The pathway to self-recovery from bulimia is one bumpy road. The intensity and gravity of the entire experience of binging and purging vary from person to person, making it very difficult to outline a self-help guide for recovering from an eating disorder.
What is Bulimia?
But before we set out to explore ‘how’ we can recover from bulimia, it is essential that we understand what this eating disorder really is. Roughly 40% of the people who have eating disorders, sadly suffer from bulimia.
Starting from popular American actresses like Jane Fonda to the late Princess of Wales, Diana, a lot of famous faces we know have suffered from bulimia. Unlike anorexia nervosa, bulimia cannot be detected easily because there is no specific weight range for a patient to fit in.
A patient suffering from bulimia can eat an unusually large quantity of food in a very short period of time. Binge eating is followed by compensatory acts of induced vomiting or use of diuretics, laxatives, excessive exercise or fasting.
Signs of Bulimia
People who suffer from bulimia experience extreme feelings of shame or guilt surrounding their behaviour of eating. They feel uncomfortable eating with people and make frequent trips to the washroom after or during meals. Depression and suicidal behaviours are common in people suffering from bulimia. They often hide food and hoard on laxatives or diuretics.
5 Easy Self-help Tips to Recover from Bulimia
As mentioned above, outlining a self-help guide for bulimia is one difficult task. However, there are 5 symptoms that are common in every individual. And those symptoms can be treated using the following methods:
1. Putting a Pause on Binging and Purging
Being one of the main symptoms of bulimia, binging and purging is a difficult cycle to break as it requires a lot of will-force. The first step towards breaking this painful cycle is to stop restricting your diet. Give in to your cravings instead of starving yourself. Let me explain why.
Starvation triggers the process of binging, which is why you should maintain a balanced diet to meet the nutritional needs of your body. Eating regular and balanced meals will help you to control your body’s automatic need to binge while starving.
Once you have sorted your meal plans, the next step is to find out what triggers your need for binging and purging.
For some people, it can be a certain time of the day which triggers it or a particular space or feelings of sadness, loneliness and depression. Specific foods can also be triggers on some occasions. It is a lot easier to stop the cycle if you know what triggers it.
However, knowing what triggers your habit of binging and purging is not enough. You have to know how to control the trigger by getting past it, which may require you to seek help from family or friends.
You can start by making a phone call to a certain friend when you do not want to give in to the need of binging and purging. Try distracting yourself by getting busy with a certain task or activity, or move to a place where you will have no access to the things which will enable you to binge or purge.
2. Re-build Your Relationship with Food
It is natural for people suffering from bulimia to forget how their body functions to signals them about hunger or fullness. However, this issue can be resolved by intuitive eating.
Intuitive eating is a process where you get to be in control of what you eat based on the signals of hunger your body sends you. It does not require you to follow a diet chart where you have to restrict yourself from eating.
This process is all about trusting yourself to make the right eating choices.
3. Dealing with Anxiety
Anxiety and bulimia go hand in hand as most people suffer from bulimia due to their crippling anxiety disorder. If you wish to recover from bulimia, dealing with anxiety should be one of your main goals while doing so.
Medication, talk therapy, dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) are all good treatments for anxiety. However, distraction can also be an easy way of dealing with anxiety on your own.
The best way of distracting yourself in moments of severe anxiety is to shift your focus on something else. It could be painting, making crafts, cooking, knitting or anything else that is decent enough to distract you for a good while. You could also go out for a drive or listen to some music to calm down.
4. Embrace Your Body
The destructive effects of bulimia go way beyond causing physical damage to your oesophagus and dental problems.
If you start prioritizing your health more than your body size, you will be able to recover from bulimia a lot faster. So instead of making your weight the primary focus, shift your concerns towards eating and being healthy.
Eliminating the use of a weighing machine can also be very beneficial for people suffering from bulimia. Most people with eating disorders are dependent on their weighing scale to determine if they are happy or upset with their body on a specific day. But what they don’t know is how damaging the process can be to their mental and physical health!
Tying your self-esteem to how much you’re weighing on a specific day can create body image issues. And this is extremely harmful for people with eating disorders!
Therefore, if you are to recover from bulimia, throw away the weighing machine and allow yourself to take the chance to embrace your body, regardless of its size or shape.
5. Build a Support System
The best way of dealing with any eating disorder is to seek help from your loved ones. Remember, only your closest people will be there to cheer you on your accomplishments towards recovery. This also means that they will also be there during your relapses.
So, creating a circle of trusted friends and family may not be such a bad idea after all!
Always remember that seeking help from a professional is always a better approach than having to deal with everything alone. That being said, we hope and pray that these self-help tips work out for your recovery from bulimia.