Why diets are dangerous and how they cause eating disorders

We need to talk about diets.

Specifically those restrictive weight loss diets.

Studies show they don’t work, they’re dangerous and they lead to eating disorders.It has been proven that people who diet are 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who do not.That’s right, 18 times more likely!
Golden, N. H., Schneider, M., & Wood, C. (2016). Preventing Obesity and Eating Disorders in Adolescents. Pediatrics, 138(3). doi:10.1542/peds.2016-1649

And the diet doesn’t even have to be particularly strict in order to result in disordered eating.

In fact,

two-thirds of new cases of eating disorders are reported by those who diet moderately
Patton, G. C., et al. 1999

As surprising as it may seem, a simple diet can truly destroy one’s life.

This guide explains the dangers inherent in any form of restrictive eating.
It shows how an ordinary diet can end up trapping you in a cycle of bingeing eating or bulimia – and, most importantly, it tells you how to recover.

“If you suffer from an eating disorder, reading this guide is essential for you”

Ali Kerr

Founder of HealED

Chapter 1

What’s wrong with dieting

It’s no secret that our society is obsessed with diets.
We truly do live in a diet culture.

Gossip magazines filled with pictures of celebrities who have either gained or lost weight recently.
TV shows producing a constant stream of various weight loss advice.
Advertisements for diet products plastered all over the internet.

We are constantly sold the idea that being thin will make us attractive, successful and content.

Worryingly these marketing strategies appear to be working.

According to some surveys, up to 50% of women are on a diet at any given time. This means that one in two women is dieting right at this moment!

This leads me to a question…

With so many people dieting, shouldn’t we all be thin by now?

If dieting really does work, why are we in the middle of an obesity epidemic?
Why is our society becoming increasingly unhappy, unhealthy and depressed?

Something just isn’t adding up….

Countless people have already learned from experience that diets simply do not work.

Furthermore, numerous research studies have proven that in most cases, dieting leads to weight gain in the long run:

Study 1: 95% Failure rate

One study has shown that within four years of losing weight on a diet, 95% of dieters gain back all the weight they have lost. At the end of this period, two out of five dieters end up heavier than they were before they lost weight.

Study 2: Identical Twin Study

A study of 1,600 identical twins has concluded that the twin who dieted ended up weighing more than the one who did not at the end of the study.

Four years later, the dieting twins still weighed more than their diet-free siblings.

Study 3: Ancel Keys

Even more importantly, the 1944 Ancel Keys Semi-Starvation Study – one the most famous and respected studies of the effects of food restriction on humans – also came to the conclusion that dieting does a lot more harm than it does good.

Its participants were put on a diet of 1,600 calories per day for 6 months.

Over time, they began to suffer from various side effects, such as anxiety, food obsession, depression and binge eating.

Once the experiment ended, some of the participants found themselves eating more than five thousand calories a day and continuing to eat even when they were absolutely stuffed.

(sounds familiar, doesn’t it?).

Studies Prove that Diets Don’t Work

It is a scientific fact: dieting causes people to overeat.

All dieting is yo-yo dieting in practice.

Whilst successful dieters seem to be non-existent, people who repeatedly gain and lose weight are abundant.

Over time, these weight fluctuations gradually lead to a heavier weight overall.

As a nation, we would be thinner if no-one ever dieted.

Considering all of the scientific research into the real effects of dieting, it only makes sense that the stricter the diet and food restriction is, the stronger the resulting binge urges grow.

It is as though every diet has an equal and opposite binge to counter it.

This is exactly why an innocent diet can turn into years of disordered eating.

Not only do diets NOT work. They can cause eating disorders.

 Dieting and starvation act as powerful triggers that switch on the biology and changes in the brain associated with the development of eating disorders.
All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image ”Reflections on Body Image”, 2012).

The truth is that if you restrict your food intake, you are susceptible to developing disordered eating.

If the healthiest, happiest person on the planet restricted their food intake, they too would be susceptible to developing an eating disorder.

But how does that happen?

You didn’t go on a diet expecting to become obsessed with food.
You didn’t think that something as simple and straightforward as restricting your food intake could result in depression and critically low self-esteem.
You had no idea that a diet can morph into a disorder.

So let’s explore the relationship between restriction and eating disorders further.

In order to help you understand this process, I’ve broken it down into 10 simple stages. You might recognize yourself in them as you read on.

Chapter 2

How a diet leads to an eating disorder in 10 steps

Stage 1: You restrict your food intake.

