Eating disorders are a unique illness because they affect both mind and body. The lack of nutrition and the physiological disruptions that come from binging and purging can lead a number of health problems. As you seek counseling for the psychological triggers behind your eating disorder, you can also seek to slowly rebuild your health. Here are some tips that can help you get started.
1. Start a structured eating plan.
After months or years of purging, simply eating a normal amount of healthy food and keeping it in your stomach can be a major physical challenge. One of the reasons why eating can be uncomfortable for recovering bulimics is because frequent vomiting trains the sphincter at the base of the esophagus not to fully close. Acid reflux and involuntary back tracking is normal directly after starting treatment.
Structured eating helps to get rid of these problems. You will not be able to eat very large meals. Binging on large amounts of food distends the stomach, and purging affects your metabolism. You want both to normalize completely. So, you should eat small meals frequently throughout the day. These prevent you from feeling overfull, and sticking to a schedule helps to restore a healthy metabolism. Your body no longer has to worry about feast and famine cycles with a constant flow of nutritious food.
Do not skip meals and try to stay as close to your eating plan as possible to make sure you're getting a balanced diet. You can worry about freedom from structured eating after your body has had time to heal.
2. Start taking a probiotic.
Purging disrupts the healthy gut flora in your bowel that promote digestion. Over time, you may not have a nice colony of bacteria to help your digestive system along. Therefore, eating can be painful and cause bloating. Probiotics help to restore the bacteria you need to properly process your food. Eating a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats can help these bacteria to recolonize sooner.
3. See your dentist.
Many bulimics have dental damage as a result of purging. The work you might need done could be extensive, but it doesn't have to be done all at once. Start by simply seeing your dentist and speaking with them about your treatment plan. Your dentist may want to help you reverse some of the damage to your teeth and gums with fillings, crowns, and protective sealants.
4. Begin exercise when you are ready.
Bone density is often lost during bulimia. One way to help your bones recover is to begin weight bearing exercise. However, one form of purging is excessive exercise, so your psychologist should make sure you are ready for a slow return to activity that focuses on healing your bones and muscles.
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