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Emotional Abuse and Eating Disorders: How to Read the Signs

Emotional Abuse and Eating Disorders: How to Read the Signs

People suffering from an eating disorder often experienced some form of abuse in their lives. Emotional abuse is one such form of abuse that is frequently overlooked. Emotional abuse can either be verbal or nonverbal. Teasing, belittling, sarcasm, and taunting are all forms of verbal emotional abuse. Nonverbal abuse might take the form of expecting more from children than they can reasonably deliver. Conditional love, with its message of “I love you, but…” is also a form of emotional abuse.

Emotional and verbal abuse are easy to deny because the scars are hidden; there are no bruises to heal, no visible wounds to point to. It is harder to say, “Yes, this really happened!” If you have always lived with them, these behaviors might even seem “normal” to you. But for all of their seeming invisibility, they can be very damaging.

It can also be difficult to pinpoint the symptoms of emotional abuse as they happen in a person’s life. They may have grown up with the behavior, believe it to be normal, or worse, believe the abuse to be their fault. Here are thirteen signs a person is being emotionally abusive.

A person is emotionally abusive if they:

  1. Refuse to consider your opinion then attempt to force their opinion on you without consideration for your point-of-view.
  2. Always have to be right when there is a disagreement.
  3. Devalue your feelings with phrases like, “You’re crazy!” or, “How could you think such a thing?”
  4. Use unrealistic guilt—guilt that is not in line with the situation—to control your behaviors.
  5. Command instead of ask you to do things.
  6. Bring up past hurts to harm you.
  7. Verbalize forgiveness but bring up past issues to prove a point.
  8. Use threats, physical force, anger, fear, or intimidation to get their way.
  9. Practice conditional love.
  10. Display favoritism by comparing siblings.
  11. Incorporate harsh judgments in their communications, in order to produce feelings of shame.
  12. Misuse scriptures to get their way.
  13. Resort to screaming, yelling, and name-calling in any context.

If you or a loved one is struggling from emotional abuse, especially if there are signs of having an eating disorder, you may benefit from consulting an eating disorder specialist. Our team of eating disorder professionals at The Center • A Place of HOPE focus on whole-person recovery, and take special care to understand the many aspects in a person’s life that may be contributing to their eating disorder, including the possibility of emotional abuse. Fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to get more information or to speak with an eating disorder specialist today.

 

Supplements for Eating Disorder Recovery

Supplements for Eating Disorder Recovery

Physical recovery from an eating disorder takes time, patience, and strategy. Reintroducing foods and nutrients too quickly can cause additional problems. The eating disorder recovery process begins with rebuilding the body’s digestive system. Once basic digestive functioning is on the mend, it may be time to begin reintroducing nutritional supplements.

If you are recovering from an eating disorder, the first nutritional supplements to be reintroduced are potassium and zinc. The preferred form of potassium is potassium chelate in a powder capsule form. If you are still purging, wait at least an hour to purge after taking potassium. When you allow yourself to wait an hour after consuming something, you may find that your desire to get rid of the food is reduced.

Along with potassium, zinc must also be reintroduced in proper levels. A lack of zinc impairs the ability to smell and taste. When zinc levels have been increased in women suffering form anorexia, all reported an increase in appetite and renewed ability to experience taste.

Next comes the introduction of the B vitamins, along with amino acids. Amino acids are especially important, because they affect the body’s hunger and desire to sleep. The improper balance of amino acids can lead to depression, sleeplessness, fatigue, lack of hunger, or intense cravings.

Along with the B vitamins already mentioned, there are a variety of other vitamins essential to proper digestion and physiological functioning:

Vitamin A: This vitamin aids in maintaining the proper functioning of the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat, lungs, ears and other organs. It aids in vision and is necessary for healthy skin, bones, and teeth.

Thiamine (Vitamin B1): Thiamine helps change glucose into energy or fat, assists with oxygen distribution to the body, aids in digestive functioning, and helps maintain proper functioning of the nervous and cardiovascular systems.

