Recovering from bulimia is no walk in the park. If you’re someone who has lived with an eating disorder, bulimia treatment and recovery can be one of the hardest things you’ll have to go through in your life.
There are plenty of treatment options available ranging from CBT, hypnotherapy, psychotherapy, drugs etc. What all these treatment options have in common is that they all don’t offer any absolute guarantees.
Because although successful bulimia recovery is affected by a number of factors, what contributes to the best results overall, is that the sufferer is engaged, motivated and proactive. That is, a certain mindset or attitude is required.
How is that possible?
To understand, we have to look at where all this began. We have to understand the trigger that pushes most bulimics to start binging and purging…
Fantasy of Thinness.
It seems almost everyone believes that if they just lost a few pounds, or got thinner, ‘things’ would get a whole lot better. They’d automatically be happier because once those extra pounds were gone, everything would start going their way.
Now this is a very seductive idea. One that has been all too easy to accept because the idea is so heavily promoted, subtly and NOT so subtly in the media.
And the logical solution to this desired result, also heavily promited by the media, is to diet (because dieting leads to weight loss, or so we’re lead to believe).
But here’s the thing, the concept of restricitve dieting is fundamentally flawed.
Studies as far back as 1917, yes you read that right – 1917, have shown that restrictive diets are hard to sustainbecause they’re actually counterproductive to the very result you are after.
It’s not that people lack the discipline to stick to a diet. It’s because our brains are “hard-wired” to…
- Make sure our bodies get sufficient calories for it’sdaily requirements
- Seek a wide variety of foods from a broad range of macro and micro nutrients
These two factors are essential for your health and well-being and so they are a priority for your brain.
And if you don’t provide your body with what it requires, it will ‘fight’ backin order to survive.
So if you’ve been dieting, depriving yourself or purging, a binge is seen by your body and brain as a ‘win’ after being deprived of those much needed calories.
Cravings for food and bingeing are your body’s way of fighting back.They are not signs of mental weakness but signs that your body has moved into the ‘starvation response’, because it perceives a famine.
Unaware of this innate biological response, it’s highly likely that when you give into a craving or binge, you think thatit is somehow your fault; that you are weak willed and have failed.You’re convinced that with a bit more will power or self control, tomorrow will be different and you’ll be able to re-start your diet or control what you eat.
But before long you break a food rule, or sucumb to a craving and find yourself bingeing again. You purge and unwittingly put yourself back into a state of hunger. You mentally beat yourself up as a means to motivatate yourself to be ‘good’.
Eating Becomes Evil
The persistent feeling of failure and lack of control creates strong negative thoughts and distorted feelings around food and eating. The body’s natural cravings for nutrition is seen as a weakness, food that should be seen as fuel becomes the enemy and responding to your own nutritional needs is seen as an evil.
Your self worth becomes increasingly tied up with…
- What you weigh or by the size of the jeans you can slip into.
- What you have or haven’t eaten
- How much or how little you’ve exercised.
And any happiness you may feel is short lived and is all too quickly replaced with frustration, anger, and fear.
The thing is self worth and happiness; feeling successful, sexy and confident, comfortable in your own skin, loved and accepted aren’t found in a number on a scale, the shape of your body or the size of your thighs.
Trying to change how you look on the outside to feel better on the inside is the wrong strategy, it simply doesn’t work.
It doesn’t matter how well you do something, if the strategy is wrong you’ll always be trapped in this vicious cycle of guilt, anger and frustration around food and your body.
Making Peace With Your Body, Your Mind And With Food
“We can’t solve a problem by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created the problem in the first place” Albert Einstein
It’s time for a change.
It’s time for a new mindset and attitude that will enable you to break free from the trap.
It’s time to work with your body, not against it.
I know it’s difficult to shake off the belief that being thinner is better. I know it’s difficult to see your body as beautiful when you’ve spent so much time and energy hating it.
But unless you love and accept your self, unless you feel beautiful on the inside, you will not see your outer beauty, let alone believe or enjoy it.
It’s because you’ve spent so much time and energy [habitually] seeing and feeling what’s wrong with your body, that it is that way.
I’m not kidding, if you spent as much time focusing on what was right, what was good, what was great about you and your body, you would experience an internal shift and your body would look totally different.
“When you stop focusing on what think you are not and shift your focus onto what is great about you, a strange thing happens… you ‘see’ what you thoughtyou were not or hadn’t got” -Julie Kerr
What keeps people in the grips of bulimia are the negative feelings they have within themselves.
So start creating that internal shift by understanding that you are not a failure because you can’t stick to a diet. Restrictive dieting, by design, is impossible to sustain:That you can’t stick to a diet is not because you are weak or undisciplined, it’s because our bodies aren’t built that way.
You are not a failurefor giving into your cravings and bingeing. These biological responses have been honed through thousands of years of evolution. Yes, human will power is strong but it’s hard to fightbiology, especiallywhen we’re fighting a process that’s inherently good for us to begin with.
Lastly, you are not a failurefor succumbing to bulimia. It creeps up on you, that ‘voice’ lies to you and bingeing and purging can be very addictive. When you’re in the grips of bulimia, it takes over your personality, the way you think, and your relationship with your environment.But…
You can reclaim your power and have lasting bulimia recovery.
Make peace with your body. Feed it, nourish it, love it.
The purpose of food is to give you energy, keep you healthy, and allow you to live a great life. When you stop dieting, restricting and purging, when you stop seeing food as something to fear and instead honour it as the life sustaining force that it is, the urges to binge go away and your body will settle at its ideal weight. A weight that is surprising easy to maintain.
Bulimia Recovery Coach
Julie won a 15 year battle with bulimia over 30 years ago and now mentors and coaches others to bulimia freedom. She is a compassionate, caring bulimia recovery coach who brings a unique and powerful perspective on recovery that has helped people from all walks of life, not just stop bingeing and purging but learn how to love themselves and their bodies and create a life they love.