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From Bulimia to Chewing and Spitting

By January 25, 2013

I am a 33-year-old mother and have been bulimic every since my 13-year-old daughter’s birth in desperation to lose weight. With this disorder, I immediately lost all the weight I had gained plus some. For the following years, I would sometimes binge and purge three-to-six times a day back-to-back. I know that this is severely unhealthy for me physically and environmentally. This has been an extreme battle for me since I know I am not healthy physically. I had recently prayed for assistance, just as I have many of times before, figuring if I don’t stop purging that I was going to eventually die from this. I had an idea – to chew the food and spit it out, this way I would not have to purge and harm myself physically. I knew that this was not the answer completely. I have to admit that I am eating much less since I don’t want to go through the trouble of spitting the food back out. I HAD NO IDEA that this was a known real problem until I Googled it yesterday and found this website. I have been CHSP for nine days straight. At first, I would eat fruit in the morning and then either CHSP lunch or dinner. For the past week, I have not been swallowing anything but water and light beer. I can eat food; I am not anorexic. My desire and control is much better in my opinion. Am I wrong for thinking this is a step towards recovery?

Dearest One,

I am not going to beat around the bush because the bottom line is you are experimenting with methods that allow you to stay close to the disorder without changing. The impression from your writing is that because you are not purging you are not hurting yourself physically. But read what you wrote again: “For the past week, I have not been swallowing anything but water and light beer.” As an adult and a mother, you are well aware that is not proper nutrition and will hurt your body and mind. And I am actually concerned that you may be using the water and beer to numb your feelings so that you can continue to CHSP.

It is clear that you are aware of when this behavior started (the bulimia) and that it tricked you. You wrote that after the birth of your daughter you lost all your weight and then some. Is there an amount of pride with that fact? I sense it was empowering for you. And that makes it difficult to let go of a method that put you in control of who you were at that time.

I think the switching from purge behaviors to CHSP is an attempt to control the shame you feel about your struggle with disordered eating. It makes it “less negative” and more acceptable and that means you are not “wrong” or “sick” or “unhealthy.” CHSP is not an acceptable meal plan strategy. Taking in liquids and avoiding solid, nutritious food will take its toll.

Additionally, I am concerned about the connections to food in the family. What are you modeling and communicating to your daughters about food? About eating? About enjoying food? I am assuming you cannot have family meal times together if you are only taking in liquids? I fear you are missing so much by avoiding breaking bread together with your family. I strongly believe that you must face that this is still disordered eating (regardless of what you weigh) and seek professional services from a counselor and dietitian so that you can begin to participate in your life and not just taste it momentarily. See “Finding Treatment.” You deserve a full life, full nutrition and a full understanding of who you are and your value despite any number on the scale.

Leanne Spencer, LPC, MAMFC, CGE