Hi I'm Catherine, a Recovery Coach at Bulimia Help... Ask Me Anything!

Catherine Liberty's picture

Since experiencing just how incredible life can be when bulimia is no longer in the picture, I've dedicated my life to helping people to achieve the same level of full recovery.

As you may already know, I regularly share my personal experiences, insights and recovery tips via the bulimia recovery articles section here at Bulimia Help and I also offer a small number of 1-to-1 Bulimia Recovery Coaching places for those who feel they'd like some additional support. 

But today I thought it would be a great idea to change things up a little bit.

I know that recovery can be a time of great uncertainty and even greater confusion and so this week I would like to invite you to ask me anything! 

Have a question you'd like to ask about bulimia recovery? - Ask Me Anything!

All you need to do is leave a comment with your question below and I will do my very best to answer it for you. 

Whether you have questions about the recovery process in general, are experiencing a specific problem in your recovery and need some insight, want to ask me about my own personal recovery experiences or even if you'd just like to know a little bit more about how recovery coaching works at Bulimia Help - ask away!

No topic is off limits

I believe in the importance of openness and honesty when it comes to recovery so I'm more than happy to respond to any questions you may have.

No topic is off limits and please don't worry about asking a "stupid" question, because if it's important to you then it's important to me.  

 

* I will respond to every question but it may take me some time to get through them all so your patience is greatly appreciated :)

 

149 comments

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
How can you overcome a fear

How can you overcome a fear of food and eat like a normal person? I feel like I have no idea how to eat normally.

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there :) Firstly I love

Hi there :)

Firstly I love your question because I think it's something that every single person with an eating disorder (or at the start of their recovery) can relate to. I remember being convinced I could never learn to eat "normally" - that for me it would be impossible - that for me it would mean too much weight gain - that I would always have a disordered and unhealthy relationship with food. But ultimately I did make the changes and I know you can too - the things that allowed me to build a normal relationship with food was what we call structured eating (there's lots more information on it here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/book/info/creating-meal-plan-bulimia-recovery)

So structured eating involves:

- Establishing a regular eating pattern as soon as possible by committing to eat something every 3 hours (scary I know, but structured eating is a life saver in the end).

- Building up your confidence gradually - so sticking with foods you feel safest with but also ensuring you're not restricting any of the main food groups. Starting with smaller portions and gradually building up to regular sized portions.

- It is hard to know what to eat for your meals and snacks. Luckily the BHM does have a lot of in depth advice about this - although if you're not currently a member and can't work with a nutritionist try to look for reliable recovery meal plan examples like this one: http://www.bulimia.com/client/client_pages/newsletteredt15.cfm

Is it scary? Absolutely. I won't lie and say it was a walk in the park because it was far from it. But facing those fears didn't just change my life forever, I honestly believe it saved my life.

For a long time using structured eating in recovery feels unnatural - like you're following a strict meal plan, but in the end it teaches you how to be comfortable with normal portions of food and it eventually eating in this way becomes the most natural thing in the world.

I know that probably sounds too good to be true, I felt the exact same way before I started to recover too, but structured eating is the real deal. I went from being someone who could eat 20 chocolate bars in one sitting to someone who could eat half and save the rest until later. From someone who was terrified to eat regularly to someone who actually enjoyed it.

The only real way to get over those fears is to try it, to face them, to see what life can be like without your eating disorder - it can be a little bumpy at first but ultimately you'll see life is so much better than you ever thought possible.

The best tip I can give for moving forwards is not to imagine you have to make these changes for the rest of your life, not even for the rest of that day, just take it one meal at a time and before you know it you'll be doing the thing you never thought would be possible!

Take care, I hope this answer was helpful for you today,
Catherine

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
How did you manage the

How did you manage the negative feelings and body image?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi, thank you so much for

Hi, thank you so much for your question :)

When it came to managing negative feelings, honestly at first I was a mess. Without bulimia as my coping mechanism every emotion felt stronger, I found myself more anxious, more easily upset and even a little angry at times too. I think a lot of people feel like this at the start. But bulimia help taught me a lot about the importance of accepting emotions and while it took me some time to fully get on board with that, when I did the transformation was out of this world!

* Learning to accept all emotions (even the really bad ones)
Before recovery whenever I had a negative thought or feeling I would find myself reacting strongly to it, freaking out, panicking and needing to do something in order to escape from it. But in recovery I learned it was my reaction to the thought or feeling that actually caused that upsurge of anxiety and that "need" to binge and purge in order to cope with it. So I learned to practice just sitting with my thoughts, acknowledging them and no longer fighting with them.

It's painful to begin with and very overwhelming but soon you learn that those thoughts are just thoughts - they can not hurt you and no matter what they are telling you - you do not have to act on them. The more you practice allowing all your thoughts in without fighting them the more you realize you are more than capable of experiencing them. I even used this technique to overcome my fear of flying - it is amazing!

* Finding a healthy emotional outlet that works for you is a great idea too!
For me that outlet was writing (and lots of it). Writing in my private journal, writing to people here asking for help and support, writing any time I wanted to binge or any time I wanted to restrict. Even when no one else was going to read the things I had written it acted as such a good outlet for building up emotions, I'd definitely suggest giving it a go!

* Focusing on your true strengths and talents
So here at bulimia help we have this "positives list" where we can go and add things about ourselves that we admire. Our achievements, our strengths and positive qualities and attributes that have nothing to do with our outward appearance. Again at first this can seem tricky but the more you do it the more you naturally start to focus on those things, the more you start to believe in yourself and build your self esteem.

Body Image

* When it came to body image initially I did a little bit of "faking it"
So I would use positive affirmations, I would tell myself that my body was strong and healing and healthy and beautiful (even if I didn't believe those things) I've actually written a lot about this before, I'd love you to take a look over this when you have a second: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/power-positive-affirmations-bulimia-...

*You also need a lot of patience
Shifting the way you think about your body and your "go-to" thoughts about it does take a lot of time though. For me it took well over a year of recovery before I stopped having "fat thoughts" and before I finally learned to love my body. A lot of those changes I'd say did happen naturally as a result of recovery being so overwhelmingly good in the end - of realizing I didn't want to go back to my ED even if it meant never losing weight or even being able to diet again. Also by re-balancing your body and learning to eat normally during recovery the changes in your brain chemistry mean you'll have less obsessive thoughts when it comes to body image too.

* I'd suggest being cautious of your external influences too
So ditching anything that triggers you to be body-obsessive. No more trashy magazines or websites about weight loss etc. Instead try to find things that inspire you, body-positive blogs, recovery focused blogs, and so on. Changing your conversations with friends - becoming aware of "body bashing" or "fat talk" and making a commitment to yourself to no longer engage in those types of conversations (http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/toxic-conversations-vs-recovery).

I hope this helps to answer your question!
Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
How do you keep control while

How do you keep control while eating and not let stress, boredom and or fear take over?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Oh great question!

Hi there,

Oh great question! I know exactly what you mean, sometimes those feelings can take over and before you know it you've lost control but there are some things I really found useful for dealing with this and hopefully you'll find these simple strategies helpful too:

* Practice generating awareness and becoming mindful while eating. So this means actively thinking about the food you're eating, how it tastes, how you feel, your hunger and fullness - all things that keep you grounded and focused on that meal and stop your mind from drifting off.

* If fear is a big issue during meal times try using a positive affirmation to calm yourself during your meal. This could be a statement that you use to gently remind yourself that you are in control and not afraid to eat this meal - I personally used to use affirmations to help with specific food fears too - so if I started to worry about fat in a meal I would simply remind myself that "this fat is helping me to heal and recover, it is stopping future powerful binge urges." This article has some great tips on this: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/power-positive-affirmations-bulimia-...

* I used to find taking a long deep breath between bites worked wonderes too. it seems so simple, but sometimes it's the really simple steps like this that end up making the most difference, give it a go next time you're feeling stressed during a meal!

* Having a set routine and an "after meal strategy" can be really beneficial too. So always eating in the same place if possible and having a plan of exactly what you're going to do one that meal is over. This can be something super simple again, usually my after meal strategy would be to clean the kitchen or to go straight upstairs and read a book - but having those set plans meant I was far less likely to go back for more food or to begin a binge.

Ultimately one of the best ways to ensure that you're not losing control around food is to ensure that you are eating enough throughout the day. I used to struggle with evening binge urges a lot but found by slightly increasing the amount of food I ate earlier on these really lessened.

I hope this helps to answer your question. Good luck with your recovery and know that it really is going to be worth any temporary pain and struggles in the end!

Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi If been in recovery for 2

Hi

If been in recovery for 2 years, in which i was binge purge free for 9 months. Then i went through a rough patch, but am back on track! My question is whether there is a time, when purging is just not an option anymore. While i want to be free of bulimia, i still have it in the back of my mind.... As well as never being at peace with my body. Does it ever go away completely?

Thanks in advance,
Ayu

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Ayu! Firstly a big

Hi Ayu!

Firstly a big congratulations on your recovery so far, it must have felt wonderful to experience those 9 months free from bulimia and I am so proud of you for getting back on track after your rough patch! I remember when I relapsed quite badly between 6-8 months of recovery, it was really hard to get back on track, but I was so thankful that I had the courage and support I needed to do so as I am sure you are too!

I think right now at this stage of your recovery it's definitely not uncommon to experience thoughts of purging like that but as long as you keep pushing forwards with your recovery there is no reason why you can't overcome them completely in time. How long does it take? I think it can take a different amount of time for everyone, but it will happen. Sometimes I'll talk with people who have only been recovering for a few months and they say that purging is no longer an option or even a thought - where as for others (myself included) it can take a lot longer.

Now that you're back on track with recovery hopefully you're feeling a lot happier, more energized, more positive and more healthy in general - and if you are then hold onto those feelings. Remind yourself of bulimia's true colours, how bad you felt while relapsing and how good you feel when bulimia is out of the picture. Often I think it's the relapses that happen later in recovery that help to give us this much needed perspective and that help us to let go of the thoughts and urges to bingeing and/or purging forever.

When it comes to making peace with your body - I know personally struggled with fat thoughts, disliking certain parts of my body, comparing myself to others and wanting to be thinner right through the first year of recovery and often I think it's the negative body image that takes the longest for us to overcome. But here I am - completely happy and content with my body so I think there is absolutely no reason why every one else in recovery will not reach this level of freedom.

A lot of the time I read articles that say it's normal to dislike your body but I'm not entirely convinced by that. I don't think there is any need for us to go through the rest of our lives being at war with our bodies and recovery definitely taught me how to make peace with my own. It probably took me around 18 months to feel "fully recovered" as in no more thoughts or urges or desire to engage in bulimic behaviours - no more self hate and so on. But however long it takes you, hang in there, keep pushing forwards, because complete freedom like that, it is going to amaze you when you finally get there!

I mentioned this in a response to a question above but something that helped me to to change my negative "go-to" thoughts about my body was using positive affirmations and you can read my article on this here if you would like to: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/power-positive-affirmations-bulimia-...

I really hope this is helpful Ayu, wishing you the best of luck as you continue on your journey to full freedom from bulimia. I know you can do this. Take the lessons you need from those darker days and use them to propel yourself forwards.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I'm afraid of gaining weight.

I'm afraid of gaining weight. I workout hard and when I eat (when I did purge) and now in my recovery, I eat very clean. I already see my body getting puffy and the bloat has improved. I'm discouraged because I want to keep my body where it is. Is gain bound to happen?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there - thanks so much for

Hi there - thanks so much for your question, I'm really glad you asked it because this is an area of recovery that I know a lot of people will want to know about - the possible weight changes that can happen during recovery.

Fear of gaining weight is something that holds a lot of people back and it's a very difficult question to address fully because it seems that we're all having quite different experiences when it comes to weight changes but I'm going to try to answer this as well as I can for you.

So when it comes to weight changes in recovery we know that some people find that they gain no weight at all in recovery - some find that they gain some "un-needed" weight that is then gradually lost over time as their metabolisms catch up, some may need to gain "needed" weight, meaning they will never return to their pre-recovery weight because their natural healthy set point is higher than that and there are also some people who find that they ultimately lose weight in recovery. Now this is not very helpful of course because it is basically saying ANYTHING can happen. But here are some things we do know...

* It is likely that you’ll experience some weight fluctuations during recovery and it’s important to be prepared for this. This tends to happen even if your set point is the same as your pre-recovery weight.

* During the first 2-6 weeks of recovery you can expect to experience bloating as your body rehydrates and gets used to digesting food properly again. This bloating can cause the number on the scale to increase but it is important to know this is not a sign you're gaining fat.

* After this, weight fluctuations can continue for around 6 months (sometimes a little longer if you're still experiencing relapses at that stage). So your weight can be changeable for a while until your body finds its natural healthy set point weight. I know the idea of this is so scary, but we have to be willing to give our bodies the time they need to adapt to life without bulimia.

* If you're underweight at the start of recovery you need to be prepared to gain some "needed" weight.

* If you're overweight at the start of recovery you'll likely lose some weight during recovery, although weight loss tends to be very gradual and you may still experience those fluctuations to begin with.

* If you're within the "normal" weight range for your height and build then the chances are that you will end up at a very similar weight once you are recovered (scientific research studies into recovery and personal stories of recovery generally support this), but again you'll likely experience some weight fluctuations at first.

There are also some common reasons why people tend to gain "un-needed" weight during recovery and I talk about them in a lot more detail in this article if you'd like to read it: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/truth-about-bulimia-recovery-weight

So ultimately I do think it's likely that you're going to see your weight changing, especially at the start of recovery, but if you are willing to give this time (the bulimia help method always suggests at least 6 months) then at that stage you'll have a much better idea of what your natural healthy set point weight is.

I remember starting recovery saying I'd only do it if I didn't gain weight, that I was only willing to recover if I could stay at the size I was. But you know what? No matter how ingrained those things are, you may surprise yourself as you continue to recover. Once I saw how amazing life was without bulimia I knew nothing would make me turn back, especially not the number on the scale. So give yourself some time to adjust, have patience and always remind yourself of the reasons why you have chosen recovery in the first place. It's scary right now but in the end it's going to be the best decision you've ever made.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Cedric
Cedric's picture
What do you do when you've

What do you do when you've mastered structured eating, and you're definitely taking in enough food and everything, but it's simply the habit of evening b/p that's holding you back?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Cedric, Thank you so much

Hi Cedric,

Thank you so much for your question! It's great to hear that you've mastered structured eating and that you've been able to normalize your eating behaviours so much, you should be so proud of yourself for that achievement because I know it's far from easy in the beginning.

What you said about needing to find a way to break free from the habit of bulimia is something I can really relate to because I used to feel that a lot of my own issue with bulimia was habit, I'd lived that way for so long I didn't know how to break free. But slowly I did escape and make a new life without bulimia and I think it was a combination of factors that helped with this.

Here are some of the things that I think can be the most helpful at this stage of recovery...

* Thought Diffusion - I'm sure you've read a lot about this already in the BHM so I won't go over the entire thing again but it can be a great technique to use whenever you're having bulimic thoughts. In practicing it you can learn to experience the thoughts and just let them be without reacting to them. I remember the more I practiced accepting the thoughts the less they seemed to bother me and the sooner I could move on from them. So I'd definitely suggest using this technique whenever you want to binge, or feel triggered or even when you're feeling any kind of unwanted thought.

* I'm a big fan of using distraction techniques too - So it's not about trying to suppress bulimic thoughts, simply about gently drawing your attention to something else (kind of like the last step in thought diffusion). I always found writing could serve as a brilliant distraction tactic for me. So you may find it helpful to list just a couple of things that you can do the next time you find yourself being drawn to b/p.

* Finding new healthy ways to get the same emotional release and to release endorphins is another great idea. You might find the information here helpful for that: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/10-ways-boost-endorphin-levels-durin...

* Continually generating awareness of your triggers is going to be really helpful in determining what strategies you need to be using too. So although bulimia feels like a habit now, there will still be triggers. Where you're tired, bored, stressed, overworked, etc. try to work out your own trigger pattern. What's causing you the most trouble right now? A little detective work like this can go a long way because then one by one you can teach yourself how to deal with each trigger without turning back to bulimia.

* Practice, practice and more practice. I remember feeling like I'd pretty much mastered everything about recovery 9 months in, I'd stopped relapsing, I'd developed what I considered to be healthy coping strategies, I was used to accepting my feelings and I was eating normally all of the time - but it still took me a further 9 months to feel as though I had truly recovered. For me it was a case of going through the motions day in and day out until they felt natural - until I could live without bulimia without even giving it a second thought. It does take time but it will happen, so keep going, trust the process and allow yourself the time you need to find full recovery.

I really hope this was helpful today Cedric!

Take care,
Catherine :)

Hnewton84@me.com
Anonymous's picture
Even with SE and the absence

Even with SE and the absence of purges how do I control my desires to still binge?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Holly, Thank you so much

Hi Holly,

Thank you so much for your question and well done on coming so far with your recovery at this stage! I know it can be a nightmare when you feel as though you're doing everything right but those binge urges are still really strong, but there are definitely some steps you can take that will help you along the way.

As I mentioned to Cedric above (I think you may find that entire answer really helpful) the thought diffusion technique that Richard talks about in the Bulimia Help Method is a brilliant technique to begin using when you're having urges to binge even though you're eating right and no longer purging. So I would suggest taking some time to re-read this section of the BHM really let it sink in and give it a chance. When I first heard of the idea of thought acceptance (which is basically the same as thought diffusion) I was far from convinced, I didn't see how it could help, but I tried it anyway and I was so amazed by it. Thought diffusion is going to lessen the intensity of those urges over time.

Having a plan of one or two distraction techniques is a great idea too - I used to use very simple steps like coming here to talk to friends, writing my feelings down or even just getting out of the house and away from temptation to binge. It may not help you to avoid those urges all together but it should certainly make them more manageable until they pass.

Something else that can often be helpful is to remember that you only need to get through a couple of hours and then it will be time to eat again. Sometimes when you're thinking of recovery as this big life-long event it gets scary, so take a step back and challenge yourself to just make it until your next meal. I remember at the start I used to have to fixate on my next meal and even count down the time until it because it was the only way I felt I could cope with not bingeing in that moment.

For a while those binge urges that you're experiencing are going to hang around, but this is completely normal and nothing to worry about Holly, I promise you that. As long as you remain committed to your recovery you are going to see them reducing as time goes on and eventually they will leave you all together. At this stage it's very likely that you just need a little more time to get used to recovery and for your body to realize there is no longer a need to panic and demand food.

Things do not stay this hard either, no one would ever recover if they did! A little pain and fighting now for a lifetime of freedom in the end. You absolutely have the power to do this. Keep going!!!

Take care,
Catherine :)

Rose16841
Rose16841's picture
How do I stop/deal with

How do I stop/deal with constant negative connotations to food and how do I learn to accept my body how it is? I've have negative thoughts about my body for years.....but it this just normal for girls? Are we all insecure to some degree?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Rose, Thank you so much

Hi Rose,

Thank you so much for your question, I really hope my answer is going to be helpful for you today. Okay, let's dive straight in then!

* Encouraging yourself to think of food in new (more positive) ways...

When it comes to dealing with constant negative connotations to food it's really hard I know because you're so used to thinking in that way - that food is the enemy - that certain foods are "bad" and should be avoided at all costs. Something that I used to find very helpful under similar circumstances was to try to replace any go-to fear thoughts with facts.

For example - I used to be terrified of eating anything that contained fat - so whenever I prepared a meal with fat in as part of my structured eating I'd find myself being bombarded with the usual "do not eat this" - "fear this" type-thoughts. As soon as I recognized those thoughts, I didn't try to bury them or hide from them but I did try to guide them to better places. I accepted I was afraid but then I'd ask myself "what is the fat in this meal really doing?" I'd remind myself that after eating food containing fat I'd experience less binge urges, feel fuller for longer and even absorb all of the other wonderful nutrients from vegetables.

This can work even if you're eating previously triggering foods or foods that you consider to be "bad" because by introducing them into your diet you are ensuring that you don't later crave them so badly that you binge. So why not give it a go and see if it slowly helps you to change your thoughts about certain foods?

* It also helps to become very aware of how good you feel when you do manage to eat enough and in a balanced way. Do you have more energy? Do you sleep better at night? Are you less obsessive? Do you smile more? Can you deal with stress better? Are your bulimic urges lessened? Making that solid connection between the food you're eating and the positive changes you're experiencing is a great way to heal your relationship with it too.

* When it came to body image, I talked about this a little already in a different answer above, but a little bit of "faking it" can go a long way and you can do this by using positive affirmations specifically about your body. There is tons of information on how to do this here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/power-positive-affirmations-bulimia-...

* Be cautious of your external influences too - are certain friends causing you to have more body insecurity? What about the media around you, the books or websites you read? Ditching anything that triggers you to be body-obsessive is a very powerful step as is changing your conversations with friends - becoming aware of "body bashing" or "fat talk" and making a commitment to yourself to no longer engage in those types of conversations (http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/toxic-conversations-vs-recovery).

Are we all insecure to some degree? Absolutely, I think it's human nature to feel insecure at times, however I'm not totally convinced that body-insecurities are normal and something that everyone has to experience. After about 18 months of recovery I had learned to love my body all of the time and that has never changed over the years. So I think if I overcame fat thoughts and negative body image there is absolutely no reason why other people can not do the same.

So as you move forwards try to take the time to acknowledge the things you like and value about yourself that have nothing to do with your outward appearance - the more time you spend focusing on them the less you will have free for those obsessive thoughts to creep in. But also know that right now it's okay to have those thoughts, they are normal for most people right through recovery and they are not going to stop you from recovering - in time even without actively working on them you should see them naturally reducing.

