If you could choose only ONE thing to focus on in the early days of bulimia recovery what would it be?
Yes, abstinence from bingeing or purging is important.
But focussing on those two things is akin to taking a pill for the pain – it deals with the symptoms, not the cause.
There is ONE THING, one skill that must be learned, that is common to all bulimia recovery.
It’s the key to making progress quickly.
In fact, without doing this, you may hang onto abstinence for a while, but you’d be guaranteed to relapse eventually.
So, what is it?
Drummmmmm rollllllllll please…..
It’s to stop restricting.
The root of bulimia is restriction.
“I’m not allowed.”
“I really shouldn’t.”
“I’ll eat later.”
Bulimia recovery isn’t just about ending the bingeing or the purging, it’s about stopping the restriction too.
Restriction is to limit.
Restriction is to curb, to constrain, and to control.
Restriction can be obvious, for example, “I won’t eat anything until supper.”
But more often than not restriction is subversive, subtle, and even sounds logical:
“I ate too much for lunch, so I shouldn’t have my snack”
“My brother didn’t eat breakfast, so I shouldn’t eat breakfast either”.
“I binged last night, so surely I shouldn’t be hungry today!”
“I should have a salad, even though I feel like a sandwich.”
And on and on.
In the midst of bulimia it is so normal to restrict, control, measure and over-analyse food choices and hunger (or lack of it) that you may not even notice that you’re doing it.
The truth is …
If you’re calorie counting – you’re restricting.
If you’re food weighing – you’re restricting.
If you’re portion controlling – you’re restricting.
If you’re “should-ing” all over yourself – you are restricting.
Society has drilled it into us that doctors, media, friends and family all know our own bodies better than we do. That our bodies can’t be trusted.
Society shoulds all over us all day long!
“Gluten is bad for you”
“You shouldn’t eat all day – it’s better to intermittent fast”
“Sugar is addictive.”
“If you want to lose weight you should be in a calorie deficit.”
Lead by the “health” industry, society spits out rules and theories and diets, disregarding entirely our innate ability to make the best choices perfectly unique to our own physique.
As my nutrition professor always said, “One man’s food is another man’s poison”.
Remember, that nutrition as a science is extremely new, and there is only one thing that we can all agree on, which is that nutrition is bio-individual. At the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, we were trained that a good health coach is not someone who tells a client what to eat, or how much to eat, or when to eat. A good health coach is someone who guides a client to truly listen to their body and work that out for themselves.
So what’s the opposite of restriction?
What do you do instead?
The opposite of curbing, constraining, and controlling, isn’t anarchy … it’s allowing.
The solution to years of restriction is the same for everyone: learning to listen to your tummy and allowing yourself to eat what it’s asking for.
Of course you’ll need to learn to get through binge and purge urges too.
You’ll need to learn to hear fullness signals again, and learn to stop when you do.
And you’ll need to begin to tackle all those old beliefs and fears that are holding you back.
But start with a little more allowing.
That’s a beautiful beginning.
The beginning of you and your amazing body, trusting each other again.
BIG Love 💕