How to recover from bulimia in 12-18 Months

Richard Kerr's picture

A girl who has recovered from bulimia

In a moment I'm going to share a simple methodology that will show you how you can recover from bulimia in just 12-18 months,

but first let me ask you a question:

How exactly do you recover from bulimia?

It's a simple enough question, yet the majority of us find it almost impossible to answer.

If you're like most people with bulimia, at best you may have a vague, fuzzy idea of how to recover. 

The important thing to understand here is that it's not your fault if you don't know how to recover. 

In my experience it's nearly impossible to find anyone who will provide clear insight into the recovery process. 

And without knowing HOW to recover, it's difficult to know where to start or what to do.

This explains one of the big reasons why people fail to recover from bulimia. 

They have a lack of understanding, clarity and direction.

Imagine I asked you to learn how to fly a plane, but failed to provide you with any advice, guidance or support on how to do so. It would seem impossible, right?

On the other hand, if I gently guided you step by step through the process, it would probably seem a lot more achievable. 

This is why having a crystal clear understanding of the recovery process is CRITICAL.

It doesn't just make recovery faster and simpler, it makes recovery possible!

Now I'm going to share with you a simple model that you can use in order to overcome bulimia in under 12 -18 months.  This model is unique to BulimiaHelp.org and it literally took us years of research to break it down and figure it out. 

The Bulimiahelp.org Recovery Pyramid. 

The Bulimia Help Recovery PyramidThe pyramid has 3 levels.

Level 1: Re-balance your body (retrain your body to respond to, process and be satisfied with normal portions of food)

Level 2: Diffuse the mind binge urge ( by becoming more forgiving and accepting of your thoughts)

Level 3: Become intuitive ( learn how to eat based on your internal hunger signals)

The pyramid forms the basic model of how to recover from bulimia nervosa. With each level providing a foundation for the next. So it's important not to skip any levels while recovering.

For example, it would be nearly impossible to work on becoming an intuitive eater if you had failed to retrain your body to respond to, process, and be satisfied with normal portions of food first. 

So let's break each level down and explore them a little further:

Level 1: Rebalance your body

Rebalance your body: Level 1 of the bulimia help recovery pryramid

Most people with bulimia don't realize this, but bulimia, on the whole, is a physical condition, not a mental one. 

The cycle of purging, restricting and not eating enough food keeps you in a malnourished state. Being malnourished creates EXTREMELY powerful binge urges.

Suggesting that people with bulimia are "malnourished" can sound a bit crazy considering bulimics tend to eat a LOT of food. But it’s true.

As a bulimic you purge either through fasting, excessive exercise, laxatives, or vomiting - all of which are certain to ensure that your body remains malnourished.

In this state, the hormones leptin and ghrelin (associated with fullness and hunger) are not functioning properly due to starvation.

The resulting "strive to survive" makes you want to binge, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise.

When you are hungry, you experience gentle hunger pangs, and when you are excessively hungry and malnourished you experience MASSIVE hunger pangs or urges to binge.

This is quite natural.


There is nothing strange about it.

Experiencing these urges does not mean you're "crazy", it means you're human. 

Your body thinks that you're in the middle of a famine and so it begins doing everything it possibly can to ensure you eat enough food.

To stop these massive hunger pangs, you simply need to teach your body that the famine is over.

To do this you need to train your body to respond to, process and be satisfied with normal portions of food, firstly by introducing a structured eating plan that allows you to begin eating in a regular, normal way.

Following a structured eating plan is the single most powerful step you can take if you want to recover from bulimia. 

When you begin to follow a structured eating program, even in the first few weeks, you can expect to experience a MASSIVE reduction in your binge urges.  

Although everyone is different, this reduction usually accounts for anywhere between 60-90% of your binge urges. 

Imagine that.

A 60% to 90% reduction in binge urges, just because you started to eat food regularly!

I cannot stress this next point enough...

You could spend the rest of your life in therapy, heal all your issues and come to terms with every past traumatic experience, but if you fail to re-balance your body, you will not recover from bulimia. 

