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Overcoming Denial and Facing Your Eating Disorder

Overcoming Denial and Facing Your Eating Disorder

Successful recovery from an eating disorder requires you to spend an enormous amount of time thinking about who you are. Keep in mind that really looking at yourself honestly is not self-absorption; it is introspection. Self-absorption leads to a false reality; introspection leads to insight. Insight leads to truth.

We all have times in our lives when we need to concentrate on ourselves in order to survive. This is definitely one of those times for you. Your eating disorder has brought you to a point where you’re seeing that this introspection is really addressing your survival.

Pride—both your own and that of those who hurt you—will work against your recovery. Faulty pride cannot coexist with perceived imperfection; it’s impossible to be prideful when you recognize your own flaws and weaknesses so clearly. You’re beginning to understand that your eating disorder was not the “perfect” solution it promised to be. You’re starting to remember that yours wasn’t the “perfect” family after all. You’re now seeing that your pursuit of being “perfect” yourself isn’t bringing you any sense of peace.

It’s okay to admit that you’ve made mistakes. To do so is simply to recognize your humanity. And it’s perfectly fine to recognize the mistakes of others; you’re simply seeing them for who they really are. It’s okay to understand the way others’ mistakes have affected you; you’re simply accepting reality.

Accepting reality means facing the pain and discomfort in order to process it and place it in its proper context. Within that context, your pain will cease to wield such unhealthy power over you. The truth will weaken the hold your self-destructive behaviors have over you. Truth is not something to fear; rather, it is something to be embraced. The truth will not diminish you, no matter how much your false reality says it will. The truth will complete you, giving you needed understanding of yourself and others. The truth will enable you to operate from a new reference point of strength so you can deal with future hurts, pain, and frustration.

False realities do not dissipate quickly. They are stubborn and hold on for dear life. But you must let them go. If you don’t, you won’t be able to change from wanting to die to wanting to live. You must let go of pride. Coming out of the darkness of a false reality of pride is not an overnight trip. It will require determination, perseverance, and faith. It will require an acceptance of your own weakness and an admission of your own need for God to strengthen you.

For many people, it also requires outside, professional support. Our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE is skilled at guiding people through a whole-person, individualized recovery program, designed specifically for you and your needs. We are standing by to help you face your eating disorder and to heal. Fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with an eating disorder specialist today.


The Devastating Physical Effects of Eating Disorders

The Devastating Physical Effects of Eating Disorders

Your body is paying a heavy price for your eating disorder. If you are bulimic and use laxatives or vomiting to purge, your skin is probably quite dry and frequently breaks out in small rashes and pimples. If your salivary glands haven’t yet become enlarged because of your constant vomiting, they could.

If you’re bulimic or anorexic, you probably experience continual constipation and intestinal bloating because you either don’t keep down enough food to pass through your system or simply don’t eat enough to trigger elimination. You may also have swollen, puffy hands and feet brought about by an electrolyte imbalance. For anorexics, this is because of malnutrition; for bulimics, vomiting or laxative abuse. If you compulsively overeat, your extra weight is putting a strain on nearly all your body’s systems and setting you up for future health problems. These are not easy things to say or read, but you need to know the truth.

Your eating disorder today will affect your body tomorrow. One such effect is the slowing down of your metabolism. You have a unique metabolic rate that has become unbalanced by your lifestyle choices. Down the road, this can result in weight problems years after your eating disorder has been overcome. Your body can readjust itself in time, but the longer you continue in this destructive behavior, the more difficult it will be for your body to reestablish its proper functions.

If you are an anorexic woman, your self-starvation will lead to a complete loss of your menstrual period, if it hasn’t already. Rigorous exercise, emotional ups and downs, even bingeing and purging can also shut down your body’s reproductive systems. It knows something is wrong, even if you don’t, and it’s not about to take any chances with pregnancy. With menstrual loss comes estrogen loss, resulting in loss of calcium to your bones. Too much calcium loss can result in osteoporosis, or brittle-bone disease, later in life. Many young anorexia develop the bones of an eighty- or ninety-year-old.

If you’re bulimic, the bitter acid from gastric juices washes over your teeth when you vomit and destroys enamel that can never be replaced. If you continue your eating habits long enough, your teeth will be irreparably damaged and will require either caps or replacement by dentures. What teeth you retain will be more susceptible to cavities because of weakened enamel.

