How Recovery Begins-blog 2 of 3
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Are you exhausted?
Does your stomach hurt?
Are you bloated?
Do you have regular, interchangeable diarrhoea and constipation?
Do you have embarrassing flatulence?
I ask you these questions, because I have been there!
Although I’m sure you would agree with me that our emotions are at the forefront of binge eating, our physical needs must be met as well. By ‘physical’ I don’t mean running or doing crunches, I simply mean the body as a whole. Our nutrition, hydration, movement, rest, stress, the list goes on.
It is easy to think that your body should be punished because of your eating habits. You may be someone who purges through vomiting or who purges through excessive exercise. Either way, your body will be suffering as a consequence.
As an example, binge eating can put a large stress on your liver and thyroid as well as your entire digestive system. Which means it's a good idea to run some checks just to make sure you are functioning optimally. As a nutritionist I advise my clients to do a blood test to discover what deficiencies or dysfunctions are occurring within their body.
Once we have the results, that's when I create a health and lifestyle plan that will help the path towards recovery.
The human body requires exercise in the form of movement. All or nothing exercise is not helpful, especially when you have disordered eating. Understanding this is one of the core components of recovery. All or nothing eating and all or nothing exercise often go hand in hand.
As humans we find it very easy to fall into habits, whether they be bad or good. Unfortunately disordered eating creates a lot of bad habits.
I imagine you are a very good dieter. Until you fail - because that’s what the diet industry wants you to do. So then a good habit turns into a bad habit and the cycle continues and it's a shame because it doesn't have to be that way.
An easy way to start is by identifying the bad habits that are leading you to your binge eating. Once you start to realise which habits are triggering your binge eating, that's when you can start to find alternative activities that will stop a binge in its tracks.
When everything revolves around food and weight, it's easy to lose sight of what you truly enjoy in life. That's why it’s so important to introduce simple activities and hobbies that help to distract you from falling back into limiting habits.
Initially this is not a simple process but can be done through simple problem solving techniques that I go through with my clients to work out what the best cause of action to take when facing the urge to binge.
The digestive system is very complex and needs a good balance of macro and micronutrients to keep it in good working order.
BED destroys not only your emotional well being but eliminates the balance that the body requires. This displays itself not only with poor digestion but also with lacklustre skin, weak hair and nails and dark circles around the eyes.
It may be that you are simply used to interchangeable diarrhoea and constipation and assume that this is how your life will be forever. Are you searching for a toilet nearly as often as you seek out food? Is holding in gas becoming more and more embarrassing?
Even though talking to a professional about your emotions plays a significant role in your recovery, it’s imperative to gain a deeper understanding of how your body functions so that you can make sure your body learns how to heal from your disordered eating as well as your mind.
Blood tests help you to discover if you have a dysfunctional thyroid for example. Finding this out for yourself could be critical to your recovery. Equally, discovering a fatty liver could be a sign that you may be consuming too much alcohol.
Alcohol has NO positive attributes. It changes your personality, it encourages you to make poor food choices which can lead to more bingeing.
It is an anti-nutrient so the vitamins and minerals in any good food you are eating are depleted, it can bring on anxiety, it may cause digestive dysfunction, it’s linked with weight gain, and dehydration.
Either way alcohol is going to interfere with both your brain and your body, so if you are wanting to move toward recovery, it is probably a good idea to abstain from alcohol altogether.
Finding out more about how your body is working is really helpful towards physical recovery but only after establishing emotional recovery first.
Blood testing is the easiest way to establish a starting point towards your physical recovery and working out if you have any dysfunctions or deficiencies within your body as a consequence of your binge eating or indeed if anything may have exacerbated it.
A further understanding of how your body works and if any dysfunctions could be contributing to your low mood, weight gain, low energy, need to binge among other symptoms. You will also discover if you have any vitamin or mineral deficiencies for example low iron = low energy, low vitamin D = low mood/poor immunity, low magnesium = low mood/high stress.
Those with BED tend to have an all or nothing attitude to exercise. I aim to adjust that thinking by simply encouraging movement. This means using the stairs rather than the escalator, or walking to work/uni/college rather than getting the bus, or walking to a park to eat your lunch rather than eating at your desk. On the flip side it also means going for a long walk in the woods rather than an indoor run on a treadmill or going swimming with your children for fun rather than pounding up and down the fast lane, or having a family cycle ride at a slow pace rather than training for an endurance race.
Walking, yoga and swimming are all calming physical activities that I positively encourage.
All or nothing eating and all or nothing exercise go hand in hand and finding a balance is key to physical health. As well as that, resting is just as important. This does not mean slobbing on the sofa all day long. It means putting time into your day where you are quiet. This may be during your lunch where you learn to mindfully eat. It may be during a walk where you listen to music. Addressing stress in your daily life through 30 minutes quiet time is hugely helpful for your physical and mental health.
It’s important to try and find at least 30 minutes a day where you balance your movement and rest time. This will slowly become a natural activity within your daily schedule and will help to discourage your all or nothing thinking.
When you proactively give yourself 30 minutes a day, it will slowly become easier to stop the guilt of needing to punish your body for overeating through exercise. Or to encourage movement without feeling shameful of your body size.
Humans are very good at forming good and bad habits. But, we are bad at stepping away from these habits and forming new ones.
Those with BED particularly struggle to find a routine that doesn’t involve binge eating as their internal thought process constantly surrounds food. It is likely that you don’t have many or any hobbies or social activities that you enjoy because food has gotten in the way.
Together we will discover what you enjoy - it may be singing, knitting, pottery, drawing, cooking, puzzles, sewing, clothes designing, photography, gardening, colouring in, even learning a new trade! Finding alternatives to bingeing will give you a new lease of life.
How do you see your body? When you look in the mirror what do you focus on? It may surprise you to know that not everyone looks at your tummy the way you do. Or your bum, or your legs. When we are in the throws of an eating disorder our body image is distorted. This is completely normal but something that is possible to change. My aim is to help you with your negative body image to start thinking with a clear head, rather than a disordered thinking one.
What happens when you feel a binge coming on? What do you do right there and then to prevent it from happening? Problem solving is also key to changing habits. Finding out a step by step method of how to do this will be crucial to your recovery.
I imagine you very often say to yourself ‘why did I let that happen?’ Actually finding that out may seem impossible but with a little guidance and skill, you can work back through the hours before a binge starts and pinpoint the exact moment the thought of bingeing entered your mind. Learning what to do when that thought first enters your mind, finding out what the problem is and how to find the solution and implications of that solution is a skill worth developing and I will show you how.
Once you identify your good and bad habits you can start to reduce your bad habits and increase your good habits by discovering activities that you enjoy.
We will work together to help you remember what you enjoy in life without focusing on food and weight. This is the beginning of your food freedom!
To find out more about my story and how I can work with you, please click below to download my eBook ‘The First Steps Towards Recovery’:
If you would like to speak to me to find out if I can help you, I offer a free 30 minute discovery call. Just click below to book a time that suits you.