I've been working on this post for a while now. In my life I've had every eating disorder listed. Treating them is another issue. With all the fad diets, products and medical/surgical treatments done, nobody has found a successful way to "cure" eating disorders. Ask anyone in the psych profession. Eating disorders are the trickiest problem they deal with. There's little that works, even in residential programs. And nearly everyone treated goes back to their old behaviours. Of course, in order to make the changes necessary to be free of eating issues, the person has to be committed to doing it. Somehow, that commitment can wane and then in a fit of defeat, the entire program goes out the window.
Certainly there's an addiction element to abnormal eating. Whether it's eating too much or too little, it's an addiction to behaviour. Other types of addicts can abstain from the substance, but food is necessary to live so overeaters must confront their substance 24/7. Anorexics are the flip side; self-controlled to the max, denying themselves even the minimum needed to support life. Body dysmorphism plays a role, too. The too-fat and the too-thin don't perceive themselves as others see them. Food becomes tangled in emotions. We all know those who eat or don't eat when emotional.
When I started gearing up for the Greg diet I came across this article
and was thrilled with the brutal honesty and courage of this guy to tell it like it is. Too often there are all sorts of excuses around overeating, but the reality remains, stop eating all that food.
In the area of anorexia I can relate only my experiences. During my college years I could barely afford to eat and that became a habit. Living on coffee and cigarettes and recreational drugs, I shrunk. While the obese are ridiculed, the thin are encouraged. And so the "positive reenforcement" of becoming a stack of bones was addictive, too. When I would eat, I'd rush to the bathroom and get rid of it. Then I started making money cooking professionally and could eat whenever I wanted and gained weight until I blew up to 280 pounds. In my thirties I went thru a second bout of rarely eating. Didn't go down to bones that time. That was accompanied and followed by a few years of heavy drinking, when I gained a lot of weight and developed the joint and bone issues I have now. I'm sure my lifelong eating irregularities contributed to the condition I'm in today.
Though I have no special insight on the baffling problems of eating disorders I know what's worked for me. Eliminate the things I can live without- flour and sugar. Don't eat until my stomach growls, independent of what time it is or what everyone else is doing. Eat until I'm 80% full. Don't buy foods that are triggers- if they aren't at hand I can't eat them. If I cook a lot of food at once, freeze all but a portion and give some away. Don't even think of food as "a treat". Eat all I want of veggies but nothing in big portions. Schedule any off-program breaks and go right back on-program after. I have to be my own police.
And somewhere along the way of my determination to be in better shape to meet Greg, a change of attitude about food happened. I don't worry about eating too much or too little, I just stay on my program. It's self-control, sure, but it's not obsessive. I eat with my head screwed on now. I'm mindful of nutrition. I buy much less food, but good things. I don't starve nor overeat. This is all new to me, because I lived in extremes through so much of my life. But it's a sort of peace that I've never known. And I don't worry about blowing it, because I know it's in my control. Every choice I make matters. And it is, at heart, all about choice.
I wish I could pass it on to others but the hard truth is that everyone has to do what works for themselves. Which is probably why eating disorders are so hard to fix. There's no one system that will work for anyone, we must each find our own way. All I can say is keep trying. Get to know yourself and be rigourously honest with yourself. And never give up.
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