Hello! I am a 34 year old woman who has struggled with my eating since I was 16. I’ve gone from anorexia to exercise bulimia to binge eating. I now am able to not binge for days at a time (and find it gets easier as I avoid sugar and processed carbs) but am always on one diet or another trying to lose those last 10 to 15 lbs. However, my periods of normalcy are broken by binge eating that seems to be increasing lately (I’m getting married in September) and I’m feeling rather helpless. Intellectually I KNOW this behavior does not help me, and only hurts me, but I still go back to it time and again. Intellectually I know what I am SUPPOSED to be doing to feel better- but I don’t choose to do those things. It’s almost as if I don’t really want to stop because, if I did, wouldn’t I stop? I’ve lived this routine for so long it’s exhausting (I am also fanatical about exercise) and I’m wondering what I can do to break this cycle – how I can not WANT to fix my problems this way? I’ve tried therapy for years and am really hesitant to go that route again – is there something I can do on my own? Thank you! – H
We’re glad you asked your questions. I always feel so sad when I hear that someone has battled with disordered eating for so long. After over 15 years of struggling, there is still a lot of HOPE. You’ve already lessened the frequency of your binge eating! You deserve to be free of the “thin cage” – the dieting rollercoaster and compulsive behaviors.
Of course as a therapist, I believe in therapy. But there are circumstances where therapy is not possible or practical and “recovery” can still begin without it. I must say, there is one factor I see active in all individuals who change without therapy – a spiritual approach. The problem of crazy eating consumes our thoughts, feelings and actions – in other words our SPIRIT. So I believe we must approach the problems with this in mind. It doesn’t matter how much we know intellectually – compulsion overrides intellect.
For example, getting married can be a very scary and uncertain time. Are you perhaps viewing it as a loss of independence or control? Ask yourself what marriage means to you from a spiritual perspective. Is it a joining of two souls that results in a stronger unit? Now is a great time to refocus on the priorities that you value (or want to value) MORE than weight or exercise or dieting. For example, do you want to raise healthy children or perhaps contribute to your community? We must refocus on what really matters.
If you believe that your Creator is loving and compassionate, write down what He may want for you. You can also give some time to thinking and writing about what you deserve. Books such as Constance’s Life Inside the “Thin” Cage can help you in this quest.
Don’t stop reading, searching and finding answers to these questions. When you accept that you are extremely precious and very valuable, then you can begin to set specific goals such as decreasing your exercise by 5 minutes each day. Ask those you trust to share in the celebration of your progress. We all need cheerleaders. Please don’t give up, H. I’m very hopeful for you.