Tag Archive for: binge eating recovery
Tips to Help You Stop Purging
If you’ve read my books or blog, you’ll know that I did not purge through self-induced vomiting (instead, I purged with excessive exercise and also with restrictive eating). I fully realize that those of you who purge through self-induced vomiting face a different set of challenges in recovery.
Many of you have told me that the physical effects of stopping purging (such as bloating and other uncomfortable symptoms) make you want to binge and purge just to get “relief.” Even though you know rationally that binge eating and purging is not a real solution for those symptoms and that it causes further damage to your health, when you feel so uncomfortable, it may seem tempting to get that temporary reprieve from bloating or other physical symptoms. You may even be someone who has developed the habit of purging normal meals, and you are finding it difficult to stop, or you are concerned with what may happen to your weight if you stop.
To address this issue I’ve reached out to Ali Kerr of Binge Code Coaching, who has personal experience with overcoming self-induced vomiting, and who has guided many others to do the same. Below is a guest post from Ali!
Are you ready to stop purging your food but find yourself worried about what will happen to your body when you do? Perhaps you’ve recently stopped or reduced purging episodes only to find that your body is swelling up, bloating, and gaining weight as a result?
As the founder of Binge Code Coaching, author of the bestselling books The Bulimia Help Method and The Binge Code, and a qualified Nutritional Therapist, I have coached hundreds of clients over the years who have experienced this same fear and resistance when it comes to giving up purging. Not only that, I have experienced this challenge first hand myself.
It takes an incredible amount of bravery to stop purging your food and to trust your body to adapt through this process. When we first stop purging we tend to experience overwhelming and intense “side-effects” which include:
Bloating of the stomach
Swollen hands and feet
An uncomfortable feeling of heaviness right through the body, and
A temporary increase in weight
These changes often leave us feeling defeated, confused and convinced that we will never recover without our weight rapidly spiraling out of control.
I remember believing that my body could not handle food anymore. I was also certain that I would end up becoming very overweight and regularly thought about purging again just to gain some relief. Yet despite these impulses to purge “just one last time,” I persevered with recovery, I stayed strong, and I did not purge. I found that within a month the bloating and other symptoms had significantly reduced. The same is true for my clients today, with most them noticing a significant reduction in bloating and other associated symptoms within the first 4-6 weeks of stopping purging.
Through my research I came to discover that the bloating and other challenging “side-effects” that we associate with the cessation of purging largely occur due to our bodies being in a state of chronic dehydration at the start of recovery. This means it’s important to give your body time (and permission) to go through these healing changes.
Here are my top five tips to help you through the initial stages of quitting purging:
1. Keep your body well hydrated
As strange as it sounds, ensuring that you drink at least 2-3 litres of fluid each day will help to reduce water retention. So, get into the habit of sipping water regularly through the day, take a bottle of water with you wherever you go, drink soothing herbal teas to aid digestion after meals, and try to incorporate lots of fresh fruits and vegetables into your meal plans as they are naturally hydrating.
2. Stop checking your weight
The majority of weight fluctuations that occur when we stop purging are the result of water weight and this can equate to rapid weight fluctuations. Seeing big changes on your scale early on in recovery may derail your recovery efforts. It would be such a shame for you to give up all hope because of a little temporary water weight, wouldn’t it?! So, see if you can make a pact with yourself to avoid stepping on the scale for the time being. It can help to move it out of your bathroom completely or to take out the batteries. If this feels intimidating, challenge yourself to go without checking the number one week at a time.
3. Commit to stopping purging no matter what
To overcome bloating and the other associated symptoms you may be experiencing right now you absolutely, 100%, must learn to stop purging completely. Tell yourself that even if you overeat, binge, or feel incredibly bloated, purging is no longer an option.
4. Avoid seeking out quick fixes for your bloating
There is tons of advice out there on how to reduce bloating. Generally, it involves imposing new strict food rules or trying diets that eliminate whole food groups at a time. Not only is this not recovery-friendly but it simply will not work. Understand that your body is bloating because you are beginning to heal from the effects of purging, you must give it the time it needs to do this. There are no quick fixes. It’s important to understand that while this bloating may feel uncomfortable or even painful, it’s not dangerous because all you are doing is re-learning how to do something that is completely natural and safe, which is eating and digesting food. However if you do experience intense, prolonged pain, discomfort or bloating that becomes worrying you should always consult your doctor.
