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Eating disorders

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  • First of all, I’ll echo everyone in saying how wonderful it is that we are discussing bulimia (and other related disorders/issues). Whitewine, I’m so glad that you and others want to learn more about this debilitating disease. In response to your questions I can tell you how it was/and sometimes still is for me…

    You’re absolutely right that dealing with/removing the source of stress is the best way to deal with stress in our lives. The unfortunate thing is that often these sources of stress do not go away easily. I lost my sister to suicide (she battled alcoholism primarily as well as depression, and bulimia) and my father to cancer. When something that heartbreaking occurs you cannot soon find the end to the despair you feel. There is a reason that disorders and addiction is so pervasive in our society and it is because no one can escape all stress and we all find our own ways to deal with it as best as we can or know how. Yes, the goal is to find healthier ways to deal with stress and reduce stress to begin with, as much as possible. But it is often a long, painful journey to get to that point.

    You’re right that it is very important to self-examine and be brutally honest with oneself before during and after binging/purging as much as possible. Only then can we find ways to break the cycle.

    AllNatural, PLEASE DO NOT LOSE HOPE! There is so much light at the end of the tunnel. At this difficult time take things as slowly as possible. Do what you can to get through you exams and this stressful time in one piece. That doesn’t mean if you end up B/P you have failed. All you need to do is remember, there will be an end to the stress and that you absolutely DO have the capability to conquer and beat bulimia. Print out any of the inspiring words everyone has written and tips that you have found helpful. Keep them with you at all times and read them whenever you feel lost or without hope. You can do this!

  • Lovingraw, after eating (to excess) something you really liked, did you feel guilt for having allowed yourself to indulge in that pleasure? Did you deny yourself other pleasures as well, or only with food?

  • Whitewine, I absolutely felt guilty after B/P. For many reasons: because I had lost control, because I had hurt my body (so much so that I gave myself a hiatal hernia and GERD), because I had wasted food, etc. The list could on and on… In general I was hard on myself, exercise bulimia and a pretty structured existence.

  • Oh, my goodness. This was really punishing!

    It is such a phenomena, however, that everyone who suffers from bulimia arrives at this same conclusion: that if they upchuck their food they will achieve some kind of satisfactory mental/emotional state. Would you mind describing how, at some point in your time of stress, the idea occurred to you that this would be the thing to do, how you decided that this would accomplish relief or somesuch?

    (I was going over my own experiences of having to puke, and it has never been pleasant; I hate it. It is very unsettling just prior to the event, because I will be in a slight fever, I will know that in a few seconds my stomach’s reflexes will be taking over and the rest of me will absolutely be “letting go” in order for the stuff to come out, and I will be in a very un-pretty position with my mouth wide open and undigested stuff spewing out (euwww). Of course it is a relief overall when it’s finally over, but it is not something that I ever look forward to, and I would be loath to intentionally induce it even once, not to mention several times a day, every day.)

  • DelphineDelphine Raw Newbie

    AllNatural & others suffering from eating disorders, know that in this moment, we are all embracing you with infinite, unconditional love.

  • elizabethhelizabethh Raw Newbie

    I’ve never suffered from an eating disorder, but I know all about obsessive, damaging behaviour as a response to stress and other unpleasant things.
    I’m going to be realistic and say that old habits die really hard, and at times, I still find myself aching for something a tad less health supporting than a green smoothie.
    I don’t know what to tell you, although I wish I did, because if there was a formula for controlling weakness and bad memories I would certainly love to hear about it.
    I just thought it might be helpful to you to know that raw food is great, but it isn’t a cure-all. Its a big step towards loving your body but its only that…a step. The rest of the battle is more than food and exercise, and I hope you can get through it.
    Good luck. And you’re not alone.

  • DelphineDelphine Raw Newbie

    AllNatural,

    I also would like to also suggest you to find Gentle or Restorative Yoga Classes as it could be greatly helpful. If none are available where you are then look for DVDs on the net. These kind of Yoga will help you unwind your stress, emotions … and deepen your connection with your body, your essence …..

    May this be helpful.
    Wishing you the very best.

