Please find below a wonderful post by Kate Walsh from Bulimia Secrets. I hope you’ll find it informative and useful in your journey to healing and recovery.
Bulimia Recovery Stages You Should Know
By: Kate Walsh
Today apart from relapsing tips (see point 5 below), I want to discuss 8 bulimia recovery stages you may experience during your journey to health. Just have in mind that different people experience differently, so the stages and their order may vary significantly. However, if you learn on what you may expect during you recovery, you will be prepared.
This understanding will definitely help you in going through
“a stage” when it appears 🙂
I SELECTED 8 THE MOST POPULAR RECOVERY STAGES:
1. “I’m so bloated”
2. “I hate my eating plan!”
3. “I will be fat when I recover…”
4. “I’m dreaming about binging & purging!”
5. “I failed.”
6. “Wow, I can eat normally!”
7. “My eating plan is so boring, Give me a break!”
8. “I don’t think I am bulimic anymore”
1) — I’M SO BLOATED —
Bloating occurs in most bulimics who just started recovery. Bloating is a sign that food is not being ingested correctly by the body or there is water deficit in the body. Basically, your body has to learn again how to digest foods properly. You are probably suffering from water retention and this is why you are bloated.
Bloating is probably the first sign of your recovery really.
*TIPS: Wear loose cloths that will hide your round belly (this is temporary!). Depending on your health it may take several weeks (or even months sometimes) to get rid of bloating. Keep in mind this is temporary.
Drink a lot of water and some herbal teas. Don’t let yourself to resign because of bloating! Your body just want to get healthy and you should support it by giving it time.
2) I HATE MY EATING PLAN
If you stick with your eating plan, you may soon feel bored
and fed up with it. You may miss longer meals and eating
until you totally full… Let’s face it: your eating plan is not “exciting” because you know upfront what and when you will eat next …
*TIPS: You don’t want to stay in your recovery thinking “I hate my eating plan”, because this state of mind sooner or later will make you binge. Good practise is to constantly remind yourself why you decided to recover.
Write a few lines to yourself about the advantages of recovery (your goals) in your Planner and read them when you feel like giving up.
Also, you can distract yourself from thinking like this by doing whatever you have to do to come back on the right path (so go for a walk, speak to someone, read/ write a poem, etc.)
Other idea is to give yourself a choice of what you will eat. For instance you may have 2 different dinner choices prepared
and frozen and before meal time you decide which one you feel
3) I WILL BE FAT WHEN I RECOVER
This is very dangerous stage of your recovery and even more
dangerous if this kind of thinking occurs all or most of the time. This indicates that you don’t really understand that eating doesn’t makes you fat, but gives you energy you need to function.
What makes people fat are restrictions, dieting, eating too
much at one go or addictions to particular unhealthy products. People get fat if they have metabolism problems or other health conditions and if they don’t eat healthy or if they sit or lay down all days long….
BUT If you are healthy, eat healthy food and exercise
regularly, you won’t be fat! So just eat small regular meals made of healthy and natural ingredients and stay active and you will be healthy.
*TIPS: Exercise regularly (but don’t allow it to be your new addiction!). You should definitively exercise if you spend
most of your day sitting. But if your school or work requires a lot of activity, you don’t have to exercise a lot – it just would be healthy for
you if you do so regularly once or twice a week.
You can exercise at home. It all depends on what you prefer. I mentioned yoga in my previous lesson. You can swim, dance, cycle, ridding on a horse (why not?!)or do plenty of other stuff. The point is to choose something you ENJOY and what WON’T make you to compare with other people.
This is why I in general don’t recommend gym: people
usually go to gym thinking about losing weight and compere one with the other. This kind of thinking and atmosphere is not healthy for you.
4) DREAMING ABOUT BINGING/ PURGING
When you suddenly stop binging & purging, your subconscious
will miss that and it will “do” everything to make you come back to your destructive behaviour. This is why your thoughts are different every minute, you get confused and depressed easily. So when night dreams of you binging/purging occur, don’t be surprised! It’s normal, but very dangerous sign of your recovery.