When you get to a stage of recovery where you are just blown away by how good life is without bulimia, that is when the real magic will happen. That is when you will know without a doubt that any body type, any body size and any future changes to your body is worth it if it means you can keep living like this forever. Recovery really is THAT good.

Take care Rose,

Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
How do I recover from 37

How do I recover from 37 years of bulimia after years of therapy (ALL kinds traditional and alternative) especially now that I'm in menopause?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, thank you so much

Hi there, thank you so much for your question!

After 37 years of bulimia and having tried so many different approaches to recovery I can't even imagine how exhausted and lost you must be feeling right now - but you know what? It's clear that you're still not giving up because you wouldn't be here writing to me today if you were and that is one of the most important qualities someone wanting to recover from bulimia can possess - that drive for recovery, even when change seems impossible you haven't given up on yourself and you really shouldn't. You absolutely deserve recovery and I hand on heart believe it is possible for every single person, no matter how long you have suffered for.

I know it's hard to keep the faith, but please know that just because recovery hasn't worked for you in the past does not mean that it won't work in the future.

Last year I was lucky enough to get to know and work with an incredible woman here called Pat Mary who had been bulimic for 43 years and I know she shared many of the fears that you do right now - but though a lot of hard work and determination on her part she did it - she fully recovered and kicked bulimia out of her life completely.

(If you'd like to hear more of Pat Mary's story you can listen to an interview with her on this page: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/recovery-after-43-years-bulimia)

I hope that her story can inspire you to keep fighting and to keep searching on for the one method of recovery that will work for you. Please don't give up trying. We all think we are lost causes and too broken or too far gone to ever recover - and only having suffered with bulimia for ten years myself I can't even imagine what you've been through, but I believe there is always a way out. It's never too late.

Take care,
Catherine x

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I've been getting your emails

I've been getting your emails over a year, I think. I ignore them because I ignore my problems. But I am going to die, if I keep on ignoring. I just ate two burritos and a breakfast sandwich, and now I have wine.

Did you, or do some, have alcohol problems too? I'm not throwing food up today.

Ellen

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Ellen, Thank you so much

Hi Ellen,

Thank you so much for getting in touch, I know it can't have been easy but I am so glad that you decided to reach out today. Ignoring problems is something I can seriously relate to - I happily ignored my bulimia for so many years too, never even contemplating recovery, never admitting there was anything wrong. But deep down I felt it too - bulimia was going to kill me if I didn't find a way to stop it. It can sound dramatic saying that, but I don't think I'd be here today if I hadn't finally come to terms with that fact and found help.

It's a scary realization, but an important one. In a way, as much as I don't believe we can ever really "scare ourselves" into recovery, I do think sometimes we can use those fears and that realization that our bodies can only take so much abuse to push forwards, to finally start healing.

When you're at rock bottom and scared to death then things can't get any worse. So recovery can either make them stay the same - or make them better. It's a risk I was willing to bet on back then and it sounds like you may be ready to take that leap too?

I didn't personally have alcohol problems but I've met so many people over the past few years who did/do - it is definitely very common to have problems with food and also to have problems with alcohol. I just had a quick look through our forums here, although some of these posts are a little old, hopefully they help you to see that you are not alone with this:

http://www.bulimiahelp.org/community/forums/alcohol-and-bulimia-0

http://www.bulimiahelp.org/community/forums/alcohol-abuse-and-bulimia

A while back I also put together a little information article on substance abuse/alcohol and bulimia because there is a lot of research out there proving a strong link between the two: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/connection-between-bulimia-substance...

I know when you're facing the start of your recovery it seems so impossible, there are so many changes to make and so much to do - and this has to be especially hard on you if you're struggling with alcohol too, but you do have the strength to change your life Ellen, I promise you that it's inside of you, you just have to take those first few scary steps first.

Take care,
Catherine :)

PS. I thought you might find this little article helpful, it has some great tips on avoiding throwing up and they are some of the things that really helped me too: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/strategies-help-you-stop-purging

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Do you have any tricks or

Do you have any tricks or help for getting metabolism back on track while in recovery? I know it takes time for your metabolism to re-set after an eating disorder, but my sluggish system is getting hard to handle. Thoughts?

Thanks!

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there :) Thank you so much

Hi there :) Thank you so much for your question!

One of the best tips for getting your metabolism back on track while in recovery is also a really basic element of the recovery process itself - eating smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day. If you're already doing this and following a structured eating plan then you are doing one of the best things possible in order to kick start your metabolism again.

Engaging in healthy amounts of exercise that encourage muscle growth can be really helpful for boosting metabolism too. Sometimes if you've severely restricted food in the past or excessively exercised you will have lost muscle mass, which in turn will have lowered your metabolic rate. Exercise can be tricky during recovery, especially if you've struggled with exercise addiction in the past, so it's important to ensure you're not overdoing it and that you're eating enough to fuel your body when you to exercise.

Unfortunately though I have to be honest and say that I've never really discovered any really effective tips or "quick fixes" for boosting metabolism in recovery other than these basic things. It really does have to be a case of waiting and allowing your body the time it needs to get used to functioning normally again. I know this is such a stressful and upsetting time and some people clearly experience more problems with sluggish metabolisms than others do, but as far as we understand eating disorders do not cause permanent metabolic changes, as long as you continue to recover your metabolism will eventually get back to normal. Much of the research conducted into this is based on anorexia rather than bulimia, but the few bulimia studies still conclude that our metabolism and body requirements mirror those of people who have never suffered through an eating disorder once we have recovered.

Right now it must seem like the time is going so slowly, but I I promise you some day really soon all of this fighting is going to be over and you are going to find yourself so liberated, living a life you could only dream of.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
How do you stop the hunger?

How do you stop the hunger? Even eating every 3-5hrs and choosing filling things like carrots or jerky (and drinking loads) I'm still hungry. I feel so awful and greedy at work all day :(

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi :) This is a really good

Hi :)

This is a really good question because a lot of the time, especially early on in recovery, you'll find yourself eating enough food, adapting to structured eating but still finding yourself ravenously hungry.

First things first It can be a great idea to ensure you're not leaving too much time between meals, 5 hours sounds like a very long time between meals in recovery and could certainly be contributing to your hunger. The Bulimia Help Method suggests eating something every 3 hours - if you can't quite manage that consider going no more than 4 hours between meals right now and you should see a difference.

Also look at the kinds of foods you're eating, is it possible that you're slightly restricting certain foods? I know when I first started to use structured eating I was still very afraid of eating anything with fat in it and so I tried to avoid it - but it meant by binge urges just wouldn't die down and that I was hungry all of the time. The Bulimia Help Method taught me a very simple way to get the balance right - to include at least one portion of carbohydrate, protein and fat in each meal, and that really seemed to help to lessen the constant hunger.

If none of those things are relevant though and you're sure that you're getting enough calories each day then it's likely your body just needs a little more time to adapt and to realize that you are now feeding it regularly, that you're no longer in a "famine" and so it no longer needs to send out powerful urges for you to eat all of the time and there are some very simple strategies that you can use to help you through those times which I'll talk about in just a second.

Equally you may find yourself feeling hunger that has nothing to do with being hungry - I know in the past I would feel a need to constantly eat because of stress, boredom, anxiety and so on. If that is the case try using distraction tactics, taking more time out for yourself - here are some great tips and simple strategies on what to do to avoid bingeing (or eating when you're not actually hungry) http://www.bulimiahelp.org/community/forums/101-things-do-instead-bingin...

Eventually as long as you're eating enough this hunger is going to die down. I remember thinking I could never be someone who ate normally and I was convinced I was "one of those people" who would always be hungry, but you're going to see that change really is possible as you continue to heal.

I hope this was helpful for you today,
Take care,
Catherine :)

Hope_89
Hope_89's picture
Family dinners are always

Family dinners are always associated with bp's for me... during recovery I've avoided them because I know what will happen. But I can't avoid them forever, any tips on how to deal with situations that have almost always lead to a bp?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Hope, Thank you so much

Hi Hope,

Thank you so much for your question and your patience in waiting for my reply! I know exactly what you mean, when you've had those specific situations that are always associated with bp's it's so difficult thinking about how to approach them and how to break free from the habit of relapsing at those times.

Firstly I always think a little bit of temporary avoidance is a good idea at the start of recovery, it allows you to safeguard your recovery and it gives you time to build your strength and to get used to living without bulimia so it's great to see that you've done that. But you're absolutely right, you can't go on avoiding those situations forever and that's definitely not the idea of recovery. I do have some things to suggest though that I know I found very useful for times like this.

1. Using Mental Rehearsal to prepare yourself for the situation
Mental Rehearsal was one of my favourite tools to use during recovery because it really helps you to prepare to face difficult situations. This doesn’t have to take long at all, just close your eyes and take a few minutes to visualize the upcoming meal. Imagine yourself acting confidently, feeling happy and making food choices that are recovery-friendly. Imagine the food on your plate, delicious, not too little and not too much. Imagine yourself feeling content throughout your meal and peaceful at the end with no urges to continue eating no matter how delicious it all was.

If you’re in need of a little inspiration here, I always found it helpful to visualize how I would eat and feel in those situations once I had fully recovered. Give it a go and see if it makes those specific meal scenarios a little more manageable! If you’d like further tips and advice on mental rehearsal you can visit the Bulimia Help page on it here:
http://www.bulimiahelp.org/tools/power-mental-rehersal

2. Practicing setting boundaries
This can be equally as important, especially when you're eating with other people who may try to impose their own food rules, may try to make you eat more than you are comfortable with, etc. I wrote this article on boundaries around the holidays but there are still lots of useful tips in there that I think you will find helpful: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/setting-healthy-boundaries-bulimia-r...

3. Having an after meal strategy prepared
If the situation does involve you eating with others it's still really important to know what you'll do afterwards, make a plan and try to stick with it.

When you first start to face these big challenges head on you may feel very scared and intimidated, but it's okay if things don't go 100% to plan the first few times because it means you then have the opportunity to learn and to grow. In time you are going to break free from those old routines Hope, work at them little by little and before you know it you're going to be free!

Take care
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I believe most of the times

I believe most of the times that i am never enough compare to the others and so I don't deserve their love and attention.
i give them all what i have and not always i have what i need in return.
I think it s about My past and My parents rarely listened to me and my desires.
Now i am getting a woman and society wants Me strong and satisfied from My Life which is intense and full of stimoli, i can not keep one and get in deep of it. I escape from decision and responsabilities but i should start keeping them being an adult.
i got bulimia to punish myself...in order to don t get enough of the emotions expecially from the bad ones.
I want people to see me and i cover myself with a calm smile.
I don t feel because i don t want.

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you so much

Hi there,

Thank you so much for getting in touch and for your patience in waiting for my response :)

You know what you've talked about here I think so many other people with bulimia can identify with, I know I used to share many of those feelings, especially when you talk about giving other people everything you have - a lot of the time it seems that people with bulimia are also "people pleasers" we do everything we can to make sure people like us, we always put others first too, a lot of the time because we don't feel we deserve to put ourselves first.

Comparing with others is something I used to do all of the time as well, it was like everyone around me was better and more deserving, it's such a horrible way to live, but I know that when you've been that way your entire life it's hard to ever imagine being any different. But you know what, you really can slowly start to change the way you see yourself and how you live in this world. I won't lie, it does take a lot of time, but it really is possible.

For me a lot of those changes came naturally during the process of recovering from bulimia. I think when you start to look after yourself for the first time, when you start listening to your body and responding to your own needs it starts to give you a sense of worth and helps to build your self-esteem. Without bulimia in the picture it is scary at first, you can feel very lost, but then slowly you start to realize who you are without bulimia, what you like, what you enjoy, the things that define your personality that have nothing to do with your eating disorder.

I'm not sure if you're currently in recovery but it's definitely something to think about, you'd be surprised by just how many things can change when bulimia is no longer in control of your life. Lots of people find themselves thinking that they wont be able to cope with the pressures of life without bulimia there as a safety net, but in time you learn this couldn't be further from the truth. You are absolutely strong enough to live without bulimia.

I know you're feeling so lost right now, but I promise you that it doesn't always have to be this way. Take baby steps, commit to recovery, start to discover the things that really make you happy and even if it feels very unnatural at first try to acknowledge your talents, the things that you like about yourself, the things you'd like to build on. Right now it might feel like there is so much you need to do in order to become happy and whole, but I absolutely believe you can get there. The fact that you're here writing to me today shows that you haven't given up, so keep that fighting spirit alive, you're going to thank yourself for it in the end.

Take care,
Catherine :)

cmdp
cmdp's picture
How do I make a SE meal plan

How do I make a SE meal plan while quite overweight (40 lbs) from binging and hoping to lose that weight too? I know focusing on weight loss is not the issue right now but I find it hard to start SE and eat "normally" before I lose the weight which is maintaining my binges because when I eat I can forget about being fat.
I would like to know how I make small steps with SE in a healthy way - I cant stop counting calories. I find it hard eating every 3 hours but I eating 4-5 times a day I believe I can do. Will a fixed meal plan with a certain amount of calories help or is that bad?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi cmdp, Thank you so much

Hi cmdp,

Thank you so much for your question!

I know this is a concern that a lot of people starting recovery share because it really is quite common to find yourself above your ideal healthy set point weight when you have bulimia. Equally as frustrating is the fact that weight fluctuations and the "recovery bloat" seem to happen to us all when we begin to eat regularly again, regardless of starting weight, so I completely understand why you're so scared of starting to eat normally again.

But what you really have to remember here is that it is food restriction and purging that cause you to remain trapped, that encourage your binge urges to remain strong and that cause your body to panic, lowering your metabolism and storing the food you eat rather than allowing it to be burned off as energy. Like most people starting a structured eating plan, it is likely you'll experience some weight fluctuations, but they will be temporary.

The idea of eating a regular amount of food is terrifying when you've never done it before, when you've convinced yourself that you're just "one of those people" who can not eat normally without gaining weight, but I promise you that given a little time you will find those fears to be unfounded. In the past, before starting recovery if I ever ate more than 500 calories a day I'd see the number on the scale increasing. So when I came here and was told I needed to eat around 2000 calories a day I was beyond terrified. I remember thinking it would be impossible for me, but luckily I was so desperate for recovery I knew I had to try. Sure there were weight fluctuations at first, but eventually things did balance out, I didn't continue to gain weight once my body got used to regular food again.

When you give your body the food it needs your binge urges are going to dramatically reduce so overall you're likely to be taking in a lot less calories than you would be if you continued to binge (regardless of purging methods) and by eating regularly you're going to boost your metabolism too, which is why structured eating is so very important in the begining.

I know your brain must be screaming at you to lose the weight first, but deep down I know you understand that dieting and weight loss attempts are only going to fuel your eating disorder in the long run.

Weight loss can be slow with structured eating, especially if you're following the guidelines and trying to eat around 2000 calories a day (depending on activity levels) but if you are above your natural healthy set point then your weight will balance out. You just have to be giving it time. I know "time" is a hard thing to allow, but just think, this is the real deal, it's not another diet, it's not a fad, it's an opportunity to learn how to eat normally and how to create a peaceful relationship with food that will last you a life time. It is SO worth it.

Right now I wouldn't worry too much if you can't stop counting calories straight away - I also counted calories at the start of recovery. What you can work on is changing your mindset a little - so count calories as a way to ensure you're getting enough food for each meal and snack and remind yourself that when you avoid restriction you're really helping yourself to avoid any future powerful binge urges. A while ago I put together some of my favourite tips for reducing calorie counting behaviours and described how to take baby steps with this if you don't feel ready to stop counting all together, I really think you'll find some of them helpful: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/obsessive-calorie-counting-holding-y...

Lots of people find having a fixed meal plan helpful so if you feel that will be right for you do give it a go. Richard suggests making 4 meal plans that you can alternate between at first, rather than trying to come up with something new for every day. I do think this comes down to personal preference though. Personally I used to have a rough figure of how many calories I needed for each meal and snack and then I'd try to decide on my meals that way, gradually building confidence around food until the numbers became less of an issue.

I hope this helps a little,

Take Care and if you ever have any more questions please feel free to PM me through my profile page, it may take me a little time to get back to you but I promise that I always will :)

Catherine

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine, I was just

Hi Catherine,

I was just wondering, how did you find the courage to stop eating?
I constantly feel like I need something in my mouth, even if I'm not hungry or completely full! Unless I am distracted, I get anxious if I'm not eating, I guess it's a comfort thing. Once I start eating I can't stop!
I want to recover do bad, but my life without bulimia and being to just constantly eat, cause that's what makes me feel good, is so scary and foreign to me!

Any suggestions?
Thanks :)

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there! Thanks so much for

Hi there!

Thanks so much for your question and for your patience in waiting for my response :)

Oh yes, now this is something that I remember having such a hard time with at first and I think for a lot of us it really is related to anxiety, that constant need to be eating something. I started calling this "binge-grazing" in recovery, because it's like you're not really having an urge to binge, but you're having constant urges to graze all day long.

Some things I found helpful when dealing with this were:

* Constantly reassuring myself - so whenever I felt that need to eat between meals and snacks, I would look at the clock and reassure myself that in just X amount of time I would be able to eat again, I'd tell myself I could make it through and sometimes yes this would mean thinking about food the entire day (Which is very draining), but somehow having that reassurance that food was just around the corner helped so much.

* Herbal tea can be really helpful too - I drank a lot of it early on in recovery because it did replace some of the lost comfort from not eating continually.

* Practicing accepting your feelings is a big step too - that anxiety and panic is horrible, but rather than fighting with it and trying to pretend it doesn't exist, do you best to let it in, to feel it, even to welcome it. I know that sounds very strange (it did to me too at first) but in giving yourself permission to feel your emotions (even the really bad or upsetting ones) you slowly remove your need to react strongly to them.

* A little distraction can work wonders too - so I used to have a mental list of two or three things that I would try to do if my urges to continually eat became too overwhelming. Usually very simple things like calling my husband, writing in my journal or coming here to talk to friends in the forums. But a little distraction can go a long way.

The number one thing you always have to do though is to make sure you are eating enough and that you're not restricting any of the main food groups because while you are your body will not stop sending out those powerful signals to eat. So really keep working on that.

If you're worried that you can't stop eating once you start try:
* Some after meal routines - plan exactly what you will do once it's time to stop eating.
* Prepare/buy smaller one portion meals so there are no left overs to binge on.
* Keep triggering foods out of sight as sometimes seeing them can trigger urges.
* Keep reassuring yourself and remember if you're using structured eating then it will be time to eat again soon!

I know this feel so hard right now, it is very foreign to start eating normally if you never remember a time when you did it, but with lots of patience and practice you're going to find this getting easier and so much more natural.

Hang in there, you can absolutely do this!

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Should I exercise during the

Should I exercise during the first phase of recovery? I have stopped the bp cycle for almost 2 weeks and not sure if exercising would be good. I'm not worried about over-exercising for me but I'm worried that exercising will provide me more reason and justification to eat more thus leading me back to binge. On the other hand I think exercising with friends is a good activity, so should I avoid it?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi :) Oh this is a great

Hi :)

Oh this is a great question, thank you so much for asking it!

Firstly a big congratulations on your recovery so far, you should be so proud of yourself for avoiding bulimic behaviours for almost 2 weeks now, I hope you've been noticing some of the great benefits of recovery and that it hasn't been too hard on you.

If you haven't had any issues with over-exercising in the past and you're aware of not over doing it then I think exercise can actually be really wonderful for recovery. It helps you to lower stress hormones, to increase your mood and to generally make you feel good. I always think the most important thing is to look to your true intention - if you find yourself with a desire to exercise ask yourself why? Is it because you want to feel healthy and energized and spend some time with friends? If so then that is wonderful! It's only if your real intention is to control your weight/because you ate too much/focused on appearance that you need to be a lot more cautious.

What I would say is that you really need to ensure you're eating enough food on the days when you do exercise, you will need a little more than usual, otherwise you may find your hunger getting out of control. You may want to do this by increasing your portion sizes slightly throughout the day or by adding in an extra snack.

If you do feel a lot more hunger on those days, remember, there is no need to panic, this is not a binge urge coming back to get you, it's just your body telling you that it needs more fuel. Try to see that need for what it is and respond to it with understanding. It is normal and natural to eat a little more when you exercise, so yes exercise will provide you with a reason to eat a little more, but that's okay, it doesn't mean you're going to binge.

Why not start off really slowly just one or two days a week and see how it makes you feel?

I hope this helps a little!

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine, I don’t quite

Hi Catherine,

I don’t quite understand one thing. You say one should not try and control binge/purge urges just by mind-force. But once you’ve been bulimic for a while, even if you eat normally you get the urge to binge/purge. So I’m not quite sure how else to controll it if not with my mind.

Thank you for trying to answer all these questions. I truly admire your strength in continuing to deal with this topic even after having struggled through it yourself.

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thanks for getting

Hi there,

Thanks for getting in touch, again another really great question because I too remember being confused about the whole "don't use willpower for recovery" at the start.

You're absolutely right, even when you start to eat normally those urges to binge and purge can stick around for a while, so of course we do have to use some will power when dealing with those urges, but I think the point Richard tries to make through the Bulimia Help Method is that we can't just rely on willpower alone. So we can't just sit there and decide that we're not going to be bulimic anymore and that we'll never binge or purge again because without taking action we just can't recover.

Instead we need to ensure we're taking practical steps that will lead to change - so implementing a structured eating plan, developing strategies we can use when those urges to binge/purge do start to overwhelm us, learning how to get used to feeling uncomfortable urges, thoughts and emotions without reacting to them through thought diffusion.

