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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.

 

 

How to Achieve Emotional Freedom from Food

How to Achieve Emotional Freedom from Food

Can the person for whom food and eating has become so twisted be healed? Yes! There is something amazing that occurs when past hurts are resolved and the substitute of food is no longer needed. We’ve seen people change who have been in a decades-long struggle with food. They are able to reach a truce with food and learn to love themselves again.

We believe that treating the whole person sets them up for long-term recovery and success. They take back the control over their lives that they’d previously given to food.

When food is your primary strategy for dealing with pain in your life, and you leave the pain unaddressed, you strengthen this food connection and weaken yourself. Food is a way to control the pain you feel, and it’s a way to numb the pain you feel. To reverse this damaging connection, you need to address the pain in your life, wherever it’s from, whatever its source. In order to recover, you need to stop numbing yourself. You need to think about what has happened to you. It’s vital that you remember as much as possible about past hurts so that you can come to terms with them and resolve them. It can be done!

One of the false realities perpetuated by a dysfunctional relationship with food is the dread that something catastrophic will occur if you remember and concentrate on the pain. After all, you’ve constructed this elaborate armor to protect you from pain. Confronting and understanding this pain will bring about emotional growth.

Unfortunately, there is no way to acknowledge the pain without feeling it. It may be the first time you have really allowed the pain to truly affect you without a coping strategy. It can be intense, and you will need someone steady—such as a caring professional—to hold onto.

Our team of eating disorder specialists at The Center • A Place of HOPE can be this steady fixture to assist you along the journey to emotional freedom and healing. Our whole-person approach to healing will address all aspects of your health and being, guiding you on the path to a whole you.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. There is truth at the end of the tunnel. You are at the end of the tunnel. A you defined not by how you relate to food, but by your inner being and so much more! Free from your eating disorder or disordered eating, you will be able to feel positive emotions, not just the pain. Freedom means a return of hope, joy, love, acceptance, laughter, personal insights, deep restful sleep, a renewed perspective on life, increased physical energy, and vibrant health.

If you are ready to get the help you need to regain your health and to reach the end of the tunnel, call us at 1-888-771-5166 today.

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.

 

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.

 

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.