The Side Effects of Under-Eating:
Could This Be Why You Feel So Awful?
If you're struggling with bulimia, it's likely that any idea you could be suffering from the side effects of under eating is laughable - right? I know if anyone had suggested that idea to me when I was struggling with bulimia, I’d have thought they were crazy. I mean I was struggling with eating too much!
But before you write off the idea, do any of the following sound familiar?
- Obsessive thoughts about food
- Overwhelming urges to binge on food, particularly energy dense foods (those containing high fat and sugar content)
- Uncontrollable compulsions to seek out food and when found, eat as much as possible (BINGEING)
- An increased taste for sugar (At one time too much sugar was actually too much, now you can’t get enough of it.)
- Cravings for caffeine, diet sodas and other stimulants to keep you going and or stave off eating.
- Easily gaining weight even when eating less.
- Digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea, nausea and stomach ache.
- Bloating, especially after meals
- Water retention (swollen stomach, face, puffy eyes)
- Muscle, joint or skin pains
- Feeling cold all the time. Cold hands and feet
- Low libido
- Sleep problems, insomnia
- Tired, sleep, dizzy and weak
- Constant illness due to a weakened immune system
- Distorted body image and feelings of begin overweight - leading to or increasing low self esteem.
- Low mood and mood swings.
- Heightened obsessiveness and compulsiveness
- Self critical
- Feeling emotional and unable to deal with life's ups and down.
- Panic symptoms which are not just emotional but commonly arise if the body's stress systems are not getting sufficient nutrients to keep someone balanced and able to cope with life
I know it's possible you might think you are eating plenty, but if you're experiencing some of the above symptoms, it could be that you are suffering the side effects of under eating or malnutrition.
Think about it, aren't you trying to create a calorie deficit in someway or another; controlling your food intake, throwing up or over exercising, all of which ultimately promote the side effects of under eating.
And I'm going to put it to you that under eating aka 'restrictive dieting' could have been the cause of your bulimia in the first place. THIS IS IMPORTANT BECAUSE...
discovering the true cause of bulimia will lead to your freedom.
Take your mind back in time, back before bulimia...
had you been controlling your food in some way?
Were you dieting in some way? Were you...
- Restricting calories or food types (Carbs, fats or protein)
- “Clean Eating” or "healthy eating"
- Fasting, Juicing, Detoxing
- Missing meals or going for long periods with out eating
- Exercising with the deliberate intention to burn calories and or create a calorie deficit.
Or did you have your own self imposed rules and regulations of what, how and when to eat?
If so, you are not alone.
You see almost without exception, regardless of any other ‘cause’, anyone who's had bulimia or is struggling with bulimia, had been controlling their food intake before bulimia developed.
You see when human beings restrict their food intake to below the requirement for their Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which varies from person to person, for a period of time and that period doesn't have to be long, the brain's survival mechanism is triggered causing...
- Obsessive thoughts about food
- Overwhelming urges to binge
- Uncontrollable compulsions to seek out food and when found, eat as much as possible.
- An increased taste for sugar
- Cravings for caffeine, diet sodas and other stimulants to keep you going.
- Easy weight gain (even when eating less) as the body's metabolism slows down to conserve energy and moves into a fat storage (rather than fat burning) mode to build up an energy supply.
The thing is OUR BRAINS ARE HARDWIRED TO BINGE.
Regardless of your background, psychological or emotional issues, your body image, self-esteem or personality traits, if your brain perceives your body is not getting enough energy (food) you will start to obsess about food, have urges to binge and seek out food and when found eat as much of it as possible.
And because food restriction (whether by dieting and or purging) is seen as a threat to your survival, the FIGHT- FLIGHT RESPONSE is [automatically] triggered.
As this is not a threat that you can fight or flee, the stress hormones do not get metabolised. Instead they build up in your body, ramping up feelings of stress, nervousness and anxiety.
In this high state of alert, there is a tendency to perceive almost everything in our world as a threat to our survival. We may overreact to the slightest comment or become aggressive. Fear becomes exaggerated so we may become hyper-vigilant.
Our thinking becomes distorted and irrational due to the Fight - Flight response overriding our rational mind. We may start to feel unsure and insecure, doubting our ability to cope with life.
Does any of the above sound familiar?
‘Fight or Flight’ is intended to be a short-term response to danger, however under the conditions your body finds itself in, the response remains activated.
Could this be why you so often feel awful?
The Side Effects of Under Eating Have Been Known About For 100 Years.
You might be surprised (I was furious, given how prolific the promotion of dieting is) to know that the negative physical and psychological side effects of under eating have been known about since 1917 ! Most notable are...
The Ancel Keys Starvation Experiment documented in “The Biology of Human Starvation” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Starvation_Experiment and a 1917 experiment documented in “Human Vitality & Efficiency Under A Prolonged Restricted Diet” https://archive.org/stream/humanvitalityan00benegoog#page/n7/mode/2up
NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS
Most, if not all of the side effects of under eating disappear when you feed your body with sufficient calories and nutrients and believe me this can be done without getting fat or gaining weight. In fact many bulimics actually lose weight when they replace bingeing and purging with healthy patterns of eating.
“People who feed themselves regularly and reliably with foods they like, have better health indicators, lower body weights, and do better emotionally and socially” Ellyn Satter MS, RD, LCSW, BCD
For some people this is relatively easy but for the majority of people suffering from bulimia, normalising eating can be difficult because of underlying fears and beliefs. This is even more challenging if you’ve had bulimia for sometime due to the habitual nature of the behavior and unconscious programming to binge under certain emotional conditions.
If you’d like some help please email me at Julie@BulimiaFree.com.