Here are some article you may find useful for dealing with the urges to binge and purge:
http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/strategies-help-you-stop-purging
http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/how-stop-binge-eating

I hope this helps to explain things a little better and I also wanted to thank you for your kind words too, I really enjoy being able to support others through their own recovery so it's really no trouble at all. Of course I can't say I'll always have the right answers for everyone but I feel like having got through recovery and seeing how good life is without bulimia I just have this calling to do anything in my power to help others find their way too.

Take care, I really hope my answer helps!
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Do I have bulimia? My story

Do I have bulimia?
My story would be very similar to many of your members in that I developed bulimia in my late teens after an episode of dieting, perhaps coupled with homesickness. After sometime I managed to get myself into "recovery" I have since then gone on to have a very happy life however my eating disorder is always in the background. I have at times gone about 6 months without purging but usually I am sick on average 3 or 4 times a month. I have spent the last 20 years always pre-occupied with the pursuit of thinness and the funny thing is I am no thinner or fatter than I was when I was 18. Unlike many other stories I have read, I am not unhappy. I have a very happy relationship with my husband, 3 beautiful children, good job, friends etc and my obsession with wanting to be thinner feels similar to many women who don't have an eating disorder, only sometimes I feel guilty about what I have eaten which drives me to binge and purge which I HATE. I never eat deserts apart from during a binge and would have absolutely no idea about how to eat intuitively as I feel my desire to be thinner and control my food intake has become part of who I am. Another funny thing is that I have received your emails for about a year now but I have never joined partly because I don't think I need help and partly because I feel I would have to leave go of the idea of losing weight and I don't think I could do that. However I do find these emails comforting, almost like somewhere people would potentially think of my problem as real instead of some kind of phase from my past.
I would value your opinion on my situation.

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you so much

Hi there,

Thank you so much for your question and for your patience in waiting for my response.

Over the past few years I've met a lot of people who are in a very similar position to what you've described here, people who are unsure if they have a real problem with food, if they're even bulimic or if they should bother seeking help. The important thing to know though is that even if you don't meet every single criteria needed to receive a formal diagnosis of bulimia (you can read about the specific criteria for bulimia here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/do-i-have-bulimia) that doesn't mean you are any less deserving of help or that you should give up on the idea of recovery all together.

Lot's of people identify with elements different eating disorders, so they don't quite fit under one label and when that happens eating disorder professionals tend to refer to it as "EDNOS" (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified). Unfortunately I'm not qualified to diagnose eating disorders but it's clear to see that the episodes of bingeing and purging you're experiencing are not just a "phase" from your past - they are real, they are impacting on your health and happiness and I think you should definitely consider actively focusing on recovery - whether that is here or through any other means that appeal to you.

You deserve to have a life where weight and size and food-guilt no longer exists - and that probably sounds impossible at this moment in time, but it really doesn't have to be that way.

When it comes to letting go of the idea of losing weight - I think that is one of the hardest things for anyone at the start of recovery to face. When you've obsessed over weight for so many years letting go of the idea of "control" is far from easy. It can be quite a long process too, I know it took me a full year of recovery before I finally began to accept the fact I would never be able to diet or focus on weight loss again if I wanted to be truly free from my eating disorder. But honestly, you will surprise yourself at how much your attitudes and deep set beliefs can change over time as you begin to heal your relationship with food.

It's wonderful to hear that you're having such a happy and fulfilled life regardless of your eating disorder, but I still think you could be even happier if you didn't have that constant dark cloud of food-guilt and fear looming over you. Can you imagine waking up one day and not caring about your weight? Or eating a desert and enjoying it without any thought or fear of weight gain? Again that probably sounds impossible, but it can happen for you if you want it badly enough. Recovery is terrifying but in the end it can improve your life in ways you never even dreamed would be possible.

I hope this helps you to think things over a little more, I know it's hard to not compare your eating disorder behaviours and experiences to others, but please know you absolutely deserve recovery whether you're someone who binges and purges multiple times a day or just a couple of times a month.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine How did you

Hi Catherine
How did you become a recovery coach?
Melby

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Melby, Thank you for your

Hi Melby,

Thank you for your question!

So my journey to becoming a recovery coach was honestly pretty unexpected, but looking back on it now it seems that everything just fell into place, like it was meant to be. I don't know if you believe in the idea of everything happening for a reason? But that seems to be exactly how I ended up here.

For most of my life I'd struggled with an unhealthy relationship with food, overeating as a child, having a brief phase of anorexia in my early teens and then developing bulimia around the age of 14. I'd also grown up with a lot of mental illness in my family, I'd cared for my mother a lot growing up and at that point I'd decided I'd like to work somewhere in the field of mental health (even though my own mental health was far from great at that time).

So when it came to applying for University I decided to study Applied Psychology and I loved it. I studied special modules in abnormal psychology which focused a lot on eating disorders, I took part in a working placement at a semi secure mental health unit and I chose to focus my dissertation on Body Image (even though at that point I was still bulimic and very much struggling with my own body image problems).

After graduation I was desperate to continue studying psychology so that I could qualify as a therapist, unfortunately I couldn't even come close to raising the amount of money I would need and was unable to secure a lone so at that stage I actually ended up working in a special educational needs school for a while - until I went on to interview for and accept a place on a Social Work MA.

Being back at university was like a dream and I really enjoyed my Social Work training, but a year and a half in to the two year course things started to fall apart. I'd been using my bulimia to cope with the pressures of work, to escape from the constant worry that I wasn't good enough and I'd started bingeing and purging upwards of ten times a day. It was exhausting and I became so ill I eventually dropped out of my course with just a few months to go.

That was when I found Bulimia Help and started to focus on recovering from bulimia for the very first time.

In the 18 months it took me to recover I was here pretty much every single day, making friends, trying my best to support others and I found that as I progressed further and further it felt really amazing to give back to the website that had saved my life, to help new people to find their way, to offer reassurance and guidance that things would be okay.

In fact I enjoyed this so much that even after fully recovering I would come back weekly to offer as much support as possible, I also began to mentor people in recovery at the website mentorconnect because I was desperate to spread the message of just how amazing life without bulimia could be.

Then one day I'd written a blog here explaining how I intended to one day find a career where I could help others to recover from bulimia as I had - that was when Richard (bulimia helps founder) got in touch and asked me if I would like to work for the site.

At first it was offering newsletters, articles, chat sessions but I wanted to do more and I knew even with the Bulimia Help Method a lot of people were struggling to follow the steps and to remain motivated so we came up with the idea of 1-to-1 support and that is how I started to work as a recovery coach here. Having been through the entire recovery process and using the bulimia help method to recover Richard told me I was uniquely qualified to help others to do the same, that I knew the ins and outs of the program and I think he was right. It was almost as if my recovery was my training for becoming a coach - just how I said at the start, like everything had fallen in place.

So I've been a coach here now for around 2 years and I hope I will be in some capacity for the rest of my life!

Ah sorry for writing a big essay response, I think that has covered everything so I will stop now :)

Catherine

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I have battled eating

I have battled eating disorders all my life. I have been bulimic for about 8 years now and in recovery for 1. My bingeing goes up and down, but the funny thing is where it used to relieve anxiety, now it actually causes it. I worry during a binge that it's going to kill me somehow. Heart attack or ciesure or something, yet I still can't seem to stop. Can a binge cause you to die? And when totally wrapped up in a binge, do you have any recommendations to pull yourself out of it?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi There, Thank you for

Hi There,

Thank you for getting in touch and for your patience waiting for my response!

Firstly a big congratulations on choosing recovery, it takes a lot of bravery, especially when you've been used to living with bulimia for so long and I know the journey is so tough, I remember being close to giving up countless times, but please hang in there and always remember this pain and struggle is temporary - in the end you're going to have a lifetime of freedom to enjoy.

Oh wow - I keep saying to people "oh I can relate to this" or "this happened to me" I suppose as bulimics we really do tend to have a lot in common, but wow, your feelings in regards to your binges killing you is something I can very much relate to and it's not often I hear people talking about this. Do you suffer with general anxiety too? I used to have a lot of anxiety and I remember just before I started to recover it had manifested into this paranoia that if I binged and purged just one more time I was going to die - but you're right even the fear is not enough to just stop.

I always say you can't scare yourself into recovery, but what you can do is hold onto this fear and try to use it for motivation. Motivation to push through just a little longer without bingeing, motivation to keep focusing on your recovery, eating regularly and focusing on healing even when those things seem so difficult.

As I'm sure you already know lots of the side effects and lives lost to bulimia tend to be due to the impact that purging has on the body, electrolyte imbalances and so on, but yes there is also the possibility that bingeing could cause your stomach to rupture which could be fatal. There are some more details in this article: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/when-death-bulimia-changes-world

I know this is really scary right now, but I can see how much you want to recover and how hard you are trying, keep going, keep focused and soon these fears are going to be a thing of the past.

I do have one great strategy for pulling yourself out of a binge and it's all about learning to become mindful and generating awareness while bingeing:

Generating awareness while bingeing

The scenario:

You’re feeling unstoppable and have already started to binge. Your mind is racing of what you want to eat and how good it all tastes. How do you stop? Try this awareness exercise next time a binge comes on and see if it helps you to stop half way through. (If your mind is planning a binge because of real hunger this will definitely feel impossible because there is no way to override that protective drive to nourish yourself)

The steps to take:

1. It's really hard, but as soon as you realize you are bingeing (or about to binge) start to pay attention to everything that you are doing in those moments.

2. Talk to yourself, are you reaching for the biscuits? Say it out loud (or clearly in your mind if others are around you). As you eat a biscuit start paying attention to your jaw, the taste of each bite, the texture. When the second biscuit goes in, do the same. Does the second taste the same as the first?

Keep the awareness going.

Put your hands on your stomach, are you feeling full? As you reach for something sweet or savory, be aware, as you eat it draw attention to your mouth and what it is you are doing. Our taste response lowers when we are full, draw awareness to this, notice how things that normally taste really sweet lose that sweetness they had at the beginning. Everything starts to taste the same.

Remember, whatever action you are taking, say it out loud/clearly in your mind. It’s all about keeping the awareness going. It’s about preventing your mind from slipping into that trance like state.

This can seem like a pointless exercise because it doesn’t physically help you to stop before a binge hits BUT… Generating awareness is the first step you need to take. You need to become aware of your actions before you can find strategies that will help you to stop. This heightened level of awareness will enable you to start making more recovery-focused choices and should hopefully reduce the intensity and duration of binges too.

I'd also suggest working on postponing your binges too, have a read about this here:
http://www.bulimiahelp.org/tools/binge-busting/postpone-a-binge

I really hope this helps, keep pushing forwards and keep being brave.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I purge even minuscule meals

I purge even minuscule meals and binge maybe once a week. I have heard of purging disorder but I understand they do not binge. Is this behavior no err m as normal to bulimia?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi, Thank you for your

Hi,

Thank you for your question and for your patience waiting for my response too :)

What you've described sounds really similar to how bulimia develops for a lot of people. So I know personally, before I became "fully" bulimic (according to the diagnostic criteria) I would try to restrict as much as possible, eat very small meals, but then even if I'd only eaten some vegetables I would still purge. Like you I'd only binge maybe a few times a month. I went on like this for some time but eventually my body stated to fight back against the hunger and my binge urges became so intense that I started to binge a lot more frequently, eventually it happened almost every day, then multiple times every day. So although purging without bingeing is not typically a bulimic behaviour I think lots of people do experience this before they go on to develop bulimia, if that makes sense!

You would be surprised how often people struggle to determine exactly what eating disorder they have because a lot of the time the diagnostic criteria is very specific. So you may find yourself meeting some of the criteria for purging disorder and some for bulimia, but still you may not be technically classed as suffering from either if you can't meet every single point.

Have you heard of the term "EDNOS?"

When someone with disordered eating patterns or behaviours does not meet all of the diagnostic criteria for Bulimia or any other specific eating disorder then they can be given a diagnosis of "EDNOS" which simply means Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

I've written a little about this here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/do-i-have-bulimia

The important thing to know is that regardless of the label attached to your eating disorder and whether you fit the criteria for Bulimia, purging disorder, or no specific eating disorder, all eating disorders can be life threatening and are certainly life debilitating so please know that you still deserve help and support.

I know the idea of recovery is terrifying, but in the end it will be the best choice you ever make, so even if you're not quite ready to commit fully right now, please don't write it off all together, you deserve a life free from the pain and suffering that eating disorders bring.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine, I am not really

Hi Catherine,

I am not really sure how long I have been bulimic but I think maybe six years. I tried self recovery on January with an entire month of being b/p free, but then I relapsed really bad. Shortly after I started therapy and was able to have a nutricionist help me with SE. At the beginning my episodes increased really bad, and then, they started lessening. However, I am now able to b/p only at nights and sometimes I can go the entire day free. How ever I have noticed, that when I do b/p I don´t feel like such a damn failure anymore, I am not hard on myself and sometimes before the binge I even say to myself I deserve a little binge for going throug the day so well. Is this normal?? Am I completly loosing it? Why do I no longer beat myself up after a relapse?? I am scared at some level I may never be able to let go of my bulimia and somehow encourage it! To be recovered is what I want more than ahything! I even prefer to recover from Bulimia than from Graves disease (which I am also suffering from) I am so scared. Did this ever happen to you or anyone out there reading??

And also, I was able to sort off get back on track after 3 moonths of horrible relapse. Is that normal? Aren´t relapses maybe just like a day or two?? How long before relapse is no longer an option. I feel like I have to spend the rest of my life in complete awarness fro every minor detail that cound trigger me and set me back with a relapse.

Thank you katherine.

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Katherine, Thank you so

Hi Katherine,

Thank you so much for getting in touch, as you've probably noticed I do tend to write a lot and I don't want to rush any of the answers so my apologies for taking so long getting back to you!

It sounds like you've been making great progress with your recovery since January, I can see you've become a lot more compassionate and understanding towards yourself and that's a really big step! It really is a positive thing to get to a place in recovery where you're no longer beating yourself up for every little slip up or relapse and where they don't cause you so much anxiety, fear or upset. I suppose the challenge comes in finding the right balance between removing that fear but also not using the lack of fear of relapse as an excuse to immediately give in to the urges.

What you've described here about sometimes feeling as though you deserve to binge after holding it together all day is certainly not uncommon either and while I didn't personally experience this I have talked with a lot of people here who did/do struggle with these kinds of "planned" or "allowed" binges. So I promise you that you're not alone with this. The good news is that you've recognized this behaviour, you seem to have a great awareness of when those binges are likely to occur and so you are in a great position for pushing forwards, using new strategies and trying your best to begin breaking free from this cycle of relapse. It will be difficult at first, but it's okay to take things slowly. I would suggest:

- Starting to change up your evening routine - finding yourself following the same routine each evening it can be a lot harder to break free from bulimia's habitual nature so for a couple of evenings this week try to change things up completely, try a new hobby, get out of the house, make plans with friends, do anything that breaks you free from your usual evening routine. Even if it just means sitting in a different room or having some more focused structured time, give it a go, you'll find it much more easy to avoid those urges.

- Have planned relaxation time too - when you work on stopping binges like this it may cause an initial increase in anxiety, but some planned relaxation and chill out time can help you to deal with this a lot more effectively. Again it can be something as simple as taking a bath and listening to your favorite music.

- Practice accepting uncomfortable thoughts feelings and emotions - this is tough, so tough, but it will make a lasting impact. When it comes to avoiding those evening relapses you'll likely feel a whole range of emotions, so rather than fighting them or hiding from them work on feeling them (even if you really don't want to). Accept that right now you feel unhappy and upset, but also appreciate that if you can begin accepting these human emotions you'll find your need to react to them decreasing.

- Practice delaying you binge - even if you can't change your mind set from wanting to binge, try practicing the delay method over and over, it's one of my all time favourite tools for recovery, you can read about it here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/tools/binge-busting/postpone-a-binge

* Getting back on track after relapse...

In regards to getting back on track after 3 months of relapses, yes, it's a very common experience. I personally struggled with most of my relapses in a 3 month period too, and so although I wasn't actively bingeing and purging every day at that point, things were very challenging and for a time a lot of those old behaviours and thought processes started to take control. Getting back on track after a phase like that is not easy, but it definitely makes you stronger and more aware of what you need to work on. I look back at my longer phases of relapse and see them as the most important experiences that happened along the way. I hope one day you will too! As devastating as relapses are they happen so we can learn the lessons we need in order to find full recovery.

* Does it mean spending the rest of your life in complete awareness?

No, absolutely not. I know it feels that way right now but the longer you practice being aware and living without bulimia the more natural it is going to become. The more you practice dealing with those triggers in healthy ways the more that will become your "go-to" method of coping. I know that probably seems impossible right now, but you just need a little more time. I think if recovery stayed this hard no one would ever be able to recover. I can't remember the last time I thought about maintaining recovery - it was years ago!

There are some people who believe we're in recovery for the rest of our lives, but I just don't think it has to be that way. I've found complete freedom and live as if I've never had an ED and I've seen so many people doing this too so I think it is possible for everyone. The length of time it takes for relapse to no longer be an option seems to be really different for everyone, but it will happen. Right now focus on freeing yourself from those evening relapses and remember the pain you feel is temporary - the freedom will be yours forever.

I really hope this helps to address your questions Katherine,

Take care and good luck with the rest of your recovery!
Catherine :)

RubyPearl
RubyPearl's picture
Hi Catherine, Thank you for

Hi Catherine,

Thank you for the email, I haven't connected for a while and it's good to do so.

I have luckily stuck to the structured eating (more or less) from the moment I registered with this forum and I have stopped the B/P cycle. I have gained a few kgs in the process I don't want to go back to a restrictive diet because I know where that is going to lead and i'm hoping that slowly my body will adjust as well as my food choices.

My question is, my body has suffered the abuse that comes with the B/P over the years (20 years) as well as the restrictive diets starting since I've been 15 or less and I'm not sure that eating well now will give it what it might have been deprived of for so long. Could you recommend any good supplements that could help with replenishing what's missing and hopefully the healthy food choices will sustain the recovery further.

Thank you

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi RubyPearl, What a

Hi RubyPearl,

What a beautiful username by the way! :)

Thank you so much for your question and your patience in waiting for my response. Wow that is incredible news, congratulations sticking to structured eating since you registered and on overcoming the b/p cycle. I really hope you're feeling the amazing benefits of living without bulimia so far.

It's definitely natural to experience weight fluctuations when you begin to eat normally for the first time and you may have seen the suggestion in the BHM that we need to give our bodies at least 6 months to balance out. This gives our metabolisms time to get back to normal (ed research that I've read continually indicates no long term damage is caused to our metabolisms) and allows our bodies to get to a stage where they know we're no longer in that "famine".

I do believe it can be a very wise step to consider taking supplements to support your nutrition during recovery, unfortunately as I'm not a qualified medical professional I can't give any specific recommendations myself, but what I can do is point you in the direction of a couple of great resources and suggestions that I know of, all of which have been provided by medical professionals. Before beginning to take any supplements you should consult your doctor.

Firstly here is some great information on nutritional suppliments for those in recovery taken from the University Of Marylands Medical Centre website (http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/bulimia-nervosa) :

* Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, 1 - 2 capsules or 1 tablespoonful oil two to three times daily, to help decrease inflammation and improve immunity. Cold-water fish, such as salmon or halibut, are good sources; eat two servings of fish per week. Fish oil can increase the risk of bleeding, so ask your doctor before taking it. Eating fish doesn't cause the same risk.

* Coenzyme Q10, 100 - 200 mg at bedtime, for antioxidant, immune, and muscular support. People who take blood pressure medication, blood-thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin) or chemotherapy drugs should not take CoQ10 without first asking their doctor.

* Probiotic supplement (containing Lactobacillus acidophilus among other strains), 5 - 10 billion CFUs (colony forming units) a day, to help your digestive health and boost the immune system. Refrigerate probiotic supplements for best results. People with autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis, or people with weakened immune systems should ask their doctor first.

* Numerous reports have documented low zinc levels in people with bulimia and a supplement can help with this, but you should talk with a medical professional before starting to take one.

* Nutritional deficiencies can also be compensated for by taking nutritional supplements which include taking a daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement that includes the A, C, E, and B vitamins as well as copper, magnesium, selenium, zinc, calcium, and phosphorus. (http://www.methedoctor.com/supplements-for-bulimia.htm)

* This article also has some great insights and suggestions: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hyla-cass-md/eating-disorders-the-nutr_b_4...

I think it would be a great idea to ask your doctor for more guidance and support here if you feel that you can. I know it's not easy opening up like that but it's a great step to take to ensure that you're doing everything to heal your body and digestive system. During my own recovery I went to my doctor for regular check ups, some of which included screening for vitamin deficiencies and resulted in the simple suggestion that I should take a general multi vitamin to support recovery. It is far better to get some professional advice here though.

You may also find this research that I've put together on vitamin deficiency symptoms helpful: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/book/bulimia-side-effects/vitamin-deficiency-...

So sorry I can't give any more specific answers here but I hope this helped a little!

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hello, I developed bulimia

Hello, I developed bulimia symptoms in November. I do not binge, however I am a restrict and purge type. I'm at a very healthy body weight, I see a counselor and dietician. I'm doing most everything they tell me. I don't want to gain weight. In fact, I want to lose 10 pounds, but that would put me underweight. Will there ever come a time when I can just be happy with my body? This is just so frustrating.

Ivey

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Ivey, Thank you for

Hi Ivey,

Thank you for getting in touch, my apologies for taking so long to get back to you, I've had so many more questions than I first anticipated!

