Anorexia Bulimia

 

There appears to be an increasing number of people suffering from the eating disorders anorexia and bulimia. While they mainly occur with teenagers, they are also prevalent with people in their 20’s. They affect mainly women and also affect men to a lesser degree.

Left undealt with, these disorders can create many health problems and may even cause death as the person wastes away to nothing.

The following is a brief overview of how I see anorexia/bulimia and how I treat them in my practice with generally great results.

 

Defining Anorexia / Bulimia

Anorexia is characterised by a preoccupation with thinness, regardless of their weight and shape. An anorexic tends to watch what they eat in that they pick low calorie foods and eat very little.

Bulimia is characterised by binge eating and then creating an action that will prevent them from putting on weight. This often involves purging the food after eating.

For both eating disorders, for the people I have consulted, their aim is to have 0% body fat.

 

Symptoms

There are many symptoms for each eating disorder. Some of them are:

1. Anorexia:

A preoccupation with being fat. The person constantly thinks they are fat even though they are thin.

Constantly weighing themselves – obsession with weight loss.

Will do anything to excess to lose weight – like excessively exercising, restricting what they eat, vomiting, constant and over-use of laxatives, diuretics and diet pills.

 

2. Bulimia:

Binge eating followed by no eating

Eating a meal followed by purging

Feeling out of control when binge eating and feeling guilty afterwards.

Will do anything to excess to lose weight – like excessively exercising, restricting what they eat, vomiting, constant and over-use of laxatives, diuretics and diet pills.

 

The Causes

From working with people in therapy I find there are a number of causes:

1. A Bad Experience.

The most common one is where a person has been through a bad experience. Two examples are:

(i) A seventeen year old lady was in a relationship with a guy. She was in love and constantly worked on being slim and looking great. He broke the relationship off to be with another girl. When she asked “Why?” he had no answer. She pushed him for an answer and he cited the reason as she was “too fat”. As she looked “bigger” than the new girlfriend, she accepted this comment.

She concluded she was “fat” and, in order to have a guy love her it was important not to have any fat. She associated love and acceptance with 0% body fat.

(ii) a 14 year old boy, who had been overweight all his life, was teased about being “fat” to the point where he believed he had no friends and no-one liked him.

The pain of this became so great he decided to do something about it. He stopped eating (or ate very little) and the fat disappeared. Girls now found him attractive and he received much attention. Getting a girlfriend was now easy. The teasing also ceased.

What did he learn from this?

Fat equals the pain of rejection. Slim equals the pleasures of love and acceptance.

His aim was to get as far away from “fat” as he could. This meant the goal was 0% body fat and he was prepared to do whatever it took to achieve and maintain that state.

 

2. To Feel in Control.

This is where the person does not feel in control of what is happening in their life and the only thing they can control is what they eat. The side benefit of this is it also gets them attention.

 

The Solutions

Eating disorders are one of the hardest things to overcome. This is because the first step is for the client to recognise they have a problem. Very few recognise this as they don’t believe they have a problem. This is because,

(a) they only see themselves in terms of fat (I had one client who was 30Kg and said she was still too fat!) so believe there is more to lose, and

(b), the pleasure they receive from being “thin” is so great, they associate pain to gaining fat or weight.

As you can’t change what you don’t recognise, if the client does not recognise they have a problem, nothing is going to work. When there is no reason for them to change, they are often admitted to hospital where they are fed. These are the people who can get better and then get the problem back.

So, the first step is to get them to identify they have a problem.

One lady loved dogs so I got three pictures of a dog – one was of a dog that was fat, another a healthy show dog and the third of a dog that was all skin and bone. I asked which dog was the best.

She said “The show dog”.

“Why?”

“Because it is healthy.”

“What is wrong with the skin and bone dog?”

“It’s unhealthy and looks sick.”

“Would you let the dog you love get like that?”

“No way. That would be neglecting it.”

I then related this back to a photo of herself. All of a sudden, the penny dropped, the lights went on. She needed to become the “show dog”. She now had a reason to change.

The next step is to define the “healthy” state. We then placed pain to 0% body fat and pleasure to a healthy body. We then put into place some fail-safe mechanisms to ensure the client can achieve and maintain this without fear.

Deal with the reasons why they have the problem. You will have to work on their self esteem and their self worth. Deal with the memories that have set this disorder into motion. Eliminate the fears of rejection and failure and replace them with self acceptance and self love.

Give them solutions that put them back in control.

 

I was recently speaking with a lady who was 30Kg when she first consulted with me. I was told if I couldn’t help her, there was a good chance she would die. Got to love that pressure!! Once we finished working on the reason she had the disorder and then on how to have high self esteem all the time, she said she quickly improved her weight to be around the 50Kg mark. She recently commented that she will never ever go back to that anorexic state. She has learnt her lesson.

If you are unsure how to help someone with anorexia and/or bulimia, consult with a professional. Most people keep pushing the person to achieve the desired state but the affected person is not interested. Even telling them they can die may not change their state as their need to achieve low or no body fat is too great.

It is important to work with the person rather than against them.

 

      * Note: The above are Clive’s views and are solely meant as a guide to help.

 

Like To Know More?

If you would like to know more on how to begin dealing with anorexia or bulimia, you can:

(i) Make an appointment. You can consult with Clive in person or have a telephone/skype consultation. To consult with him in person, you can either phone Julie on 02 6921 6373 (International +61 2 6921 6373) to secure a time or e-mail us on clive@clivemurphy.com

(ii) ReadYou Have The Power” or “Empower Yourself” as they contain information on how to take control of your life. “Why Is My Bum So Big?” can also be a good book to read as it covers some of the basic mistakes people make and the consequences. For example, not eating enough can cause you to burn muscle for fuel rather than fat. Importantly, it also covers what you need to do to be healthy in mind and body.

 

 

 

Phone: 02 6921 6373  Email: info@clivemurphy.com  Address: P.O. Box 2421, Wagga Wagga NSW 2650 Australia