Category Archives: Bulimia

Looking You in the Face, Part 2

Today’s post is a follow-up post from Looking You in the Face, Part 1, regarding my two-year struggle with bulimia back in my early college years.

My bulimic habits may have been fueled by some psychological, social, and emotional issues, but I firmly believe the problem that allowed the fire to catch was my body’s physiologic dependence on flour, mixed with a little butter and sugar.  During family practice residency, as I counseled my diabetics, I always tossed up a prayer to the Power that Is, asking, “Please don’t ever give me diabetes.  I couldn’t give up eating this stuff, no matter what my blood sugar.”

I don’t think I’m alone.  This is a story.  My story.  I don’t write it to air my dirty laundry; I prefer people to think I’m perfect.  Stop laughing already.

My hand hovered over the blog site’s “Publish” key quite awhile before I submitted these two bulimia posts.  However, push it I did.  There’s no “one size fits all” in this life, but maybe my story will resonate with somebody.

Fast Forward

A few years ago, one of my much-nicer-than-I-am sisters told me as we were politely gossiping (we always politely and kindly gossip) about somebody, “Well, everybody’s got some addiction, I suppose.”

“Everybody?” I thought.  “Not me.”  Alcohol, gambling, or exercise?  Nope, nope, and nope.  Sex?  Shopping?  Nope, nope.  “No addiction here,” I thought.

Until the GAPS diet I started last year for my GI tract difficulties stared me in the face.  To oversimply the GAPS diet:  no grains, no sugar, and no high-starch foods.  Carbohydrate addiction exposed.

I wasn’t caving on this thing.  I was bound and determined to see if this voodoo diet called GAPS could help me poop more than once every two weeks, and no carbohydrate addiction was going to stop me.  Fruits, vegetables, and meat products contain about all the nutrients I need, give or take a few nutrients here and there, and I was sticking this crazy maneuver out.

I was a caged animal.  Pacing my kitchen.  Throwing open cupboards.  Slamming them shut.  Peering in the refrigerator.  Snapping it closed.  Thinking, thinking, thinking.  “There has to be something in this kitchen I can eat to feed this need.”  But no matter how you mix them, meats and veggies don’t add up to chocolate cream pie.

I wanted the “feel-good stuff.”  I needed my socially acceptable, socially encouraged, socially forced upon you FOOD.  Aaaaaaahhh.  Aaaaaaaaahhh.

Finally, after one year on GAPS, I’ve faced the demon, and I am in control.  Not food.  It was a bumpy road, with some setbacks here and there, usually involving almond flour, honey, baking soda, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and some eggs–maybe GAPS diet, SCD, Paleo, or Primal compliant–but not nutritious for me.  Not for this brain.

Bulimia.  Cured.  Actually, cured years ago.

Carbohydrate addiction.  Controlled.  Maybe never cured.

Nearly 17 years ago, I really had shed bulimic habits and curbed my bulimic thoughts!  However, I still intensely craved all things made from flour and ate those as the foundation of my diet.  I felt safe doing that; that’s what the food pyramid said to do, in a roundabout way.  My bulimia nutritionist counseled me this way.

But I don’t think it’s safe for me.  There is obesity and diabetes type II in my family history.  Sadly, about 6 months ago, my first cousin once removed died of complications related to obesity, and she was buried with a candy bar.  A love of her life.  There, but for the experiences of my life, go I.

Abstinence from food is not an option.  Abstinence from processed carbohydrates is.  I am grateful I found the GAPS paradigm and “related diets” to help me focus on food in a new way.  GAPS desires that all people go back to eating some sort of grain products.  I don’t know if I will be able to or not.  I may be “Paleo” forever.  Who cares what the darn you call it, real eating to promote the health of an individual organism, rather than detract from it, is absolutely ideal.

My carbohydrate monster rages again if I eat too many baked almond flour products or dates.  So as much as I want to go slapping beautiful, sweet treat recipes on my blog site three times a week, I cannot.  It’s not fair to me, and it’s not fair to others like me.  I can make some tasty almond flour and coconut flour treats; they almost replace in my heart the wheat products I love so much.  They don’t give same the euphoric kick I got out of wheat flour cakes, breads, and cookies; so the addictive forces aren’t quite as high for me.  They REALLY helped me bridge this year without wheat.  Without them, I would have caved for sure.  But now that things are easier, I can focus better on really packing in the awesome nutrients my body really needs to function best.

Changing food choices is not an easy road for some of us.  Moderation is touted, but look around, we are failing moderation.  Some of us just may have to choose abstinence.  My husband showed me this article, and based on my experience of finally feeling comfortable with my food choices and observation of those around me, I agree with this physician, Keith Ablow, MD.