This is a question I used to ask myself over and over again, through my entire life and especially through the first few months of recovery. We spend so much time and so many years at war with our bodies that the idea of ever accepting, liking and loving them can seem so alien. Plus we live in a world where it is considered normal and even acceptable to hate the skin you live in - so it is difficult to imagine ever breaking free from that and becoming someone who appreciates themselves at their natural healthy set point weight. But having seen so many people recovering over the years and having experienced my own changing thought processes I really do think it is possible to transform the way you think about yourself and to become happy with your body, even if you never remember a time in your life when you have felt like that.

A lot of these changes can actually happen really naturally as you continue to focus on recovery - biologically speaking, when you begin to give your body the nourishment it needs you're helping your brain chemicals to re-balance and this has been shown to reduce body-negativity and obsessive thought processes. Of course this means focusing on your SE plan and not restricting or actively losing weight and I know that can be so hard. The idea of never dieting again is very overwhelming too, so for the time being try to not to think of doing this for the rest of your life, instead think in baby steps, getting through the next meal, one step at a time. I think the transformation really begins to happen when you realize how happy you can be without your eating disorder taking over your life - but again you need that time to really adjust and to get used to living this way.

There are also definitely some practical steps you can take at the same time which should be helpful:

* One thing I would suggest doing now and as you continue to progress with your recovery is to surround yourself with as much body-positivity as possible. So that could be something as simple as choosing to no longer read potentially triggering magazines, spending a little time exploring body-positive and recovery blogs (there are tons of great ones out there I love "a voice in recovery" and "beauty redefined", working on focusing on your positive traits, focusing on new enjoyable hobbies that will help to engage your mind.

I'm sure you may have worked on this a lot in recovery already, I just wanted to share some of the things that really helped me to change my own attitudes to my body over time.

* Another thing that can have a big difference is the amount of time you spend negatively analyzing your body in the mirror. I found setting body checking limits really helpful. So trying to reduce the amount of time I'd spend looking in the mirror in the morning by cutting it in half to begin with.

* A little bit of "faking it" can go a long way too. So telling yourself you accept and love your body even when you don't really believe what you're saying. Positive affirmations are great for doing this as they can help to change your deep routed beliefs and "go-to" thoughts. You can read more about positive affirmations here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/power-positive-affirmations-bulimia-...

* Also consider the kinds of conversations you're involved in, can you do more to avoid "toxic conversations" with friends that may be helping to fuel negative body image? This can be a little more tricky, take a look at this article if you're interested in reading a little more though: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/toxic-conversations-vs-recovery

Changing the way you feel about yourself and losing that desire to lose weight will take time. It probably took me about a year and I know it's taken others a little longer, but keep focusing on your freedom, keep discovering how incredible recovery can be and soon you are going to find yourself making the changes that once seemed so impossible.

Wishing you well as you continue on your journey to freedom!

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine, Thanks for

Hi Catherine,
Thanks for offering to answer some questions. I am currently trying to stop losing weight and maintain my weight, something I have not done in almost a decade. The dietician I have been seeing suggested a daily calorie allowance but I am finding it very hard to get there. I am gradually moving closer but finding it very hard to commit to the suggested total. I feel safer keeping a 'buffer' zone for allow for any unforeseen extras. This desire sets in regardless of the figure.
I know this is unhealthy but the ED thoughts start to kick in really strongly as I approach the limit, looking at all potential areas where I may have underestimated calories and never considering any possible instances of overestimation. When I write it all down logically they balance out, however in the moment the fear of under calculating makes it really hard for me to get to the calorie total. I also suffer from severe OCD, especially around food, and I find that gets really bad as I try to push myself towards the limit. The fear of 'what if I forgot to allow for x, y or z' is so strong and I think up many possible ways I could have got the numbers wrong, checking again and again. If there anything you can suggest to help me with this problem as I know unless I deal with it I will not maintain my weight and I need to establish this as a basis upon which to recover properly.
Thanks very much.

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you for your

Hi there,

Thank you for your question and for your patience waiting for my response.

Firstly it is so wonderful to hear that you've committed to recovery and that you have the support of a dietician while you begin to normalize your eating - this must feel like the hardest thing you have ever done but as you continue you're going to find yourself becoming stronger and after a while you'll see for yourself that recovery, although hard, is no where near as scary as we first anticipate.

As you suffer from OCD I imagine this drive to hold onto that buffer zone and to obsess over the calories you have eaten is going to pose an even greater challenge for you, but little by little I know you can do this.

I'm presuming that while your dietician may have set you a goal for your daily calorie total, perhaps you've also been set guidelines for each meal too? So a calorie goal for breakfast, lunch, dinner and your snacks? If so what I would personally suggest is starting slowly, aiming to meet your calorie goal one meal at a time, so focusing on getting used to eating enough for breakfast for a few days, then breakfast and lunch, then breakfast, lunch and a snack and so on. Baby steps like that can really help to build your confidence around food - Obviously I'm not a nutritionist or dietitian so I still think it would be important to discuss this with your own.

Also remember that it's okay to deviate from your plan slightly, you are not expected to be perfect here. Some days you may eat slightly more calories and some days you may eat slightly less, doing so can terrify you at first, but by living through that you'll see it's really nothing to fear, it's normal to have a slightly varied intake and you can trust your body to balance this out.

Also there are definitely some ways in which you can begin to reduce the obsessiveness of calorie counting while not stopping completely, this involves things like calculating calories for meal totals but no longer doing daily totaly, moving from specifics to approximates and taking practical steps to help reduce the obsessive nature too. I've written about this a lot in the past and I'd like to give you a link to an article where I've pooled together some of the most useful tips for doing this: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/obsessive-calorie-counting-holding-y...

I really hope this helps a little! It sounds like you're already making amazing progress, it's okay to not get this all straight away, sometimes we do need time to adjust, so continue to push yourself but try not to be too hard on yourself at the same time.

Wishing you the best as you continue on your journey to freedom!

Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Carherine Tis is perhaps

Hi Carherine
Tis is perhaps slightly different and to which there is no answer... But I bought the book and started using this site about 6 weeks ago, I think, I'm not counting. I've had two relapses since then, just two occasions but sincerely feel I am really conquering this. I was first bulimic when I was 24, I'm now 41 but feel the most like a 'normal' person around food than I ever have. I haven't finished the book, I dip and out but love the timing of all the emails I receive from you and Richard - it has quite simply transformed my life.

What's my question? Am I fool to think I've mastered it and am now cured??? I imagine I may well slip up again but love how my face has chanced shape and is no longer bloated which I didn't realise how different it was as I was continuously purging. I like what I'm seeing, no I love it, I feel great- fit, healthy, in mind and body.

I don't know what I'm asking I guess, I'm just so incredibly thankful that I found this website and hope that others can find the same strength I have.

Thank you to all of you :)

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you so much

Hi there,

Thank you so much for getting in touch! My apologies for taking so long to get back to you :)

Firstly a big congratulations on your recovery so far - it is actually incredible to hear you talking about how much your life has transformed in such a relatively short period of time.

Recovery really does happen at different rates for different people, some just take to it straight away as you clearly have and others have a lot more struggle, but it's always important to try not to compare yourself to others too much, this is your life, your recovery and so you're going to recover at your own pace.

You are right to celebrate the wonderful transformation you have experienced, I can feel so much joy coming from your words and it's put the biggest smile across my face!

What I would say is that while you continue to enjoy this wonderful new bulimia-free way of living, to still keep your mind somewhat grounded in recovery for at least the first six months because although this feels very natural right now, having suffered with bulimia for so long, it can take a while for this new way of living to really stick - if that makes sense? It's all about finding the right balance - I remember getting to six months of recovery and finally feeling recovered, I celebrated it, I embraced it, but I also let my guard down way to much and I think that ended up contributing to a few months of horrible relapses. In the end it took me around 18 months to fully recover and while it may not take you anywhere near that long I do think it makes sense to actively focus on recovery for a while just to ensure you're safeguarding this new found freedom!

I actually have an article that relates to this topic that I would love you to read, you can find it here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/complacency-recovery-%E2%80%93-are-y...

I am so blown away by your progress, you must feel as though you have been reborn in many ways! It really warms my heart to see this website saving lives time and time again, thank you for writing to me today and I wish you so much happiness as you continue to explore life without the shadow of bulimia.

Take care,
Catherine :)

ChangingSpiritBW
ChangingSpiritBW's picture
Hi. Thank you for your

Hi.
Thank you for your time.
Did your spiritual beliefs, defined personally, have an impact on your recovery in any given stage, before, during, and long term. I am always curious about how everyone's belief systems help them.
What you do is very special. Although I am sure you take care of the practical you still are very giving of yourself.
In Loving Kindness,
Bryan

Bryan Wagner

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Bryan, It's so lovely to

Hi Bryan,

It's so lovely to hear from you and to see that you're still active on this site spreading your love and supporting others :)

What a great question too and it's something that no one has ever asked me before so I am very excited to try to answer it for you today. Spirituality actually played a really big part in my recovery in many ways. I don't affiliate to any specific religion but I feel very strongly about the soul, the lessons we are supposed to be learning here, they ways in which we are all connected, how everything happens for a very important reason and the importance of embracing change.

Last year I used to have some very wonderful discussions with the group of women who I coached and we would talk about the idea of recovery, how the journey was not only a physical one but a spiritual one. How perhaps the lessons that we were learning during recovery wouldn't just last one life time - but would actually transpire and guide us through whatever was to come after that. I used to have a very strong sense that I needed to recover at this time to heal the real "me" not just my body - if that makes any sense at all?

I'm also a big believer in the importance of sharing positivity, giving selflessly to others - I suppose this is basically what people call Karma. But I've seen it and felt it time and time again. When we give positivity out we get positivity back, when we treat others with kindness and openness we find those positive elements reflecting back too and I really believe that can make all the difference not only as we work hard to recover from our eating disorders but also just to find happiness and comfort in our lives too.

I could probably write about this forever but I will stop here for today. I'd love to hear about your own spiritual beliefs too, it's a really interesting discussion to have, especially relating to recovery.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Can someone recover without

Can someone recover without any help? I´m a 15 year old girl, everyone in my family eats unhealty, (except of me, i had been on a diet since 3 years ago and lost almost 15 kg) the thing is that last year I started purging and binging, when my parents found out they tried to help me, but lately, because they notice im getting better and stoped purging about 2 or 3 months ago, they stopped caring about it, im still binging regulary and when i ask for help they ignore me and sometimes they get mad at me, and i really dont know what to do anymore to convince them

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you so much

Hi there,

Thank you so much for your question and I am sorry it took me this long to get back to you, but I didn't want to rush any answers along the way!

I think you're really brave for wanting to focus on recovery and I am so sorry to hear that your parents are being so unsupportive and not really understanding of what you are going through. It's really hard when you feel as though no one is listening or that no one really cares about what's happening. One thing you should know though is that a lot of the time people react with anger when they are scared, hurting or simply unsure of what to say.

We always expect our parents to be there, to react calmly and to know what to say, but I think we have to remember they are just people, they have the same emotions, the same insecurities and fears. It took me a long time to accept that about my own mother because we never talked about my eating disorder but it was so clear that she knew - so I often felt like she didn't care about me or felt my problems were insignificant. In reality I know she just had no idea what to do or say. Lots of people are confused about the facts of eating disorders, they may think it something we will just get over, or that it's not serious unless we're very underweight - but in truth every eating disorder is serious and every person whether they just binge, or binge and purge, or restrict, or whatever behaviours they use - they still deserve and need recovery. So please know that.

What I would suggest is trying to talk with them again and I know this hasn't been working well recently but I have some free guidebooks that you can download which may help you all to start to communicate with each other. If you take some time to read over them I'm sure you'll find the tips really helpful:

http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/telling-someone-bulimia

Can someone recover without the support of their family? - Yes as long as you want it badly enough, sometimes unfortunately we have to accept that our families may not be able to support us in the ways we would like. The trick here is to find that support from other places like moderated recovery forums (I know B-eat have a great one), looking out for local support groups in your area where you can meet others going through the same thing, asking a friend, teacher or anyone else you trust and think would be more understanding for support and maybe even taking the time to call some ED helplines to ask for their support and advice.

I'm not sure what part of the world you are in and I know recovery support varies from place to place but visiting your doctor even without the help of your parents could be a great idea too.

So that's a lot to think about, but as a first step I would try talking to your parents again, use those guides to prepare to tell them how you feel, how you would like them to support you and see if you can get that dialogue going again. Talking about this is far from easy, it's upsetting and emotionally draining at times too, especially when you have to feel like the one in charge of arranging all of this, but it could really help in the end.

I hope this helps a little today, please hang in there and don't give up on your recovery, if only I would have had the bravery and courage you're showing now when I was 15, it would have saved me from a decade of bulimia and unhappiness. You have an amazing opportunity to change your life right now, try to get your family on board with that and if you really can't make a promise to seek out that support from other places.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hello Catherine, I am

Hello Catherine,
I am supposed to be starting a recovery program in a few days because my mom was concerned about me and so i said i would try it. Honestly i really dont want to and i dont think i can manage all the stress w.o. bp, i know you are going to tell me that recovery is amaying and worth it, but what if im not ready and then some point lateq on mybulimia just comes back, then i will have wasted all that money (therapy, food,dr) and energy jurt to be back to the begining and having failed.. so would it be better to jurt wait until i can do it right?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you so much

Hi there,

Thank you so much for your question and patience waiting for me to get back to you.

I think one of the most important things to understand right now is that you're never really going to feel 100% ready for recovery, no one is. I was so sick of being bulimic and at total rock bottom when I first came here and even then I wasn't sure that I actually wanted to recover - or whether I would be strong enough to do it.

So many times we convince ourselves that we should wait for the right moment, a time when we are less stressed or when life is less hectic to start recovery - but when you think like that you can end up putting off recovery forever. The truth is that there is never going to be a perfect time to recover, there will always be something holding you back, there will always be a reason to wait until next week or next month or next year. Recognizing this is a big step in the healing process, so please know that your life does not have to be perfect in order for you to recover.

I know the idea of living without bingeing and purging is really terrifying too because you're right, it seems impossible to manage stress without it. We get used to relying on it for an emotional escape, as a way to block out the world and as a way to avoid feeling any uncomfortable and unwanted thoughts and feelings - but in reality all bulimia does is make you less able to cope with stress and upset. The idea that bulimia actually helps you to cope with life better is just an illusion - yes it certainly gives you temporary escape, but in the end it is making things so much worse, it's taking your time, energy and health and it's altering the way your brain works and lowering your natural ability to cope with stress and upset. I know that might not seem true right now, but give it a few months and you're going to see that you never ever needed bulimia, that it never gave you the things you thought it did.

Relapses in recovery are common, they can happen a few months in or a little later in recovery too, but again the thing to understand is that if you do relapse, it's not the same as going back to square one. The lessons you will learn in therapy and the healing that you'll go through - it changes you so much that going back to square one is not even an option anymore - even if you relapse really badly, you learn to pick yourself up from it, to learn from it and to grow from it.

Recovery is a bumpy road and going into it knowing that takes a lot of courage, but right now you have nothing to lose. All you need to do is try your best and to understand that it's okay if things don't go perfectly - they're not supposed to. You absolutely deserve to get better and I know it's tough thinking about how you may disappoint others, but I promise you that you're going to be strong enough to do this. Little by little you're going to discover for yourself just how amazing life can be when you're no longer a slave to bulimia - you're right I am going to tell you it's worth it, but I also want you to know that you are worth it. Give yourself a chance, you may well surprise yourself and your future self will definitely thank you for not putting this off any longer.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
One of my glands has become

One of my glands has become extremely swollen and sore since I stopped purging - is that something that can happen?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you for your

Hi there,

Thank you for your question, I'm really sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you, I was only expecting about 20 questions, so it's taken a little longer than I had hoped to get through them all!

Yes, although it is the cycle of bingeing and purging that causes us to experience facial swelling, when you first stop purging the swelling can actually increase for a short time. This is because purging makes you to lose some of the water from the glands in your face (so it can actually initially give the impression of reduced swelling) - so it may be tempting to start purging again to remove this, but always remember it is the cycle of bingeing and purging causing the problem in the first place. I've written a little about this before here which you may find helpful: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/bulimia-face-changes

The good news is that the swelling you're experiencing is going to subside just as the "recovery bloat" does. How long this takes is different for everyone so I can't say for sure. In the mean time keep yourself really well hydrated, try drinking herbal teas and massaging the area too.

The soreness however is something I would be a little more concerned about as it could definitely indicate the presence of an infection. My advice would be to have your doctor check this out for you, especially if you have any other symptoms of infection like fever - and I know that can be a daunting prospect if you've not openly discussed your bulimia, but it's really important to have any infections treated correctly so that they do not spread and cause you unnecessary pain and Ill health.

I hope this helps to answer your question!

Take care,

Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I'm an alcoholic and i've

I'm an alcoholic and i've been sober for 8 months in recovery. I have been binging and purging for about a year now and it's getting worse. I don't feel good about my sobriety anymore, because i've just replaced one addiction for another. I spent my entire life overweight as a compulsive overeater. Now that I am thin, I am more obsessed with food and the way my body looks than ever before.

How is it possible to be okay with the way my body looks, even though I have very obvious imperfections, like loose skin and stretch marks? No matter how thin and fit I get, my stomach will never be flat or smooth and I am having a really hard time overcoming the self-hatred and getting out of the bulimia cycle. Thank you so much for sharing hope with all of us!

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi, Thank you so much for

Hi,

Thank you so much for getting in touch and for your patience waiting for my response, as you can probably see I've had a lot of questions to get through and I didn't want to rush my responses to anyone.

First of all, a big congratulations on 8 months of sobriety - that is incredible and I know you're feeling so down because of bingeing and purging that you're finding it hard to acknowledge that, but seriously, it is such an amazing achievement. I am in awe of you. I grew up with an alcoholic step father who never managed to recover before he died and so when I see such strength in other people, I really am blown away. Please never forget what an incredible thing this is, you deserve to celebrate it every single day.

I am sorry to hear that you're struggling with bingeing and purging though, as you probably already know it's very common for people who are or who have been dependent on alcohol to also suffer from eating disorder. I have a little further info on this here if you're interested: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/connection-between-bulimia-substance...

Losing weight, restricting your food intake and bingeing/purging does have a direct impact on how we feel about our bodies - as you've experienced, it makes us feel ten times worse, even if we have lost weight as a result of our eating disorder. A big reason for this is that as bulimics we're usually suffering from nutritional deficiencies and this causes more obsessive thoughts, an upsurge in depression and anxiety, lowers self-esteem and can also distort our body image even further. It's one of the reasons why learning how to normalize eating through structured eating (http://www.bulimiahelp.org/book/info/creating-meal-plan-bulimia-recovery) can be such an important first step.

* How is it possible to be okay with your body even though is is not perfect?

This is something that I think plagues us all before starting recovery. How do we start to love ourselves? How do we learn to be comfortable in the skin we are in?

When it comes to overcoming negative body image I would definitely endorse a little bit of "faking it" to begin with as this can go a long way when it comes to changing those deep routed beliefs about "perfection" and how you think your body should look.

In recovery I would use positive affirmations, I would tell myself that my body was strong and healing and healthy and beautiful. I would choose to focus on a part of myself and try to come up with one positive statement about it (even if I didn't really believe those things). I would remind myself that it was okay to not be perfect, that stretch marks and scars were irrelevant to my true happiness and did not define me - again I didn't always believe the things I was telling myself, but slowly I did see a change in my negative "go-to" thoughts when I looked in the mirror. I've actually written a lot about this before, I'd love you to take a look over this when you have a second: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/power-positive-affirmations-bulimia-...

At the same time hold onto the knowledge that by choosing to focus on recovery, by committing to begin learning how to eat normally you will be helping your brain chemicals and hormones to re-balance which will result in less obsession, greater clarity of your true body and a lot less anxiety and depression. I'm not sure if you're actively working on recovery from your eating disorder at this stage? But if not this can be excellent motivation.

Actively focusing on your strengths, achievements and positive points that have nothing to do with your physical appearance can really help too. It gets your mind used to changing the things you base your self esteem and self worth on. I started doing this very gradually by trying to add things to a list, so hard initially as I'm sure you can imagine - I mean when you've spent your entire life hating yourself where do you begin to look for the good? But again, it's gradual, baby steps that can make all the difference.

You also need to be realistic about the time it may take to change the way you truly think of your body - you'll need a lot of patience. I tend to find that true changes can't be made until we've stopped bingeing and purging (or dramatically reduced episodes) and really started to recover from our eating disorders. So it can mean a lot of waiting, giving it a lot of time and working through recovery initially even though it doesn't help you to feel any better about your body at first.

Something that can also help is limiting your external triggers. Of course this is hard to do when we live in a world obsessed with perfection but there are some steps you can take like refusing to engage in "fat talk" with other people, avoiding triggering perfection-orientated media and so on.

Learning to accept yourself as you are is so tough, but I don't think it is impossible, not at all. I really hope you've found my answer helpful,

Take care and if you're ever in doubt of your ability to recover and find lasting peace with your body and with food just look at all you have accomplished so far. I bet at one point not so long ago this would have seemed impossible too!

Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Dear Catherine, What

Dear Catherine,

What strategies to you use, when you feel the urge to binge??? Sometimes the voices to binge are so loud and I cannot hear MY OWN rational voice. HELP!!

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you so much

Hi there,

Thank you so much for your question, my apologies for taking so long to get back to you, it's taken me a while to work through all of these questions!

