Why did I eat all those sandwiches? Why? Once again, my head is deep in the toilet bowl. It’s late. Come on, just one more time… I may get caught, but I feel so sick with all this food inside of my stomach. I can taste and feel the stomach acid as the vomit pushes up and out and through my teeth. I keep on pushing myself to put two fingers down my throat, again and again, and the disease will be gone.
I was full-on bulimic for 3 years.
In my case, my bulimia stemmed from an intense self-hatred. For others, bulimia is simply about fear of gaining weight, and misunderstandings about body image, eating disorders, and how the human body reacts. I deal with these topics and more in the following articles: Healthy Weight Loss and Body Image.
The purge of self-loathing:
After a year of bulimia, my body had grown so accustomed to the binge eating sessions followed by vomiting that I had a physical feeling of nausea come up as soon as I even swallowed any food, which I later vomited. I did not ever chew. In fact, I did not know how to chew really, for my whole relationship with food in the bulimia days was based on hate and fear. I did not even have one positive connection to food. I felt so guilty for my appetite, and natural inclination for good cuisine, that I binged on the worst kind of food, foods I really despised. I jumped on those foods I hated, such as fast-food sandwiches, and by the time I let myself eat, I was usually starving so I swallowed my food, knowing full well that I would later vomit it all out and thus not gain any weight. I had my own at home weight loss program so to speak!
A friend of mine went to a “healing your relationship with food workshop”, in which they spent the whole weekend talking about masticating the foods, and how we chew. She learned that we are supposed to chew 30 to 40 times each mouthful of food. If we are supposed to chew each mouthful of food so many times for optimal digestion, imagine what swallowing your food whole does to your intestine, your digestive process, and your stomach.
Every step of the bulimic process is unhealthy and negative. As far as your body’s health is concerned, but maybe not your body image, you’re better off being a glutton and simply overeating than you are being a bulimic person, or, for that matter, having any compulsive eating disorder.
To be bulimic is to hate yourself somewhere, in some way. The food you vomit is forced out by you with all the negative energy fully vibrating in and out of you about the food you’ve eaten, and what you are doing to your body. It is obviously not a purge in the true cleansing sense of the word. At times, I felt as if I were drowning in a pool of my vomit; some nights, I literally was!
Today, when I taste an incredible dessert which melts in my mouth, or any great food, it seems that the bulimic teenager I was has nothing to do with the woman I am today.
I now love life and good foods. It is said that a woman feels better about her body and who she is as she gets older. That is true for me. I cannot believe I ever used to make myself vomit.
I was bulimic from about 12 to 15 years of age. Three years of an all-out war with the foods I would eat! I remember that at the height of my bulimia---bulimia like most things in life has a flow, a motion to it---I would not and could not keep anything in my tummy, having just eaten enough food for 3 or 4 people. And every big meal that I vomited I would tell myself this was the last one, just like I had just told myself while I was swallowing food for 3 or 4 people. In those horrible moments for myhealth and soul, I went for the worst foods. I would have had too much guilt had I been bulimic with nutritious foods; I had too much respect for good foods, even then, to puke them daily.
When my bulimia was at its worst, I would stuff 7 or 8 sandwiches of sliced white bread with anything I could find in the fridge and cupboards, and then I would choke them down at the speed of my self-hatred. Indeed, my self-hatred was felt so intensely inside of me during those moments, when I was without consciousness on how to properly manage this self-loathing, that I would literally swallow a pile of white bread sandwiches, super fast, hiding myself in the dark.
As with many addictions, food binges are usually done in the dark, not in the light, and as far away from mirrors as possible. One hides oneself away from any possible outside reflection of what one is doing, since we know somewhere inside that there is nothing good about what we are doing; it is pure self loathing in action.