If you use laxatives to purge, either exclusively or in addition to vomiting, there is added damage to your digestive system and bowels. If your body hasn’t had to work at passing food through your system for a number of years, it has become lazy, and you’ll need bulk lubricants to aid in having bowel movements.

If you are anorexic and are denying your body the life-sustaining nutrients it needs, your body will begin to turn on you. It will feed on itself in order to survive. When fat is no longer available, your body will begin to digest its own muscle tissue. Since your heart is a muscle, damage to this organ can become irreparable, even fatal. Your hair will thin and fall out.

Your eating disorder is putting an enormous stress on your body. Stress has been shown to have far-reaching effects, contributing to cancer and heart disease.

These symptoms may sound severe and fear based, but they are the harsh reality of eating disorders. Even if you can’t observe these symptoms just yet, consistent disordered eating patters will result in the issues listed above.

In light of these facts, it is vitally important that you begin to work on the reasons why you’re engaging in this destructive behavior and begin to treat its physical effects. This is important not only for today but also for your tomorrow. Our team at The Center • A Place of HOPE is standing by to help you. Fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with an eating disorder specialist today.



Fear, Guilt, Shame, and Eating Disorders

Fear, Guilt, Shame, and Eating Disorders

People who struggle with eating disorders or disordered eating often experience companion emotions. Three of the most common companion emotions to eating disorders include fear, guilt, and shame. Addressing these emotions is a crucial part of truly recovering from an eating disorder.


If you grew up in a rigid, perfectionistic family, you may have developed an intense fear of failure and rejection. If someone you desperately wanted approval from conditioned that approval on unrealistic goals of perfect behavior, you got the message that no matter how hard you try, you were never good enough. If that person conditioned their approval on physical appearance, you got the message that being thin was the surest way to measure up.

Your parents or other family members may still focus their attention on outward appearances. They may not be comfortable, even today, talking about your feelings and emotions. They may express their approval only of your outward signs of success: your physical appearance, a prestigious job, exemplary school performance, a high salary, or material possessions. Success for them is determined by how you are “doing,” as opposed to how you are feeling. You need to recognize the possibility that your eating disorder or disordered eating patterns have come about as a response to your need for this conditioned approval. If you were unable to gain acceptance in other areas of your life, you may have turned to your physical appearance as an avenue of acceptance. Your fear of rejection has metastasized into fear of being fat.


Children’s frames of reference for sorting out the jumble of adult actions and motivations are their own experiences. So there is a tendency for children to blame themselves for family difficulties. A child whose parents are divorcing will ask himself what he did wrong. A child whose mother is angry all the time will wonder how she can make her mother happy. Children understand when something they have done wrong produces pain in others. An immature leap in logic can produce the false impression that when they experience pain themselves, they must be the cause of it. And those feelings lead to tremendous guilt.

Eating disorders and a dysfunctional relationship with food can often be caused by past guilt manifested into control and self-harm. In order to control the guilt, an anorexic will self restrict food and liquids. A bulimic will binge to comfort the fear and purge out the guilt. An over-eater will binge to bring comfort as a way to appease the guilt. People who insist upon intentional unhealthy eating may have already written themselves off because of guilt and lack of motivation to make better choices.


A dysfunctional relationship with food thrives in an atmosphere of shame. Without significant weakening in the self-esteem and self-worth of a person, these destructive behaviors could not stand. In the progression of the eating disorder and disordered eating, shame over her inability to control her own behaviors is like a suffocating blanket. The person who has learned to love and forgive herself would throw off that blanket. But to the person who has lived in an atmosphere of shame, that blanket is a familiar, acceptable place to hide.

The anorexic feels shame at never achieving impossible perfection. The bulimic and the overeater feel shame at the out-of-control binging. In addition, the bulimic who purges through vomiting or laxatives will feel shame at the very way the food is expelled from the body. The overeater feels ashamed at simply being fat. The disordered eater feels ashamed at being unable to control those urges. Together, they constantly attack self-esteem and promote self-doubt—the perfect breeding ground for shame.

If you or someone you love is struggling with and eating disorder and the co-occurring emotions of fear, guilt or shame, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help. Call 1-888-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone from The Center • A Place of HOPE will be in touch with you soon.

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Hope Help & Healing for Eating Disorders: A Whole-Person Approach to Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating.