  • Whitewine, in response to your question, I knew of bulimic ‘techniques’ because of my sister’s struggle. How odd it was that I ended up using them because I distinctly remember thinking how terrible it was for her to be in such a harmful cycle. I think many women and men have heard stories of others with eating disorders or it has been described to them in health ed class and, during a sad , stressful time turn unfortunately give them a try.

    At times the process is most certainly not pleasant. In fact I would never say it is, yet it’s something so many of us become addicted to. Particularly the abandonment of control (over eating, emotions, etc) during the binging and the relaxation and calm right after the purge. Of course then comes the bad feelings, hence the cyclical nature of it all…

    Elizabethh, it’s so true no matter what the vice, it seems everyone’s got one. I uniting factor among people, in a way, we’re certainly all human.

  • Well, I can see where the calm after the storm would be the appealing, attractive feature in purging. That’s really what ‘raw foodists’ are going for when they fast, is it not: to relax their system and give it a rest, allowing it to do its thing, catching up with unfinished business (conducive to a healing restoration), and experience the cleanliness and calm which comes from this.

    I can appreciate a mind under extreme stress desperately searching for relief and seeking a strong dose of what is most immediately available, even if later the ‘relief’ really only compounds the problem. We’re hardly educated on how to deal intelligently with the problems which come with life on Earth, especially the really overwhelming ones, and are often left to our own devices, trying to deal with them with but little knowledge or resources. Especially when one is very young, it can break a person emotionally. Especially if they’ve been eating crap all their life!

    I recently read an article written by Karen Knowler, a raw food coach in the UK. It’s addressed to those who struggle to stay 100% raw, who play yo-yo and then feel guilty at succumbing to the desire for those cooked enticements. But it has some inspiring, very nice bits of insight very applicable to this thread:

    http://karenknowler.typepad.com/living_in_the_r…

    To what she says I would add that ‘giving in’ to this kind of (harmless) temptation is not necessarily a bad thing. Like the scientific statement that ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’, it is well known that attempts to prevent oneself from a pleasure only increases the desire to pursue it. You get better a better state of mind when dedicated to learning from it than trying to resist, failing, and then beating oneself up over it later. It also good to have equally pleasing but healthier alternatives to choose from, to broaden one’s involvement with what life offers, building a broad base of happiness from which to evaluate stressful problems.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s useful in clearing up the mystery of this seemingly perplexing malady.

  • I just read through this post and although I don’t have an eating disorder, I think I can really relate to some of it.

    I have obsessive-complusive disorder. I’ve had it since I can remember and lately I’ve been trying to control and really understand it. I think raw food has helped me to relax a little but I’ve still got a way to go.

    Funny story: When I was 2 years old, my aunt was visiting my parents house and she happened to notice my closet. At the bottom, all the shoes were lined up perfectly in pairs. She laughed at my mom for taking the time for something so silly, but my mom corrected her, it was not HER that organized the closet, but ME. (at 2!)

    So it’s just the way I am. My obsessions change somewhat over the years, but my closet is still perfectly organized, mostly by increasing sleeve length. When I was an undergrad, all my class notes had to be perfect. I would stop and erase mishaped letters dozens of times during fast-talking lectures. My house is organized, and that phrase “a place for everything and everything in it’s place” could be my life motto. I have hardwood floors and I sweeper-vac them at least once a day. I have pets, and of course I clean their cages obsessively. I guess I can be happy that at least I’m not germaphobic. But seriously, I’ve begun to realize that I waste soooooooo much time doing trivial things. That’s the obsession, being in control. But that’s just it… you are NOT in control, the obsession controls YOU.

    So I can relate.

    I just came off a 7 day Master Cleanse, and without realizing it (I don’t have a scale at home) my weight got down to 108. I’m 5’6”, so that actually scared me quite a bit. Why? I think going raw has given me a new obsession. I LIKE my new thin body and people telling me I’m skinny. BUT, I do NOT need an eating disorder! I know myself, and once I get obsessed with something, I can easily get hooked. I went grocery shopping yesterday and now I’ve been eating whatever(raw) I want just to prove to myself that I’m okay. I AM okay. Now… if I could just put down the vaccuum I might actually be telling the truth. :P

  • mygreenmojo, I would argue that seeking perfection in your life is not an “obsession”. It is how our minds work. We need precision in our life, because our success depends upon it. It is what we use to navigate the physical, geometric aspects of existence. It is how we can determine where things are, how fast they are going, what the consequences will be of events which connect or coincide, a way of distinguishing the precise difference between what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’. We evaluate things often by their degree of orderliness or disarray (in science they even measure the disorder in system and call it ‘entropy’). The only thing we need to add to all this activity is an examination of the propriety of the degree of precision we’re demanding or imposing.

