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Strategies for Recovering From Bulimia and Other Eating Disorders

David: We have some questions regarding limited financial resources:

maren:And if your financial resources are limited, then what? Are there many self-help groups at universities?

teetime: I have had a eating disorder for 4 years and do not know how to get help. Money is a big problem.

Judith Asner: Yes, Overeaters Anonymous has a meeting every day in every city. You could also apply any 12-step program's principals to eating disorders. Also on my website beatbulimia.com, you can find some free resources. Colleges have groups and you can start your own groups . The local hospitals also have self-help groups that are free.

David: So to recount what we've said about having a strategy to recover from bulimia or any eating disorder: First you need an overall strategy, a plan that you can use to guide you in your recovery, rather than just haphazardly trying things. Part of that plan is starting with a team of professionals working with you: an internist, a psychiatrist, a nutritionist and others. Or if you are limited in your financial resources, participating in self-help support groups like OA can help. What about a meal plan of some sort?

Judith Asner: Yes. That is true. And the drop-in groups at hospitals. You could also go to www.clinicaltrials.com and see if you could qualify for a clinical trial of some type. A meal plan is so essential. It is a road map for a trip. We just don't drive to a mountain resort without a map, do we? No business can proceed without a business plan. Well, we are organizations, just like a business or institution.

David:What is meant by a "meal plan"?

Judith Asner: A plan for breakfast, lunch, dinner and in-between snacks that is planned the day before, with the day's acitivites in mind. There can be substitutions but the person basically has to know that they can eat X amount of calories per day without gaining weight and that if they stick to this plan they will not have to binge and purge to maintain normal weight. Most people with bulimia do not believe they can eat 3 normal means and be a normal weight. This just isn't true. That is the reason that working with a registered diatecian is so important. A meal plan usually follows the guidelines of the American Dietetic Assn. plan and is balanced and healthy.

David, sometimes people don't stick to a meal plan. Well, that is okay. Use the slip as feedback information to understand what went wrong and go back and revision that scenario again and again in your mind. Then do scenario planning again. Keep using slips as feedback information to continue to learn about yourself and keep going until you get it right. It's like tennis. I think people have to try their backhand about 3,000 times until they get it right. But they never give up.

coolwaters: If you throw up after every meal you eat, does that make it impossible for recovery?

Judith Asner: If you stop throwing up, it will be possible to recover. You have to figure out how you are going to stop throwing up after every meal. That is very serious. You are not keeping any nutrition in your body and can be very seriously harming yourself.

fairydust:But how do you fight the urge to binge? If I eat 3 meals a day and binge/purge too, I'm sure I'll put on weight

Judith Asner: If you work with a nutritionist and have 3 healthy meals a day, you will not want to binge because your body will be full on what it needs and you will not crave the binge foods. If you have an emotional need to binge or you are controlling your mood by bingeing or you have a compulsion to binge, you can get help . Medications help control compulsions and emotions can be discussed with a therapist. This is what I mean by a team. Also, by going to a self-help meeting everyday, such as OA, you will get help with your assumptions, which are false, that you can;t eat normally.

AnnetteK99: For the last 8-9 yrs., I've bounced back and forth between bulimia and anorexia. Everytime I try to get better, it lasts for like a week or two. Then I plummet again. Any suggestions?

Judith Asner: Yes. Get continual help, both group and individual, to find out how you can break through this pattern of self-defeat. Also, do you have a mood disorder that is a cycle, called bipolar? If you think you might, I encourage you to see a psychologist or psychiatrist for an evaluation.

David: Some audience members have questions regarding medical issues associated with eating disorders.

Bobski:I am just as you describe. I'm not a daily bulimic anymore. I'm getting much better. I have had the eating disorder for 9 years. I used to binge and purge many times a day. I am now down to a couple of times a week. I have seen multiple therapists and I have been put on antidepressant medication. I do not know what else to do. How can I take my recovery to the next level.

Judith Asner: I happen to think that coaching is a great way to take the eating disorder to the next level, if you are highly functional in every other way. How about mood stabilizers? Have they been tried with antidepressants? Has group therapy been tried? It is great that you are down to a few times a week. I would have to know more about you. It is complicated but you have come far. I would say reevaluate the medications and rethink the strategy. You can go farther. Don't stop now.

For people who are almost recovered, like you, I have some additional thoughts. Let's suppose you are writing a business plan or a strategy about yourself. How would you take yourself to the next level? How about an overall strategy. Get a team of people around you. Have them fulfill different functions. Divide the difficult times into units and ask someone to monitor each unit with you. Assign yourself tasks around the 3 times a week to help you through them. Have a person with you at that time. In other words, you young women who have had the advantage of being out in the business world can apply some of your extraordinary common sense and business training to your own situations!!!!!


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Last Updated: 06 April 2017
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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