9 Mindset Shifts that Helped Me Kick Bulimia to the Curb*
For many years I struggled with bulimia. Bulimia had a firm grip on me filling my mind with limiting beliefs and self-doubt. It took a long time before I realized that I could beat the beast by incorporating several mindset shifts (changing how you think about things) into my way of thinking and being. And it was these mindset shifts that helped me gain control of my life and once and for all kick bulimia to the curb! My most important mindset shift was deciding to believe in myself. And that changed my life. Mindset shifts have the ability to set you free to succeed in every area in your life. Yes, even bulimia.
Here's the scoop: reprogramming limiting beliefs about food, about yourself and the world around you all the while encouraging new behaviors will lead you to the life you want.
And in today’s InstaGram ready, appearance conscience, celebrity driven world where everyone appears to be soooo perfect, a positive mindset is crucial. It can be really intimidating and shatter ones confidence if we compare ourselves with these wanna be perfect people with perfect bodies. This can lead to a negative opinion about eating and food which is a precursor to a serious eating disorder called bulimia. What is bulimia?
The KO definition of bulimia is any type of explosive cathartic activity such as throwing up or hours of intense exercise (running, weights, Zumba, spinning) to rid yourself of massive amounts of calories consumed from binge eating. What is the profile of a bulimic? Smart, driven, A-type, perfectionist. Insecure, low self-esteem, distorted body image. Addict. Uses food as their drug of choice. Desire to be loved. Terrified to eat, terrified of gaining weight, susceptible to uncontrollable bouts of unstoppable eating followed by tremendous amounts of shame, guilt and depression followed by hours at the gym. Can be skinny or chubby.
What Causes Bulimia?
Bulimia can be due to genetic factors, psychological problems or peer pressure.
My cause of bulimia was psychological. Here are examples of some of the reasons why I had bulimia:
I was afraid to speak for fear of getting into trouble; I was afraid to show emotion because that meant I was weak; I was afraid to make a mistake because that meant I was not perfect; I was desperate for parental love; I put pressure on myself to be thin; I was afraid of everything.
In retrospect, I look back and now know bulimia and binge eating was a symptom of something else, including pushing down personal demons that you don’t want to face.
Binge eating is a subconscious way to stuff down unresolved emotions and feelings. Throwing up and excessive exercise is the purge and emotional release one needs to prove you are in control of your life and give you peace and power. Albeit temporary as unresolved feelings and situations still reside inside, continuing the binge/purge cycle.
The good news is all of this can change as your bulimic behavior is not set in stone. The 9 Mindset Shifts that Helped Me Kick Bulimia to the Curb really do help to set you free to have the life you want. It does however, take focus, determination an initiative to get the results you want.
So, from my personal experience, let’s begin.
Number 1: It is ok to admit it to yourself and others you have bulimia.
Admit it: "I have bulimia, I am addressing it and I am OK!" Admitting it to myself was one of the hardest things I had ever done. Leading up to the admission, I had great shame and embarrassment about myself, my appearance and the fact I was bulimic. Once I faced it and then admitted it, I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders.
Gently talk to yourself. Be kind and patient as you come to terms with your eating disorder. Then take control and tell yourself that bulimia no longer serves you nor is it in your highest good.
There’s no shame in accepting this as your mindset shifts in this positive new direction. This shows tremendous strength on your part because you have chosen to face the problem.
Self-realization comes as blessing in disguise because now you can do something about it. Tell yourself it's ok to feel whatever you are feeling-good, bad or indifferent. And then consciously take control.
I felt a lot better when I changed my mindset about feeling helpless and powerless to change. During the journey, I had 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. Which directly effected how I felt about myself. I had feelings of failure and felt like giving up so many times.
These negative feelings of defeat can cause a really big problem, which, is why I have dedicated an entire section on this mindset shift: feelings.
Mindset Shift Number 2: My feelings and emotions don't control me.
Lets first discuss feelings and emotions.
I know I will get a lot of flack about this, but here goes.
Feelings aren't real.
Feelings are simply emotional reactions you have learned and adopted from the people around you. Feelings are influenced by memories, interactions with people, personal experiences and more.
And the feeling you have is a reaction to an emotion.