Defending Unhealthy Diets

Defending Unhealthy Diets

With a sigh of relief, Debbie stepped inside the house, locking the front door behind her. The first thing off was her shoes. The second was her pantyhose. She could feel herself spreading out, top to bottom, in relaxation. It was so good to be home. Heading into the kitchen, she kissed her husband dutifully and eagerly headed to the pantry. She loved the pantry even more than she did the refrigerator because the pantry held all of her reward foods. Debbie told herself she deserved a reward for being good all week on her diet. Debbie knew all about diets and rewards as she’d been on a diet for most of her adult life. She tried out every one of the latest, greatest diet fads.

They kept changing over the years while two very important things did not; Debbie’s weight did not change nor did her reward foods. That really didn’t concern her much. As long as she was on a diet, she could have her rewards. If she did well, she had them. If she didn’t do so well, she still had them because there was always Monday to look forward to.

Debbie considers herself to be on a perpetual diet. She dabbles in whatever new diet comes down the pike, convincing herself she’s on it while all the while only integrating the parts of that diet she likes or finds least onerous. She doesn’t actually lose any weight and has managed to gain a pound or two or three each year for the past several years. Being on a diet helps Debbie feel special. It also helps her justify any food behavior. If she doesn’t want to eat something, she can say it’s not on her diet. If she does want to eat something she knows she shouldn’t, Debbie figures since she’s on a diet, she’s entitled to “cheat” once in a while. She’s not that upset about not losing weight because that just means she’ll need to stay on a diet a little longer than she thought. And, for Debbie, it’s all about what she thinks instead of what she does. As long as she’s on a diet, she has the expectation that some day she’ll actually lose weight, even if she never quite seems to.

Does Debbie’s story sound familiar to you? Are you perpetually consumed by the thought of food, obsessed with the newest fad diet, and more concerned with how your food makes you feel instead of the nutrients it’s providing your body? Disordered dieting can come in many forms and habits. Freeing yourself from the constant preoccupation of your next diet or “cheat” can alleviate time and energy to become your highest preforming self.

Often, people are unable to conquer unhealthy dieting obsessions on their own, and seeking professional help is the best solution. If you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, The Center • A Place Of Hope can help.

Call 1-888-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone from The Center • A Place of HOPE will be in touch with you soon.

Excerpts of this blog were taken from Dr. Gregory Jantz’s book Hope Help & Healing for Eating Disorders: A Whole-Person Approach to Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating.

Eating Disorders: The Elusive High of Control

Eating Disorders: The Elusive High of Control

From the moment you’re born, you are immersed in situations that are beyond your control. Best-case scenario, those who do have control of the situation make choices beneficial to all involved. Worst-case scenario, those in control make choices that cause or perpetuate pain. It is the ladder circumstance from which the panic of powerlessness stems.

Granted, as you grow older your opportunities for exerting control over outside circumstances naturally increase. What’s tougher, though, is finding a way to control the unresolved pain of the past. Desperate to exercise some sort of power over their pain, many people turn their attention to food.
No matter what is going on in the world around you, there is always one thing you are guaranteed to have complete control over — your consumption of food, or lack thereof.


The ability to resist feelings of hunger produces a high for anorexics. This perceived strength (i.e., the ability to abstain from eating) is compounded by the apparent lack of such discipline in those around them.


Purging produces a high for bulimics. The rules don’t apply to them, so to speak, as they are able to eat as much as they want without ever gaining weight.

Compulsive Overeating

The act of eating produces a high for compulsive overeaters. Unlike unpredictable, pain-causing people, food can always be depended on to make them feel good.

Unfortunately, living in any one of these manners means spending every moment of your life on a roller coaster that never stops. The high experienced through the behavior of an eating disorder is an elusive one.

For the anorexic, the high is over when they have to eat something — to keep up appearances in a social situation or simply because they can no longer resist the hunger anymore.

For the bulimic, the high is over when the purging is done.

For the compulsive overeater, the high is over when they finish eating.
In all three situations, pursuit of the next high becomes the driving force for living. If you have an eating disorder, you know full well it’s a full-time preoccupation.

Bottom line, eating disorders are not about food. They’re about exerting control as a means of minimizing pain. For this reason, the only means of truly recovering from an eating disorders is to acknowledge the pain underneath.

Getting To the Root Of Your Eating Disorder

If you are working with a professional therapist, you may wish to explore together these questions excerpted from Hope, Help & Healing for Eating Disorders: A Whole-Person Approach to Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating, by A Place Of Hope founder, Dr. Gregory Jantz.

