“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ~Hippocrates
Now let’s talk about the elephant in the room—your body’s nutritional needs. If you’re anything like me, for years you haven’t given a rat’s ass about them. Your love of your size two skinny jeans far superseded the trivial matter of health. But what if I told you that nutritional deficiencies are the absolute precursor to the binge/purge cycle?
This post may evoke fear. Even suggesting you eat certain foods can be triggering. The limiting belief? I’m going to gain weight. And your fear-based response? No freaking way am I going to let that happen.
The primary reason people remain trapped in the hell of bulimia is the fear of gaining weight if they quit. The number one reason! I know this to be true. I had (and frankly still do) the same unfounded fear. At the treatment center, one counselor asked me, “How much weight are you willing to gain to be free from bulimia?” What the hell kind of question was that, I thought? No, I’m going get over it AND be skinny!
Interestingly, the statistics show most people of a healthy weight range who adopt regular eating habits and stop purging, end up only a few pounds heavier than their bulimic weight. Some even lose weight. Honestly, sweet sister, this is true. You will not balloon out. There may be temporary fluctuations, but once your body begins to trust in regular and nutritional feedings, it will normalize. Once you rehydrate and your body gets used to digesting food properly, the bloat will subside. Once your stunted metabolism revs up again, any unnecessary inches will come off.
Are you willing to put on a little weight to be healthy? It may be helpful to write down a number in case you begin to struggle. Keep reminding yourself how beautiful you are and that a few pounds either way will not make a difference! In fact, my husband fully prefers the new “rounder” me. Just a few years ago, that word would have given me major anxiety, but today it reminds me to be grateful for recovery. Shocking even to me, but true.
I heard someone say, “America is a nation of starving fat people.” While it may sound oxymoronic and harsh, the reality is we have an obesity epidemic in North America, but many people are majorly malnourished. And other parts of the world are following suit. The thing is, obesity may reign, but nutritional deficiencies do as well. It’s no wonder—fast foods, sugary foods, foods full of preservatives, and grain-laden foods—have become the norm. They have replaced the whole foods our ancestors ate, and we simply aren’t getting the necessary nutrients for optimal health. Amazingly, even though we may be at a healthy weight or even over-weight, our bodies sense the nutritional deficiency and our survival instincts kick in. We desperately forage to bridge the gap. We layer meal upon meal upon meal, but we are never truly satiated.
On the other end of the spectrum, we starve ourselves. I’m guessing this is more your pattern. It was mine. While some funky food behaviors emerged as early as high school, I started really restricting food in college. Remember how powerful I felt if I limited myself to one muffin all day? And even more powerful if I didn’t eat anything? Yeah, that. I starved myself. I remember looking around at my classmates eating their lunches—sandwiches, veggies, chips, whatever—and thinking I was such a freak. Why couldn’t I just eat like other people? Or was I just destined for abnormality? I guessed so, so abnormality I embraced. Every study confirms that most bulimics or binge eaters started their journey into the land of a full-blown eating disorder by first restricting their food.
Do you get enough nutrients into your body on a regular basis? I don’t mean that vegan dinner salad you eat every night. I mean regular and life-supporting nutrition. If not, this may be the very reason you can’t walk away from the binge/purge cycle. You are working against hundreds of thousands of years of survival programing. Your body simply will not let you starve, so the binge switch flips on.
In order to flip the switch back to normalized eating, you will have to radically re-feed your body. This was my biggest challenge. Ironically, feeding yourself real nutrients will absolutely be the biggest beacon of light on your path to a full recovery from bulimia. It’s so paradoxical. The very thing you don’t want to do will be the catalyst to you recovering from your eating disorder. You need to eat. And I don’t mean your favorite binge foods. I mean real nutrition. What you fear is what you must face courageously. Your Achilles heel—eating—will eventually be your super power. This is the part you will simply have to lovingly wrestle through. Feeding your body healthy foods and keeping them down will feel impossible, but it’s mandatory.
For me, eating even one small and healthy item while alone would have inevitably led to a binge, which would have led to a purge. I just didn’t have an off switch. At that time, I didn’t really understand the importance of loading my system with nutrients, so I basically white- knuckled it and fought the primal urges as best I could despite the fact that my body was sending starvation signals to my brain. I’m thankful for the knowledge I’ve gained in the last handful of years. I’m no longer nutritionally starving myself, so I’m no longer fighting those robotic urges to binge.
Re-feeding yourself will take courage, planning, diligence, and a mentor or friend for support, but it is vital to your recovery. If you would like to quiet that screaming voice within that yells at you to binge, your body has to feel safe and supported. It has to know you will feed it regularly. It has to know you are living in abundance and not in scarcity. You will simply always be fighting those urges if you are not nutritionally satiated.
In short, adding green smoothies, lean protein, fresh veggies, healthy fats, and eight large glasses of spring water to your daily intake will dramatically decrease your binge urges. I also recommend you avoid sugar, simple carbohydrates, grains, and alcohol as none of these items are nutritionally supportive. Eating on a fairly set schedule each day with no more than three hours between meals or snacks will also be helpful. This will signal your body that food is coming regularly and there is no need to binge now or hold onto more energy in the form of fat.
You can do this.
Love and light,