Emotions are primal and wired into all of us: love, hate fear. Emotions happen in your brain and then your brain makes the decision as how to define your feelings.
That is why some people can listen to a song and be happy as a lark and other can go into a complete rage. So, what does all this have to do with mindset shifts you ask? Your feelings and emotions can run amok and are a trigger for bulimic activities.
Once you have a mindset shift about all the emotional/feeling chaos that is going in in your head, you can gain control of the binge purge cycle. For example, my parents had warped feelings about food and body image: food and eating were bad and both made you fat and being overweight, well of course that was bad in my parents eye and of course I adopted their mindset about both.
As I was desperate for my parents approval and never got it, I went to food for comfort. Every time I put food in my mouth I experienced angry, hateful feelings towards myself. And towards food. And these feelings controlled me. I was afraid to eat, I hated my body and I went into a panic mode every time someone mentioned the word diet or looked at me funny. I thought they were judging me and thinking I should not be eating at all based on the size of my body.
My emotions were full of fear and my feelings towards myself were negative, hateful and self destructive. And when these feelings started, I went right to binge eating to stuff down the feelings and then bulimic behavior to show who was the boss and who was in control! All these insecure, negative feelings were the real killer. They were the reason I fell into the bulimic pit. I had to learn that the negative feelings I had about food and my body were not real but in reality were someone else's belief system that I adopted. Out of all the mindset shifts, conquering my feelings was one of the most difficult for me to champion. Without it, I wouldn't be writing this article. Number 3: Make a conscious mindset shift to choose only positive words to reflect the bulimia free life you want.
Say these words: I love myself. I am worthy. I have the power to change this limiting belief about myself and food. I am an overcomer; it's good to eat; it's safe to eat; I eat to live; I love to eat; I feel great when I am eating; I am loveable; I am beautiful at every weight; I am amazing because I have been born! By choosing these words, or these types of positive success oriented words, and thinking them and speaking them out loud, you can experience multiple mindset shifts that can change the course of your life. And it’s true! You have the power to overcome bulimia. It may take time and practice, but you can do it!
Changing your mindset in how you think and speak about yourself, your body and food changes the course of your life and is an important component of the 9 Mindset Shifts to Kicking Bulimia to the Curb. It worked for me, it can work for you.
Mindset Shift Number 4: Never let anyone's opinion or actions overpower yourself. You control your own destiny and no one else can decide it for you.
I remembered my step mom and I only got along when we were eating, so I would eat with her to please her. I even learned how to vomit from her.
The reality was, I wanted love. I needed love. I believed I was not good enough and was craving parental love and affection. Unable to get this, I turned to food to fill all of my needs. And then I started gaining weight and then I felt great shame because the message I got from my parents was being overweight was a terrible thing. So, I would go into hiding. I would starve myself, then eat until I couldn't eat any more. Then I would throw up.
And the cycle went on and on and on. Until I changed my mindset.
Once you realize what triggers this cycle of binging and purging, you can take steps to fight it. I say: Sit, take a deep breath, drop your shoulders and THINK! Because identifying the cause helps you in knowing which mindset shifts you need to steer yourself forward. Mindset Shift Number 5: Dieting really is a 4 letter word.
DIET = DIE That is all you need to know about that. Remove that word from your vocabulary and that activity from your lifestyle NOW. Use the words "EATING PLAN" instead and rejoice the fact you will never have to DIE T again!
Mindset Shift Number 6: Going on the D- Word is not your life savior
I've been a dieter for a long time in my life. I had this pleasant illusion that dieting was my life savior because I thought dieting was the yellow brick road to being skinny. And being skinny meant happiness and all of life’s other successes were sure to follow. NOT TRUE!!!! You know what dieting did do? It dragged me into becoming bulimic.
When you have strict diet rules, your food cravings go up! Remember, what you resist, persists!
Has this ever happened to you? Because this has happened to me many times in the past! The minute you deny yourself a cookie or a french fry or a piece of water melon and say or think “NO, I can't or I better not eat this”, it can trigger cravings and desire for the food you are denying. So much more that it is possible to end up eating that "denied food" and everything else in sight till the cows come home! There were many times when I couldn’t stop eating for days.
This type of eating lead me to feeling useless and being a failure. Shame and self-hate were quick to follow.
