Like Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder which typically affects teenage girls and young women. From an obsession with weight and body image, they develop a pattern of eating, often binging, then ridding the body of the food by vomiting, taking laxatives, enemas, fasting or excessive exercise. A tell-tale sign is someone who always goes to the lavatory straight after eating, particularly if they have eaten foods high in fats and sugars. They satisfy their taste buds with 'comfort food' but then the emotion that follows pushes the person to purge, guilt and self-loathing. They might run a tap to hide the sound of vomiting and eat mints to hide the smell of vomit.
As in many disorders when affect young people, the question of control is often prevalent. They may feel they have no control in all or some areas of their lives. The parents may be overbearing, pushy or unable to show their love. The person is able to demonstrate control over eating. Coupled with this is society's emphasis on thinness, looking good and constant exposure to food and drink advertising.
The person becomes preoccupied with the control of their body weight so excessive eating seems contradictory. They will often know calorific count of hundreds of foods and spend a large proportion of their time thinking about food. This may include planning the next binge.
A bout of excess eating may be triggered by boredom, depression, unhappiness, anger, anxiety and general low self-esteem. A lack of seratonin has been identified as a possible physical cause but this is generally associated with depression.
Bulimics will often plan their day in terms of when and what to eat followed by how to purge the body of the food. The bingeing removes their self-control so they may not stop eating once they start, thinking that they can always throw up the food later.
Bulimics often report a trance feeling where everything else seems to fade into the background as they forget time passing or outside thoughts and ideas and just binge on particular foods.
Physical Complications of Bulimia:
o Heart disorders (Arrhythmia, cardiomypathia)
o Acute gastric dilation
o Stomach ulcers
o Erosion of teeth enamel
o Swollen glands in neck and face
o Aspiration pneumonia (vomit in wind pipe)
o Polysistic Ovary syndrome
o Menstrual irregularities
o It can be life-threatening.
If left untreated, bulimia will take its toll on the body and on the mind with sore gums and bad teeth due to the stomach acid brought up during vomiting. Problems that can turn deadly are stomach ulcers and perforations, intestinal perforations, tearing of the aesophagus and an imbalance of the body's natural minerals and electrolytes, leading to heart failure.
Poor Eating Habits
The person fears putting on weight so rather than eat sensibly they will work against their healthy metabolism by eg skipping breakfast. By starting the day with a complex carbohydrate such as cereal, they would actually increase their metabolic rate and burn more calories as well as enjoying sufficient energy.
Choice in Therapy
Bulimia is like many other negative habits that people carry on unconsciously, often controlled by the habit which has become automatic. Bulimics usually have issues with perfectionism and body image or self esteem. Traditional mind therapies usually spend a great deal of time in the past understanding the root cause of bulimia, looking for hidden meanings.
Hypnotherapy in treating bulimia prefers a quicker approach rewriting the behaviour patterns associated with bulimia, allowing the person a choice rather than a label. Hypnosis provides fast access to the subsconscious mind which knows what is at the root of the problem. To the subconscious, any message or image presented is interpreted as real so the therapist can present a new image of control. This may involve regression to a traumatic event which has deeply upset the person and re-writing that event so the movie in her mind turns out in a preferable way. It is not that the traumatic event is wiped out as hypnosis is not brain-washing. Rather the conscious mind still knows what happened but the negative emotional impact is diminished. The person no longer needs to purge.
Instead of feeling bad and out of control, a hypnotherapist will ask the person to find a time when they felt confident, relaxed and in control then lock in that feeling overwriting the negativity caused by the bulimia. Positive post-hypnotic suggestions will be given to free the person from a need to purge and replace previous destructive, negative thoughts with new patterns of positive behaviour.
Usually 3-5 hours of hypnotherapy will produce dramatic results by changing how the person feels about themselves, their body image, their eating habits and eliminating the need to remove food from the body. Boosting and reinforcing self-esteem while the person experiences deep relaxation of body and mind is key.
While private treatment with a hypnotherapist is preferable, some may find this hypnosis MP3 for treating bulimia useful. There is also this audio book on Managing Bulimia with Self-Hypnosis:
© Antonia Stuart-James 2007. The author is an English Hypnotherapist in Belgium helping people to make positive change.