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Teen: Cycle of Bingeing, Starving, Healthy Eating, Deprivation…

By October 29, 2012

Hi, I’m about to turn 16 years old and i’ve been battling anorexia for about 2 years now. I’ve managed to get back to my normal weight, 5’3″ at *** lbs, but i sometimes have periods of bingeing which can last from 2 days to 2 months! It’s just terrible, and I gain a LOT of weight, then I feel horrible about myself and eat less until i return to my normal weight again… Sometimes, I manage to eat “healthily” but i usually spiral down to eating less and less until I cannot control myself and binge… My question is, how do I stop myself from repeating the cycle of bingeing, starving, healthy eating, deprivation all over again? Also, one curious thing is that I keep trying to avoid eating meat! I know it’s good to eat some but i think i’m just afraid of how much calories it contains… Please help! Thank you in advance! – SL (p.s. I’ve just recently stopped counting calories and am seeing a counselor at my school… I would say i’m currently at the beginning of the deprivation period of my cycle…)

Dear SL,

Since you are at the beginning of your “deprivation” stage, this might be a very good time to try to implement “balance,” not deprivation. Your body goes through these cycles because you force it to go to extremes, either deprivation or binging. You talk about “healthy eating.” What is Healthy Eating to you? Does that mean you cannot have sugar or “junk food?”

My philosophy is all about finding a healthy balance, and allowing yourself to eat whatever, whenever you want.

Individuals who suffer from anorexia have such strict “rules” about food, what they can and can’t eat. These rules only perpetuate that eating disorder cycle that causes us so much grief. It sounds like you are still very strict with yourself. You need to allow yourself, your body to have the things it enjoys and it craves.

When you want a piece of cake, have a piece, not the whole cake. But sit down and enjoy it. Pay very close attention to your body’s signals. What is it hungry for? What is it craving? My guess is that you still are very strict with what you eat and you don’t deviate from your regimen often. Your body needs variety, a healthy balance of all foods all the time.

I’m glad to hear you are going to your school counselor. Hopefully this counselor has additional training in the treatment of eating disorders. If not, you might eventually want to find a therapist who does specialize in eating disorders. They are very complicated, and difficult to treat. See “Finding Treatment” for more information. And remember recovery takes quite a while, so have patience with yourself.

Good luck, and take care of you.

Nicole Bourquin, M.S.