In today’s picture perfect model society – so people find themselves forced to extremes, and would rather deal with the day to day trauma of bulimia to fit in.
In the U.S., there is a lot of emphasis placed on appearance, including body weight and size. People are conditioned from a very young age to believe their self-worth is derived from these external characteristics. Unfortunately, this has created a culture where 80 percent of women today are dissatisfied with their appearance, and at least 11 million Americans – both men and women – suffer from eating disorders, like bulimia.
Bulimia is characterized by episodes of binge eating (the consumption of a lot of food quickly), followed by purging (including self-induced vomiting, the use of laxatives or diuretics, or fasting or over-exercising). It is important to distinguish bulimia from other eating disorders that involve binging, as the symptoms can have different psychological and physical effects.
The binge-purge cycles of bulimia can affect the entire digestive system, and can lead to chemical imbalances in the body that affect the heart and other major organs. Some of the resulting health consequences can include:
• Irregular heartbeat, heart failure and death
• Gastric rupture
• Esophageal rupture
• Tooth decay and staining
• Peptic ulcers and pancreatitis
In addition, bulimia often results in many of the same health risks that are associated with clinical obesity, including:
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Heart disease
• Type II diabetes
• Gallbladder disease
Bulimia is similar to other eating disorders, like anorexia, in that there is no single, agreed-upon cause. Instead, a variety of factors can lead someone to suffer from this debilitating binge-purge disorder. Genetics, environment, childhood experiences and self-image all contribute to the compulsive desire to overeat. The reasons for binging are as unique as each binge eater.
At The Dell Center, our Jupiter/Palm Beach Gardens and Park City eating disorder therapists focus on the underlying issues of a client’s eating disorder. We work together in a way that is most comfortable for them, to figure out what specific life experiences have contributed to their symptoms.
We have found that it is common for people suffering from an eating disorder to also suffer from a mood disorder or addiction, which can complicate treatment. For example, depression can frequently co-occur with eating disorders, and alcohol and other substance-based addictions are 4 times more common. We believe it’s important to consider treatment for all conditions, and work with clients to create an interdisciplinary plan that meets their physical and psychological needs and can include medical services, psychiatric services, nutrition counseling and individual and group therapy.
In many ways, our approach to treating eating disorders is similar to our approach to treating addictions. The difference is that recovering addicts don’t need drugs to survive, while food is essential to survival. With this in mind, we work with our clients to reestablish a healthy relationship with food. Our overall approach is based on the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating:
• Reject the Diet Mentality by throwing out diet books and magazine articles that offer false hope of losing weight quickly, easily and permanently.
• Honor Your Hunger by keeping your body fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates
• Make Peace with Food by giving yourself unconditional permission to eat
• Challenge the Food Police by ignoring the unreasonable eating rules that dieting has created.
• Respect Your Fullness by listening to body signals that tell you when you are no longer hungry.
• Discover the Satisfaction Factor and pleasure that can be found in eating.
• Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food by finding alternative ways to comfort, nurture, distract and resolve your personal issues.
• Respect Your Body by accepting your genetic blueprint.
• Exercise: Feel the Difference by focusing on how it feels to move your body instead of the calorie-burning effect of exercise.
• Honor Your Health by making food choices that honor your body and your taste buds while making you feel well.
By teaching our clients how to create a healthy relationship with food and exercise, our Park City counselors ultimately enable them to become the experts of their own bodies.
If you or a loved one is struggling with bulimia, our Park City or Jupiter/Palm Beach Gardens therapists are here and ready to help. Contact us today.