Oh I know exactly what you mean, that voice that tells you to binge, binge, binge - it is such a nightmare and so hard to ignore. During recovery I tried a lot of different strategies out because I knew that it might take me a while to find one that was the right fit for me, and ultimately I found that a combination of a few things were really very helpful so let me share them with you:

1. Firstly and above all else you have to make sure you are not restricting you food, not even the slightest bit, because if you are, all of the strategies in the world are not going to be enough to avoid those powerful urges to binge. That means eating enough calories, eating from all the main food groups, not leaving too long between meals and working on reintroducing previously triggering foods so that you're not craving and "banned" foods.

2. An amazing and simple strategy I would suggest for dealing with binge urges is the "postpone technique." Basically when you feel the urge to binge you calmly react to it and say okay, I want to binge, but I'm going to try to wait just ten more minutes first. Then at the end of those ten minutes, you see if you can postpone it for just ten more minutes. It sounds so simple but I think I got through most of my early days in recovery using this strategy. Somehow removing the idea that you can never binge again makes the urges more manageable and less scary.

You can read more about the technique on this page: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/tools/binge-busting/postpone-a-binge

3. Also do work on accepting those thoughts (as crazy as that can sound) so that voice that is so loud, acknowledge it, even talk to it (I used to do that sometimes) try to carry on with your day even though it's screaming at you. When you practice accepting binge thoughts you teach yourself that they are nothing special, that there is no need to panic when they appear and if you stop panicking you stop experiencing so much anxiety - less anxiety = less desire to binge to escape from the anxiety.

I have an article on overcoming binge urges where I've tried to explain this in more depth. Here's a link to it: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/how-stop-binge-eating

4. Distraction can be a great idea too because although it's not going to take away the thought, if you can focus on something else, even partially, for a little time, you're going to find those urges subsiding and that voice quietening down. Personally I used to distract myself using really simple methods, calling a friend, cleaning my apartment, playing with my cat - anything that could put a little distance between the thought and my need to act on it. There are some great suggestions here that were submitted by members of the community, it's best to decide on just one or two options and then when that binge urge hits you know what you're going to do: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/community/forums/101-things-do-instead-bingin...

I really hope this helps! I know it takes a lot of energy to avoid giving into those thoughts but I promise you that this will get easier so please hang in there.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Katherine, I don't purge

Hi Katherine,

I don't purge but I have exercise bulimia where I will eat like 3 big muffins in one sitting then still be hungry for my other meals, I will work out for 2 to 3 hours to burn it off.
I have never thrown up from binging on high carb foods but I do exercise for hours to burn it off and add up all the calories and subtract after the workout.

I try and get on a good plan the next day but lately I can't seem to have one good day where I'm not obsessed with it.

I'm in very good shape so no one would know I do this.

Is eati g just 3 meals the best option because when I snack, I eat all day long and never feel full unless I have 3 very satisfying muffins, nothing else satisfies that.

Please advise...
.

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you for

Hi there,

Thank you for getting in touch, so sorry it's taken me this long to get back to you, I've been working through the questions since last Thursday but there have been many more than first anticipated and I didn't want to rush any of the responses!

As you probably know there are lots of conflicting theories on how best to eat - six small meals/meals and snacks/3 square meals a day/etc. But when it comes to recovery it is so important to ensure you're not going too long without eating and that's why the idea of meals and snacks (eating something approximately every 3 hours) is best in the long run. That can seem like a lot when you're not used to it, I think we're all horrified by the idea of it at the start, and I know if you've had trouble eating snacks in the past then you may be reluctant to try this again - but I can't even begin to put into words what a life saver this can be - structured eating is incredible and by far the best way to balance your blood sugar, normalize your eating behaviours and reduce urges to binge and overeat - no matter what your chosen purging method is.

Take a look at this information on meal planning for recovery for a more detailed look at using structured eating during recovery:
http://www.bulimiahelp.org/book/info/creating-meal-plan-bulimia-recovery

I know you've found in the past that if you try to snack like this you'll find yourself eating all day long but with a little patience and some simple strategies you can definitely break free from any grazing behaviours.

How do you stop yourself from eating continually?
- Plan set meal and times and decide on what you will eat ahead of time.
- Try to get used to eating in one or two specific places, never eat "on the go."
- Come up with an after meal/snack plan. What will you do when you've finished eating to stop yourself going back for more?
- Remove all visual triggers, throw away left over food immediately, keep triggering foods out of sight.
- Ensure you're getting a good balance of foods and that you're not avoiding carbohydrates, proteins or fats.
- Do make sure you're eating enough calories because when you exercise a lot your need is going to greatly increase.

Also it's definitely okay to make your meals slightly bigger and your snacks slightly smaller if you find this more satisfying, but I do think to just rely on 3 set meals in recovery can make things a lot harder in the long run. Look at the balance in your meals - are you including enough carbs? If you are exercising a lot then your body will be very deprived of energy so it makes sense that you may need a little more to feel satisfied.

The powerful hunger you're experiencing right now is likely a symptom of overexercising and you need to allow your body time to readjust. That means even on days where you do not over exercise you may still experience this insatiable hunger and urges to binge eat - but over time by focusing on reducing the amount of exercise you do and ensuring you're eating enough food this will subside and you'll get used to feeling satisfied eating normal portions of food.

A few weeks ago Coach Jen put together a really great article on exercise bulimia, if you haven't already taken a look at it then please do check it out, it is packed with tips and advice on how to overcome exercise bulimia and I think it may help to answer lots of your questions: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/what-exercise-bulimia-and-how-can-i-...

I hope this helps a little, if you are in a position to do so it would definitely be a great idea to seek help from a qualified nutritionist/dietitian who can advise you further with this as I'm quite limited in providing guidance on food intake because I'm not professionally trained in this area.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine I am so glad and

Hi Catherine

I am so glad and thankful for all the help and work you do with bulimia help. I almost overcame my bulimia. I do not purge anymore, I feel comfortable around food and I have started a great process which is loving myself, all of this because of your website. However, I still feel some urges to binge when I am anxious or stressed. I can control those urges but I really want to deal with those emotions without the need to run after food.

I am trying meditation and exercising but would you tell me your opinion about it? And could you please give me some advises to cope with these feelings of anxiety?

Thank you again for your hard work. I am so much better now because of bulimia help. I would and I have recommended your site because anyone with this kind of problem could find a kick start reading your articles and following your program. Please don't stop doing it!!
Kisses

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you so much

Hi there,

Thank you so much for your message and wow it is amazing to hear of the progress you have made in your recovery and how many changes you have been able to implement thanks to bulimia help. I felt exactly the same when I first came here, I was so thankful to find people who finally understood what I was going through and who knew exactly what it took to find full and lasting recovery.

As you know when we suffer from bulimia we often get used to using it as an emotional crutch and a way to deal with any kind of unwanted feelings, thoughts and emotions, so learning to deal with those things without the safety net of bulimia can be incredibly overwhelming at first but it seems like you have a very healthy and proactive approach. Medication and healthy amounts of exercise can be wonderful ways to begin coping with feelings of anxiety - as can using them "preemptively" so not waiting until you feel fully overwhelmed by the anxiety to turn to your new healthy coping methods, but also to take the time to schedule enough relaxation and "you" time each day to ensure that you're not letting those feelings build up to much.

For a while the thoughts to turn back to bulimia may still be there, but actively choosing your new healthy coping mechanisms each time helps to instill these as your new "go-to" reactions to anxiety and eventually you will find yourself craving a meditation session whenever you're very anxious rather than craving the old "comfort" of bulimia. So keep pushing forwards with this, it definitely sounds like you're on the right track.

In addition to practicing new healthy strategies like this I would say the biggest key is continually practicing acceptance of emotions. That means acknowledging and even welcoming them, which does seem very strange at first I know. But with a lot of practice and patience learning to react to the anxiety you feel in this way takes away your need to panic and react strongly (or perhaps negatively) to it. It means you can get to a place where you realize your thoughts are powerless over you and that you do not have to react to them or respond to them. I write a little bit more about this in my article on diffusing binge urges here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/how-stop-binge-eating

It's never going to be possible to escape anxiety completely, but that's okay, in the end all that matters is your reaction to it.

I really hope this helps a little. Right now it sounds like you just need a little more time to get used to dealing with your emotions without bulimia, so keep going, sooner than you think it's going to feel like the most natural thing in the world to live without bulimia.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
i am trying to help a friend

i am trying to help a friend with bulimia, so my question is: What is the most important first step to get someone to seek help for the eating disorder?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you for

Hi there,

Thank you for getting in touch and for your patience waiting for my response :)

Firstly your friend is very lucky to have you, support and understanding is so important in recovery and I think that the fact you're working hard to educate yourself about the best ways to help your friend is really admirable.

I think one of the most important steps is to prepare have a very open and honest conversation with your friend, to let them know that you are concerned, that you love them and that you want to be there for them. Unfortunately it's not likely to be easy at first, if she/he is not already being open with you about their eating disorder then even getting someone to admit they have a problem can be so hard. When you have bulimia you feel so ashamed and it becomes such a big secret that talking about it can feel impossible, you want to run away hide and deny everything.

So you'll need to be patient and as understanding as you can about their reaction. I actually have a brilliant free resource that I think you'll find really helpful for this, if you follow this link and have a read through the second guidebook you're going to be much more prepared to help your friend: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/telling-someone-bulimia

How your friend feels about recovery may have a big impact on their reaction too. I know when I was actively bulimic, probably for the first nine years, the thought of recovery didn't even cross my mind. I told myself that I didnt want to recover and so I would have been horrified if anyone tried to approach the subject with me. However I think what we don't realize as bulimics is that it's not so much the fact that we don't want to recover - it's more a sense of we don't think we'll be able to recover - we can't imagine being able to cope with life without bulimia and so that can make us really defensive.

But even if your friend doesn't react in the best way initially, I do think you are doing the right thing. It's impossible to keep quiet when we can so clearly see a loved on in pain like that and in the end I think your friend will be so thankful for your support.

So take the time to prepare yourself, learn as much as you can about bulimia by reading the guide I've directed you to and then take the leap and firstly try talking to your friend. See if she/he is willing to consider recovery and let them know you will help them to explore their options. Making an appointment with their doctor can often be the first step on the road to recovery, so perhaps you could suggest this and say you'll go along for moral support?

I really hope this helps, I know this is a tough time, but you are clearly a wonderful friend for doing this.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi , Catherine, i just go

Hi , Catherine, i just go through some of questions and answers , it is great ,i like it. So me is also fond of eating good food and even after eating my food as per my schedule ,still i do feel hunger pangs and often i do feel hungry so why it is so?I have many health problems such as Diabetes type 2, Hypertention ,hypothyroidism etc. Please advise me ,is it is BLUMIA or just some eating disorder.Thanks.

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you I'm so

Hi there,

Thank you I'm so glad to hear that it has been helpful for you to read through! Also I'd like to thank you for your patience waiting for me to get back to you :)

What you've talked about here is a really common thing that people experience in recovery. So even when we start to eat enough food we feel this "hunger" and need to eat more and more, but as long as you are eating enough food then over time these intense hunger feelings are going to subside. When you've deprived your body for a very long time, even when you begin to start eating normally again, it takes a while for the body to begin trusting you and trusting that food is no longer being withheld.

Gradually you really will start to notice these hunger pangs getting less and less naturally but in the mean time there are definitely a couple of simple strategies I can suggest that I think would be helpful for you to deal with these urges to eat more...

1. So firstly it is very important to make sure you are eating enough food. Are you really getting enough calories each day? Are you getting a good balance of foods and eating from all of the main food groups? Are you eating regularly and not leaving too long between meals? If you're limiting any type of food or restricting your calories even by the smallest amount this can make your hunger remain very out of control so it's always the first thing to address.

2. Something I used to do when this type of hunger hit was to gently reassure myself that in not much time at all I would be eating again. I would look at the clock and see how long it was until my next meal, I would allow myself to think of the food and I would challenge myself just to make it a little longer without eating. That seems like such a small step to take, but I found it to be one of the most helpful in dealing with hunger like this so perhaps you will to?

3. Finding ways to distract yourself from any intense thoughts like this is also a really good idea, I've already shared this link a couple of times in my responses here but I think you could find it really useful in dealing with very powerful urges to eat like this. If you are sure this is not real hunger and not a result of you limiting your food then turning to other strategies like this helps you to get used to doing other things and responding differently to those urges: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/community/forums/101-things-do-instead-bingin...

The hunger you feel can be present for a lot of reasons. As I mentioned it could definitely be that your body just needs a little more time to trust that food is no longer being withheld. However you may see it getting stronger when you are particularly stressed, tired or emotionally overwhelmed. We get so used to dealing with life by turning to food that often we feel a kind of "false hunger" - but by teaching yourself to react differently to this you will overcome it. Be patient with yourself and keep pushing forwards with your recovery. I know there are days where everything feels so hard you might just want to run away, but this struggle is only going to be for a short time and then you will be so proud of yourself for continuing with recovery!

I hope this helps to answer your question today.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine, How much weight

Hi Catherine, How much weight exactly did you put on in 3 months of recovery? I was going well with my binging and purging subsiding but I have put on nearly X kilos with it still going up.

I've tried so hard to not give up but I'm afraid i've decided that this has just been a waste of time and I'm going to try and get my old body back... I know you say that weight gain is expected but I never thought it would be this much when i started.

I did not purge after every meal was more of a restricter/then binger/then purger with the use of laxatives. I was within my healthy weight range when I started recovery...... Being overweight now has brought my depression back that had gone and I hate who I am and what I look like.

I'm starting XXXXX that I had done before to loose all of the weight again and then start fresh with the structured eating again once back to normal weight. Do you think this is good idea? Thanks x

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you so much

Hi there,

Thank you so much for your question and your patience waiting for me to get back to you.

Just before me move on I wanted to let you know that due to site rules I'm not actually allowed to mention specific numbers when it comes to weight changes as it can be really triggering for others, so I've had to edit your post a little too, however I will still do my best to answer your question for you today! This is completely my mistake though, I should have really mentioned about our no numbers policy in my original post.

I am so sorry to hear that you've had such a horrible experience with recovery so far, as you know some weight gain and weight fluctuations are definitely to be expected no matter what your starting weight is and a number of factors can contribute to how much weight we may gain initially - such as how much our metabolisms have been effected by bulimia, whether we experience residual binges and whether we continue to restrict food (I talk about these in more detail on this page: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/truth-about-bulimia-recovery-weight).

However I can definitely appreciate how upset you are by the weight gain you have experienced, it is a lot more than we would usually expect someone of a healthy weight to gain during recovery and I know that must have caused you to really distrust the entire process.

What I would suggest at this point is firstly reading over the article I've linked you to above and seeing if any of the reasons people can experience un-needed weight gain apply to you right now. For example - have you been experiencing more binges without purging? Have you still been restricting your food somewhat causing your body to store the calories you are consuming as fat rather than allowing you to expend them as energy?

I'd also say to take a look at your meal plans. It can be very hard to know what and how much to eat if you don't have help from a professional trained in the area. Diane Keddy, MS, RD, a registered dietician provides an excellent sample meal plan for people in recovery from eating disorders on this page: http://www.bulimia.com/client/client_pages/newsletteredt15.cfm - take a look at it, do the quantities of food seem similar to what you have been eating?

If none of these reasons seem applicable then it could definitely be likely that your metabolism has taken a big hit and just needs a little more time to kick start and asking you to give it more time (the bulimia help method suggests 6 months before some people begin to find their natural healthy set point weight) is a lot to ask, I know you may not want to even consider that, but please understand that it is dieting, food restriction and active weight loss that serves to keep bulimia alive, that makes urges to binge skyrocket and that will only keep you trapped with so much pain and misery for even longer.

Lot's of people decide to try to lose weight before recovery, or to diet and then start over again if they have gained weight, but I don't think it can ever really work in the long run. The idea of gaining even more weight has to be so terrifying right now, but look at how far you have come, how brave you have been, if you can just hang in there a little longer there is no reason why your body will not begin to re-balance. I know it doesn't seem fair and it's not - I do think some people have a lot more challenges thrown at them during recovery than others do, but right now this is about your life, your health and your future happiness. Really look within yourself, look at the reasons why you chose recovery in the first place, if you can give it that recommended 6 months it's likely that you're going to have such a different experience of recovery by then.

Working on losing weight may help you to temporarily feel better, but it's never going to heal you the way you deserve, it's never going to lead you to the true happiness and freedom that is so much closer than you realize. I know I may not be able to convince you to change your mind right now, but please do give it a little further thought. A few more painful months in recovery may seem like a lifetime right now, but when you put it into perspective it is going to be such a tiny fraction of your life overall, it's going to be worth every second of pain and uncertainty in the end.

I hope this helps you to think things over a little more.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I don't remember who I am

I don't remember who I am without Bulimia..I feel almost afraid to confront a new life. How do I overcome this fear? How do I wake up tomorrow and learn to become a new me?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, This is a really

Hi there,

This is a really great question and a big fear I think we all have to face in the process of recovering so thank you for asking it!

I can definitely relate to your feelings here, while some people do maintain a sense of self even in the presence of their eating disorders for a lot of us it's a very different story. I don't know about you, but personally bulimia had pretty much become all that I was. I let it define me, it took away my desire to develop my interests and hobbies and basically dominated all areas of my life.

So taking that plunge into recovery can be so intimidating at first because you don't know who you are going to be at the end of it all, you worry you may not like the real you or that you are losing a piece of yourself by letting go of bulimia but I promise you right now that there is nothing to fear.

Yes for a time it can feel like you're living in-between worlds. You're no longer fully bulimic but you don't really feel like a whole person either, you're still looking for who you really are and I think it's really important to be accepting of this phase in recovery, to allow yourself the time you need to blossom and grow. But slowly you start to see your personality emerging, you start to discover what really makes you tick, you awaken long lost interests and make new ones too. Your relationships improve, you feel more sociable and life becomes more amazing than you ever thought it could be.

As you continue to recover you're going to have to many amazing moments in discovering the real you. I remember this one time sitting with friends just a few months into my own recovery and my friend turns to me and says, "I never realized how funny you were." That moment will stay with me forever, it almost took my breath away. Without bulimia my personality was beginning to awaken and others were noticing it too - there is no feeling quite like that.

So you can't just wake up tomorrow and learn how to be a different person, it takes a lot of time and the waiting around might be scary for a time, but slowly as bulimia moves out "life" moves in. Slowly you start to realize that bulimia never really gave you anything, that you don't need it to hide behind or to define you and sure you may still feel unsure of yourself of insecure at times - but that is part of being human, we all feel that way from time to time.

Recovery is a massive journey of self discovery and it's okay to not have all the answers right now, they will come to you. Turning the corner and starting to face a life you have no idea about should feel scary and nothing I say can really take that away, it's your own experiences that will take it away. Be brave right now, take that plunge, you will never look back!

In the mean time keep an eye out for the things that excite you, what are you passionate about? What engages your interests? Surround yourself with those things, try something you never have before and learn to fill your day with beauty and life rather than pain and struggle. It's going to come so much more naturally to you that you ever expect, just give it a little time and you'll see that!

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I suffer ibs and have a

I suffer ibs and have a history of eating disorder now 17years...I wasgiven a fodmap diet to follow and it so restrictive I just cant follow any advice so greatly appreciated xx

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you for

Hi there,

Thank you for getting in touch and for your patience waiting for me to get back to your question!

Suffering with IBS I know you're going to be facing many more challenges when it comes to meal planning in recovery and while it's unfortunate that I'm not qualified to provide individual meal plans and nutritional support what I can certainly do is share some food strategies with you that I hope you will find helpful when it comes to recovery.

Structured eating and meal planning can feel very restrictive in general, but I know that fodmap is an especially restrictive diet. If this was suggested to you by a dietitian I think it would make sense to go back and talk this over with them, to express your concerns and troubles and to work on creating a more balanced meal plan, focusing on eating foods that will be nutritious, well balanced and beneficial when it comes to reducing your IBS symptoms without strictly following fodmap in its entirety. However if you're not currently working with a dietitian or nutritionist then this is still definitely an approach you can work on yourself if you are finding it impossible to stick to the fodmap guidelines.

* Think about keeping your meal plans simple but varied...

One of the best suggestions I ever heard for simplifying meal planning in recovery was to initially just come up with four separate meal plans. So four different ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner together with several varying snack ideas. Then to simply change between them. It can take away the stress of tying to come up with a new meal plan each day too and it's something you can add to gradually. I imagine aiming for a high percentage of "IBS-friendly" foods but also allowing for some flexibility when it comes to your food intake would work best - again I have to say this is just based on my own experiences of getting structured eating to work in recovery as I am not qualified to provide professional advice on diet and nutrition.

*Consider your mindset too...

Your mindset and how you think about this can make a big impact here - so rather on thinking about foods that you "should" be avoiding in order to reduce symptoms of IBS start instead to think of all of the wonderful foods you can eat in order to alleviate symptoms while recovering from your eating disorder. Does this encompass some of your favourite foods or meals? Of the foods allowed as part of fodmap what are the ones you do like to eat and could include more of at this time?

* Allowing for flexibility and finding the balance that works for you...

When it comes to eating in recovery I do think we have to allow for some flexibility because what works well for one person may not be the best solution for another. Some people love very strict guidelines, set meals, etc while others find this so restrictive that it ends up being counter productive to recovery. So give yourself a little time, try some different approaches and discover what is going to work best for you. I think the only really important principals to follow is to ensure you're eating regularly and that you're getting a good balance of food. You might want to take a look over our meal planning page for more advice here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/book/info/creating-meal-plan-bulimia-recovery

Having meal plans and guidelines is probably going to feel a lot more restrictive than you would like at this time, I know I always felt like structured eating was a diet in the begining, but over time, having that bit of structure and some general guidelines on what to eat really helps you to normalize your relationship with food and allows you to generate an intuition that will enable you to make the best food choices for yourself in future. So a little more "strictness" in the begining can actually go a long way when it comes to laying the foundations for your future.

