-nurses-guide-to-eating-disorders/



INS on A Mindful Emergence Radio Show

Every Monday evening on WPVM FM 103.7, Eddie LeShure and Margaret Kirschner present A Mindful Emergence from 7:00 to 8:00 pm. I was the guest this week and what a wonderful time I had discussing this work. Here is a link to this week’s program for those of you who’d like to get an idea of what the program is like. Program # 69  http://wpvmfm.org/show/a-mindful-
A Mindful Emergence provides an in-depth and informative look into addiction recovery, trauma relief, and compassionate self-care, featuring conversations with specialists in the fields of mindfulness meditation, therapeutic movement, addiction treatment, post-traumatic stress disorder, and self-compassion therapies.

With Love, Padma
Sign Up For information and invitations here:



Vital Exhaustion

When I heard Roshi Joan Halifax use the term Vital exhaustion I had a visceral experience of recognition. A profound part of me resonated with those two descriptor words which are also a metaphor. Experimenting with the term, trying it on so to speak for the last few months, I am sharing it with you to help you nuance your understanding of where you may be at in terms of Self care, burnout, compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction. Next week’s blog will address the last 3 experiences and working with assessments of these experiences to begin addressing the symptoms and underlying causes. The term is not new and it has an interesting history, let’s take a peek.

Vital Exhaustion

Metaphors help us articulate and understand our experiences as sentient beings. Merriam-Webster defines vital as, “concerned with or necessary to the maintenance of life”. The term Vital exhaustion touches all of our interpenetrating fields: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual- and maybe especially the last. When I heard the term Vital exhaustion it was as if the spiritual part of me felt heard too.

In the early 1990’s the concept of Vital exhaustion was explored by cardiologists Appel and his associates. They reported three defining characteristics: (1) feelings of excessive fatigue and lack of energy, (2) increasing irritability, and (3) feelings of demoralization that precedes myocardial infarction and sudden cardiac death. “Therefore, it was suggested that Vital exhaustion is a mental state at which people arrive when their resources for adapting to stress break down.” (my italics)

In 2010 it was reported that European psychiatrists have been using the term Vital Exhaustion as a possible way of defining a  nervous breakdown “which is defined by its temporary nature, and often closely tied to psychological burnout, severe overwork, sleep deprivation, and similar stressors, which may combine to temporarily overwhelm an individual with otherwise sound mental functions.”

Research in Heart Math, in “the past two decades has shown that the heart is an information processing center that can learn, remember, and act independently of the cranial brain and actually connect and send signals to key brain areas such as the amygdala, thalamus, and hypothalamus, which regulate our perceptions and emotions.” Though we don’t know where Spirit lives, it is based in a unitive experience and sages refer to the wisdom of the heart. Vital exhaustion seems to relate to the organ of the heart, and to other fields of human experience. Maintaining Vital energy needs to be ongoing and planned. By putting  Self care into my calendar daily it has become a habit. Otherwise, it is easy to act on automatic pilot focusing on lengthy “to do lists” moving to exhaustion and becoming drained of Vital energy.

When you contemplate the term Vital exhaustion, what is your experience? What part of you responds- your mind, body, emotions and/or spirit? Over time you may notice that it takes on different meanings depending upon different stressors in your life and your ability to tune in and care for your Self.

Next week we will contrast Vital exhaustion with burnout, compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction and look at measuring them. In the meantime, notice your experience of your Vital energy. Can you give it words? What strategies and tools do you employ to manage the stress in your life? What do you do to maintain your Vital energy? Do you take time in nature? Maybe you meditate, pray, journal, spend time with pets… Share with us what do you do to nourish your beautiful, kind, generous, courageous Self?

Some find our   Self Care for Vitality a free Virtual Connecting Weekly Call-in for Nurses a form of nourishing Self care.  There is a short guided relaxation, followed by a short time for silence in community and optional sharing.

Wednesdays 6:30-7:00 pm EST   Phone 712-432-3066 Pin 177444  You are welcome to join us.


