Recovering from an Eating Disorder: Deeper Healing for Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating
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Overcoming an eating disorder can be tough. Disordered eating often follows a rollercoaster of restriction and binge eating.
This can be true even if you have not been diagnosed with bulimia or anorexia.
You can help your body recover from disordered eating by correcting any imbalances in the gastrointestinal tract.
Studies have found a relationship between:
- Gut disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and bulimia. (1)(2)(3)
- Eating disorders and overgrowth of the fungus Candida albicans. (4)
Constant deprivation caused by an eating disorder can delay the feeling of fullness, trigger cravings for sweets, and lead to anxiety. Healing the gut is the first step in the right direction to recover from an eating disorder and bring the body back into balance.
The gastrointestinal tract is full of neurons. So much so that many refer to it as the “second brain.”
While sheer willpower can keep us from eating foods that we know are damaged and missing nutrients, it can also keep us from eating foods that support our energy and mental focus.
If you have a disordered relationship with food, willpower itself eventually breaks.
This is because disordered eating is not just a psychological battle. Our relationship with food affects our hormones, neurotransmitters, immune system, and gut bacteria!
What’s Behind the Cravings
Eliminating food toxins, such as gluten, from the diet and cutting out refined sugars will naturally reduce the craving for sweets. However, when we restrict our diet for the sake of weight loss and limit consumption of health-promoting whole foods, we enter into a state of deprivation.
This can deplete micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. It can also change hormones in the body that signal satiety.
Deprivation leads to hunger. We are talking about a biochemical hunger that:
- Sends out hunger signals
- Delays the feeling of fullness
- Emphasizes sweet foods
- Makes us anxious
- Interrupts sleep
Something called neuropeptide Y (NPY) is responsible for this hunger signal.
NPY is one of the strongest messengers in the body that cues hunger. When we are running on empty or restricting calories, this can trigger NPY.
Unfortunately, once NPY gets activated, it prompts the body to consume more food than is necessary. It also encourages us to make a beeline for the sugars and carbohydrates since our cells so easily absorb glucose.
With NPY in charge, it is all too easy to get entangled in a cycle of restriction and binge eating.
Healing the Gut Is Essential When Recovering from an Eating Disorder
Neuropeptide Y (NPY) can literally fuel an eating disorder. This is especially true when we feel guilt or shame about binge eating behavior.
Because NPY is like the force behind the curtain of disordered eating, it can be easy to mistake our desire to eat sweets and lots of them as a personal failure.
Restriction and extreme dieting causes NPY to build up in the tissue, telling us loud and clear to eat.
Whether you are dealing with binge eating, a dependence on laxatives, anorexia, or bulimia, the most important aspect of any recovery program is unconditional self-love.
Once we understand that very powerful signals are urging the body to eat beyond satiety, it can be easier to let go of destructive feelings like shame and guilt.
It turns out that overriding the NPY signal with our own willpower does us no favors.
This is because NPY does not only drive hunger. It also drives inflammation.
These neurons play a big part in inflammatory disorders, such as irritable bowel disease (IBD). (5) Because the nervous system talks to the immune system, NPY has been found in higher concentrations in those with inflammatory gut disorders.
Scientists even suggest that NPY promotes inflammation. (6)
Using the Body Ecology Diet to Help with Recovery from Disordered Eating
Our relationship with food is much like the relationship that we have with ourselves and with others. Any successful relationship makes room for flexibly, understanding, and love.
This is why the Body Ecology Diet teaches the principles of Uniqueness and Step-by-Step.
While we know how to recover the body from things like infection, gut permeability, and immune disorders, we must be gentle with ourselves in the process.
Too much restriction leads to a feeling of deprivation. Deprivation can:
- Trigger the release of NPY.
- Fuel disordered eating habits and binge eating.
- Promote inflammation in the gut with increased levels of NPY.
We can follow the principles of the Body Ecology Diet without giving the body mixed signals:
1. Practice Intuitive Eating. The Principle of Uniqueness is about listening to your body’s needs and signals while choosing foods that support overall health and wellbeing. When choosing foods, the focus is pulled away from, “Will this make me fat?” Instead, intuitive eating asks, “How nourishing is this food for my body?”
With intuitive eating, there is more emphasis on health than on the appearance of health.
2. Make Fermented Foods the Star of Your Plate: Good bacteria do all sorts of wonderful things for the gut. This includes helping to heal damaged tissue and shutting down inflammatory pathways.
For centuries, human beings have been culturing food and reaping the rewards of a robust inner ecology. The best fermented foods are made at home. Try eating a cup of fermented vegetables with every meal or drinking homemade coconut water kefir.
Vitality SuperGreen is a predigested formula that contains greens, algae, and microalgae. Because it also contains beneficial bacteria, as well as a super-potent form of glutamine, Vitality SuperGreen can help to heal intestinal inflammation.
There are powerful biochemical signals at work behind eating disorders. As we encourage the body to heal physically, we also engage in a deeper level of healing that can transform our thoughts and emotions.
What To Remember Most About This Article:
It can be a challenge to overcome an eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia, extreme dieting, or binge eating. You can support your body during the recovery process by correcting any imbalances in the gastrointestinal tract; gut disorders like IBS have been linked with bulimia, and eating disorders have been associated with Candida overgrowth.
Once the body is deprived because of an eating disorder, it can deplete micronutrients and change hormones that signal satiety. Extreme hunger from restricted calories can trigger neuropeptide Y, causing the body to consume even more food as a result. This can lead to a vicious cycle of starvation and binge eating.
To break this cycle and heal the body, you can use the Body Ecology principles of Uniqueness and Step-by-Step to encourage recovery:
- Practice Intuitive Eating. Listen to your body and choose nutritious foods to support your overall health instead of restricting foods to lose weight.
- Focus on Fermented Foods at Each Meal. Beneficial bacteria found in fermented vegetables will heal the gut and create a thriving inner ecology. Enjoy fermented foods at each meal like homemade coconut water kefir or Vitality SuperGreen mixed with a Body Ecology fermented beverage.
Once you understand that biochemical signals can fuel an eating disorder, you can stimulate deep healing in your body to overcome disordered eating from the inside out.
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- H Deojng, et al. The prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome in outpatients with bulimia nervosa. Int J Eat Disord. 2011 Nov; vol. 44(7) pp. 661-4.
- TN Tang, et al. Features of eating disorders in patients with irritable bowel syndrome. J Psychosom Res. 1998 Aug; vol. 45(2) pp. 171-8.
- S Abraham, et al. Exploring eating disorder quality of life and functional gastrointestinal disorders among eating disorder patients. J Psychosom Res. 2011 Apr; vol. 70(4) pp. 372-7.
- GN Back-Brito, et al. Effects of eating disorders on oral fungal diversity. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol. 2012 Apr; vol. 113(4) pp. 512-7.
- M Simren, et al. Abnormal levels of neuropeptide Y and peptide YY in the colon in irritable bowel syndrome. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2003 Jan; vol. 15(1) pp. 55-62.
- B Chandrasekharan, et al. Targeted Deletion of Neuropeptide Y (NPY) Modulates Experimental Colitis. PLoS ONE. 2008; 3(10): e3304. Published online 2008 October 1.