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Being lost in bulimia addiction feels like you're stuck in quicksand. It feels like you're sinking. It feels like no matter what you do, you get pulled a little deeper into the darkness of it all.
I remember a time in my life where I felt like my head was just about to go under. A time when I was so addicted to the binge and purge cycle that nothing else mattered. Bulimia came before family, before friends, before my health... It came before anything.
I felt like a drug addict - constantly on the lookout for my next fix... And once I found it - I'd be in a haze of eating - a blur of consuming as much as I possibly could...
And then the panic... "I need to get this out of me".
And once I'd emptied my stomach - the promise - "I'll be good for the rest of the day".
15 minutes later - the feelings would start coming back. The cycle would begin again.
Being stuck in bulimia was ruining my life...
But just as it's possible to escape quick sand if you use the right technique, I discovered that it's possible to escape bulimia too...
In my bulimia recovery (and in the 9 years I've been helping other women beat bulimia), I've seen that there are 3 things that keep women trapped in the binge and purge cycle...
All 3 points above are essential in your recovery. But in this article, I'm going to talk about number 3 - Those faulty neural pathway connections.
Neural pathways within your brain are like pathways through a field. The more often you walk down a pathway, the more flattened the grass becomes and the easier it is to walk. Walk a pathway often enough and eventually it will be effortless.
When I first started binging and purging, I felt like I had some control over it. I was able to stop and start using will power alone...
Unfortunately, thanks to primal hunger (A biological desire to eat that is triggered by dieting) my binge urges were intense - I gave in to them often. And the more I did binge and purge - the more I felt like I needed to.
As the years went by and I repeated binging and purging multiple times a day - My brain created "binge pathways" which made these habits effortless. By the time I was in my mid-teens, the pathways were more like super highways!
That is why bulimia and binge eating felt so automatic - it was a real and physical part of me! Faulty wiring that had occurred through repetition.
Now it's a fabulous thing when a good habit is effortless… but when habits that lead to binging and purging are effortless - it makes for a severe bulimia addiction.
Thankfully - just as we created our bulimia neural pathways through repetition - we can create pathways of normal eating through repetition too.
And as you use your new pathways more often - those old bulimic pathways will fade, weaken and eventually die off.
You can go out for dinner with your friends and enjoy your food - without panic, fear, adrenalin and the post-meal plotting "How can I escape?"
You can celebrate on Christmas day - tasting all the amazing foods on offer - in moderation. You can be completely satisfied and help clean up the left overs without the desire to sneak in more food.
You can be a role model to other women - showing them that you can be healthy, slim and enjoy a diet-free life and wonderful relationship with food.
To become a normal eater, you're going to need to re-train your brain. This will take effort - sure. But the effort you put in will be rewarded for the rest of your life!
The re-wiring strategy that worked for me (and has worked for hundreds of women I've coached in recovery) is to focus on 2 areas...
Both these steps are absolutely critical if you want to overcome your bulimia addiction for life.
The first step of re-wiring - Structured eating - is a dual-purpose step. By practicing structured eating, you'll be training your brain to send you binge urges less frequently - but at the same time, you'll be consciously feeding yourself often enough to eliminate primal hunger.
Structured eating is such a key part of recovery that I've dedicated over 40 pages to it in The Bulimia Recovery Guide (which is a part of my Online program). In those pages I talk about...
The second area that needs re-wiring, which I mentioned above - is that nasty little voice that beats you up all the time... Self cruelty.
I know I used to approach recovery with "Tough Love".
I thought that if I was nasty enough to myself and if I hated myself enough, it would give me more determination to beat bulimia.
I was wrong. Self cruelty had only ever kept me trapped in the cycle of bingeing and purging...
Think about it this way, beautiful girl...
"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what youve always got".
For so long, you've done cruelty. It's time to consciously create habits of self love and kindness.This is a key step in lifelong recovery. To find out how to love yourself in bulimia recovery (and why it's key to beating your bulimia addiction), click here.
Thanks to those wonderful little pathways in your brain - you have the ability to completely beat bulimia. It is not just an idea or a theory - it is a scientific fact. So as your first exercise in self kindness - right now - thank your brain for being such a wonderful tool in your recovery!
So much love,
Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community