Binge Eating Disorder, compulsive eating, and fear of food:
Compulsive eating is generally not about food per se. It is indeed an eating disorder, but food is more the symptom of a deeper problem. A real food lover may overeat tasty foods or even healing foods, but that is called gluttony, while bulimia revolves around hatred, hatred of the self, of food, of life, of it all. My experience was about self-imposed suffering. I had so much pain inside from not feeling loved and not being able to love myself that food, especially bad food, became the tormenter of choice. We first push down the emotional pain, and then we vomit the pain.
Vomiting your pain is not always wrong, but there is a right context for it, and bulimia is definitely not it.
The context of bulimia is unhealthy from the beginning.
It is a refusal, whether conscious or unconscious, to deal with and manage one’s pain and suffering inside, and that refusal is being released any way possible by your body. Any big emotional denial will affect a part of our body; in this case, it adversely affects our eating behaviour, with sometimes severe long terms effects on our body’s health.
I can’t speak for anorexics, but I spent a great deal of time in the bathroom. It is best to avoid looking at the mirror as we brush our teeth or rinse our mouth after having made ourselves vomit. The feelings of self-hatred and of poor health will create a nasty judgement about yourself if you look at the mirror, for you will not like your reflection. I generally had to have low lighting when I was bulimic; “normal” light was intolerable to me back then.
Binge eating disorder, compulsive eating and the rest of the eating disorders are also about fear of food. Try to sit down to write every thing you think of when you think of food, and see how many positive words and images come up. It was always hard for me to try new plates at restaurants; although I loved food, I looked at the menu as tough it were a minefield.
I no longer enjoyed going out to eat since I knew what would await me afterward: the toilet-bowl with my vomit. Restaurants were also challenging because of the time factor. If I stayed too long, I would feel more and more anxiety about this “brick” in my stomach that had to go; otherwise, at least in my mind, I would instantly look fat. I got so good at it that I could simply make myself puke almost without a sound.
I am convinced that I still suffer from stomach bloating after certain meals because of the fear I still need to process around food and gaining weight. For so many years, I saw food as my enemy.
I know many women who struggle with some eating disorder but the most recent example in my life affected me more than others: I lived next door to a 44 year old bulimic. This woman had already gone through liposuction to lose around 5 to 7 pounds, a breast-enhancement, a lip enhancement; in short, she was obsessed with her looks. Her whole life revolved around getting men’s attention with her looks and sexiness; believe me, she dressed the part. She was terrified of gaining any weight, and she made herself vomit after every food intake, three times a day. This took a toll on her health, because her body was not so young and fresh to defend itself against the effects of bulimia.
She was not really gaining weight, but she was so sick from all this vomiting and lack of healing foods in her body that she was gloomy-looking. The whites of her eyes and her skin looked sick, and she had stomach and gas issues regularly. The more she would try to repress her tummy and vomit the food, the more her stomach would express itself in other ways through gas and stomach aches, not to mention her bad breath, and overall low and miserable energy!
It was really hard to watch her eat a good meal at our house. She would first dive in the foods, loving the taste and appreciating good cuisine; she was also starved. For about 30 minutes, she was in heaven, chatting away, happy to be eating, and eating away. Then I would see that familiar sadness, horror and fear come up in her eyes. Her eyes would get blurry as the horrible realization would start invading her body and soul that she had forgotten herself, and eaten two plates of one dish and a dessert.
In her mind, she had literally committed a crime. She had eaten and overeaten, and now she was horrified by what she’d done and had to get rid of it…fast. The health of her body was not a matter of concern for her. Her eating disorder did not exist as far as she was concerned; the only thing that mattered was her body image.
Healing food addiction: Begin to eat healthy foods
If you have any eating disorder, you must try to address it as early as possible. It starts by recognising the problem for what it is. Eating is central to our lives, and an eating disorder is a very serious issue with consequences. In my case, I deluded myself by telling myself that that I was doing well, keeping light by getting rid of that mountain of food I was compulsively consuming.
Eighteen years later, I was to really find out the meaning of a whole body cleanse, and necessary healthy vomiting through the sacred medicine of ayahuasca . We are not wrong in our wanting to feel light physically; food is not meant to weigh us down, but to nourish us. What we need to seek and find is a balanced relationship with our bodies, our food and ourselves. When we have achieved that, we will both feel and look good, and will no longer be torturing our body from self-hatred or from fear of getting fat.