I hope this helps a little, so sorry I can't offer any specific advice on nutrition here.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine, Is it possible

Hi Catherine,

Is it possible for bulimia to cause cancer?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you so much

Hi there,

Thank you so much for your question and I think you've raised a really important subject here about bulimia and it's possible links to cancer in the future.

Before I started to recover I thought I knew about all of the dangers of eating disorder, but then I heard people talking about the link between bulimia and caner and it terrified me. It's funny how you can be aware of all the potential ways that your eating disorder may kill you - but when the C word comes into play it can really shock you.

So can bulimia cause cancer?

Yes, but it does seem to be very rare. I've actually researched a little on this before and I wanted to copy some of my findings here for you, together with an explanation as to why bulimia can lead to the development of certain cancers...

When we talk about bulimia causing cancer usually the type of cancer it is associated with is esophageal cancer and it’s development has a lot to do with a condition called Barrett's oesophagus.

Barrett's esophagus is a disorder in which the lining of the esophagus (the tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach) is damaged by stomach acid.

Bulimics are much more likely to develop barrett’s oesophagus because bulimia can cause severe acid reflux (and purging obviously floods the esophagus with acid the same way acid reflux disease would)

Research is currently suggesting that around 1 in every10 people who have constant acid reflux will develop a condition called Barrett's Esophagus

What is the risk of esophageal cancer with Barrett's esophagus?‎

Around 1% of people with Barrett's Esophagus will develop a kind of cancer called esophageal adenocarcinoma.

Research into esophageal cancer in bulimics is limited and It is difficult to determine the exact prevalence but it appears that about 2% of bulimics may go on to develop bulimia-related cancer.

While researching this I discovered that you don't necessarily have to be a chronic bulimic or have suffered for years. Esophageal cancer is most prevalent among older people however suffering from bulimia may represent an important risk factor in younger people who are diagnosed with the condition.

Several prior case reports into bulimia and cancer describe people who were diagnosed at a young age - so even in very young people, bulimia may represent a risk factor for adenocarcinoma of the esophagus.

In one report the case of a 27 year old woman who had developed adenocarcinoma of the esophagus was highlighted...

She had suffered with bulimia for just one year and while experts couldn't be sure that her bulimia had caused the condition it did seem very likely.

The study highlighted the fact that repeated micro-trauma or damage due to vomiting may contribute to the malignant transformation of the esophageal tissue.

The relationship of bulimia & oral cancer is something that has been studied for years and it would appear that while there is definitely a connection, cases of bulimia-related cancers are very low.

I know this can be very, very frightening, but I also appreciate even with the knowledge of the potential harm bulimia can cause, it's not really possible to "scare yourself into recovery" but if you are feeling anxiety reading this just know that by focusing on recovery and facing your fears right now you are doing everything in your power to ensure that you fully recover from bulimia. By waking up and choosing recovery each day you are limiting your chances of experiencing dangerous side effects and healping your body to heal.

I hope this helps to answer your question,

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi I am in recovery but am

Hi
I am in recovery but am wondering if there is something you can do to try and get your teeth healthy again, eg build up the enamel again.
I don't think I should whiten them as am guessing it might be a bit harsh if they have been worn down with the acid.
Thanks
Chantelle

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Chantelle, Thank you so

Hi Chantelle,

Thank you so much for your question and your patience waiting for me to get back to you. Congratulations on choosing recovery too, it takes a lot of courage to begin changing your life and learning how to live without bulimia so you should be really proud of yourself for facing up to those fears.

When it comes to getting your teeth healthy again, unfortunately a lot of the damage bulimia causes can be irreversible and we often need extensive dental work and reconstruction to get the teeth looking and feeling healthy again. Ali talks a little about this here:http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/how-bulimia-destroyed-my-teeth

However, depending on the amount of damage that has been caused there may be some steps you can take right now.

My first suggestion (which is not always a popular one) would be to visit your dentist and discuss this with him/her. I know the idea of that is scary, to go and expose your bulimia to someone you don't even know like that, but they will be able to assess the amount of damage caused and to recommend the most suitable treatment.

Also consider switching to toothpastes that work by restoring surface enamel is a great idea. I've read varying reports on their success rates but about a year after switching to them (so a very long time really) I could really see a clear difference in the quality of my own teeth.

Dentists also tend to recommend using a fluoride mouthwash or a "fluoride application" to help to counter the affects the acid and erosion has had on your teeth.

If you do find yourself relapsing along the way remember the guidelines for protecting your teeth from acid - avoid brushing your teeth straight after and instead rinse your mouth out with water or a mixture of baking soda and water (baking soda helps because it neutralizes the acid in your mouth).

Whitening treatments can be very harsh on bulimic teeth. I tried to whiten my own about a year ago and the pain was absolutely unbearable because I had lost so much enamel over the years, so again I would definitely say talk to a professional before considering any treatments like that.

I'm sorry I can't give you better news here, the impact that bulimia has on our teeth is just horrible, I still struggle with my teeth to this day as I can't come anywhere close to saving the money I'd need to have them properly restored. But right now by focusing on recovery you're ensuring that no further damage is caused and by taking the best care of your teeth from this point on you should notice some improvement.

I hope this helps to answer your question!

Take care and good luck with the rest of your recovery.
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I've gone from less than a X

I've gone from less than a X to an X which I'm ok about, I tried on size X pants that didn't stretch yesterday & they wouldn't do up. A year ago they fell off me. I can't handle the cellulite on my bum either

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you for

Hi there,

Thank you for getting in touch and a big congratulations on starting to recover from your eating disorder!

Unfortunately weight changes and fluctuations tend to be unavoidable in recovery and discovering what your natural healthy set point weight is going to be can be very scary, especially if it means you need to gain a little "needed" weight.

I know right now the idea of going up another dress size has to be unbearable and is probably really putting you off staying committed to your recovery, but keep hold of that bigger picture. Think of all of the positive things that have happened to you since starting to recover, remember the reasons why you chose recovery in the first place and also understand that just because being this size feels unbearable right now, doesn't mean it will always be that way.

I remember the day I started recovery, I was already at a weight I could not stand and bulimia had made me go up a dress size too, so the idea of never being able to lose that and possibly getting even bigger was terrifying. Like everyone does I had a lot of crisis moments along the way, times where I wanted to give it all up and focus on losing weight (not that bulimia ever really helped me to do that) but slowly I started to open my eyes. I started to see how alive I was becoming without my eating disorder, my personality emerged and I became this whole new person and eventually it didn't matter what the number on my clothing said. It might be impossible to imagine yourself having a similar shift in your thoughts right now, but you're going to be surprised at where recovery will lead you.

Also know that sometimes it can take a little time for your weight to balance out. Meaning you may gain needed weight in recovery but also some "unneeded" weight that is then lost over time. This article explains it all in much more detail: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/truth-about-bulimia-recovery-weight

In the mean time, as I've mentioned to a couple of other people here, I would suggest doing your best to actively recognize your strengths, your positives and your true achievements. Start to notice the things you like about yourself that have nothing to do with your size. Also consider how you can limit potential triggers and negative influences in your life - whether this is changing the types of media you choose to expose yourself too or making a comitment to no longer engage in "fat talk."

One of the very first steps I took in recovery that I found so helpful for changing the way I thought about my body was using positive affirmations. I would look in the mirror and "lie" to myself. I would tell myself that I liked my body, or that cellulite was a natural occurrence and I was not ashamed of it and so on. Honestly at the start it felt ridiculous, but ultimately I think it did help me to re-write my "go-to" thoughts about my body. You can read more about positive affirmations here if you're interested: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/power-positive-affirmations-bulimia-...

I know this is so hard right now, but please keep fighting for your freedom, one day you are going to be so glad that you did. You can do this.

Take care
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine, So I haven't

Hi Catherine,

So I haven't had any crazy binges in a little over a week and haven't purged or anything and I feel really good about it! I'm seeing myself do a lot more positive self talk and not getting too consumed in my negative emotions whenever I end up eating a little too much of something.

However one thing I still have trouble with is the body image. I've been feeling very bloated lately and I hate the way my stomach just looks all blown up like a balloon and having weird bowel movements is not helping. Is this a normal thing to happen from recovering from bulimia and how long does it take for it to subside?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you so much

Hi there,

Thank you so much for your message and for being patient waiting for me to get back to you!

This is wonderful news, congratulations, it looks like all of your hard work is really starting to pay off, it's amazing when you first start to see yourself making these changes that you never believed would be possible isn't it?

Yes, oh gosh the dreaded "recovery bloat" - it is such a horrible experience but it is perfectly natural and to be expected. Reasons for bloating include:

* You are eating more food and your body needs time to get used to digesting this.
* You are retaining a little water which can cause lots of bloating and the number on the scale to increase too.
* Due to your decreased metabolism, food moves more sluggishly through your system which can result in more stomach bloating too.

As the Bulimia Help Method taught me though - "The important thing to note is that: A BLOATED STOMACH IS NOT A FATTER STOMACH; IT’S A HEALING STOMACH"

Most people find the bloating subsiding within the first month of recovery, although it really can be different for everyone. If you are experiencing frequent relapses the bloating may take a little longer to go away.

In the mean time unfortunately we've never discovered any quick fixes but keeping well hydrated and taking a healthy amount of exercise should help a little. Also choosing to wear lose fitting clothing during this time can really help you to obsess a little less over the bloating. Constantly remind yourself this is temporary, it will pass. A few weeks of bloating is so going to be worth it in the end.

I hope this helps to answer your question!

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Having had an ed for almost

Having had an ed for almost whole my life,I am fearful for recovery although I long for it.I dont know how to live a normal life with everything in it!This is what I want of course,a beautiful life,but how can I build it ??I feel like a stranger everywhere I go and then its so hard to give up the ed.What an I do?
xx

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you so much

Hi there,

Thank you so much for your question and my apologies for taking so long to get back to you, I've had a lot more question than I first anticipated.

I think when you've suffered with an eating disorder for so long it can become a huge part of your identity, your shield against hurt and your escape from the world so imagining how life will be without it can be mind boggling. I'd only suffered from bulimia for ten years when I started recovery but even at that point I had no idea how to live without it, I'd never experienced adult life without bulimia and there was this constant voice at the back of my mind that told me I wouldn't be able to do it.

Bulimia has a funny way of convincing you that you're nothing without it, that you will not be able to survive - but the important thing to realize is that this is complete nonsense. It is just your fear of change talking because in reality you are going to be so much stronger and so much more able to deal with life once bulimia stops taking away all of your time and energy.

Building a brand new life will take time and patience. There can often be a phase of recovery where you find yourself feeling lost - you're not fully bulimic anymore but you still have no idea who you are - and going into this knowing that is likely to happen is scary in itself. But slowly you're going to naturally start discovering what really makes you tick. You'll see your personality awakening, you'll find yourself interested in new things and possibly even discover long lost interest making themselves known again.

Once you get over the fear of taking that first leap and once you are able to accept that for a time you may not have any of the answers you are going to find yourself unstoppable. I can see how much you want recovery just from the words you've said here and you absolutely deserve it. Right now you are the only one with the power to tell your fears that they have no power over you anymore.

One thing I always say to the people who I coach is that it’s only natural to have those moments where you worry about your bulimia –free future. How you’ll cope or who you’ll be, but eventually you always find your way, it happens a lot more naturally than you would think.

Right now, if you are in need of a little more bravery and motivation I would suggest taking some time to think about the main things that you think bulimia "gives" you. (I say gives in quotation marks because in the end you're going to realize that it never gave you any of those things). Then trying to come up with some ideas on where you can/will get those things from without bulimia. For example if you feel bulimia gives you a way to manage stress think about one healthy coping alternative.

If you're not sure about who you will be without bulimia think about the type of person you would like to be. The qualities that will shine through you or how you imagine you would spend your time if you'd never been bulimic, the things you would do if failure was not an option. Using your imagination like this is a wonderful way to create that dream future for yourself. Once bulimia is out of the picture you are going to be free to do anything - no dream is too big.

Change is hard, as humans I think we instinctively fear it, but this change and this temporary fear of what might happen is worth facing. Go for it, you will never regret this decision.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I'm trying to recover but i

I'm trying to recover but i need to lose weight. What can I do to stop binging and lose weight?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you so much

Hi there,

Thank you so much for getting in touch!

I know your question is going to be something that a lot of people here can relate to because often the constant bingeing with bulimia does cause un-needed weight gain, so lot's of people with bulimia are above their ideal healthy weight at the start of recovery. But please don't let this deter you from getting started on your journey to full recovery because while most people do experience some weight fluctuations right at the start (regardless of their starting weight) it really is the only option if you truly want to stop bingeing and find your natural healthy set point weight.

I know it can be tempting to want to lose weight before committing yourself to recovery, but what you have to understand is that this can just never work. Food restriction and direct attempts to lose weight are only going to intensify your binge urges making it feel even more impossible for you to escape from your eating disorder.

By far the biggest step you can take right now is to get started on a structured eating plan. This means getting used to eating regularly, not going to long without food and allowing yourself a healthy amount of calories each day. It also means eating foods from all of the food groups (Even the ones you're scared of) and I know that sounds like a lot to ask, but over time, eating this way does reduce binge urges.

Research and personal recovery experience are proving time and time again that by eating normally we're likely to consume far less calories than if we continue to binge and purge. Also regular eating is going to boost your metabolism, meaning your body will start to use the food you're eating for energy rather than storing it as fat.

If you take a look over this page it's going to introduce you to the basics of structured eating: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/book/info/creating-meal-plan-bulimia-recovery

Additionally, on this page I've explored the relationship between recovery and weight: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/truth-about-bulimia-recovery-weight

Choosing recovery and working hard to normalize your eating may not produce the kind of weight loss you've experienced in the past. Weight loss in recovery can be quite slow, but just remember, by choosing recovery you're saying good bye to quick fixes that never really last and you're going to secure a lifetime of happiness and freedom around food. It is hard, sometimes it feels impossibly hard, but little by little you will get there and you'll realize it was worth it all along.

I really hope this helps to answer your question,
Take care,
Catherine :)

ruonan
ruonan's picture
Hi Catherine, I have

Hi Catherine, I have subscribed to Bulimia Help for a long time and myself have made big progress in my recovery, not 100%, but I'm happy with it
I got professional help while I was in grad school in US, and I'm a Chinese, my friend is a founder of an online weight loss company in China and I know there're so many ED girl users on that website. I would love to do something to help these suffering girls but u know in China people have very little knowledge or access to knowledge about this kind of problems.
I wonder if there's anyway we can potentially work together on this, or any suggestions from your people regarding this?

Thanks and have a good day

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Ruonan! Thank you so much

Hi Ruonan!

Thank you so much for your message! Firstly a big congratulations on your recovery so far, it definitely can take a while before you feel you've 100% recovered, but you'll get there one day very soon :)

I think this sounds like a wonderful idea, spreading awareness and awareness of support in general can make such a big difference, I think especially in cultures where bulimia and eating disorders are not often talked about openly. I also really admire your desire to want to give back and to help other people who may be suffering in silence.

I'm not too sure what approach we could take on this but perhaps we can talk a little more via inbox here? I would love to hear some of your ideas and help out in any way that I can. Also perhaps you could give Richard a quick message about this (richard@bulimiahelp.com), I know he's always looking for ways to spread the recovery message so he may have some great suggestions!

Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine, thank you for

Hi Catherine, thank you for the email.
I have suffered with an eating disorder for many years. About two years ago I thought "instead of making myself sick, why don't I just chew the food and spit it out?"
I have been doing this ever since and if I feel as though I have swallowed to much food, I then make myself sick. I have gained weight doing this so I take 10 laxatives on a night aswel. I feel as though I am never going to beable to stop all this so your advice would be really appreciated x

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you so much

Hi there,

Thank you so much for getting in touch and for your patience waiting for my response, so sorry it's taken me this long to get to your message.

Firstly I want you to know that you are definitely not alone when it comes to chewing and spitting food, lots of people with bulimia and other eating disorders find themselves doing this, but even though you can't ever imagine an escape I promise you that there is one. Before you start to actively recover imagining a time when you are not compelled to engage in disordered eating patterns like this can just be beyond comprehension, but by taking some steps towards recovery, little by little, you can absolutely get there.

Although you may not be bingeing and purging the way we'd typically expect someone with bulimia to, a lot of the recovery steps you'd need to take would be the same.

So steps like -

* Teaching yourself how to eat normally by initially implementing a structured eating plan (http://www.bulimiahelp.org/book/info/creating-meal-plan-bulimia-recovery). Focusing on normalizing your eating like this can significantly reduce any urges to binge or overeat that may be leading you chew and spit your food. Through structured eating you can also learn how to eat any triggering foods in normal quantities, so that you're not drawn to eat them in moments of panic.

* Practicing several techniques that people would usually use to reduce and eventually stop typical episodes of bingeing and purging would likely be really helpful too. All you'd need to do is apply them to chewing and spitting behaviours.

For example, there is a great little technique in the Bulimia Help Method that suggests practicing a ten minute delay any time you feel the urge to binge - so this could easily be adapted and applied to urges to chew and spit food.

Any time you see an article or recovery advice anywhere, take a look at it and think - how can I apply this to my own challenges? How can I make these strategies work for me when it comes to reducing my urges to chew and spit?

* Getting used to sitting with anxiety, uncomfortable/unwanted thoughts and upsetting emotions without feeling a need to react to them (turning to chewing and spitting) would be another step to take also. I talk about the idea of thought acceptance a lot more in this article on avoiding bingeing: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/how-stop-binge-eating

So although you may feel a little different or unsure of your ability to recover from your eating disorder, I think you can most definitely overcome those urges to chew and spit over time, just as someone with bulimia would typically overcome their urges to binge and purge.

When it comes to laxatives -

For weight loss and counteracting the effects of bingeing or overeating, as you may already know, very few things are as ineffective as laxatives because absorption of calories occurs high in the digestive system, whilst laxatives only work on the lower area. Studies show that laxatives only decrease caloric consumption by about 12%.

Of course after taking laxatives it may appear that you’ve lost weight, the number on the scale may go down, your stomach may look a little flatter too - but any weight loss you do notice is due to water loss and dehydration only. It will rapidly return once you become re-hydrated. Convincing yourself of this can be tough, even if you knew all of this before, but accepting the realities of laxatives and their true impact can be a big step forwards when it comes to overcoming your reliance on them.

Right now what I would say is to take the first step - because the sooner you do the sooner recovery is going to stop feeling so impossible. It is a tough road to freedom, but I know you can do this, you've already stopped purging most of the time and that is something to be truly proud of.

I hope this helps to reassure you a little,

take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
You made my day by sanding me

You made my day by sanding me your email.. How did you know I felt stuck today???
you are miracle..

I overheard health professional was saying at the health info session "There is a research about people suffering with eating disorder and when they try helping other people reduces issues. Because helping other people take focus off from themselves.""

Do you agree?

If you do, did you start helping people when you are still suffering with Bulimia? or after you recovered?

I would love to hear your experience.

im suffering with Bulimia for 10 years now. Only 7days of B/P free in my past was the best record. Now im a mother of 14 months old son.
To be the great example for him, I really want to be a victorious. and want to get my confidence back.

Catherine, I want to be like you!! you are truly the inspiration person!!!!

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, That is so good to

Hi there,

That is so good to hear, I'm really glad my email got to you at the right time. My apologies for taking so long to get back to you, as you can probably see I've had a lot of questions to work through over the past week.

Yes, yes and more yes! I totally agree with the idea that in helping others we help ourselves. Lots of research indicates that helping others can be a big key to happiness and I think when it comes to recovery your experience really can change when you begin to offer support to others.

Not long after joining bulimia help (so while I was very much still in recovery) I started to realize that I really liked talking with people here in the community. I started doing my best to offer support where I could, to share experiences and things that had helped me, or simply just to listen and to let people know they were not alone even if I didn't have any of the answers or was struggling myself at the time - and I think it's a win-win situation.

Through helping other people not only do you feel good in general, but you're reinforcing the truth that you are not alone in your own struggles. In supporting others you're supporting yourself, making friends and creating a safe, recovery focused support system. You're given the opportunity to look at things from a different perspective. You're sharing your pain (which can be so cathartic), you may try to help someone out with a challenge you haven't faced yet, and in doing so you also prepare yourself for the future when you may be in a similar position - I could really go on and on.

So I actively tried to support others through my entire recovery here but it wasn't until some time after I felt fully recovered that I began to mentor people in recovery and eventually accepted a role as a recovery coach because while I think it was fine to offer peer-support through recovery, I think you have to know you have fully recovered before even contemplating offering any kind of "professional" support.

I think your motivations for recovery are amazing, to want it for yourself and also for your son. Your story sounds a lot similar to mine too, I was bulimic for ten years before seeking recovery and before that my record was only 5 days making it b/p free. I think honestly because I was trying to stop it using willpower - I didn't understand that I needed to take real practical steps and changes, but being here taught me everything I needed to know to find my freedom.

I love that you want to help people with eating disorders one day too - you definitely should! It's a great way to give back and to also make peace with your past. I used to think so much of my life had been lost to bulimia, but now I know my life happened exactly how it was supposed to. In the mean time, I'm not sure if you're a member here, but there are also lots of other recovery forums where you may be able to help to support others. Going to real life support groups is a great way to do this too - I was always too shy to try it but it would be a great way to start helping others!

