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Dr. Tracy Thomas(Licensed Psychologist)answered(7/15/2012)Dear Anonymous,
Recovery from AN can be complex and ongoing and evolving issues with food is normal throughout recovery. Because eating disorders manifest from unaddressed and unresolved emotional issue and represent a persons' way coping with difficult emotions, one can experience occasional eating related episodes regardless of how strong one's recovery has been. Also, because so much time occurred where you were starving your body, it is likely still wanting to make sure that it has enough energy for storage in case you decide to starve it again. The thing to understand is that an ED is a bio-psycho-social disorder and your physiology was strained for sometime, your psyche was hijacked as you lived from the framework of the ED, and the environmental stressors you encounter also play a role in the life of an ED. At times when you find yourself eating for more than physical hunger, ask yourself what is going on with you emotionally. Are you looking for something to cope with, to make you feel better, to escape, to have pleasure instead of stress? Ask yourself what you are really hungry for besides food, and see what comes up for you. When we eat for reasons other than physical hunger, we are emotionally hungry, psychologically hungry, or maybe even spiritually hungry for some other type of nurishment, and our body is not the one that needs it. Figure out what you really need in those moments when you are apt to overeat and give yourself what you really need. Remember, if we eat when we are not really physically hungry, or when we overeat beyond our body's satiation point, we are putting fuel into the wrong tank that is already full. The problem is that we can never really get enough of what we really don't need because the true need continues to pop up and appear to be the desire for food, but it's really prompting you to look deeper at that craving to eat more and address what you really want more of. Find that out and you'll significantly improve your relationship with food and you'll reduce your eating dysfunction over time.
Lisa Bograd, MA, MFT(Marriage & Family Therapist)answered(7/22/2012)It is not at all uncommon for people in recovery from anorexia to experience problems with overeating once they have reintroduced food into their lives. A state of starvation is extremely hard to maintain, both physiologically as well as emotionally, and when hunger cues are no longer overridden, and some degree of control is given up, hunger can return with a vengence, and this can understandably be a scary experience for someone who has been depriving themselves and who likely still has fears around weight gain and the experience of hunger itself. Understand that overeating is often a natural consequence to undereating, as deprivation begets craving, again both physiologically as well as psychologically, and the more that your body and your psyche can trust that you will feed yourself when you need to be fed and will not deprive yourself, the less likely it is that you will find yourself overeating.
My hope is that you will get to a point where your eating patterns will normalize, and if you are in some degree of recovery chances are you have worked with a nutritionist to help establish a normal eating and exercise pattern. If you have not done this yet, I strongly suggest you do, otherwise your recovery is highly likely to be shortlived. Once the body trusts that it won't be starved and a regular meal plan has been established, your blood sugars are less likely to spike and this is one of the keys to preventing overeating, which can often occur after a prolonged hunger spike. Of course, there is also the equally important emotional piece and it is likely that if you were depriving yourself around food, you were depriving yourself in other ways as well. My hope is that you will grow your life and your relationships and that you will give to yourself more freely and try to attend to your emotional needs. My hope is that you will reach out to others for support when you need it and learn to build new tools to navigate the world without resorting to food and an obsessive focus on your body, for comfort, for a sense of balance, and for self esteem. I encourage you to get some help professionally if you have not done this yet. Recovery from anorexia takes time and needs to be addressed on many fronts, from the nutrition component to the psychological component to the spiritual and relational component. You have already done some great work on yourself to get to a point where you are in recovery and that is AWESOME. Now it is time to keep giving to yourself on all levels and getting the help that you need to sustain this very important and courageous path you have managed to put yourself on!
Andrea Labis, LCSW-R(Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist, Private Practice)answered(7/29/2012)Please remember to trust yourself--and know that your history of believing that you could not have all that you wanted (my guess is, this went well beyond food), was a set up to "binge.' If we think we have a finite amount of anything, we may go to town trying to over consume in a false belief that there will not be enough or more later (think food, sex, shopping, etc). Any behavior can become compulsive; a literal task can re-wire your pattern of behavior.. A simple exercise is to eat your regular meal and then journal about how you FEEL; wait 20 minutes and see what more, if anything, you truly want to eat. If your "craving" is for contact, call a friend. If you have the yen to get out--grab your shoes and go for a walk. The same applies to the non-meal "binge"--take a few minutes to write down your thoughts, feelings, and ideas and see what's really going on. Value your experience more than you value the binge,-and get to what you truly want and need! I wish you all the best on your journey!
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Anonymousanswered(9/19/2012)What do you do after you binge? My guess is that you
feel really guilty, swear to yourself that you will never do it again, and then
engage in some type of compensatory behavior (exercise or perhaps even
vomit). If this is becoming a
daily or even weekly routine, you should address these issues with your
therapist. If you are not
currently in therapy, you should consider doing so. Relapse is very common for every type of eating disorder, but if it’s not
controlled, you be back to the same place you were before. Relapse prevention
is a very common treatment modality for eating disorders. If it wasn’t part of
your original treatment program, I would suggest that you find a professional
who is familiar with these techniques.
Jennifer Regester(Registered Dietitian)answered(12/19/2012)I agree with the responses so far but to add my nutrition expertise I would ask yourself WHY you're bingeing- out of food restriction, out of emotions, or both? A lot of times people binge simply because they are hungry and have restricted too much during the day. Once they get really hungry it's hard to stop eating because your body is playing "catch up". Are you following an appropriate meal plan? Are you bingeing on sweets, carbs, "forbidden foods"? Adding some of those into your meal plan on a regular basis in small portions will help you regain the power over your food choices and will decrease the binges. If it's emotional I would recommend revisiting therapy.