This is a question for everyone (female AND male) who has a history of disordered eating (starvation, binges, obsessive calorie counting, etc). What steps (besides going paleo, of course) have you taken to resolve the issue? For me, it's been a combination of things..not weighing myself daily, exercising for the way it makes me feel, not the way it makes me look. Basically, I'm looking for other ideas to help me (and others) maintain this new, healthy attitude.
asked byLily_7 (231)
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on May 30, 2012
at 12:50 AM
There have been a lot of factors in my recovery, but the most significant are:
1) No calorie counting, whatsoever! I'm convinced that calorie counting actually led to my eating disorder in the first place. Even though I was not overweight, I decided that I needed to stick within the parameters of some silly iphone app, which led to OCD, restricting, guilt, exercise bulimia, etc., you know the deal. Sometimes I still catch myself doing the math in my head, but I know I have to avoid that. Now I listen to my body's hunger signals and they have not led me astray!
2) Yoga. Practicing yoga has made me feel a lot more comfortable in my own body and helps (I don't know how but it really does so I don't question it) with body image. It's great for building strength of the body, mind, and spirit (I know this is cheesy) and it is not a form of exercise that I will abuse. Along with this goes 3) meditation.
4) Getting enough fat and protein. If I eat enough of these macros (I don't restrict carbs, as I don't restrict anything as a rule, but I don't eat a ton of them) then I don't get the kind of nagging hunger that could lead me to binge.
5) Eating when I'm hungry. I do not mess with IF; I really don't think anyone with an ED background should, but that's just my opinion. When I'm hungry, at all, I eat a meal. I think the feeling of hunger itself can be very triggering with someone with an ED; either triggering to restrict or to binge. Thus, I avoid it when I can. I think IF can be healthy for most people, but not for me, and that is okay!
on May 30, 2012
at 12:13 AM
I was horribly anorexic for a few years beginning at the age of 12. By far the most important thing in the short run was getting professional help and going into treatment. In the long run it was this viewing food as nourishment and not poison, and learning to trust my body. Neither of these things can be taught, but only practiced. For instance, I was made to eat 1 food that I was afraid 3x per week when in treatment (exposure therapy). I still remember the first time this happened and sitting at the table for what seemed like eternity with a melting ice cream cone that had to be put into a dish to prevent it from dripping all over the floor. The reason I took so long to eat it was because I was savoring it, it tasted so good! Eventually after more of these things past I found that nothing really bad happened and I grew more confident.
Also, exercising with a purpose other than using up food and losing weight. That helped too.
You have to treat it like you would an addiction, because the brain psychology of eating disorders is essentially the same as those who are druggies.
Oh, and I never weigh myself routinely anymore. Only really at the docs office when I go in for checkups.
Also, I'm not perfectly over it, obviously by hanging on these forums, but I'm at a healthy enough spot where i'm not underweight and it does not interfere with my social life or ability to perform athletically or academically.
on May 30, 2012
at 12:55 AM
I used to binge, and on top of that have always been a chronic "nervous snacker." I'd eat for no reason at all, just because food was there, even if it was cruddy food I didn't really like.
[ETA: I now recall standing in the break room at a long-ago office job one evening, eating the remains of a lunchtime tray of sandwiches that nobody had yet bothered to throw out. They were soggy, didn't have mayo or mustard on them, and all the ones with good fillings had long since been eaten. Some had the meat picked out, and were just bread and iceberg lettuce. But I stood there and finished off everything on the tray, even though I wasn't hungry. They were there, so I ate them. So I guess I've been kind of like the human Roomba, just rolling and bumping along, sucking up every stray crumb without a second thought.]
My last true binge was a couple of years ago; the binges had been growing more infrequent for about a decade as I gradually got my mental health together and my life circumstances improved. But the constant, mindless snacking persisted. Even on low-carb, no grains, no sugar I still couldn't pass through the kitchen without opening the fridge and grabbing another hunk of leftover meat, or another hard-boiled egg. I'd grab fistfuls of nuts and be halfway back upstairs before I realized I was even eating them. And while I wasn't gaining any more weight, I wasn't losing any, either.
On top of that, I was still craving sugary/carby crapfood every so often. I resisted temptation, but it was still there, nagging at me.
Intermittent fasting turned out to be the thing that did the trick. I can only eat between 6:00 PM and midnight--period. Other than black coffee and water, I consume nothing else during the remaining 18 hours of my day. So when I'm in the kitchen at noon and reaching for the jar of cashews? I now remind myself that they'll still be there later, after six, when I'm allowed to eat.
As far as the crapfood cravings, I allow myself a cheat day on Thursday, when I can eat things like pizza or brownies or cake all day, in any quantities I like. If I do cheat, Friday is a fast day (I do a 40-hour fast from midnight Fri. to 6:00PM Sat.). If I don't cheat, I stick to my usual 18/6 IF routine.