1) My problem with food is…
What am I trying to control when I binge and purge?
What am I really trying to control when I keep myself from eating?
How do I feel when I stuff myself and then get rid of the food?
It makes me feel in control when I purposely don’t eat because….
Even though I know the way I eat is not healthy, I still eat this way because…

2) What kind of “high” do I get from the way I eat?
I get a “high” when I have control over my feelings of hunger because…
When I feel hungry, it’s for the following reasons besides food…
When I eat the way I really want to, I feel…

3) What does my constant obsession with food keep me from thinking about?
What does my constant obsession with food keep me from doing?
When I can concentrate on food in the present, it keeps me from thinking about the things that happened to me in the past, such as…

4) Besides food, what other methods do I use to avoid thinking about hurt in my life?
Having been hurt by others in the past makes me feel…
When I get angry over what has happened to me, I want to…
When do I feel out of control with these feelings?

5) When I’m in control enough to get rid of the food I’ve eaten, or not to eat at all, I feel…
How could I be using the control over food in my life to make me feel better about the anger I can’t control?

6) How do I use food to make me feel better when I’m feeling anxious or hurt?
When I feel I’m in control of myself, I think of myself as…
When I feel I’m not in control of myself, I think of myself as…

If you have begun your eating disorder recovery process, but continue to struggle with the relationships in your life, you may benefit from the guidance of a professional. The team of eating disorder treatment specialists at The Center • A Place of HOPE are available to talk about opportunities to receive professional help and support during this recovery process. Call 1-888-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone from The Center • A Place of HOPE will be in touch with you soon.

Disordered Eating: When Anger Has Nowhere Else To Go

Disordered Eating: When Anger Has Nowhere Else To Go

Even when it sees like you’re feeling nothing but numb, lurking beneath the surface is the anger that’s being suppressed by your eating disorder. Here’s how this anger gets triggered by pain, sending you into a cycle that disordered eating destines you to repeat over and over again.

Experiencing pain. Though it is an inevitable part of being human, pain is hard to accept, especially when inflicted by family members and friends who know you best and, presumably, love you most.

Feeling anger. When you experience pain that you feel is unjustified, you’re naturally going to get mad. Who do they think they are, talking to you like that, treating you like that, disregarding you like that?

Needing to vent. When you’re angry, the healthy thing to do is express it. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done with family members and friends who you are afraid of confronting with the truth.

Abusing food. Unable to vent your anger in a healthy manner, you turn to food, using disordered eating to divert your attention from your feelings.

Feeling shame and guilt. The comfort or control you may feel from your disordered eating never lasts long. It’s almost immediately circumvented by feelings of guilt and shame at your self-destructive behavior.

Falling into depression. Even when you know what you’re doing is bad for you, body and soul, your eating disorder convinces you that you have no other choice. The situation feels hopeless. You feel helpless. You’ll never get better. You’ll always feel this way. And that’s when depression sets in.

Hating yourself. When you’re depressed, there’s no “snapping out of it” on command. That combined with shame and guilt at your self-destructive behavior reinforces self-loathing for your helplessness.

Feeling you deserve the pain. You’re such a terrible person, you think, maybe deserve this pain. Why should you expect to feel any other way?
And just like that anger again sets in and the cycle starts all over again.


How does the past influence your perception and processing of anger? Consider these questions from Hope, Help, and Healing for Eating Disorders: A Whole Person Approach to Treatment of Anorexia, Bulimia, and Disordered Eating:

  1. Complete this sentence: Anger is _____________.
  2. What did you learn about anger as a child?
  3. How did you express anger as a child?
  4. Describe your most recent “anger” experience.
  5. Describe the most angry moment in your entire life.
  6. List the various ways in which you deal with anger.
  7. What pleasure do you get from anger?
  8. Do you have any positive way of getting rid of anger? If so, what is it?
  9. How do you use anger as a weapon against others?
  10. How do you use anger as a weapon against yourself?
  11. What is your definition of anger?
  12. What is your definition of hostility?
  13. What is your definition of aggression?
  14. How do you know when you are angry?
  15. Where do you experience anger?
  16. I feel angry when others ______________.
  17. I feel that may anger is ______________.
  18. When others express their anger, I feel _______________.
  19. I feel that the anger of others is _______________.

If you have begun your eating disorder recovery process, but continue to struggle with the relationships in your life, you may benefit from the guidance of a professional. The team of eating disorder treatment specialists at The Center • A Place of HOPE are available to talk about opportunities to receive professional help and support during this recovery process. Call 1-888-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone from The Center • A Place of HOPE will be in touch with you soon.