Having And Eating Your Cake

The desire for two mutually exclusive events bedevils eating disorder treatment. You see it in someone with anorexia who wants to get rid of the effects of starving but remain very thin. You see it in someone who wants to get rid of bulimia but eat very little to become their perfect weight.

Eating disorder symptoms are cravings, binge eating, purging, tiredness, panic, depression, fainting, getting the shakes, anxiety, obsessions and crazy destructive moods. Many of these symptoms are the result of dietary chaos and its effects on the brain and the nervous system.

There is no way out of an eating disorder unless someone is willing to eat a balanced highly nutritional diet for a while even if they are still purging. This will include carbs and it will include some fat.  This must be done with guidance and support because it is NOT just healthy eating. Then, surprisingly, many of these symptoms will calm down, allowing the real emotional strengthening to take place where it is needed.

But eating is often the thing most feared. They say to me, I want you to stop me bingeing, perhaps with hypnosis or discussing my unhappy childhood. I don’t want to eat, because I want to lose some weight (or stay at the weight I am now).

In my very long experience, people with compulsive eating problems and bulimia often lose weight after treatment. But there is no way around it for the anorexia sufferer. Remaining thin will feel safe, but  will keep you demented. If someone doesn’t get what they really want, it is because they are bargaining with the price.

For some people with eating disorders, the price of recovery is too high. Eating is worse than murder. We have to be so patient, and so able to help someone to see that we cannot have our cake, and eat it too.