By Lori Hanson
Eating disorders are a growing epidemic. When I was a young girl in the `70’s and discovered how bingeing could make me feel better by taking me away from reality I had never heard of the term bulimia. It wasn’t until the early `80s that I read an article about bulimia and started to wonder if I was bulimic.
Today, most people are familiar with eating disorders. You may even know someone who has one. Whether you heard about Karen Carpenter who lost her life to anorexia or Princess Diana’s battle with bulimia, it’s a well-known issue. It’s estimated that over 7 million women and 1 million men and children suffer from eating disorders in the U.S. alone. But eating disorders aren’t limited to the U.S. This disorder has infiltrated the lives of people all over the globe. In addition, it reaches beyond teen and early adult years. More and more young children are being diagnosed with eating disorders. Yet there are many more suffering that haven’t yet admitted to themselves that they have an eating disorder. Similar to an alcoholic, it’s difficult to admit you’re caught in the trap.
Many people with eating disorders are in and out of treatment centers multiple times. And many others are able to function in their daily lives while fighting the chronic cycle of their eating disorder on a regular basis.
Why is it so difficult to overcome? Why don’t people get well? I had someone once ask me why didn’t I just follow a 12 step program years ago and “get over it.” Someone who was obviously clueless about eating disorders! I liken it to my golf bag. I have many golf clubs to choose from. With an eating disorder there are often many contributing factors and they are deeply ingrained. (So take your pick on which one to work on.)
What I learned in my forties was that my mind and body were totally disconnected…energetically. I lived my life so obsessed, filled with such negative self-talk and constant analysis that I “lived completely in my head.” I didn’t connect with the rest of my body. How could I? When I looked in the mirror I hated what I saw! I was fat, out of shape and my body displayed the battle scars of the constant yo-yo dieting I did to control my weight gain after binges. (To put things in perspective, I’m 5’1″ and my weight typically fluctuated between 115 – 125 pounds.)
A person suffering with an eating disorder can’t comprehend that they are really okay. Their brains can’t paint an accurate picture for them because of how they process (or filter) information about themselves. Since eating disorders are in part a manifestation of low self-esteem, sufferers have no way to see the true value of themselves as a person. Or their inner beauty.
I learned what caused my bulimia through therapy. I learned how to appreciate myself and my body by connecting my mind and my body energetically. You’ve heard of mental blocks? I released energy blocks I held inside that were connected to my very poor self-esteem, life events and belief system. For the first time I felt my legs when I was running on the treadmill and was more aware of what my body was doing for me. I found a way to not only appreciate my body but love it. And that is something I never thought I would be able to say!
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