Take care and I wish you the best of luck with your recovery. Your message really brightened up my day today.

Catherine :)

Angelbear
Angelbear's picture
Hi Catherine I find your

Hi Catherine
I find your comments really helpful.
My question is how do you distinguish between not wanting to eat a food/go to an event because you don't like it vs not knowing if it is your disordered thinking influencing you?
Thank you

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Angelbear, Thank you so

Hi Angelbear,

Thank you so much for getting in touch, I'm really glad you've found this helpful too. Sorry for taking so long to get back to you, I've been working through the answers for over a week now, what a great response!

Oh wow great question and I know exactly what you mean - a lot of the time it's hard to know what your true intentions are when it comes to things like not wanting to eat a specific food or choosing to avoid an event.

A lot of the time our fears and anxieties convince us that we should avoid these things all together and I actually found that the best thing to do as I started recovery was so begin pushing myself to try more things and to say yes a lot more, even if I had reservations or didn't really know whether I wanted to do those things. As long as the situation (or food) is not a clear threat to your recovery (eg. agreeing to attend a three course meal or facing a trigger food that you really don't feel you can eat in a normal quantity) I'd say for now, go for it anyway, take the plunge and by doing those things that you may normally avoid you're slowly going to work out your true intentions. At the end of it all if you didn't enjoy it, you'll know that you tried, that you've come a little closer to working out how to make decisions without your eating disorder dictating what you should do.

Bulimia made me feel very antisocial, I was so used to making plans with friends that I knew I would never keep, or avoiding saying yes to invites to events because I felt insecure and if you're the same then this is going to feel quite scary at first. But by pushing yourself just a little, by trying new foods and by going to events you're going to really start to work out how you truly feel about those things.

It may also help to take 5-10 minutes to really think about the thing that you're saying no to. Ask yourself - "Am I afraid of something?" or "What are some good reasons to say yes to this?" Then ask yourself, "what are some reasons why I want to say no and avoid this?" Write it out if that helps to get your thoughts flowing and see if it enables you to uncover your true influences when making decision.

I hope this helps a little! In time and by saying yes more and trying more things your true motivations are going to be clear. At the same time, I think from time to time it's okay to avoid things, you don't want to push yourself to breaking point and you definitely don't have to say yes to everything all at once, even if you do work out that it's your fear and eating disorder holding you back. Baby steps and gradual changes are what will get you to where you need to be in the end.

Take care,
Catherine :)

oliviaoblivio
oliviaoblivio's picture
Hi Catherine, FIrst I want to

Hi Catherine,

FIrst I want to thank you all the articles about Bulimia. I want to ask to you how did you do to add your "trigger food" to your structural eating? I try very hard to not think that it is forbidden food and I feel like I'm treating my SE like a kind of diet.

I apologyze if my english is not good, it is not my native tongue.

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Olivia, Thank you so much

Hi Olivia,

Thank you so much for getting in touch and asking your question, your English is wonderful, I never would have known it wasn't your native tongue!

When I felt ready to begin adding in my trigger foods to structured eating I came up with a plan.

Firstly I decided that I was going to add the foods in either as part of other meals, so that I didn't go overboard and eat too much of them. So for example, chocolate used to be one of my main trigger foods, so rather than eating it on it's own, initially I would have a little bit with oatmeal for breakfast. When it came to eating pizza (another big trigger food of mine) I would have just once slice and then eat a salad with it, because I knew this would help me to get used to eating it without feeling very overwhelmed. So I would suggest looking for ways to combine your trigger foods with the things you are already eating.

Secondly I made a real effort to only eat those foods on days when I had slept enough the night before, didn't feel too stressed and generally felt confident in recovery and I did this because I knew it would be far easier to say no to overeating or binging on those foods at times like this. So again I would suggest doing similar - are there certain days where you are happier and more relaxed? Are you more confident and control of food when you're around other people or when you are alone? Think of these things and try to work out when the best time to start eating those foods would be.

Thirdly try to buy your trigger food in the smallest quantities possible, so even if you're wanting to binge on it, you can't. If this is not possible, as horrible as it is to waste food, it is wise to throw away any left overs immediately before you can be tempted to binge on them.

This will be difficult at first, but slowly you will find your confidence growing and before you know it those foods are going to be like all the others. I remember at one point being able to eat 20 choclate bars at once and I still wanted more, but these days I don't really ever crave it and when I do I have some, often stopping at just half a bar. So it really is possible to normalize these foods, you just need patience and to prepare yourself for some ups and downs along the way.

I have an article on reintroducing trigger foods here that I think you may find useful: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/reintroducing-trigger-foods

I hope this helps Olivia!

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I haven't had a binge purge

I haven't had a binge purge episode for a long time. But I still have the thoughts and fear I always will. Will I ever be able to eat normally, without fear that I am just a few bites away from a binge coming back?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you for your

Hi there,

Thank you for your question and I'm so sorry it took me a long time to get back to you, originally I thought I'd only have about 20 questions to answer!

It's wonderful to hear that you haven't binged and purged in a long time, a big congratulations for getting to that point of your recovery. I want to reassure you that what you've described here seems to be what everyone in recovery experiences - I most certainly did too.

So even when you find yourself well on the road to recovery you may still be plagued with these thoughts. I remember writing a blog post here.. in fact let me find it for you.. here it is: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/blog/always-hanging-a-thread/10/03/tuesday/al... In that post I talk about how I feel like I'm hanging on by a thread, even though I've been in recovery for ten months.

Back then I remember thinking I was always going to feel that way but you know what? I just needed a little more time to settle into my life of recovery and to really get used to living without bulimia. I'm not sure exactly when things changed for me but I know just a few months after I posted that blog I no longer felt like this - the urges had left me. I'd accepted my bulimia free life and not only that, I had fallen in love with it! I'd also relapsed enough times to realize that bulimia was never going to give me the comfort I craved - that it never had given me the escape I thought it did.

So right now as much as you can do, accept that these thoughts are a normal part of recovery, but by continuing on you'll grow stronger and stronger and one day soon you're going to be freed from them too.

I hope this helps,

take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I'm in recovery but I've had

I'm in recovery but I've had a couple of binge episodes but no purge. I get frustrated bc I feel enormous and it's really discouraging. I feel I am only getting bigger and that it's making my hate my body more. How do I bounce back from those binge episodes and get back on track the right way?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you for

Hi there,

Thank you for getting in touch and for your patience waiting for my response to your question!

Firstly you should be so proud of yourself for committing to recovery like this and for facing those episodes of bingeing without purging afterwards - sometimes I think it's one of the most courageous steps we can take but in doing so we are helping to break the binge-purge cycle and that is so very important.

It is true that when you experience residual binges like this your weight can fluctuate and you may gain a little "un-needed" weight, but over time as you learn to get those binge urges under control, this will balance out and your body will find it's natural healthy set point weight. I know when this happens it is tempting to purge, but you really are doing the right thing here by teaching yourself that purging is no longer an option.

When it comes to bouncing back from binge episodes one of the best practical steps you can take is to get straight back to your structured eating plan - now this is going to seem like a ridiculous suggestion, especially if you're finding yourself very full from your binge, feeling bigger and wanting to avoid food. But it is so important to instill that eating routine. It's okay if you can't face your regular or planned meals, lots of people choose to stick to "safe foods" after a binge. I remember at one point only being able to face a smoothie or some soup if I had relapsed that day - you just need to make sure you're not avoiding eating all together.

Another really important thing you can do to help yourself get back on track is to take a little time to analyse the relapse. Why did it happen? What pushed you over the edge? Was it one particular event, situation or feeling? Or perhaps a combination of things? Taking this time to think about why you relapsed can be so helpful when it comes to avoiding similar relapses in the future.

Also - you need to forgive yourself and I know that is really hard when you're feeling so guilty afterwards, but remember, you do not need to be perfect in recovery in order to recover. it is these really big challenges that actually end up helping the most in the end. I've written a little about this before here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/bulimia-relapses-and-how-deal-them

Finally try to work hard on changing the way you think about your success in recovery and how you measure progress. A relapse does not have the power to take you "back to square one" and it's so important to recognize that. You're never completely starting over, you're just working hard to get back on the right track.

I also have another link with a little step by step exercise for getting back on track that I hope you'll find helpful today:

http://www.bulimiahelp.org/tools/binge-busting/how-recover-a-relapse

Good luck as you continue with your recovery!

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi. I have been bulimic since

Hi. I have been bulimic since I was 19 so 9 years now :( Every time I try to adopt a healthy eating plan I worry that I am putting on weight. I worry I have damaged my metabolism so it has become really slow, and if I eat like a normal person I will store all the calories as fat. Also I worry I have insulin resistance because of all the binging and there is no way out of this illness without gaining a load of weight. Does this make sense?

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thanks so much for

Hi there,

Thanks so much for your message, sorry for taking so long to get back to you!

The worries and concerns you've outlined here absolutely make sense, I think we all face those same fears when it comes to starting recovery. The idea of weight fluctuations can be so terrifying as can the thought that you've done permanent damage to your metabolism.

However while most people do tend to experience some weight changes, especially within the first few months of recovery, eventually your metabolism will speed up again, you'll stop retaining so much water and your body will get used to digesting food properly again - which in turn will help you to find your healthy, natural set point weight.

Like you I used to think that I could never eat like a normal person, because in the past when I had tried to I would end up gaining weight - what I didn't realize was that this is often a temporary issue with bulimia recovery. The initial bloating phase we experience as we start to eat normally can look like lots of weight gain, when in actual fact it is just water weight which usually subsides within the first month.

I also used to be convinced I had done permanent damage to my metabolism, but eating disorder research is showing time and time again that while eating disorders do lower our metabolic rates, recovery restores our metabolisms to a rate which is comparable with people who have never suffered with eating disorders. So even if you were to gain a little weight due to a slow metabolism, you would lose this over time as your body adapted. In the bulimia help method we say to give it around 6 months for weight fluctuations to subside and that seems like a lot of time when you're right at the start, but again, with the bigger picture in mind, it is such a tiny portion of your life.

I wanted to link you to an article that I think you'll find helpful too: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/truth-about-bulimia-recovery-weight

Insulin resistance can be a worry but do bear in mind that by following a structured eating plan (as described here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/book/info/creating-meal-plan-bulimia-recovery) you'll really be helping your body. Healthy, balanced dietary changes can help to reverse or to manage insulin resistance, so even if you had developed a resistance, this would be the best possible approach for you to begin healing and living healthily and happily.

I really do know what it's like to believe you will never be a person who can eat normally. I used to look at the suggested food list for structured eating and think I would gain so much weight if I ever ate that much - but it just wasn't the case. So while this might be the scariest thing you have done, take that leap, you deserve to be the happiest and healthiest you can be and that is only going to come with recovery.

I hope this has helped to address your question today.
Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
How do I teach my body not to

How do I teach my body not to purge, because every time I eat anything I basically have to binge and then purge, and even if I only eat a small or normal meal I still feel the need to purge, thanks
Lena

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi Lena, Thank you so much

Hi Lena,

Thank you so much for your question, so sorry for taking ages to get back to you, as you can see I've had lots of questions to work through! It is going to take a while for your body to get used to accepting and digesting food again and I know this can be very upsetting and uncomfortable physically, but I do have some suggestions for you that I hope will help you.

Firstly, although you're feeling an urge to purge even when you've had a small meal I'd say do stick with eating small meals rather than larger ones at this time. People who particularly struggle with the urge to purge tend to find it a lot more helpful to eat six small meals through the day when using structured eating, rather than three meals and snacks. Try to plan a set meal routine, with meal times as suggested here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/book/info/creating-meal-plan-bulimia-recovery

It's okay if you can't face a normal amount of food right now. Build up your confidence slowly, have more easy to digest things like soups and smoothies and also consider adding in foods like nuts and seeds, which are nutritiously great for you, but which you also won't need a large physical quantity of to meet your needs.

Think about limiting how much you drink with your food too as this will decrease the overall volume of your stomach content, making it feel less overwhelming.

It's also really helpful to plan some "after meal strategies" so things you can choose to do immediately after eating a meal or snack that will give you a bit of time to calm down, that will engage your mind enough to help you avoid bingeing and ultimately purging. I used to find going for a walk or even just cleaning up the kitchen helpful for passing enough time here. The main thing you want to do is to avoid having any excuse to visit the bathroom at this time, so plan ahead for that.

If the urge to purge is really bad, try practicing a postponing exercise. So accept that you're having the purge to purge, but challenge yourself to wait it out ten minutes first. After the ten minutes is up, see if you can go ten more. This gets your body used to dealing with food again and you get used to the feeling of food in your stomach again.

I've actually written quite a lot about this before, because I really struggled with wanting to purge after eating anything in recovery too. I think you'll find this information really helpful: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/strategies-help-you-stop-purging

Finally - and a little surprisingly, something that really used to help me to deal with an overwhelming urge to purge was to have a small cup of tea after each meal. Now this completely contradicts one of the suggestions above about drinking less -but for some reason having a hot drink really helped me out so I had to suggest it.

Over time, by practicing simple strategies and getting used to having food in your stomach you will find that urge lessening. I know it's hard now, but stick with it, you'll get there!

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine, I have had

Hi Catherine, I have had bulimia for over 20 years. I have not purge for the last 10 years and stop binging big amounts of food 3 years ago. I do still have though "light" urges to binge. It's like they are still there to remind me that I have not healed yet. I have been practicing healthy structured eating for years now. I also have to deal with the fact that I do not love my body, it makes me very sad to think like this, because I want to love and respect such a perfect body, but I am very critic with it. And this leads to me not wanting any intimacy with my husband (huge stress!). So my questions are: what can I do to finally have no more urges to binge? and What can I do to open to sexuality? Thanks so much in advanced. You and all the team in Bulimia Help are doing a great job!

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi There, Thank you for

Hi There,

Thank you for getting in touch! I must apologise for the time it's taken me to get back to you, I honestly only expected to recieve about 20 questions initially!

Wow firstly congratulations - to have stopped purging for the past ten years and to have not binged on large amounts of food for the past three is an incredible achievement, it truly is. As you've been practicing healthy structured eating for a long time it sounds as though those residual urges you're experiencing are likely to be related to emotions and that need to numb or escape from anxiety with food rather than facing the pain of it head on. I'm not sure what methods of recovery you've used in the past but before we move on to your main question I'm wondering if you've worked much with the idea of thought acceptance and diffusing the urge to binge? We cover this in depth in the Bulimia Help Method but if you're not a member of this site and don't want to sign up I also explain the idea a little more in this article: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/how-stop-binge-eating

Basically it involves practicing accepting your thoughts and feelings (specifically the ones you feel may be leading you to binge) - it involves welcoming them, giving them a big metaphorical hug and teaching yourself it's okay to do so - does it feel weird? Absolutely! It feels like trying to embrace your worst enemy, but ultimately it gets you to a point in recovery where you are able to feel those feelings and experience those thoughts and just let them be. This technique is honestly beyond incredible, I even used it outside of recovery to overcome my intense fear of flying last year.

At the same time I'd also definitely suggest some planned distraction techniques that you can use whenever those binge urges hit. Trying to tailor your distraction technique can be so helpful too. Say for example you realize that every Friday you want to binge because you're alone and feel unable to cope with feelings of loneliness - a great distraction technique would be arranging a skype call with a close friend. Simple steps that teach you how to deal with the emotions you're feeling in healthy, productive ways.

Your attitude can have a big impact too - the importance of accepting that it's only human to feel low sometimes, That it's okay to feel sad or overwhelmed. Again this ties in with the idea of thought acceptance. It's about learning to be okay with being human.

I am so sorry to hear that you have been unable to make peace with your body at this stage, low body image can be such a destructive force in your life especially when it interferes with intimacy within your relationship. Does your husband know how you feel? As intimidating as it may be opening up a conversation about this could be a brilliant idea, expressing your feelings and having someone there to listen without judgement. Of course his natural reaction will no doubt be to tell you that you are beautiful and have nothing to worry about, which can be hard because it feels as though he's not taking your concerns seriously. But with a little time an open and honest dialogue and a lot of reassurance from him could make a really big difference here.

Saying "just go for it" is absolutely something I know you wont want to hear from me right now, but you may surprise yourself if you try and face up to your fear of intimacy head on. It takes a lot of courage, a lot of vulnerability, but sometimes we need to put ourselves through that in order to change our perceptions, in order to find out that actually our worst fears were not actualized by facing our biggest challenge. It's hard to imagine that someone else thinks of you as beautiful when you feel ugly, that someone loves you when you only feel hatred towards yourself, but another big part of this needs to be accepting that your own self perceptions are likely to be polar opposites of your husbands.

Even now you may feel there is no way to change the way you feel about your body, but as I've mentioned to a few other people, a little bit of "faking it" can go a long way. This involves telling yourself you like certain parts of your body (even if it's not really true) through the process of using positive affirmations - you can read more about them here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/power-positive-affirmations-bulimia-... doing this over time can help you to feel more confident, to learn to love yourself and to appreciate your body just the way it is.

So I don't think I can really give a one set answer response to this, but I do hope that you'll find some of these suggestions helpful. I know this is scary but by opening up to your husband you'll have him on your side, you'll have more support, more reassurance and ultimately more strength to face up to the things you've been so terribly afraid of up until now.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Caterine, mi question is

Hi Caterine, mi question is how to handle a slow metabolism while recovery? My metabolism is very sensible and I gain weight very easy.

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you so much

Hi there,

Thank you so much for getting in touch! This is a big concern for a lot of people at the start of recovery because it is true that our metabolisms lower as a result of bulimia. This can mean that intially some "un-needed" weight gain is experienced while our bodies get used to dealing with normal amounts of food again but gradually this does balance out. So as upsetting as it can be, often we have to accept those initial weight fluctuations as part of the process.

When it comes to things that you can do eating regularly is one of the very best things you can do to maintain a healthy weight and to boost your metabolism. I'm not sure if you're following an eating plan at present? But you can learn more about this here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/book/info/creating-meal-plan-bulimia-recovery

Many people with long term bulimia believe that they have ruined their metabolism forever but I really want to reassure you that this is not true. While most of the research studies conducted into this tend to focus on recovered anorexics rather than recovered bulimics, the small handful that have covered bulimia still conclude that when you stop restricting and denying your body of the fuel that it needs your metabolism will get back to normal in time.

Unfortunately it's the "in time" statement that causes the most frustration and confusion, but we have to be honest and say that we just can't know for sure how long it will take your metabolism to get back to normal. A general guideline can be anything up to six months after you've stopped bingeing and purging and I know that can seem like a lifetime, especially if you tend to gain "un-needed" weight early on due to a sluggish metabolism, but in the bigger picture it is such a small part of your life. It's scary but you're going to be so happy you decided to recover in the end, regardless of this.

Another important consideration for avoiding "un-needed" weight gain is to ensure that you're not just eating regularly but also that you're eating enough food each day. This is usually at least 2000 calories for a woman. When you do this and stop restriction you are able to normalize your metabolism so your body converts the food you eat into energy, rather than storing it as fat.

General well being is another big area to focus on. If you work on ensuring that you're getting enough sleep, rest, relaxation and a healthy amount of exercise each week you'll also really help your metabolism to get back to normal. When your body is stressed you produce more of the hormone cortisol which is responsible for regulating may bodily processes and can also have an effect on your metabolic rate. Exercise can also be helpful in rebuilding any lost muscle mass which helps to boost your metabolism over time too - but please know that excessive exercise can often have the the opposite result: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/what-exercise-bulimia-and-how-can-i-...

I hope this information is helpful,

good luck with the rest of your recovery!

Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine, I've been in

Hi Catherine,
I've been in recovery for about 3 years now. Whenever I introduce trigger foods (most grains and sweets) into my diet, I experience powerful binge urges that continue for about a week after eating the trigger food. The only way I have successfully maintained my recovery is by not having trigger foods in my kitchen. Instead, I stock it with lots of healthy food. I told my counselor about bulimiahelp's approach to slowly incorporating trigger foods back into my diet, but she strongly disagrees that this is the right approach because it have never worked for me before. In fact, I experiencing a relapse because of it earlier this year. What do you suggest?

I really appreciate your help Catherine!

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thank you for your

Hi there,

Thank you for your question and for your patience in waiting for me to get back to you.

Trigger foods are such an incredibly difficult thing to deal with in recovery and while I definitely agree that it can be best to avoid them initially and while you're getting used to regular eating and overcoming bulimia, I do think that the only way to find true lasting recovery is to eventually incorporate them into your diet. Otherwise you'll be living with food rules for the rest of your entire life and I don't think we should have to settle for being almost recovered, when we have the opportunity to be fully recovered. Of course this is just my opinion and I'm sure many people like your counselor have their reasons for believing differently. Although I would be interested in your counselors approach - is it to avoid these foods forever? Or does she/he have an alternative approach that may be helpful?

There are many programs out there (the 12 step is the biggest one that springs to mind) where life long abstinence from certain triggering foods is advocated and understanding the ways our bodies react to and process certain types of foods I can understand this - eating certain things, for example simple carbs, can actually increase appetite and urges to overeat and binge, especially while you're in active recovery, however with this knowledge, by combining some foods and by taking a very careful and planned approach I honestly believe that over time we can learn to eat all foods normally without them leading to a binge - even if we never remember a time when we've been able to eat those foods in that way.

I am sorry to hear that you experienced relapses earlier this year when trying to do this, I know that is a common experience sometimes. But recovery in itself is bumpy, especially when it comes to dealing with the biggest challenges like trigger foods and it's important to understand that relapses at times like this can actually end up helping us to progress in the end - the force us to try new approaches and to "fine tune" our plans and strategies until they eventually work.