Choline, Inositol, and B6: These vitamins aid in the production of blood and the use of fats.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): In combination with vitamin A, riboflavin promotes good vision and healthy skin. It also assists in metabolizing proteins and fats at a cellular level.

Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12): This B vitamin aids in the functioning of cells in the nervous system, bone marrow, and intestinal tract, increasing metabolism of protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

Biotin (Vitamin H): This vitamin also aids in metabolizing proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Symptoms of deficiency include dry, peeling skin and depression.

Folic Acid: Folic Acid is necessary for cellular division and the production of RNA and DNA. It is also needed for the utilization of sugar and amino acids. Fatigue, dizziness, and grayish-brown skin are all symptoms of deficiency.

Niacin: Niacin is important for tissue respiration, brain and nervous system functioning, and healthy skin.

Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C): This powerhouse vitamin is important to the body’s connective tissues and for the development of healthy bones and teeth, cellular formation and maturation, resistance to infection, and an increased ability to heal.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D aids in the absorption, retention, and metabolizing of calcium.

It can be a daunting task to consider the range of nutritional deficiencies and the time required to build these stores back up. That is why, at The Center • A Place of HOPE, we use IV nutrient therapy, which is a way to increase the replacement of deficiencies in a rapid delivery system. Oral replacement of some vitamins and minerals can take months, but replacement just takes a few days with several IV treatments.

In addition, when the digestive system has been impaired, the system of IV delivery allows for the nutrients to bypass the digestive tract, straight into the bloodstream. IV Nutrient Therapy can be used to deliver vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in the amounts needed in a short amount of time.

If you or a loved one is struggling from malnutrition caused by an eating disorder, you may benefit from consulting an eating disorder specialist. Our team of eating disorder professionals at The Center • A Place of HOPE focus on whole-person recovery, and take special care to rebuild the digestive functioning and nutritional balance of those recovering from an eating disorder or pattern of disordered eating. Fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak with an eating disorder specialist today.

 

Reestablishing Relationships Following an Eating Disorder

Reestablishing Relationships Following an Eating Disorder

Because of your dysfunctional relationship with food, you’ve been isolated from those around you. This isolation has been largely due to fear—fear that others will discover what you do with food, how you feel about food, and how you feel about yourself. You’ve isolated the real you out of fear that they will find out who you really are, and fear of your own unresolved anger. Understanding casts out fear. Anchored solidly in your understanding and self-acceptance, you can begin to trust other people again.

As you go about strengthening, reestablishing, and developing relationships, it is important to remember the following guidelines:

Be honest with your feelings. This does not mean your relationships must be solely dictated by your feelings and emotions. But through your past relationship with food, you have developed a pattern of covering over or numbing your emotions. One of the joys of a relationship is the ability to experience a full range of emotions within the context of relating to another person. Expect to experience a variety of feelings. This is normal.

Develop clear boundaries. Relationships are not invitations for others to take advantage of you. Healthy relationships are mutually uplifting and edifying. Pick and choose your relationships carefully, and find people who will honor and respect your boundaries. Be sure, also, to honor and respect their boundaries.

Respond rather than react when you are hurt. So much of how you’ve dealt with and used food in your past has been a reaction to pain in your life. While it’s true that your relationship with food is changing, it’s also true that you’ll continue to experience pain, including pain in relationships. Relationships aren’t perfect because people aren’t perfect. Be realistic in your attitudes and set goals for your relationships. Relationships involve hurt. Becoming involved with imperfect people means you will be hurt. Remember, however, that being imperfect yourself, you will also cause hurt. That is why forgiveness must well up like an ongoing fountain in your life.

Seek maturity in your relationships. All of us have been hurt and all of us cause pain; it’s the nature of who we are as humans. The point is not to avoid relationships in order to avoid pain. Instead, the goal is to learn from our pain and grow as individuals dedicated to reducing the amount and severity of the pain we cause others and ourselves. This is maturity. A focus on food, weight, and body image freezes you at the point of self-absorbed emotional adolescence, encouraging you to do whatever is necessary to feel better momentarily. Seek to respond in your relationships in a mature way.

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.

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.

 

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.

Fear

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.

Guilt

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.

Shame

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.