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Exercise Bulimia: warning signs, information, diagnosis & treatment.

The Symptoms

Compulsive exercisers will often schedule their lives around exercise just as those with eating disorders schedule their lives around eating (or not eating). Other indications of compulsive exercise are:

  • Missing work, parties or other appointments in order to workout
  • Working out with an injury or while sick
  • Becoming seriously depressed if you can’t get a workout in
  • Working out for hours at a time each day
  • Not taking any rest or recovery days

The Danger

Exercising too much can cause all kinds of problems including:

  • Injuries such as stress fractures, strains and sprains
  • Low body fat - this may sound good but, for women, it can cause some serious problems. Exercising too much can cause a woman’s period to stop which can cause bone loss
  • Fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis
  • Reproductive problems
  • Heart problems

Some of these symptoms also apply to overtraining but if you’re obsessed with exercise and use it as a way to undo bad eating on a regular basis, it isn’t something you can tackle alone. Many compulsive exercisers find they need therapy to help them deal with exercise bulimia. To get started, call you doctor or check out these online support groups to talk with other people experiencing the same problems. 

Source: About.com

Eat clean & move more: sounds simple right?

Well, yes & no. Being healthy involves a variety of behaviors and choices, including some that may seem counter-intuitive. It’s important to try to give our bodies the best we can, but equally important that we stay mentally healthy while we do it. With healthy eating & exercise, normally healthy endeavors can turn into unhealthy obsessions given the right circumstances. 

Eating disorders have a broad range: it’s not just anorexia, bulimia or binge eating.  You do not need to lose or gain weight to have an eating disorder. You do not need to be obsessed with your body image to have an eating disorder. E.D.’s are qualified as having an “unhealthy, disordered relationship with food (too much, too little, or very specific kinds) & are characterized by stress, anxiety & gaining (or losing) control over the body”. It’s about behavior: not outward symptoms. Many people go undiagnosed because we tend to focus heavily on visual signs and not enough on behavioral cues.

It’s tough to imagine, but you CAN be too “healthy”. Orthorexia (Healthy Diet Obsession) is more and more common, and it’s hard to diagnose  people who suffer.

If you’re a health nut, how can you tell the difference between orthorexia & just doing what’s best for your body?

Orthorexia becomes a problem when food becomes a source not just of nutrition, but of virtue or self-worth, when eating “bad” food implies that one is a bad person, and when the diet becomes a source of either self-esteem or, conversely, guilt and self-loathing.

Possible Signs of Orthorexia (particularly if 4 or more apply. If they all apply, you may be suffering)

  1. Spend more than three hours a day thinking about healthy food.
  2. Plan your day’s menu more than 24 hour ahead of time.
  3. Take more pleasure from the “virtuous” aspect of your food than from actually eating it.
  4. Find your quality of life decreasing as the “quality” of your food increases.
  5. Are increasingly rigid and self-critical about your eating.
  6. Base your self-esteem on eating “healthy” foods, and have a lower opinion of people who do not.
  7. Eat “correct” foods to the avoidance of all those that you’ve always enjoyed.
  8. So limit what you can eat that you can dine “correctly” only at home, spending less and less time with friends and family.
  9.  Feel guilt or self-loathing when you eat “incorrect” foods.
  10.  Derive a sense of self-control from eating “properly.”

Commitment and adherence to a diet can be warranted for the seriously overweight, even to the point of altering their lifestyle. But, “isn’t it also important in life to have some spontaneity, some enjoyment?”

Read more.

Original post & question here.

First, lemme explain binge eating disorder to those who might not be familiar with the differences between an occasional binge and a disorder.

B.E.D. is a compulsive eating disorder, in which a person seemingly eats uncontrollably to deal with stress or anxiety. To classify as a disorder, it must happen regularly and feels uncontrollable when it does. There’s usually a shame involved: typically people hide their binges (it’s not a random night when you eat a little too much after dinner). Binge eating most commonly occurs when users are on a diet or are watching their intakes carefully OR are dealing with high levels of stress and anxiety (a sudden change in their routine can count as well). Binge eaters often eat when they’re not hungry and well beyond the point where they feel full or uncomfortable. Some may not even be aware of what they are eating - in a trance like state.

Typically, the worse a binge eater feels about themselves, the worse their binging gets. The worse their binging gets, the worse they feel about themselves. It can be a vicious cycle, where food becomes a temporary coping mechanism that eventually makes the problem worse.

Behavioral symptoms of binge eating and compulsive overeating

  • Inability to stop eating or control what you’re eating
  • Rapidly eating large amounts of food
  • Eating even when you’re full
  • Hiding or stockpiling food to eat later in secret
  • Eating normally around others, but gorging when you’re alone
  • Eating continuously throughout the day, with no planned mealtimes

Emotional symptoms of binge eating and compulsive overeating

  • Feeling stress or tension that is only relieved by eating
  • Embarrassment over how much you’re eating
  • Feeling numb while bingeing—like you’re not really there or you’re on auto-pilot.
  • Never feeling satisfied, no matter how much you eat
  • Feeling guilty, disgusted, or depressed after overeating

Stress can be apparent and not-so apparent, and we all deal with it differently. Bingeing is a coping mechanism, which means it’s being used to address other issues you’re having. So not only do you need to address the bingeing: you need to address the issues that are triggering binges. 