I remember one of the first times I tried to eat chocolate in recovery, I felt pretty out of control. Luckily I managed to postpone bingeing quite well, but I sill ended up eating chocolate cake for all of my meals and snacks that day. Honestly, the next day, I felt so ill I didn't even want to look at it. I felt like a bit of a failure too of course, so the next time I fine tuned my approach. I started combining chocolate with oatmeal and only having a very small supply at home. Did I want to keep eating and eating it? For a time sure, I did, but gradually that food lost it's special appeal. I went from someone who could easily eat 20 chocolate bars in one sitting to someone who could happily eat just one, or even half a bar and save the rest. For me getting to that point any amount of relapses would have been worth it.

But I think as you have struggled a lot in the past this needs to be your choice. I think talking this over more in therapy is a wonderful idea too. Have you read the article we have on this before? I put some of the suggestions and tips in there that helped me the most and they are big things to consider if you do find yourself ready to take on trigger foods again: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/reintroducing-trigger-foods

Obviously my answer is a little one sided but I feel really passionately about this - of you want full recovery and to be truly freed from your eating disorder you have to go the whole way, you have to face these challenges, accept that they won't always go well and find ways to get this to work for you. You absolutely deserve the freedom that I and many others have achieved around food. So have a think about it!

I hope this was helpful today,
take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hey Catherine! First of all

Hey Catherine! First of all thank you for doing this... I am trying hard to recover but sometimes I feel really lonely, I think it would help if I could meet some people who are going through the same thing.. The thing is, I live in Turkey and there are no group therapies or something like that. I am sure there are Turkish members on this site other than me. How can I find them? Because you know, I can't even share this with my closest friends..

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi there, Thanks for getting

Hi there,

Thanks for getting in touch, so sorry it's taken me ages to get back to you, but I've been working hard to get through all of the questions without rushing any of my answers :)

It's so great to hear that you are working really hard to recover but I absolutely understand when you say you feel as though you need more support. Support is vital no matter what methods of recovery you're using, you need that connection, to have people who understand exactly what you are going through and who can be there for you at times when you need them the most.

If you're already a member of this site then I think it would be a great idea to post a simple forum thread asking for other members from Turkey to get in touch with you here, this has worked well in the past for others who would like recovery buddies from their area. Also know that even if you can't immediately find someone in your area to talk to online support can still go a very long way when it comes to helping you feel understood, supported and less alone. So that could be here, through charity websites like b-eat and even through other mentoring websites like mentorconnect. Pretty much my entire support network was web based during my own recovery, peers here at the bulimia help community and they helped me more than they could ever know.

Also if you ever do feel that you could talk to one of your friends in real life I have lots of tips and advice on how to go about this, because I know it's a terrifying idea. Have a look at these guides if you would like to: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/telling-someone-bulimia

I also tried to find some Turkish based resources for you, I know there is not a lot of help there, but perhaps this link will be useful to you if you're considering real life support or therapy in Turkey: http://www.therapytribe.com/Therapists/Turkey/Eating-Disorders

I hope this helps to answer your question.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine, I have been in

Hi Catherine,
I have been in recovery for 5 months & have absolutely ballooned despite mostly clean eating & exercise. People always comment on how well I eat & find it strange how I am continuing to gain weight. Will my metabolism ever return to normal? I have read over & over that it will but when??? Like others, I feel like giving up! Whilst I feel better in so many ways & ironically less self confident/loathing, I still find dressing up & shopping so very traumatic! I have gone from being underweight to considerably overweight & on bad days, I cannot even face looking in the mirror! I want to keep going but can't bear any more weight gain! :-(

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi, Thank you so much for

Hi,

Thank you so much for getting in touch, I know you're struggling a lot right now with the weight gain you have experienced but I am so happy to see that you can still acknowledge the positive aspects to come out of your recovery too - that's often something we really struggle with when weight gain is an issue.

As I just mentioned a few posts above, unfortunately it is just not possible to know for sure when your metabolism will get back to normal, and I know it's horrible to not have the answer, but I'd be lying to you if I even tried to guess. What we do know is that typically it can take around 6 months after starting recovery and stopping bulimic behaviours for your body to re balance and for you to finally start to settle at your healthy set point weight.

There are also some things on top of your lowered metabolism that can cause un-needed weigth gain. So if you do experience any residual bulimic behaviours they tend to cause more weight changes. Also something that is surprising to most people is that if you continue to restrict your food, whether that's by limiting calories or avoiding specific food groups like carbs or fats you can actually keep yourself trapped in a state of distressed hunger - the result of which tends to be a lot of un-needed weight gain, because even though you're eating, you may not be eating enough, so your body still stores the food as fat rather than allowing you to use it as energy.

I talk a little more about this here: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/truth-about-bulimia-recovery-weight

I remember a time in recovery where I struggled a little, I began to skip the odd meal and probably cut my intake by just a few hundred calories and it actually cauesd me to gain weight! So whether you're eating enough definitely needs to be a consideration. It can be difficult if you're not working with a nutritionist, however there are some reliable food plans out there that you can almost use as a template to base your own intake on, like this one: http://www.bulimia.com/client/client_pages/newsletteredt15.cfm

Even when you're doing everything right, sometimes it is just a case of giving your body the time it needs to get used to eating normally and I know after five months you must want to just give up, but please keep fighting, look how far you have come! All the suffering now is going to be worth it in the end and eventually as long as you're feeding your body right your weight is going to balance at your healthy set point. When it comes to losing any un-needed weight you've gained through recovery, it can be a slow process, it's nothing like the weight loss you may have witnessed in the past, so you'll need even more patience and trust but please keep going, you are so close.

In the mean time if you do have the option of working with a nutritionist then that would be a great idea, although I know it's not an option for everyone, I wasn't able to access that kind of support either.

I hope this helps a little, you are being incredibly brave right now, just hold onto all of those wonderful positives to come out of recovery all ready.

Take care,
Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Have been bulimia for 8

Have been bulimia for 8 months and recently ended up in hospital with a bowel issue where they starved me and cleaned me out and bascially i fell down and relapsed. My fear of food came flooding back along with my fear of hospital. How do i pick myself back up. Please help me.
Nxx

Catherine Liberty
Catherine Liberty's picture
Hi N, Thank you for your

Hi N,

Thank you for your question and your patience waiting for me to get back to you. I am so sorry to hear about what you had to go through in hospital, I can definitely understand why it has caused you to relapse and to feel unsure about how to get back on track with recovery.

Firstly, one thing you'll see me say time and time again is the importance of knowing a relapse, no matter how badly it hits you, does not put you back to the beginning of your recovery. It's not like you have to start all over again from square one (although I know it tends to feel like that). So although for the time being it may feel like a lot of hard work working on overcoming your fear of food again, the fact that you've managed to do this in the past is a really positive sign, it may not take you anywhere near as long as you imagine to start feeling happy and healthy in your recovery once more.

To get back on track your most important focus should be on normalizing your food intake again, so initially this can be as simple as eating something (anything) every 3 hours or so, to get yourself used to those regular meals again, then as your confidence builds you can move on and try to include a lot more balance in those meals again. Although it's horrible to focus on food and eating so much when it's the one thing you really fear, it really needs to be the first step when it comes to getting back on track. You might find it helpful to focus on one meal at a time for now. So focus on eating a well balanced breakfast for a few days (and still eating as regularly as you can for the rest of those days) - then once you're comfortable with a balanced breakfast, try to focus on creating a balanced breakfast and lunch - and so on. I'm not a qualified nutritionist but having gone through the process of structured eating and getting back on track during my own recovery I was able to see just how important these steps are when it comes to all aspects of recovery.

I think the only real way to overcome those intense food fears is to stand up to them, to push yourself a little more day by day and then through that experience, while you may be very anxious at the start, you begin to see that actually your body can handle this food. You start to feel better, more alive, more energized and less likely to binge - all of which reinforce the benefits of balanced eating and help you to overcome those fears.

If you're worried about how to approach certain trigger foods then I would love to suggest you take a look at this article: http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/reintroducing-trigger-foods

When it comes to dealing with the anxiety and panic you may feel when eating hands down the best thing you can do is to practice accepting those feelings (as horrible as I know they are) because when you do this you're teaching yourself that they are just thoughts - thoughts that don't have to have any power over you.

So try to acknowledge the feeling don't block it out or fight it, instead try to welcome it.
I used to think of unwanted thoughts like an annoying child who wanted attention from me - it didn't matter how much they screamed at me for attention, how I reacted ultimately defined the situation.

Once you've done this try to move your focus. Think about what you were doing before the anxiety hit.

This can be a really tricky technique and needs a lot of practice, but it's going to be so helpful for you when it comes to dealing with fear, anxiety or any unwanted thoughts as you get back on track with your recovery.

Good luck, I really hope this was helpful!

Catherine :)

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine, I've had

Hi Catherine,
I've had bulimia for 25 years. Started with a diet :) I've been attending 12 step recovery groups for over 6 years now, and this has helped me enormously with a lot of issues in my life - like getting my life back and developing good coping skills for life. But the bulimia lingers on. It's like there's something that I am not getting here. I've been trying to eat structured for some time now, and during the day, I'm fine - it's when I come home at night after a long, busy day, and have dinner rather late (which used to terrify me before), that I often, say every second day, slide into a binge. I don't always throw up, but when I do, I feel awful physically and mentally the next day. My body can't really take it anymore. But the fear for my health and feeling awful the next day don't seem to be enough to kick me into being willing to let go of my nightly binges and purges. The shame is huge - I "shouldn't" be doing this anymore, so I tend to go underground with it and not tell anyone. Have you ever attended OA or other 12 step-groups, and if so, what's your experience with it? Thanks for sharing your experience and hope :)

C.

Vegan Goddess
Vegan Goddess's picture
Catherine, It is so nice of

Catherine,
It is so nice of you to open yourself up to questions like this! I was wondering if you have any suggestions for dealing with food intolerances? I have an extremely limited diet due to celiac disease and other food intolerances. I worry that I will always feel deprived of my favorite foods no matter how successful I am at kicking the diet mentality. Also, the years of undiagnosed celiac disease have reaked havock on my digestive system so I often feel physically unable to stick with SE even when I want to. How do I avoid going to long without food when I get stomach aches that prevent me from eating? And finally, what do you say to all the people who believe that sugar can be physically addictive? If someone elimates a food such as sugar for health reasons rather than to lose weight, is that okay or is that just trading bulimia for orthorexia?

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Dear Catherine, I have

Dear Catherine,

I have struggled with bulimia for 4 years and have never had a recovery period longer than 3 weeks. I don't know how to really commit to it because I feel totally addicted to b/p. Do you do online coaching lessons?

xx

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Catherine, First off, wow,

Catherine,

First off, wow, it's amazing of you to have taken on this endeavor of answering all of these questions. I hope you are taking care of yourself as you are working to read and respond to all of these. I could imagine it might take a toll in some way or another.

I have been working hard and doing well in recovery for about five months now with a few slips here and there. I was probably clinically bulimic for 9 or 10 years with phases of restriction and b/p in between. My ED has been such a chameleon; changing to suit my situation so that my loved ones, roommates, and boyfriends would never catch on, and they mostly did not for the past 7 years.

So now I'm working hard, doing extremely well (I think), and I have pages and pages of journaling that has really gotten me through it. However, the boyfriend that I have had for the past 5 years has absolutely no idea about my bulimia. He certainly realized that I have strange eating habits (that he would characterize as healthy) and have been uncomfortable with my body, but he just does not know the dirty details (mainly, anything near the toilet or the grocery store trips). I never once binged in front of him.

I truly feel as though I do not want to expose this to him, as it never had a thing to do with him (or my family), the fact that I'm afraid it might actually hurt my recovery that's going so well now, and also that I just don't fully have the words to describe what I know was completely irrational all along anyway. I do have other supports in my life that know about this and I am able to talk about the dark parts with them. I guess I'm just wondering if you believe that sharing this is vital to being able to fully recover and really fully exist in this healthy relationship. I read your response to another post above where you said that post-bulimia your emotions were so much more intense. I'm absolutely experiencing that now; I'm all of a sudden a little jealous, a little bit more attentive and a little bit more alive in this relationship, riding the bad emotions with the good and honestly grateful to be experiencing all of them. I know that my boyfriend has noticed a change in me. I guess I'm not sure if this is something I need to address or just enjoy for what it is.

Thank you so much.

Cate

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi, I can't stop binging. I

Hi,
I can't stop binging. I have even stopped trying to severely restrict my caloric intake and eat a normal healthy amount of food, but I still find myself binging a couple times a week at least. Another thing that triggers me is if I'm somewhere like a party and everyone's having cake I tell myself that I'll try to be normal like everyone else and allow myself to eat a slice of cake. But a lot of times I end up secretly binging on party food or going home to finish the binge.
Any tips?

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
I have been bulimic for 22

I have been bulimic for 22 years. I have tried everything except group help because I can not discuss this problem in public, its too humiliating. For me bulimia has become a coping method for stress and anxiety. My question is very specific. Is there a thought that I can remind myself of that will curb my craving to bing? Very rarely I can resist the urge, but when I do I have no idea of why or what I was thinking. Can you help me understand what happens in a bulimics mind in that very moment/instant when the decision is made to binge & purge or not to?

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi, Thank you for answering

Hi, Thank you for answering questions.
How do you deal with un-supportive friends and family?
Thanks x

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
How can I stop hating who I

How can I stop hating who I am and just except who I am?

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi, My biggest struggle

Hi,

My biggest struggle during recovery is not having anybody to talk to. (So thank you for opening up to questions). I told my parents and a few friends about a year ago but I have such a front up and always act fine because I'm not comfortable talking about it with anyone, also, no person understands what this is like unless you go through it. I often times with I had a good friend who was also bulimic so we could help each other. And who knows, maybe one of my friends is and he or she is hiding it too (that possibility makes me want to be 100% open and not ashamed of my problem).
I want to know how to cope with bottling up all the emotion. I'm screaming on the inside for someone to come to me and ask me everything and anything. To explain my feelings. To challenge me when I say I'm doing fine. But I know no one understands this.
Thank you for everything you do.

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Thank you Catherine, You are

Thank you Catherine, You are such an inspiration to us all. Can you tell me more about the Coaching program. How does it work? What is involved? Can anyone do it? etc.

Watching quietly from the sidelines.
Thanks again Catherine!

peterson.sonja@...
peterson.sonja@gmail.com's picture
I have two questions... 1. I

I have two questions...
1. I crave sweets a lot at night. Does this mean I am not getting enough of something during the day? Or do I need to keep sweets out of the house for a while?
2. When do u know if you are ready to move from one phase to the next?

Sonja

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Why do we allow ourselves to

Why do we allow ourselves to keep repeating history by doing things we know will end badly? Is it really purely physical? Or is there something that needs to shift mentally before we can really be ED free?

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine The bulimia help

Hi Catherine

The bulimia help method actually cured me. However, I have gained 8 kilos and I feel fat! I am currently in my 11th recovery month, which is quite an achievement as I have been bulimic for 23 years. I love life without bulimia but I hate myself with all this excess weight. From your coaching experience, will I ever be able to be slim again? How long does it take? Many thanks. Diana.

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi, I'm only 15 and ive been

Hi, I'm only 15 and ive been bulimic for a year and a half. I lost about 10 kilos and i had low potassium levels and low minerals in general. But now the problem is, the moment i eat too much or drink too much my body just brings up the food, and its not because i want to, this makes keeping fodo down very hard. Also, i have barely an appetite, and i cant eat too much or ill vomit, so i eat very little portions which i dont think is good for me. Do you have any tips to help with my problems? it would be much appreciated.

Luni
Luni's picture
Hi Katherine. Thank you so

Hi Katherine.

Thank you so much for this enormour help, anwsering questions.

1. Do avarage weight or overweight bulimias also gain weight? Does it seriously ever go away and how long does it take?

2. It is absolutly impossible for me not to purge if I binge, so I am working on not bingeing but that is just so hard and takes so long. If I lessen my binges, but continue tu purge them, will they ever subside?

3. I am doing SE. I had a nutricionist make my meal plans and I always try to eat every three hours. It has helped me to lessen my b/p cycles to one daily and sometimes none, however I still binge and purge at night. Do those binges and purgues affect the work SE is suppossed to do? Does it mess everything up in the attempt of regulating the body??? Does SE only true work once you stop b/p???

Thank you.

Luni

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi, I'm trying to recover,

Hi,

I'm trying to recover, but everytime I gain weight I freak out and feel so fat that I start restricting again, which leads me back to binging and purging. Last night when I came home from a party I had the biggest binge ever and purged part of it and now I've gained 2 kg's since yesterday. This has NEVER happened to me before... I would be so grateful for any advice.

Thank you.

Blondie14
Blondie14's picture
Hi catherine, I am 18 and I

Hi catherine,
I am 18 and I never purged,I would binge and then starve myself and sometimes exercise excessively if I had enough energy for about 3 years. I had been limiting my calories to about 500 a day before I was fed up enough to tell my family that I was sick and needed help. Now I am about a month into my recovery and about 2 weeks from my last binge. I am struggling now because I am bloating. I can't help but feeling that I am just getting fat because I am eating more. I started looking into more about bloating and recovery to try and make myself feel better. This backfired. Alot of things that I read said that bloat was due to the purging aspect of bulimia. What I am asking is if it is normal that I as a non-purging bulimic am bloating?

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine Loving BHM!!! I

Hi Catherine

Loving BHM!!!

I am trying to eat what used to be a binge food - reitroducing it bit by bit. This food still has a strong bond on me - it doesn't seem to loose its 'power'. Last night I even slipped on it - something that hadnt happened in ages. I get that recovery doesn't happen over night, but will certain foods always stay trigger foods?

Thanks!

Zoe

Angel333
Angel333's picture
Hi there, What is the

Hi there,

What is the success rate of overcoming Bulimia especially using the self help method??

Im beginning to lose faith in myself :(

Thanks
Angel

'We are each of us angels with only one wing, so we can only fly by embracing each other'

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hi Catherine, thank u very

Hi Catherine,
thank u very much for your great efforts..
can you help me since i'm arabian and don't understand english well :(
i'm bulimic and have no idea to recover :((
is there an arabian recovery coach who can help me
i dont imagine myself as ED free!!!

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Does this program help if

Does this program help if I've had bulimia for 35+ years and abuse alcohol? I sometimes do both at same time

Anonymous
Anonymous's picture
Hello Catherine, I have had

Hello Catherine,

I have had bulimia for 6 years total. 5 years straight from middle school to college. I stopped because I developed panic/anxiety. I am on meds for the anxiety. Well I had a relapse a year ago where I went half a year bingeing and purging again, stopped for a bit and restarted until 2 weeks ago now. I went to the ER because I thought my esophagus ruptured but it didn't. Apparently everything was okay but I wanted to know if anybody else had gone through effects of bulimia and how they got through them. Thank You.

4STARDAYDREAM
4STARDAYDREAM's picture
Hi Catherine ! Firstly thank

Hi Catherine ! Firstly thank you for your continuing presence and positivity on this website - you are a continual source of education and insight . I have one thought which I feel is still holding me back in recovery - that I should know better than to be bulimic. I spend most of my teens trying to snap myself out of it .[as if it was that simple!!] I get a lot of 'chin up' , 'but you have such a great life' , 'you're a smart girl, surely you won't do anything stupid' 'other people have it worse ' type advice from my GP , counsellors , friends and family. I do kind of still believe itheres some truth to it. Any thoughts?

Life will continue to give you the same test, until you pass it. Whatever that pass is, is deemed by you.

natascha
natascha's picture
Dear Catherine, I am a month

Dear Catherine,

I am a month in the program and I would like to know your opinion about stopping purging gradually.I am 18 years bulimicwith several short times(2,5 years together) of not purging,but alot of bingeing and fasting,restricting...
Now it went naturally with structured eating that I could stop purging and bingeing, not overeating sometimes,at daytime since three weeks.
I purge one hour after dinner,between 7pm-10pm.One day a week I got myself binge and purge free.
I feel happy with this small succes, although the b/p at night is horrible still and leaves me exhausted,depressed and broken.
From my past I had honderd attempts of being purge free for several days and than fall back for month doing nothing but b/p.
I now want to get free permanentely and so I commit to not purging every day till 7pm and every week,if possible I want to add one day more b/p free.Also I want to restrict the purge time gradually from 3 hours to just 30 min.
Maybe I will need more time for all of that but I want to stay at the level I am now on and not fall off again to nothing.
What do you think of this?
Can yougive,me please some advice?
I feel vulnarable and unsure if I am doing right with this///

Thankyou so much!
Natascha

Natascha

natascha
natascha's picture
I have to add to this above

I have to add to this above that I have fallen outoff my plan and back to bingeing and purging all day and am totally desperate.
Hope you will answer me.
Natascha

Natascha

Beautiful smile
Beautiful smile's picture
Hi, I read most of your

Hi, I read most of your replies and so moved with your help for us. You are so beautiful, inside and outside.
Do you know why I can throw up so easily? Maybe my body became abnormal after one year of bulimia, and I can throw up in 2 minutes, silently as long as I want. So it makes recovery so hard for me, because wheneverI had difficult time, I will binge, and then throw up, without any pain or hard time. I hate bulimia and really hope to change it. Looking forward to hear from you.

natascha
natascha's picture
Is this side still in use? Do

Is this side still in use?
Do you still answer questions Catherine?
I asked something 6 month ago and it does not feel fine to me not to know if you wil answer or not.
Please let me know

Natascha

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