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When giving people bulimia recovery help, among other things, I always suggest following a plan of structured eating...
Structured eating is basically planning in 3 meals and 3 snacks a day spaced no-longer than 3 hours apart.
When I was looking for bulimia recovery help many years ago, I read things telling me to 'just try and eat normally and when you feel like binging, listen to your feelings and try get to the bottom of why you want to binge'...
This advice was well meaning - and yes, listening to my feelings did help at times - but I needed more.
Thankfully, a beautiful soul - Amanda (my university counselor) - taught me about structured eating. She told me that my body needed food - and structured eating was a more manageable way of learning how to become a 'normal eater' again.
Slowly but surely, I began to practice structured eating. It took a while, but over the months, I eventually got the hang of it.
Now one of the steps I teach in my Online Bulimia Recovery Program and Community is the step of structured eating. It was one of the things that helped me to recover from bulimia and it has helped thousands of other women recover too.
BUT, in the early weeks and months of structured eating, I noticed I had a bit of a problem from time to time...
I was still hungry after my planned meal or snack.
Part of me was almost Nazi-like in my attitude:
"I have had my planned meal, I am NOT allowed anything else to eat"...
And so I'd try to leave myself hungry...
But being hungry is not an ideal bulimia help strategy! Our bodies are so fearful of hunger after years of dieting, starving, binging and purging - that hunger often signals a response of binge urges.
I quickly discovered that leaving myself hungry after a meal or snack that didn't hit the spot - wasn't the best strategy...
Leaving myself hungry triggered binge urges.
So what I started doing - and what I now suggest to the women in my recovery program is to follow these steps...
1) Spot The Type of Hunger
Sit quietly with yourself for a few minutes - try to spot what type of hunger you are feeling. Is it real physical hunger? Your belly calling for more food?
2) Remind Yourself "It's okay to satisfy hunger"
If it is physical hunger, then remind yourself that it is completely okay to eat more food - and that you will allow yourself to eat soon.
3) What would you like to eat?
Take a few minutes to sit quietly and to think about what you want to eat. Think about what will satisfy your hunger and your taste buds.
4) Write it on your meal plan
Once you have made your decision, write out what and how much you are going to eat on your structured eating plan. Simply put a "+" next to your meal and add in the extra food you have decided to eat.
5) Enjoy your food!
Go to a peaceful place and eat what you have planned to eat. Chew slowly and enjoy the tastes and textures.
6) Give Thanks
Once you have finished, say "Thank you" for you food and the energy it will give to your body.
Distract yourself into other daily activities.
I hope you find this bulimia recovery help useful. Remember that structured eating and modifying your meal plans might not go perfectly right from the world go...
Recovery is not a perfect journey, but that's okay.
There may be slips and setbacks along the way and there may be binges and purges (there were for me in my recovery!). Whatever happens - just remind yourself that if you keep moving forward with baby steps - you will beat bulimia.
Remember, it took a long time to develop the habit of bulimia, it's only likely that it will take some time to break it...
Allow yourself that time.
Here's to your recovery journey!
P.S. For more bulimia recovery help, check out my other articles. In particual, I think you would find this one helpful: "Bulimia Treatment: 3 Steps That Your Successful Recovery Plan Must Include".
Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of your-bulimia-recovery.com
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community