It’s strange, looking back at it now, I am amazed that no book, website or specialist ever told us how important re-balancing your body was for recovery. I believe our emphasis on rebalancing your body is one of key reasons why the Bulimia Help Method recovery program has been so successful.

Stage 2: Diffuse Binge Urges

Diffuse binge urges: Lelve 2 of the bulimia help recovery pyramid

If you have had bulimia for a long time you may be relying on it for emotional support. This is a strong desire to eat food not for hunger but to dull the thought processes and numb any emotional pain.

I call this the "Mind Binge Urge."

The Mind Binge Urge starts above the neck and is usually triggered by an uncomfortable feeling or emotion (such as stress or anxiety).

It is generally associated with avoidance, whether that's based on something tangible (such as work obligations) or something intangible (like emotions). This results in a strong desire to eat food in order to dull thought processes and numb emotional pain.

Put simply, we binge on food to quiet the mind or to find a temporary escape from uncomfortable and unwanted feelings.

The mind binge urge wasn’t created by hunger, so eating food and following a structured eating program will not resolve it.

Why do we experience Mind Binge Urges?

Mind Binge Urges develop because over time we have learnt that eating large amounts of food can trigger an endorphin release which helps dull any uncomfortable emotions or feelings.

Research has proven that eating certain foods, especially those with high sugar and fat combinations (e.g. ice cream, chocolate, doughnuts, cakes, and pies) produce feel good chemicals like serotonin and other endorphins in our brains.

Endorphins are powerful, natural opiates that allow you to experience pleasure, a reduction in pain and lower levels of stress.

Bingeing on food causes a flood of endorphins to surge through your brain, which can temporarily infuse you with a sense of numbness or euphoria.

If you’ve ever experienced that trance-like state during an episode of bulimia, or felt "high" afterwards then you can point the finger at this endorphin rush.

Please note: Bingeing may lead to an immediate endorphin release but in the long run it makes you feel more miserable! Unfortunately for those who binge, studies show that the feelings of disgust and self hatred that follow a binge COMPLETELY cancel out any positive effects.

To overcome Mind Binge Urges we firstly need to recognize them for what they are and then learn skills to effectively manage them.

To do this I recommend using a technique called "Diffusion" and it is based on ACT therapy. It’s all about becoming more accepting of your thoughts and emotions so that they flow through you much easier.

We all have anxious, unwanted thoughts and feelings. This is part what makes us human. At times we all feel inadequate, weak, insecure and out of place. But if we learn to become more comfortable and accepting of these thoughts and feelings they wouldn’t cause us so much trouble.

Using diffusion techniques it usually takes around 5-10 months to overcome your Mind Binge Urges.

In my experience, Mind Binge Urges usually account for around 10% -40% of a persons binge urges.

By learning how to remove the Mind Binge Urges you will remove the last of your urges to binge on food.

If you have NO urge to do something, you won’t do it.
If you don’t binge then you won’t purge.
If you aren’t bingeing and purging then you are no longer bulimic.
And then you are recovered!

So why is there a Stage 3 to the pyramid?

Stage 3: Become Intuitive

Become intuitive: Level 3 of the bulimia help recovery pyramid

Some of you may have been struggling with weight and food issues for years prior to the onset of your bulimia. Some of you may have never had a “normal” relationship with food.

It's only natural to fear going back to your old eating habits if they've caused you trouble in the past. In reality, if you are to fully recover from bulimia:

You can’t go back to how you used to eat.
You need to say goodbye to diets, rules and restrictions.
They will only lead you back to bulimia.

We know that re-balancing your body through a structured eating program is useful, but it’s not recommended to stay on a eating plan forever.

Think of structured eating as training wheels on a bicycle. It helps you re-learn what healthy, normal eating is like and once you get the hang of it and you start to find your balance, you can take them off and ride freely.

The challenge is: what do we replace structured eating with?

We need a new frame of reference to guide how we eat food.