Vital Exhaustion, pp 2032-2033, ©2013, Douglas Carroll
, http://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9

Benedict Carey, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/01/health/01mind.html

Awareness Begins in the Heart, Not the Brain, http://www.mindfulmuscle.com/heart-has-consciousness-knows-before-brain/


Healthcare: A Right or A Privilege

Yes or No: Do you agree with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”

In 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created. Article 25 states, “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services.”  Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_health

The 115 Congress and President-elect Trump speak of removing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and privatizing Medicare and Medicaid. As a citizen and a nurse, you are called to consider: is health care a right or is health care a privilege? As a nurse in North Carolina, I see the inequities and feel the pain of the injustice as the state legislature refused to accept the Medicaid expansion funding that came with the ACA. (There are now 1/2 million without health care because of this.) The ripple effect touches every aspect of life in this state. The economy has fewer jobs, an increase of more than 24% of children under 18 living below the poverty level in the last 5 years. There are fewer health care providers and consequently, there is less care provided with the already worn caregivers shouldering more responsibilities. Perhaps most especially nurses…

The National, Economic, Social Rights Initiative writes:

  • The human right to health guarantees a system of health protection for all.
  • Everyone has the right to the health care they need, and to living conditions that enable us to be healthy, such as adequate food, housing, and a healthy environment.
  • Health care must be provided as a public good for all, financed publicly and equitably.

Take a minute and breathe. Contemplate privatizing health care. What are your thoughts and feelings about this? Is there a difference between health care and insurance care? What are the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual costs and benefits of each for our families, friends, our neighbors and the public in general? How does it impact your work?

Dr. Don McCanne

writes a daily health policy update, taking an excerpt or quote from a health care news story or analysis on the Internet and comments on its significance to the single-payer health care reform movement. On January 10, 2017 he commented on an interview of President Barack Obama by Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff of Vox Video.

He writes:

Virtually everyone wants affordable access to health care, for themselves at least. Most want a better system than what we have under the Affordable Care Act. But the nation is divided as to whether ACA needs to be repealed prior to improving the functioning of our health care financing system.

So the point is that there is broad agreement that we want the system improved, but the Republicans, who are in control, are hamstrung by their anti-government ideology which prevents them from offering the government solutions that we would need that would actually be effective in improving the system.

Repealing ACA would further impair the functioning of our system, so the Republicans would have to introduce effective policies that would more than compensate for the deficiencies that would be created by repeal. Almost any piecemeal solution would require greater regulation and more government spending, anathema to the Republicans. Suggestions to date coming from their camp would leave us worse off than what we currently have. It is no wonder that they refuse to tell us what their replacement proposal would be.

If they really do want to improve the system, and they say they do, then they have two choices. Either provide beneficial tweaks to the current system, which will cost more and require greater regulation, yet fall far short of reform goals, or replace the current system with a single payer national health program – an improved Medicare for all. The latter would greatly improve the financing of health care, ensuring true universality, improved access, greater choice in care, and affordability for each and every individual. And we could do that without increasing spending above our current level.

The Republicans have an opportunity to provide us with a replacement program that would be vastly superior to building on our current dysfunctional system. Both President Obama and President-elect Trump have acknowledged the clear superiority of a single payer system. Most progressives, a majority of moderates and a plurality of conservatives agree. Now all the Republicans need to do is show us.

Engaging in these conversations is not easy. I work with nurses who say, “I‘m not political.”  However,  health care is not a spectator sport. It is about people’s lives- the quality, the safety, and the sanctity of life. If you believe that healthcare is a right, then figuring out how to make it affordable and accessible is a priority and you need to be at least informed and when you are moved by your conscience become active.

Medicare is not perfect, but it has made health care accessible to many of our loved ones. Why not expand it so our full society benefits? The slogan, “Medicare from womb to tomb” gives me hope.

Video: https://www.whitehouse.gov/videos/2017/January/20170106_President_Obama_Interview_with_Ezra_Klein_HD.mp4

Transcript:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/06/remarks-president-vox-live-interview

With love,


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