    It is a good thing to exercise judgement on the time it takes to do all that calculating; as you said, you may come to the realization that some of it is more wasteful than practical, more trivial than productive, and refine your decision on the time spent attending to the orderliness of certain things. Because we calculate we have only 24 hours each day. :(

    In homes such as are featured in magazines for home interiors, we marvel at their beauty and how well everything goes together. The designers and decorators who create these beautiful scenes spend a lot of time putting things together which “fit” or “go with” each other and look just right. (One difference with those beautiful home interiors and ours is that the owners have enough money to pay somebody else to keep everything in perfect order!)

    It i the same with clothing designers and graphic artists – they can spend inordinate amounts of time on tiny little details, making sure these meet that artists’ exacting standards. No one would argue with this “obsession” when their work is successful and they make a very lucrative living from it.

  • Interesting ideas, whitewine. I can see how obsession with perfection could be positive under certain circumstances. Actually, I’m a scientist myself, so to a large degree, my obsessive nature improves the quality of my work.

    Although there have been some areas of my life that have benefited from my OCD, I’m sure that overall the impact is negative. Obsessing over organization or cleanliness seems harmless enough, but the problem is that the same thought patterns permeate every aspect of your life. Obsessing over past failures and re-playing embarassing or painful memories is not productive and it leads to negative emotions. Losing sleep, staying up all night doing unnecessary tasks makes the next day harder. And obsessing over physical imperfections is often very damaging. Ever pluck your eyebrows until your face bleeds? I have numerous times. Obsessive thoughts and behaviors are tricky. They lead you across the point at which the pursuit of perfection becomes self-destruction. You mention “(refining) your decision on the time spent attending to the orderliness of things”. That sounds nice enough, but that is just not how it works. The obsession controls you. Modifying obsessive behaviors as you see fit is much easier said than done. Honestly, I have yet to succeed at it.

  • mygreenmojo: This reminds me of a statement by Maria Montessori (a researcher of childhood development, originator of the Montessori Method of education):

    “The mind that works by itself, independently of truth, works in a void. Its creative power is a means for working upon reality. But if it confuses the means with the end, it is lost.”

    Comparing it to bulimia, a few questions come to mind: when the obsessive thoughts & behaviors began to “take over” were you under extra stress at the time? Did the impuluse to do certain things unendingly just come upon you suddenly, then begin recurring, or was it a slow development?

    It appears that you followed the driving impulses when they started, and as you said, continue to do so now, still struggling against them. Do they affect you in the workplace as well, do they affect your ability to be productive and on time with expected results, or is it only at home that they will afflict you?

  • whitewine,
    If you’d like to better understand the processes behind OCD, look up some articles or resources on it. Wikipedia has a good article I believe. It’s a very well-understood disorder, actually. I’m a pretty typical, moderate OCD. “Organizer” type mostly.

    And I guess the complusions can be worse under times of stress, but, like eating disorders, OCD is a means of coping with stress, so it’s complicated. You also must understand that this has been going on my entire life, my behaviors were there at 2 years old. Only more recently have I come to understand that I am not “normal” (although I’ve always known I was different somehow).

    And yes, OCD does affect my ability to be on time and such, I’m typically late to work because I have such an elaborate morning ritual and I’m completely unable to leave home if the house is a mess. Directly and indirectly OCD also affects my relationships with others, including roommates (my old roommate JUST moved out! haha) and potential mates (I am engaged though, luckily to a very clean and wonderfully understanding man).

  • I am sorry if I sounded flip or condesending on my last post.

    It sounds like you are very busy. I know I was a student myself one time.

    You have learned to purge as a control. Perhaps people on the internet can say how they broke returning to that habit.

    What I meant before is that your body is in balance when you are eating a raw food diet. When I was eating dairy products, I would get hunger pangs at certain times of the day and be more moody (impatient). I find that I can last beyond the ordinary meal times if I haven’t gotten my meal (because I am with people shopping or what not) without lows or aggravation.