Anyway, I digress… We don’t need to drink ayahuasca to start improving our eating habits. I’m sure you have heard of the saying: Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are. There are all kinds of healthy foods, and you will need to start choosing to eat them. Food is not the enemy. You are your own enemy with your eating disorder.
See yourself like a plant; it matters whether you’re giving your plant fresh water or boiling cooking oil in its soil to help it grow. One nourishes, and the other kills: so too with your body. It needs love, affection, and nourishing food in order to be healthy and to serve you well. It needs good food; there is nothing to be afraid of if you are eating well. When you become aware by recognizing your fear of food, the fear starts evaporating slowly but surely.
Years after my bulimia stopped, I reconnected with foods positively, and it happened at first visually, looking at beautiful coffee table books about foods, and the fruits and vegetables that grow on this planet. My healing from food addiction was initiated by vibrant and colourful pictures of foods. Remember that the bulimic has seen food in a very negative way for some time of his/her life: getting vomited out of them, and then floating in front of them looking and smelling decayed and decomposing.
In addition, good digestion is fundamental to your overall health. After the eating disorder, the digestive system is upside down, and does not know how to burn foods anymore. I was constipated for a few years, late teens to early twenties, not even knowing it. I would go to the bathroom once every 3 to 5 days for a big release, and I thought it was a lot, and that this was normal. We are, in fact, supposed to eliminate as often as we eat!
I know that getting my bowels back, reactivated, was one the best thing I did to better and improve my daily life and my body’s health; my fear of physical intimacy with a man also decreased. I knew that being bulimic was a little dirty secret of mine, and would not be acceptable to a boyfriend.
By 21 years of age, I went to an acupuncturist who healed my constipation in 7 sessions, through putting the needles on the energy points of my digestive system. We are made of energy. Acupuncture is energy healing: a therapy that allows your energy to flow back in place. It can literally reactivate an organ that has been slowed or shut down for a while.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, your focused and expressed intention should be to reclaim and revive your digestion. Drinking water and keeping properly hydrated is also important; the water cleanses the body of toxins, not to mention the connection between drinking water and weight loss! Peppermint tea, or any mint tea in fact, is very helpful with nausea. The feeling of nausea may take some time to go away, as your body evolves through the physical trauma built and left behind by bulimia and anorexia.
A nurturing healthy green smoothie can be really beneficial for your insides and to renew your health and strength. Think of your insides as tubes that have gone through war for as long as you have been bulimic. Now they need to be gently rebuilt. One of the best and most nutritious foods would be a spirulina pie or smoothie, and natural banana juice rich in potassium or an avocado smoothie are a close second.
Get into a support group
For many people, it is extremely helpful to make some connection with people who are struggling with similar issues. While it may not be 100% necessary, it is probably a good idea to at least try out a support group at some point. This could be a group that meets once a month at the local civic centre, or an internet support group, but whatever form it takes, it should be an activity that makes you feel better about yourself and stronger in your determination to heal yourself. You need to feel supported and welcomed; you do not need any more negativity in your life. You will feel good about helping yourself at the same time you are helping others; you may even make lasting friendships.
Find the emotional and psychological causes of your eating disorder
This is very important. You need to look inside yourself to find out what is causing this sort of behaviour to begin with. You may need to spend time alone to feel what comes up inside you when you think of or see food. You may want to enter a therapy program. You may prefer meditation or some other form of self-reflection. Whatever you choose, please choose something that is compatible with who you are, and who you are trying to become. Try to accept yourself and your feelings and who you are. Don’t run away from yourself to seek refuge in food. Eat when you are hungry; don’t eat to escape. This may be a slow process of transformation if you have been seeking distraction or escape in food. Don’t be hard on yourself if you do not succeed immediately.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself, recognise your progress, reaffirm your intention to heal, and be focused on your goal which is to be a physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually healthy person.