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Treatments for Bulimia and Keys to Bulimia Recovery - Change Your Environments

Updated on September 25, 2011
Eating disorders involve such a complex web of cause and effect.
Eating disorders involve such a complex web of cause and effect.

Eating disorders involve such a complex web of cause and effect.  First, something triggers a binge eating episode and then the guilt of the overeating causes the bulimic to purge their food.   Both the internal and external environments of the addict have an effect on their mindset and behaviors.   Evaluating and modifying both environments are necessary for successful treatments for bulimia.  If you just focus on the external or just the internal environment, the daily triggers may still be present and relapse could result.

For people with an eating disorder, triggers are those things that send them into a binging and purging episode.  Identifying triggers – they could be people, places, things or events - and then avoiding, minimizing or replacing those triggers can support an effective bulimia recovery process.  In addition to the external triggers, often overlooked, the internal triggers can be just as important.  Internal triggers include the feelings and emotions like self-loathing, loneliness, stress and anger caused by an event or interaction.

The following are a few quick tips in the treatments for bulimia:

Remove obvious triggers

Wherever possible, removing the most common things that cause a binge can result in some early wins during recovery. Not buying trigger foods that lead to a binge are obvious, but not always so easy to implement in real life.

Avoiding the less obvious emotional triggers in the immediate environment is also a good step to the internal rebuilding process of recovery. If the work environment creates undue stress, work on modifying the job description or find another job in a more peaceful environment can reduce stress induced bulimia. Taking steps to avoid the friends and family members that influence the urge to binge is important, too. Consider the emotions that lead to binging and purging to uncover the triggers that can then be addressed during bulimia treatments.

Pre-planned eating

Structured meal plans as they’re commonly referred to in bulimia treatment programs involve pre-planning every meal and snack during the day and eating only according to the plan. Meeting with a nutritionist or dietician who understands eating disorders and can develop a proper, well balanced meal plan will help to remove the trigger foods, get the body chemistry back in balance and create freedom from most of the emotional eating that occurs.

Boycott mass media

Advertising is designed to sell products. Today’s magazines are filled with young models with unnaturally slim figures and are often airbrushed by graphic artists to further enhance the images. Trying to fit into the model figure according to Hollywood or Madison Avenue’s expectations will be a never ending battle.

Boycotting traditional media channels, at least during the first 90 days of recovery, is often prescribed during bulimia rehab. Magazines, websites, TV programs and other media that include super thin women are to be removed from daily life in order to re-establish a new sense of healthy and normal.

Beware enablers

Treatments for bulimia at in-patient facilities often makes it easier to replace the impact friends and family have on the bulimic’s self worth and body image issues.  Frequently, because eating disorders have been shown to have a genetic component, when the mother or close female family members have issues with their weight they can actually enable or reinforce the addiction.  Also, friends who idealize being thin constantly remind and encourage the addictive behavior by association.  Recovery means replacing the mindset that thin is better with one of self acceptance and healthy body weight achieved without purging.  Associating with positive people who have a high degree of self esteem will go a long way to helping reframe the body image during bulimia recovery.

Whether the trigger is in the internal or external environment, treatments for bulimia begin by bringing these triggers to light. Then, later in the recovery process the work begins to uncover the root cause of the addiction.  We’ve talked so far about the internal and external triggers, but these are only on the surface because food is often seen as a trigger and with eating disorders food is not the issue.  Recovery is complex, but it is often the avoidance of feeling uncomfortable feelings or lack of coping skills when facing challenging situations that are the essence of an eating disorder.  

Don’t wait. Get help with your bulimia if you feel you’re ready to make a change.


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