    Perhaps designating splurge days will help you avoid binging. My splurge day is Friday. I eat a cooked desert with white sugar in it on Fridays. Because of reading the China Study, I almost never eat dairy, not even tempted by it.

  • Thank you again, and i have seen a therapist, i am temporarly “talking” regularly and on medication. I hope to stop the meds within a few weeks, but they are helping to control myself again. Im not boasting meds. But i do encourage people who have had the same problem as me, to go ahead and make the call for help.

  • AllNatural, I’m so glad things are going better. You’re so right that meds or no meds, everyone’s got to do what they need to get help and I’m so glad you have.

  • Well, mygreenmojo, I hope the raw eating lifestyle will be of some help to you in getting beyond this compulsion. [I wonder what happens when you take a long vacation where you have no arranging to do! :) ]

    But here is what Montessori had to say about the sensitivity to order during childhood:

    “A very important and mysterious period is the one which makes a child extremely sensitive to order. This sensitiveness appears in a child’s first year and continues through the second. It may seem slightly fantastic that children should have a sensitive period with respect to external order, since it is a common opinion that children are disorderly by their very nature.

    When a child lives in a city, in a closed environment full of various objects which adults move around and arrange for reasons which he does not understand, it is difficult to form a judgement about such a delicate attitude in the child. If he passes through a period sensitive to order, the disorder he perceives can be an obstacle to this development and a cause of abnormalities.”

    Montessori then provides some examples of situations she had witnessed or been told of, where a child’s tantrum was cleared as soon as a certain arrangement of objects in the child’s life was restored.

    “These examples indicate the intensity of this instinct. What is perhaps surprising is its extreme precocity. In a child of two years the need for order manifests itself in a tranquil fashion. It is at this time that the need becomes a principle of activity and provides one of the most interesting phenomena to be observed in our schools. When an object is out of place it is a child who perceives it and sets about putting it where it belongs. A child of this age notices a lack of order in the least details which escape the notice of adults and even older children. If, for example a piece of soap is lying on a washstand and not in the soap-dish, if a chair is out of place, it is a child of two who suddenly notices it and puts it in order.
    [.....]
    Obviously the ‘love of order’ in children is not the same as that of adults. Order provides an adult with a certain amount of external pleasure. But for the small children it is something quite different. It is like the land upon which animals walk or the water in which fish swim. In their first year they derive their principles of orientation from their environment which they must later master. And since a child is formed by his environment he has need of precise and determined guides and not simply some vague constructive formulae.” —from her book “The Secret of Childhood”

  • wow, so glad i found this topic, because i was just about to start it myself!

    thanks for your honesty and courage, Allnatural and everyone else in this discussion. nothing makes me happier than to see people coming together in recovery.

    i have been a non-stop bulimic for 8 years, and eating disordered in general for 14 years total. i’ve lost my teeth, relationships, my career, my artistic self, and my soul over the years. i have been seeking a “cure” ever since it started and have done almost everything under the sun to get better!

    about 4 years ago, i discovered raw food, hoping it would cure me, but all it did was allow me to physically persist in between binge/purge episodes. same story with yoga.

    then about 6 months ago i found OA - overeaters anonymous. it’s a 12 step program identical to AA (alchoholics anonymous). even though i’m just a newbie in the program, the progress i’m making is amazing and nothing like i’ve had before.

    OA treats eating disorders as a spiritual problem, whereas most doctors or “experts” treat it as a physical or psychological problem (and don’t produce permanent healing).

    OA has helped me learn to release the guilt, shame, despair, and frustration that has been driving my bulimia from the roots for so many years. like i said, i’ve only begun this journey and it’s a terrifying process because i know i have so much more to uncover.

    but let me tell you… it’s worth it! the way i’ve felt since i started the program and have been bingeing/purging less is much, much more emotional (- that’s the scary part) but so much more ALIVE. my heart, third eye, and crown are opening. and the veterans of the program tell me that the emotional part gets easier over time as i will learn to just hold space for my feelings and then release them without having to act out.

    from my experience so far i would highly, highly reccommend OA. you can find OA meetings all over the country and around the world, too. OA.org.

    i would also love to give/receive additional support with other raw foodie bulimics. my email is pukalele at gmail dot com.

    blessings…

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