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Regaining Your Self by Ira M. Sacker, M.D.

This article was inspired by Ira M. Sacker's Regaining Your Self . If you enjoy this article then consider purchasing or borrowing the book.

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How to End Your Eating Disorder

“Individuals with eating disorders often feel as though they have no real identity of their own.”

Before you or your loved ones can overcome an eating disorder, you must understand that it is not healthy. Anorexia and bulimia afflict people who initially wanted to get healthier. Perfectionism fuels these disorders, as the weight loss boosts self-esteem. These unhealthy forms of dieting also affect the brain’s chemistry, giving the effected individual a feeling akin to being high.

How can you tell if you or your friends and family are affected? Anorexia nervosa occurs when a person loses more than 15% of their normal body weight. Those suffering from anorexia may starve themselves or commit cycles of binging and purging called “bulimia.” Though bulimics may not demonstrate weight loss, the misuse of laxatives can lead to dehydration and forced vomiting can damage a person’s esophagus over time. Some bulimics engage in “exercise bulimia,” where the affected individual binge eats and immediately does hard exercises.

Those with binge eating-disorders, binging but not purging, experience an effect similar to food addiction. In most cases, eating disorders fill an emotional void in those afflicted by them.

People who suffer from eating disorders often become skilled at hiding their eating issues. There are several indicators that you or someone you know is affected:

  1. Dieting and food are brought up often.
  2. Eating rituals.
  3. Preoccupation with physical appearance.
  4. Baggy clothes are used to hide the symptoms.
  5. Emotional issues.
  6. Excessive water consumption.
  7. Excessive exercising.

Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) fuel eating disorders. Having failed to develop a personal identity at a young age, those suffering from eating disorders seek out positive reinforcement. Their illness takes the place of a normal self-identity. Societal messages exacerbate this problem, as advertisements and media programs stress weight loss.

In order to overcome an eating disorder, a person must acknowledge that they have a legitimate problem. Therapists should focus on helping people with these disorders realize their true identities. Activities the afflicted are passionate about should be encouraged in place of the disorder. When a person’s family and friends support their decision to get well, therapy will be more effective.

Before a person can outgrow disorders like anorexia or bulimia, they have to wake up to the irrationality of the disorder. Therapists should discuss identities rather than physical appearances. Even when someone seems to have recovered from a disorder, there is the possibility of a relapse. “Triggers” can cause a recovering individual to relapse. For example, being fired from a job can disturb a person emotionally enough to have an eating disorder again. Realize that both positive and negative triggers exist.

To fully overcome an eating disorder, individuals must admit that they have a problem, identity their real passion and develop an identity that doesn’t revolve around appearance and weight. Through a relationship of trust therapists can help people realize their potential and quit destructive behavior.


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