*TIPS: Good method to protect yourself is to write a short
letter to yourself in your Planner, before anything happens.
“I’m a recovering bulimic. I expect that I can experience night dreams about me being binging & purging. If that’s happens I won’t be surprised or worried.
These kind of dreams will only be the signs that my recovery is in progress. So I won’t be afraid at all! I will continue my journey to health & happiness stronger than before”.
Of course you should use your own words to express yourself
as precise as you can. When the dream appears, just read this short letter back in the morning as many times you need. It will help you to go through this stage.
5) I FAILED
OK, so let’s make it clear: It is possible that you will relapse during your recovery. Of course I don’t want you to think that, it is normal so you don’t have to try hard to stick with your diet and recovery
You have to try really hard.
But even if you try hard, it may happen that force you are fighting against will make you suddenly binge/ purge.
What should you do then?
Should you resign or blame yourself!? NO. NO. NO.
*TIPS: You have to have your plan in place, so if you relapse, you will have guidelines what to do next. It doesn’t matter if you only did it once or come back to binging/ purging for longer, your plan will help you.
The point is to PLAN SOMETHING NEW FOR YOU (in order to break your vicious cycle). When you are in your cycle, you are mostly focused on your feelings & emotions, you don’t think clear so it is very difficult for you to stop binging/purging. This is where, your plan would do the “thinking” for you. You will only have to find a little bit motivation to get up and do whatever it says…
So, what can you include in your plan?
It’s up to you really. Try to choose activities you have never do before or didn’t do for a long time. It can be something like swimming, riding a horse, etc. The best are “OUT OF BOX” ideas that can give you totally new experiences.
If you are not able leave your home, you can stay and do stuff like painting, sewing, reading poems, dancing, singing, speaking Italian (you can learn this stuff online or from dvds!)
When you manage to come back to your recovery methods after
relapse, note down your whole experience in your diary. Investigate your emotions (try to answer questions like why did you binge/purge?, how did you feel after?)
The more understanding about yourself you have the better for
There is a massive difference between binging (and not knowing why) and binging with the understanding why. If you have at least partial understanding of yourself and constantly investigating your feelings and thoughts, then you will be able to help yourself.
If you honestly don’t know why you behave like you behave, then I suggest you need to seek profssional help….
6) WOW, I CAN EAT NORMALLY!
Being overexcited about your recovery progress is also one of the recovery stages you may experience.
Why this stage is a bit tricky?
Because, you are not balanced. You start to believe that you are healthy and this might only be a pitfall.
*TIPS: Any relaxation method is good to calm down and “talk”
to yourself. Ask yourself if you really deep inside have this confidence to eat whatever you want without fear?
My point is to be honest with yourself. When you are overexcited, you may be lost. Remember this advice and just keep doing your healthy eating strategy and your chosen recovery methods.
7) MY EATING PLAN IS BORING. GIVE ME A BREAK!
This is another pitfall. You eat according to plan for several weeks/ months and you are bored. You want more freedom. It’s normal 🙂
*TIPS: Again, think about pros and cons of your eating plan. Remind yourself how much you achieved by this point. Read your notes in your Planner and Diary.
If you really believe you are ready to have “breaks” from your
eating plan, take one!
Go out to restaurant, cook with your friends, etc.
But you need to constantly observe yourself and your thoughts.. Ask yourself questions like: “am I scared of this pasta? Do I think it will make me fat? Do I think I’m fat? Do I feel confident and happy now?”
You have to work it all out.
The point is that if you are scared, it is not good idea to have breaks from your eating plan yet…
8) I DON’T THINK I’M BULIMIC
Again, this stage is similar to the above two. Be careful.
– IF your body image is still low,
– IF your mood is up to what other people say about you,
– IF you still have in mind your triggers (you are afraid of
eating pizza for example),etc.
THEN you are still bulimic in your mind. You are not really safe. You are not bulimic if you can eat everything, enjoy food and in general feel happy about the fact who you are.
*TIPS: Keep working on yourself even if you believe you are 100% healthy. It doesn’t have to be very intensive “work”. The point is to always keep an eye on what you think and feel. This way you will be able to react on time.