I also used to think “since I’ve eaten this much, I’m a failure already so it won’t hurt to eat a bit more”.
(OH how I cringe writing this. And feel so sad for that young girl who suffered from bulimia and obesity in her youth. I can't believe I used to think like this!)
This thought process led to more binging on my part and more purging on more food and feeling guilty about it afterwards. I felt great shame after purging.
So, I stopped being any kind of dieter. I started eating whatever I wanted. I ate with GLEE!
I consciously choose to have a mindset shift about dieting. I decided that going on a diet would not make me feel better. It would not change my life because it was unrealistic for me to be on a diet my entire life. I realized I was setting myself up for failure.
The result? I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it.
I took the pressure off myself. And when I did things started to change for the better. After a while, I started naturally planning meals and took pleasure in sitting down with family and friends. And it reduced my emotional cravings for food even more.
So, say goodbye to forcing yourself into strict diet rules. When you eat for a healthy life there’s no need to feel guilty. Even if you go in for pancakes, whipped cream and maple syrup, ENJOY!!!!!!! Eat to cherish, not to fall prey to guilt!
Mindset Shift Number 7: Food is my friend
One of the most important things I believe needs to be addressed is your perception of food.
I used to think food was my enemy because I believed whatever I ate could make me gain weight! When you have bulimia, food becomes a threat. I hated eating because I believed people were judging me because I was overweight and believed that every time I ate, people were silently criticizing me.
Because of this, I never let anyone see me eat. EVER. I hid from people, became anti-social, and lived to binge and purge because that gave me a sense of power.
Take a deep breath and ask yourself some questions: Is it the ONLY way to think about food? Am I being reasonable by thinking food as my enemy? Is my approach rational? Why do I view food as the enemy? What is causing me to think like this, after all, you have to eat to live! You can’t just quit food cold turkey like you can with smoking. I repeat: YOU HAVE TO EAT TO LIVE. These questions will make you re-evaluate your beliefs about food. I asked myself these questions and started looking at food differently. I started changing how I thought about food and how I spoke about food:
For example: "Should I eat this becomes", “I can eat this if I want it. Now, do I really want this?"
Take baby steps and allow yourself to be around people and let them see you eat. I did this with my therapist. We started with breakfasts. I would join her once a week at a breakfast spot. I still remember my breakfast of choice: granola cereal. It was difficult at first because I loathed myself for eating and considered it a weakness and even a failure that I actually NEEDED to eat at all.
What a mess!
After a while, I started enjoying eating. And eating in front of people. And once this shift took place, food started to be something I looked forward to meeting each and every day. I had finally made food my friend!
You can do this too!
Mindset Shift Number 8: My weight DOES NOT define me, my personality and health do!
For every pound I lost, I felt like a million bucks. For every pound I gained I felt suicidal. No one can live like this. I constantly compared myself to others in my class and to images of models and movie stars.
Because I didn't look like a skinny minny, I thought I was worthless. I believed the only way I could have value and any worth as a human being was if I was skinny.
Don’t fall prey to peer-pressure and starve yourself for a lean body. What others say about your body doesn’t matter. If you’re satisfied with how you look, so be it! That is all that matters. You are all set for a happy life.
So, change your mindset and tell yourself that your success and individuality is independent of your weight and the way you look.
This is also how one can start considering food as their friend and get rid of guilt that infests your mind and makes you suffer from bulimia. Can you see how these mindset shifts can help you kick bulimia to the curb? Mindset Shift Number 9: Negative self-judgments are the enemy.
Bulimia is actively associated with deep-rooted insecurities about your body. You become vulnerable to it when you think poorly of yourself. Thoughts like “My body is too chubby to be gorgeous”, “I’m not attractive”, and “My weight makes me undesirable” are your real enemies! Time for mindset shifts! I kicked bulimia out of my life because I changed my mindset about how I thought about myself and fought these feelings when they came up. When you let yourself get affected by these feeling your whole mindset shifts to a negative perspective. Science also says that the cause of bulimia is associated with distorted body image and deviated perceptions.
I have a technique I developed to change mindsets immediately. It is called Flip It. You can access it here, right now.
You are lovable! You are perfect just being born! You have a right to be on this planet! And your body doesn’t define you.