Questions To Ask Yourself

1. What triggers usually precipitate a binge? Stresses, events, feelings etc.

2. What other mechanisms can you employ to deal with that stress? Talking, venting, exercise, meditation, massage etc.

3. What can you do to minimize binge damage? Food in the house (do you typically binge on the same foods, or ANY foods), having someone around, leaving your home, etc.

To deal with binging disorders, most people would recommend treatment, therapy, group support, and a conscious effort to reduce stress in other areas of your life. You might need to talk to someone: if you have a school you can start there (most have resources available to students), or you can try the community or get a referral from your doctor. Talking tends to help, so even if you don’t seek treatment from a doctor, finding a supportive ear can do wonders for you. In the online world, there are tons of support groups, blogs and help lines if you want to take that route as well.

Often people are hesitant to seek treatment (there’s a lot of stigma), but there’s no need for it. Taking care of your mental health, stress & identifying when you need help is the sign of a really strong person (and a key to success - the most successful people know to ask for help when they need it). Think about it this way: if more people took advantage of the help available to them, the world would be a better place. When people want to make a healthy, fitness lifestyle change, they hire trainers, buy expensive equipment, and surround themselves with like minded individuals to help them reach their goals. The same attitude should be taken when it comes to our mental health/well-being. Most counselors are highly trained, many have dealt with their own issues with binge eating, and they CAN offer great support and help if you’re open to it. They give you the tools you need to handle it on your own when you’re ready.

If you think you might have a bingeing problem, this is a pretty solid list of tips that can get you going in the right direction.

10 Strategies for Overcoming Binge Eating

  • Manage stress. One of the most important aspects of controlling binge eating is to find alternate ways to handle stress and other overwhelming feelings without using food. These may include exercising, meditating, using sensory relaxation strategies, and practicing simple breathing exercises.
  • Eat 3 meals a day plus healthy snacks.  Eating breakfast jump starts your metabolism in the morning. Follow breakfast with a balanced lunch and dinner, and healthy snacks in between. Stick to scheduled mealtimes, as skipping meals often leads to binge eating later in the day.
  • Avoid temptation. You’re much more likely to overeat if you have junk food, desserts, and unhealthy snacks in the house. Remove the temptation by clearing your fridge and cupboards of your favorite binge foods.
  • Stop dieting. The deprivation and hunger of strict dieting can trigger food cravings and the urge to overeat. Instead of dieting, focus on eating in moderation. Find nutritious foods that you enjoy and eat only until you feel content, not uncomfortably stuffed. Avoid banning certain foods as this can make you crave them even more.
  • Exercise. Not only will exercise help you lose weight in a healthy way, but it also lifts depression, improves overall health, and reduces stress. The natural mood-boosting effects of exercise can help put a stop to emotional eating.
  • Fight boredom. Instead of snacking when you’re bored, distract yourself. Take a walk, call a friend, read, or take up a hobby such as painting or gardening.
  • Get enough sleep. If you’re tired, you may want to keep eating in order to boost your energy. Take a nap or go to bed earlier instead.
  • Listen to your body. Learn to distinguish between physical and emotional hunger. If you ate recently and don’t have a rumbling stomach, you’re probably not really hungry. Give the craving time to pass.
  • Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat, when, how much, and how you’re feeling when you eat. You may see patterns emerge that reveal the connection between your moods and binge eating.
  • Get support. You’re more likely to succumb to binge eating triggers if you lack a solid support network. Talking helps, even if it’s not with a professional. Lean on family and friends, join a support group, and if possible consult a therapist.

Take care and PLEASE talk to someone if you get a chance (even to discuss other treatment options/advice - it’s empowering). It’s important to seek professional advice: these tips are simply tools you can use to get you moving in the right direction. There’s no shame in getting informed: you can only benefit from it.

Source & Fab Resource: http://helpguide.org/mental/binge_eating_disorder.htm

Myth # 4: Eating disorders aren’t really that dangerous.

Eating disorders, which INCLUDE extreme dieting on and off, can lead to irreversible and even life-threatening health problems, such as heart disease, bone loss, stunted growth, infertility, and kidney damage.

Even short term diets, on and off, can mess up your hormones, cause calcium & bone loss, and can heighten certain cancer risks. For life.

Most symptoms diminish with treatment. There is hope & possible reversal for most issues related to ED. The key is early treatment & continual support.

If you’re suffering, there is help. If you know someone suffering, get help TO help.

Eating disorders are not glamorous. But they are treatable. I promise.

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