Let me introduce you to Intuitive Eating.
This is an extremely powerful and simple way to eat food that will enable you to maintain a healthy weight for life without any pain, suffering, rules or plans.

You learn how to stop relying on calories, food plans and food rules to dictate how you should eat and instead you rely on your intuition.

If we know about nutrition do we need intuition?

Yes. We absolutely need our intuition
After countless diets, counting calories and food obsessions, bulimics tend to know more about nutrition than most people. But just knowing about nutrition isn't good enough.

If nutritional knowledge was all that was needed to be a healthy eater, then bulimics should be some of the most healthy eaters on the planet.

Obviously nutritional knowledge alone does not work.

The problem is that our nutritional knowledge has overtaken our intuitive knowledge.

We put too much focus on nutrition and we ignore what we really feel like eating.This teaches us to ignore our internal hunger signals and that doesn't work in the long run.

If we ignore what we really want we feel deprived. Deprivation is a lonely, insecure feeling in our stomach that can easily lead us back to a binge. Don’t you find now that you tend to binge on foods you deprive yourself of?

You need to push away the nutritional guidelines and instead start to use your intuition.

If you listen carefully your body will let you know what food it needs and in time you will be amazed at how much more clearly your body begins communicating with you. Your body has the ability to let you know exactly what it needs to experience optimal health.

To experience this, simply eat what you want, not what your diet mentality says you should eat.

Won’t intuitive eating lead to weight gain?

I know this can sound scary, but keep this in mind. If you don’t listen to your natural signals for hunger and fullness then it becomes very easy to eat more food than you actually need.

By far the most common reason for unnecessary weight gain is CONSTANT OVER EATING. This is because in our society we are NEVER told to listen to our hunger, so it just withers away.

We eat more, simply because we don’t realize we are full!

But if you learn how to listen to your hunger and satiety you can eat an amount of food that is perfect for you. Even if your intuition tells you to eat a little more or less than you normally would sometimes, that's perfectly OK. Next time, your hunger levels will naturally adjust to take that into account.

This helps you to avoid overeating and allows you to easily and happily maintain your natural healthy weight.

Sounds too good to be true?

A study on nearly 1300 college women found that intuitive eaters are more optimistic, have better self-esteem and a lower body mass index (BMI), without internalizing culture’s unrealistically thin ideal.

Although you may feel ready to start intuitive eating after just a few months of recovery, many of our members find that they are not truly ready to embrace this stage until they have been in successful recovery and using structured eating for around 7-12 months (in some cases even a little longer than this).

Learning to become an intuitive eater will free you from food rules, diets and restriction. You will become more at peace with your body than you could ever thought possible.


Putting it all together.

By following these steps this is how many of our members recovered from bulimia in around 12-18 months.

In fact I believe this to be the most effective approach for a FULL LIFELONG recovery from bulimia.

This is why those who have been through the Bulimia Help Method program feel like they are not “in recovery” but that they are FULLY recovered.

Many of our long term past sufferers of bulimia find it difficult to even remember what it was like to be bulimic. They find it difficult to remember their old thought patterns and emotions. In short, their bulimia is in the past and they are free to move on and live their lives as they wish. 

I also know that this is a very simplified view of recovery. I haven’t even mentioned relapses, bloating, meal planning, food rules, stopping purging and many other aspects covered in Bulimia Help Method.

But I wanted to keep it simple.
It's easier to keep a strong simple visual image in mind as appose to a complex series of steps and strategies.

So keep the Bulimiahelp.org Recovery Pyramid in mind to help keep you on focused on the path to recovery.

I hope you found this helpful for your recovery.

 

 

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The information provided in this website is for information purposes only. The information on this website is NOT a substitute for proper diagnosis, treatment or the provision of advice by an appropriate health professional. Please refer to the full disclaimer and copyright. If you do think you might suffer from an eating disorder, it is important that you talk to your General Practitioner, as there are many physical complications that can arise from being at an unhealthily low weight or from losing weight very quickly, or from purging. We advise you to seek professional help with working on an eating disorder.

 

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