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Eating during bulimia recovery

by Liz

Hi Shaye,

I'm a 22 year old girl and I've been dealing with serious bulimia for the past 6 months, binging and purging about 5-6 times a day, but I've used purging since I was 16, typically after feeling guilty from eating. First off, I want to say thank you so much for your website. I'm a stubborn and hard-headed person, and I've dealt with serious addictions before (drugs) that I've faced and overcome by myself. I know that's not the safest method and that I shouldn't discredit therapy, but your site has been so helpful in providing useful information that I can relate to, which is (somewhat surprisingly!) extremely rare on the internet...

Anyway, it's been 8 or 9 days since I've purged. I've technically been in recovery for about a month now, reducing the amount of binges/purges, but I feel like I'm now committed to fully stopping to prevent any more harm to my health.

I know almost everyone asks questions about bloating and weight gain, but it's so awful! I am about 5-10lb (2.5 - 5.5kg) from my "happy weight," and so bloated. I've been exercising regularly with yoga, drinking water, and eating healthy unprocessed food.

Anyway, I was just wondering how fearful or mindful you were of weight gain during recovery. I have been allowing myself to eat as much as I want as long as it's healthy/unprocessed (oatmeal, brown rice, apples, bananas, peanut butter, etc.). I haven't been binging, but my appetite is so large that I feel like I am still overeating. I try to follow a structured eating plan but my hunger signals are so screwed up! Once I start eating, I just keep eating until I'm really full. Like I said, I make sure it's all good food and it's not to the harmful level of binging, but I am still eating an excessive amount of food in a short period of time :/

Is this normal, to eat somewhat large amounts during recovery? Was it hard for you to bring yourself to structured eating and to the point where you could differentiate between being hungry and full? I am hoping this is just a transition into normal eating habits...

Thanks so much again :)

Shaye Says

Hi Liz!

I am so glad you can relate to my site :) I think on many levels almost all bulimics /past-bulimics have a lot in common and we can all relate to each other!

So you are 1 month into recovery now... and 8 or 9 days without bingeing... Mama-mia... That was the hardest time-frame of recovery for me! My bloating was so intense and I had gained about 12 pounds of water weight. I felt like a swollen balloon ready to pop! Please trust me on this one... It gets better and this tough time is worth it a million times over to push through!

In all honesty, I was terrified of gaining weight in recovery. But, I knew that bulimia had no place in my life anymore and that if I gained too much weight - I could always work on losing it in a healthy way later on... Recovery was the priority...

I tried my best to stick to structured eating... But it seems I had a different problem to you...

With me, instead of feeling like I had a big appetite... I felt like my stomach was so full and hadn't digested anything weeks! Despite feeling so full I still had binge urges! It's a very confusing time!

The key is to stick to your plan of structured eating until your normal hunger and fullness cues return. Look to friends or family who are 'normal eaters' for guidance on what a normal amount of food to eat is. Be a copy cat :)

As you move forward into recovery - your body will begin to settle down and the urges to eat to over-fullness will go away. In the meantime, try to eat slowly for 2 minutes - and then take a break for 1 minute. During your break, focus on your tummy - how full do you feel? Focus on your taste buds... Are you still enjoying this food? Get in touch with yourself so that you can register everything about the eating experience.

Once you've had your break, eat slowly again for another 2 minutes.... Then take another 1 minute break... Keep doing this until you're comfortable full or you've finished you meal.

This little exercise can help to speed up the process of recovery :)

Keep up your awesome work though Liz... You are doing amazingly well!


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Article by Shaye Boddington
Author of
and creator of The Bulimia Recovery Program and Community

The Bulimia Recovery Program