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Rebuilding the Body’s Digestion System After an Eating Disorder

Rebuilding the Body’s Digestion System After an Eating Disorder

Eating disorders can wreak havoc on all aspects of a person’s life: their mental wellness, emotional balance, relationships with the people around them, and most certainly their physical body. Recovering from an eating disorder therefore requires comprehensive treatment in order to address each of these areas of a person’s life. Healing the physical body after suffering from an eating disorder is a process that takes care and time, and in some cases needs to be supervised by medical specialists.

Typically, to start your body’s rebalancing process you must first rebuild your digestion, your gastrointestinal (GI) ecosystem. After all, if you are unable to digest what you need to rebalance your system, what you take to rebalance it will have little value. The first step is to re-establish your digestive system’s natural levels of healthy bacteria. Although each body is different, a healthy digestive system supports 300-1000 different species of beneficial flora. Together, these species account for the approximately 100 trillion microorganisms found in the GI system. When healthy digestive bacteria flourish, they provide the mechanism to break down the substances you eat into components your body can absorb and use. Likewise, digestive enzymes allow food to be broken down into its component parts for easy absorption and a reduction in intestinal bloating and gas. When your digestive enzyme level is out of whack, healthy flora can’t grow; unhealthy organisms like yeast Candida, make opportune use of this imbalance. Faulty digestion also affects mood and energy levels. If your stomach is upset, you get irritable and fatigued.

Eating disorders can take a major toll on the number and diversity of beneficial stomach flora. It is therefore paramount to rebuild the bacterial colonies before any sort of nutritional absorption can occur. There is not one quick solution to rebuilding healthy digestion, but instead healing requires multifaceted, continual progress. Here are four important nutritional practices to keep in mind when building or maintaining a healthy digestive system:

1. Eat fermented foods. Fermented foods can be the easiest and most cost-effective way of rebuilding your digestive enzymes. Some examples of fermented foods include yogurt, lacto-fermented pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, and keifer.

2. Stick to a clean, healthy diet. While fermented and fiber rich foods can help contribute to healthy flora in your system, there are also foods that negatively affect this process. Processed foods, sugary foods, and foods laden with chemicals and pesticides should be avoided.

3. Consume fiber. Another important step to rebuilding your digestion is the reintroduction of adequate fiber, to keep your elimination system regular. One of the best ways to do this is through the consumption of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Reintroduction of adequate fiber is especially important when there as been laxative abuse. The bowels need to relearn how to function again.

4. Supplement your diet with a probiotic supplement. Taking a probiotic supplement can dramatically speed up this flora rebuilding process. When looking for a good probiotic, it is important to find a supplement that includes many different strains of bacteria to ensure good diversity. Also, make sure to store your probiotics in the refrigerator to keep them alive and active.

Once you reestablish healthy digestive flora, your gastrointestinal ecosystem will be better equipped to begin absorbing the nutrients the rest of your body needs to heal. Again, this is a process that requires careful patience. If you or a loved one is in the process of recovering from an eating disorder but may need the supervision or support of professional nutritionists, please call the team at The Center • A Place of HOPE at 1-888-771-5166 or fill out our contact form and someone 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 Disorder Recovery: Overcoming Denial of Your Past

Eating Disorder Recovery: Overcoming Denial of Your Past

Individuals with an eating disorder or disordered eating are often unaware of the source of their pain. In order to begin the recovery process, they first must discover the wellspring of pain from the past. Denial is a significant detour in that quest.

There are two kinds of denial. The first is your own denial of what has happened to you. This may take the form of doubting that what you remember ever took place. Because the abuse has been denied, it may take on an unreal quality when remembered. Almost as if it happened to someone else. If the abuse is remembered, it is often seen through the prism that “explains” why the abuse was not really abuse after all.

Denial enters through self-talk. These are the messages repeated over and over to ourselves as we try to deal with the pain and our relationship with food. Thoughts of “nobody’s home is perfect” or “it could have been worse” or “it wasn’t that bad” or “there’s nothing I can do about it now” allow you to minimize the damage. “I should be strong enough to deal with this on my own” or “everyone turns to food when they’re down” increases frustration at the inability to bring the eating disorder or disordered eating under control.

But denial, this minimization of the pain, is merely a coping mechanism to keep the pain at bay. Denial is the ticket that allows you to transform life-altering pain into that limbo state of “not that bad.” If it is “not that bad,” you believe you can find the strength to go on.

The other form of denial comes from the person or people who hurt you. They may deny that the abuse ever took place or that there was not anything wrong with it if it did. He or she may accept that the event or events happened but deny responsibility or minimize the damage. This can happen regardless of the nature of the abuse. Whether the piece was a single, specific event, or a pattern of hurtful behavior carried over out a number of years, this person may refuse to accept the ramifications of his or her actions.

This person may even attempt to make you feel responsible for the abuse itself or responsible for your “version” of the events. They may deny the damage by calling into question your natural response to the damage.  It is to his or her benefit that denial goes both ways—their denial of the event and your denial of the damage done. They may resist acknowledging your eating disorder or the place food now has in your life, because acknowledgment means recognizing the abuse or pattern of hurtful behavior behind it.

So the responsibility for the abuse itself and the resulting eating disorder could be shoved back at you, increasing stress surrounding your eating disorder or pattern with you, escalating its progression. As this escalates, it becomes easier to focus your attention solely on its progress, diverting attention from the root cause.

The desire to go back and rewrite your past is seductive, especially if your past was one of the abuse and pain. Denial allows you to do just that. Denial takes the pages of your past and alters them according to “if onlys,” or it substitutes blank pages for the pain that is really there.

A familiar proverb assures us that those who refuse to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. You can also be said that those who deny the events of their own history are doomed to relive them. To deny abuse is to perpetuate it. The only way to stop the chain of abuse is to stop denying the truth of that abuse.

Each of us is the product of our experiences, and not one of us is immune to the pain they have cost us. We may not be able to control what happened to us, but we can control who we become as a result of those past events.

First, however, we need to look at those experiences honestly. The light of reality can seem harsh and bright to those who have been hiding from the truth. Clarity and detail spring forth from the light of truth.

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.

 

 

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.