Julia Bellerby
Counselling, Psychotherapy, Coaching and Counsellor supervision
Grad. Dip Counselling, Cert. Counsellor Supervision, Dip. Coaching
Mobile: 07939 255425  |  Email: Click here
 

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Bulimia

I offer counselling and psychotherapy for bulimia in York or by phone/skype/online worldwide.

If you are bulimic you have powerful urges to overeat: you regularly binge-eat and feel out of control as you do so. You then try to undo the effects of the bingeing by purging (usually by making yourself sick or taking laxatives) or by compensating (fasting and excessive exercising). You are extremely worried about gaining weight.

It's impossible to estimate how widespread this kind of disordered eating is, since feelings of shame often prevent people from seeking help. Bulimia and bingeing have traditionally been seen as female problems but increasing numbers of men and boys are now affected as men become more body-aware.

In order to be diagnosed as bulimic you would need to binge and purge/compensate at least twice a week over a minimum of three months. However, if you feel your eating patterns are disordered, it's a good idea to talk to a counsellor even if you are not, strictly speaking, bulimic.

It's not easy to define a binge-eating eposide. Some people consider a second bowl of cereal to be out of control eating. Others will eat enormous amounts of food and be almost unable to move afterwards.

Secrecy, shame, anxiety and feeling out of control are all shared feelings. People often report feeling almost in a trance during bingeing, followed by a sense of relief and cleansing if they make themselves sick.

The behaviour is highly addictive. Counselling can help you to break the binge purge/compensate cycle, look for less destructive ways to reduce anxiety and investigate the roots of your emotional difficulties.

How can I recover from bulimia?

First the good news. Recovery is easier if you're bulimic than if you're anorexic. Perhaps you have been anorexic in the past: many ex-anorexics become bulimic. You may wish you were still successfully restricting your food intake and long for those anorexic days. But where you are now is a better place and the road to recovery is easier.

Many people look back and realise that their eating problems all started then they went on a diet. Perhaps there was peer pressure or a remark from a family member that started it off.

Our culture worships thin-ness. Just look at the models, pop stars and actresses with unhealthily thin bodies - beautiful, rich, successful and stick-thin. No wonder so many women tend to equate being thin with having a good life, though of course it's always worth reminding yourself that practically every photo you see has been airbrushed or photo-shopped.

Men and boys are increasingly developing eating disorders too, though they can be more concerned with building muscle and compulsive exercising.

Severe dieting does not work. It sets up a tension within you so you start craving the foods you're denying yourself. You feel hungry, weak and deprived. So no wonder that after a period of restriction and control you break out and binge.  But not everyone who goes on a diet becomes bulimic. There tend to be other factors in place before an eating disorder develops. These are hard to pin down but often include:
  • having low self-esteem
  • being extremely concerned about body size and shape and evaluating yourself mainly or solely through this, rather than anything else
  • having a perfectionist streak - unless things are perfect they're a disaster. Black and white thinking
  • difficulties in the past: abuse, bereavement, trauma - though many people develop eating disorders without a "big thing"
  • finding it hard to express feelings. Bottling things up.
  • being ultra sensitive; feeling things very accutely
  • believing you have to be nice to everyone all the time
Emotional eating is something just about everyone has experienced. Children get given a sweet to "make it better". It's completely normal to want a cup of tea and a piece of cake when you get in from the cold or have had a tough day at work. Food is comforting and pleasurable as well as nutritious.

If you're bulimic you have taken food's ability to make us feel better to destructive lengths. You probably feel disconnected and emotionally numb while you're bingeing - all you're thinking about is the food and the relief of giving in to your cravings. The trouble is, that soothing feeling doesn't continue unless you eat more...and more. Before you know it you've eaten a pile of food you didn't want and hadn't intended to have. You may then feel horribly guilty and worried about putting on weight. Perhaps you panic and make yourself sick. Perhaps you vow that you will starve yourself tomorrow to try to compensate for all those extra calories. Either way you are caught in the bulimic trap.

Talking to a counsellor can help you to unlock the reasons why you do this. On some level you're getting something out of it: reducing anxiety, putting things off, having excuses not to do things, punishing yourself or maybe punishing other people. When you find out what you seem to be gaining from your disordered eating, you can look for more positive ways to get through life's difficulties.

Here's an example. You have a row with your partner: you feel frustrated and angry and don't seem to be able to get your point across. As soon as they're out of the kitchen you eat up all the left-overs, then start raiding the fridge. While you're eating, the frustration dips down. But because you've masked your feelings by bingeing, you never sort out what it was that made you angry in the first place. When you learn to be more assertive and tell your partner calmly how you feel, you no longer need to bury all those difficult feelings under a mountain of food.

The reasons for disordered eating are often complicated. A counsellor can gently guide you so you can unravel those reasons and release yourself from the bulimic trap.

 
Julia Bellerby - Counselling, Psychotherapy, Coaching and Counsellor Supervision in York, and worldwide by phone, skype or online

Julia Bellerby
Grad. Dip. Counselling, Cert. Counsellor Supervision, Dip. Coaching, BACP Accredited
Contact me on 07939 255425 or click here to contact me by email.