“But we have gone way too far down the road of suggesting that addictions, in  general, are beyond the control of individuals…And the choice is not beyond that person’s control.  It is a measure of how  much discomfort the person is willing to endure, in service to himself and  others.”

I’m off to my 20th year high school graduation reunion.  Have a great day or evening.  To those who know me, thanks for being a part of my life.  To those who don’t, I really hope you find something here that resonates with you.  The best to all.


Looking You in the Face, Part 1

wpid-IMAG1488-1.jpgI knew it.  I knew it.  I knew it.  I knew this girl had an eating disorder…all she talks about is food!”

STOP!  Hear me out!  Hear my story!

Once, a long time ago, I struggled with bulimia and I won.  It kicked me in the head during my second year of pharmacy school, which was a killer.  My childhood sweetheart, who this little Hoosier farm girl from Indiana followed to the sprawling metropolis known as St. Louis, Missouri, decided to move on to somebody with a bigger chest who surely gave out more.

I felt totally alone and abandoned.  My self-esteem plummeted.  My farm-hearty appetite began turning to food for comfort, particularly flour-based products:  donuts, bagels, and brownies.  For about two years, I wrestled the demon of self-insecurity, and food helped me feel better for an hour.

So I ate and ate and ate.  However, I was a young girl, and I didn’t need my biochemistry to tell me I couldn’t eat that way and “be healthy.”  Or eat that way and look foxy.  I knew if I ate that way I would get fat.  I wasn’t afraid of the weight I was; I was afraid of the weight I would become.

So I got it out of there, with exercise and vomiting.  And thus began a terrible cycle of eating, overeating, being mad at myself for overeating, trying to not eat, overeating, over exercising, obsessing, vomiting, obsessing, and overeating.  (Please note, I tried laxatives only once, but I was so sick I wanted to die.  So laxative overuse is not the source of my slow GI tract.)

I was out of control, and I HATE being out of control so I sought help from my volleyball coach and athletic director at St. Louis College of Pharmacy.  Great women.  I saw a medical doctor who unbelievably said, “It is a phase.  It will pass.”  I visited counselors who worked on remodelling my body image, self-esteem, and relationship skills.  All VERY, VERY good things.

A summer break came, and I went home to the farm.  I embarrassingly had to tell my mom all that I was going through, and she immediately got me to see a medical doctor and a counselor, excellent practitioners.  Mom’s response was instrumental in my recovery, and I thank God every single day for my mom, for many, many reasons.

Over time, my mental self got a great makeover, and I reigned in my bulimic impulses.  I didn’t hide in the bathroom with the shower running and throw up.  I no longer scheduled an extra hour on my workout to compensate for extra calories.  I no longer obsessed about food to the point of running out on special bagel or donut runs in the late evening.

But you know what really didn’t get redesigned?  The way I ate–despite meeting with a nutritionist who told me things I already knew and tried vainly to employ regarding moderation, portion quantities, and food choices.  I still preferred six chocolate chip cookies to a steak.  Three donuts to start the day.  Fresh baked bread at Biaggi’s Restaurant followed by pasta with a creamy white sauce and bread pudding for dessert.

I had my self-esteem, a great metabolism, and I knew I looked “okay.”  And that was enough.

I was in control of my mental and psychological response to eating food now, but I was still not in control of my eating.  I had just learned to accept it.

I have always loved processed carbohydrates, and LOVE should NOT apply to food.  However, it did, and aside from my two-year struggle at a very tough time in life, I have never viewed my carbohydrate cravings as a problem.  I was the kid whose Halloween and Christmas candy was gone within a couple of days.  The guest who never said “no” to the offer of a treat.  The mom who baked her heart out for parties.

My brain likes carbohydrates.  Period.

“Food and addictive drug use both result in the release of dopamine in the mesolimbic regions of the brain (at least in animal studies), so one gets a sense of “reward” and happiness from eating. Obese versus lean individuals show greater activation in the addictive behavior centers of the brain in anticipation of receiving “palatable” foods” (from Emily Deans’, M.D. site, a blog post on Eating Disorder, Obesity, and Addiction)

For many years now, bulimia has been behind me, left totally in my past.  It may have stolen a couple of years of my life when my childhood sweetheart took his “bon voyage” of me, but it allowed me to gather and build my fragile self-esteem.

I conquered bulimia and I came out MUCH STRONGER on the other side.  Moved on.  Kept the boyfriend, actually (married happily now for 16 years).  Ditched the eating disorder.  Gained self-esteem and a “well, I guess it’s good enough” kind of body image.  Bulimia was horrible, and I promised myself I would NEVER go back there.  And I never have.

Fast forward…

Part 2 of my story to come in 2-3 days.  Thank you for reading.  Is this blog altruism or insanity?  Haven’t decided yet.


You may be interested in Part 2.