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Other addictive behaviors during bulimia recovery

by N

Dear Shaye,

This is N, the girl who wrote about 'Straght A's, gold medal's, wedding bells, and Bulimia' a few months ago! I have been doing quite well...I had a period of a few weeks where I was slipping up a lot, but I am back on track and it has been a number of weeks since my last b/p. It has gotten much easier to resist the urge to b/p, and although I have gained a little bit of weight, I still feel much better about myself in general. Yay!

Here is the background for my question: bulimia was not the only addiction that I have had for the past four years. I am an obsessive gum chewer, coffee drinker, artificial sweetener user, and clothing shopper. I do all of these things to a level that is probably quite unhealthy, and I found that during bulimia recovery, I have been clinging to these other addictions and that some of them have probably gotten worse. I am not sure if it is true that if you give up one addiction you will replace it with another, but I definitely have an addictive personality and if it is true for anyone it will be true for me! I have actually intentionally avoided drugs and alcohol throughout my life because I know that I am the type who would get sucked in and that my life would spiral down the drain...

So, in the spirit of my recovery mindset in the past few months, I have been doing a lot of research on how bad artificial sweeteners are for you and I decided that I need to quit those too. This would mean giving up the gum and coffee as well since I chew sugar-free gum and put sweeteners in my coffee. I am just a little scared of doing this because I have been doing so well with my bulimia recovery, and I am afraid that taking these away might be like removing the crutch that has been holding me up. On the other hand, I am in a very progressive self-improvement stage of my life right now, and I feel that eliminating these things will help me continue on the upward climb of feeling better about myself and improving my health.

I am wondering if you had anything comparable in your recovery process, and if you think it is advisable to try to rid myself of my other addictions as well. Staying bulimia-free is my first priority, but if I can kick multiple addictions at once, that would improve my overall health so much!

Sorry for writing a novel, and thank you so much in advance for your answer!



Shaye Says

Hi N!

It's so great to hear from you again! And, congratulations on all the progress you have made in your bulimia recovery... it's awesome!

During bulimia recovery it is possible that other addictive behaviors flare up... You are definitely not alone in this! My suggestion is to eliminate other addictive behaviors gradually - starting with the one that is the most problematic... In your case, obviously bulimia is your main focus... Once you feel you are getting a handle on this (which it sounds like you are!) then you could start cutting back on other things - like chewing gum... I would suggest that you cut back slowly and see how it goes... Remember bulimia recovery is your focus... If you find that that starts flaring up, shift your focus back to it completely - gum chewing can wait :)

I think the key to getting rid of addictive behaviors is to gradually learn healthier ways to deal with lifes stresses... For example, when I was bulimic, I would run to the pantry after a hard days work... Now, I sit quietly and do some breathing... Then I take my dog for a walk... It's all a matter of experimenting and learning until you find what works for you :)

Keep pushing forward on this journey and you will find the recipe for your success!


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

The Bulimia Recovery Program