5. Let go of any misconceptions you hold about “the benefits” of purging (hint: there aren’t any!)
While purging your food may have caused some temporary initial weight loss when you first developed your eating disorder, purging does not help you to lose weight in the long run. In fact, prolonged periods of purging cause metabolic changes that prompt your body to store more fat. Purging also increases the likelihood that you will binge and research proves the number of calories absorbed from a binge, even after purging, is greater than the number that would have been absorbed on a binge-free day. If anything, purging contributes to weight gain NOT weight loss!
Really, this boils down to trust. You need to trust that your body can handle the food, you need to trust that the bloating will not turn to fat, you need to trust that the discomfort will pass. Give your body time to heal (at least 4-6 weeks). Please, please, please be patient with your body and give it time to heal. A lifetime free from bulimia far outweighs a couple of weeks worth of feeling bloated.
If you would like some extra support and guidance on stopping purging, you can read our step-by-step guide to stopping purging.
Alison Kerr (BA, Nutritional Therapist) is at the forefront of a groundbreaking revolution in eating disorder recovery. She is the founder and CEO of Binge Code Coaching (formerly called HealED), a wellness company that specializes in coaching people to break free from their food issues.
Alison is a best selling author of several books on overcoming binge eating and bulimia. A native of Scotland, her first book The Bulimia Help Method was published in 2014 and has become a best seller in its field. Her latest book The Binge Code is the culmination of ten years working with people who suffer from binge eating and emotional eating. Alison’s approach is unorthodox, engaging, fun and most importantly, effective. Learn more and get one-on-one support
What Makes Recovery “Work”?
I know a life free of binge eating is completely possible for you, but if you are like many binge eaters who I’ve spoken to over the years, you may have a hard time believing that right now. You may have searched for years for a cure, for something to “work,” for it all to just click so that you will no longer binge. You may feel exhausted and frustrated by the search.
You may be someone who has already read my books, and you could be thinking that the method I used “worked” for me rather quickly, so it should be the same for you. You may believe that if the concepts from my books do not work right away, then you need to look for a new approach that will work. It is certainly possible that another approach may be a better fit, but if you are someone who has jumped around from one approach to another, I want you to take a minute to think about what you believe makes a recovery method “work.”
If you are holding the common belief that a recovery method only works if it gets rid of your binge urges right away, or at least very quickly, this could create some problems for you in recovery. If ‘getting rid of the urges right away’ was the measure of a successful recovery method, then the Brain over Binge approach actually didn’t work for me either.
Seeing my binge urges as meaningless, powerless, and harmless neurological junk from my lower brain didn’t make those urges go away right away, or even all that quickly. The new mindset I had changed how I perceived my urges, and it rather dramatically made me feel my own ability not to act on them. But, the urges were still there for a while.
I had to avoid acting on every binge urge until they did completely go away – about 9 months from the time I adopted my new approach. Not once during those 9 months did I think “this isn’t working.” The reason for this was that I defined success not by whether or not I had urges, but by my ability not to act on them.
In the beginning of recovery, the binge urges came frequently…and I wasn’t perfect. There were two times when I did act on the urge. The first time, I heard those familiar, lower brain reasons why I should binge, I felt the familiar craving, and I mistakenly thought it was the real “me” who wanted to binge, and I acted on it. The second time I binged, I had much more awareness of what I was doing, but ultimately, I did still act on the urge.
When I acted on those two urges, I didn’t proceed to throw out the principles that I’d learned, because they didn’t “work.” I realized that in those specific instances, I had not applied what I’d learned, and I had simply followed the urges. I did not think that I’d failed or that I needed a new approach. I recognized that I had the power to avoid acting on the very next urge and to keep my recovery going.
During those 9 months of having urges but not acting on them, I never wished the urges away or took their presence to mean something was wrong. I believe this was a big component of what allowed the approach to be effective.
My own recovery and my experience helping others has led me to believe this:
What makes recovery “work” is not what works to take your urges away. It’s what works to help you not act on them.
No matter what approach you use, the crux of recovery comes when you have a thought, feeling, or impulse encouraging you to binge, but you don’t.
When you are able to do that over and over, your brain changes, the urges gradually do go away, and your binge eating habit is erased.
Go to What Makes Recovery Work, Part II
If you want help in increasing your ability not to act on binge urges, and you are new to the Brain over Binge approach, you can get started with my free eBook.
If you want extra help in making recovery work for you, the Brain over Binge Course is composed of over 125 audios to guide you and encourage you, including one audio you can listen to when you are having an urge to binge—to help you avoid acting on it. You can get access to the complete course for only $18.99 per month.