During the week, when a craving hits, the idea of the cheat day has been a big help--postponing fulfillment of the craving until later is psychologically easier than forbidding that food outright. But as time has gone by and I've indulged on a few cheat days, I have far fewer cravings. The last three weeks, I haven't bothered to cheat at all. And that's because I feel so incredibly lousy the following morning that the cheat is nowhere near so appealing as it once was. I look at a pizza or a hunk of chocolate cake and can now anticipate the hangover I'm going to wake up to the following morning. I can't pretend there's no link between those foods and feeling like warmed-over shit. So if I'm going to cheat? It has to be something really good, that's worth the suffering--and funny how almost nothing is anymore.
on May 29, 2012
at 11:59 PM
A couple things that have helped me as a recovering binge eater/exercise anorexic:
-Weigh myself at most 1x per week
-Treat exercise as a habit like brushing my teeth rather than a punishment for being "bad"
-Focus my diet on foods that have a low potential for abuse (whole foods vs processed junk), but if I do binge and go crazy, forgive myself and move forward as quickly as possible.
-Pay close attention to my mental/emotional state and make a point to do things that help me to manage my stress level in a healthy way (i.e. playing music, writing to-do lists rather than "keeping it in my head", etc.)
-Recognizing that the problem is with the cycle of addiction and behaviors that go along with it and not me as a person. Also, that the underlying drives are valid emotional needs (such as the need for autonomy/control) so I can look for ways to satisfy this need directly (as in addressing my inter-personal relationships) rather than indirectly (avoiding the real issue and "controlling" my emotional state by binging).
on May 30, 2012
at 01:40 AM
Recovering EDNOS here (bulimia, anorexia, binge/purge). Going Paleo has healed me from amenorrhea and excessive hair loss.
Accepting myself as I am. I am more than a number. I am more than what I eat. I have stopped weighing myself and counting calories.
Objectively thinking about the long-term effects of disordered eating (infertility, other health consequences, not being able to reach my full potential, losing social and emotional connections...) I am trying to better my health so I can be the person I am meant to be in hope to benefit others in my lifetime.
Identifying triggers. For me, summer months are the biggest triggers. High-carbohydrate/processed foods are also my trigger foods. I have found that eating strictly Paleo is the least triggering way of eating. I have learned to work around these triggers.
Eating healthy fats. This has helped me with depression, mood swings and anxiety. My eating disorder was the worst when I went on a very low fat diet.
Understanding my body. Learning how much food I need to reach satiety, and how often I should eat. Being too full triggers me to purge. Eating too little makes me obsess with food. Also, understanding when I feel the best (not when I look the best by the society's standard) has helped me.
Trusting my body. I trust my body to tell me when to eat, how much to eat...when to exercise and how much.
Keeping myself busy with work, school and social life.
on May 30, 2012
at 12:12 AM
I still have a pretty unhealthy relationship with food. Last week, I experienced (and unfortunately everyone around me also experienced) the worst PMS I have had in a very long time. I literally had my head in the cupboard looking for something to stuff in my face, even though I was not hungry, in fact I was still full from supper. Unfortunately I found a jar of Nutella and, two tablespoons later, felt ill for hours.
When I was purging my kitchen of things non-Paleo, I missed the Nutella. However, it is now gone and I can move on. I know that 40 years of SAD and 32 years of an eating disorder will take more than a month to overcome and I am learning to allow myself to be human and fall off the wagon. This is incredibly difficult because I am a perfectionist and really hate to mess up whatever it is I am doing. This was my first major stumble and I know it will not be my last. I am traveling to a meeting at the end of this week where there is lots of eating and drinking in the evening and I am trying to get into my own head before I leave and tell myself that it isn't necessary to drink anything but water!
on May 30, 2012
at 01:49 AM
I've had issues with eating for as long as I can remember. Being in therapy really helped, getting to the root of why I felt out of control in certain areas of my life and turned to eating as my outlet where I had complete control. Yoga helps center me and calm my obsessive mind. I used to weigh myself daily as a gauge for what I could eat each day. Now I don't even weigh in weekly. But above all, the biggest thing that helped was educating myself. Learning about nutrition changed me in so many ways. I see clean, Paleo food as fuel to feel as awesome as I've been feeling lately. I used to eat a handful of pretzels and an apple and that was it for the day. Now I would just be concerned about getting enough protein, fat, and vegetables. Congratulations on being healthy! It really opens up a whole new world.
on May 30, 2012
at 02:16 AM
I have developed what I call mindful eating with at least one meal a day. It is a sort of meditative eating. First, you observe your food completely aware saying "observing, observing." Then you move your arm saying, "moving, moving" (all consciously!). Then you say, "grabbing, grabbing...lifting, lifting...opening, opening...lowering fork, lowering...closing mouth, closing...chewing slowly, chewing..enjoying." Food is nothing except what we make it out to be. By doing this it allows us to develop an objective relationship instead of emotional and releases any attachment. It may seem tedious, but by eating this way it is also slower, allowing us to enjoy what we eat instead of gorging and then becoming fuller faster. It works most effectively when alone, but I still practice eating slowly and chewing a bunch out at dinner too!
Also just getting any of those trigger foods out of the house and replacing them with healthy alternatives. No nuts are allowed in my house and I don't eat them at all-- I treat it like an allergy. In addition, I don't snack because it promotes binging. Whenever I eat it needs to be a meal.
Lastly, the MOST important thing I can offer is LISTEN to your body. After acclimating to such a whole diet like paleo it won't lie when it needs carbs or fruit. Listen and love.