There are many reasons why people choose to restrict their food intake.These reasons include:

  • Avoiding major food groups like carbohydrates or fats based on the misguided belief that it is healthy to do so.
  • Avoiding specific foods or, on rare occasions, entire food groups due to food allergies and intolerances.
  • Embarking on restrictive detox programs due to the assumption that they are beneficial to one’s overall health.
  • A direct attempt to lose weight (that is, unfortunately, by far the most popular reason).

Stage 2: You ignore your hunger pangs.

When your body is deprived of food, you start to feel hungry.

Hunger is simply your body’s way of informing you that its energy supplies are running low and need to be replenished.

For most of us, hunger can be described as an empty, irritating, insecure feeling.

If you are actively restricting your food intake, you might start to ignore your hunger pangs.
As your body fights back with hunger, you fight back with denial – and so the war against yourself begins.

Stage 3: You hit a plateau.

In the beginning, most diets do lead to some weight loss (although a considerable amount of it is a result of water loss rather than fat reduction).

However, after a certain point, most people hit a weight loss plateau. This means that your weight refuses to budge any further despite the fact that you keep on restricting your food intake.

Why does this happen?

Well, in response to restriction, your body slows down its basal metabolic rate or BMR. As a result, it expends less energy so that it can survive on a smaller amount of calories.

FYI

BMR

Your basal metabolic rate accounts for about two-thirds of your body’s total energy needs – because of this, even a small change in your calorie intake can have a huge impact on your ability to lose weight.

At this stage, a lot of people grow tired of deprivation and constant hunger, so they decide to quit.

However, people with perfectionist tendencies or an urgent desire to lose weight tend to continue. This leads them on to the next stage.

Stage 4: Your hunger begins to fight back.

As you continue to deprive your body of the basic nutrients that it needs for survival, you begin to lose touch with the subtle sensations of hunger and satiety, and start to experience a new sense of powerful, uncontrollable hunger.

You no longer feel mild hunger pangs.
Instead, your hunger comes in sudden, erratic bursts.

These episodes of intense hunger start to worry and scare you.

Staying in control around food becomes more and more difficult.

Stage 5: You begin bingeing on food.

Every cell in your body is now screaming out for you to EAT!

You are unable to fight back any longer.
You don’t understand why constant thoughts about food and unrelenting binge cravings are taking over your life.
You can no longer resist the urge to eat, no matter how hard you try.

Suddenly you find yourself bingeing on food.

It may feel like someone else has taken control over your entire body.

Part of you still tries to stop eating, but a different part is hell-bent on eating everything in sight.

Stage 6: Bingeing is followed by an intense feeling of guilt.

After losing control and bingeing, intense feelings of fear, panic, disgust and guilt arise.

You feel trapped.
You feel like a failure.
You promise yourself that you will never binge again and go right back on your diet the next day.
You refuse to give up on restriction, not realizing that as long as you keep on dieting, the binge urges will keep on coming back.

“This is simply how the human body works. Restriction leads to intense hunger. Intense hunger leads to binge episodes!”

Ali Kerr

Founder of HealED

Some people become so frightened by the idea of weight gain that they fall into an even more perilous trap of purging.
It can take on the form of self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, diet pills or excessive exercise.

However, what these people often don’t realize is that purging causes the body
to go into a hypoglycemic state, which encourages future bingeing episodes.

As you grow more and more malnourished, the primal desire to binge on food becomes even stronger.

Stage 7: Bingeing gradually turns into an emotional crutch.

Bingeing on food causes a flood of endorphins to surge through your brain and this can temporarily infuse you with a warm sense of numbness or euphoria.
Many sufferers of disordered eating admit that they binge on food just to experience the endorphin rush that comes with it.

Over time, you begin to rely on the numbness that bingeing brings you – despite the guilt that follows.

You start using food as an emotional band-aid.

It blocks out uncomfortable thoughts and feelings for a while and gives your mind a moment’s rest from suffering.

After a while, you begin to wonder how you could have ever managed uncomfortable emotions without a binge fix.

Stage 8: You start to suspect that you may have a problem.

Declining health, constant anxiety, obsession with food, mood swings, worsening body image, feeling like you’re going crazy… It all takes its toll.

Your self-esteem plummets.
Your confidence shatters.
You begin to worry about your health and your life.

You find it hard to face the reality of what your life has become.

You mourn your lost dreams and aspirations.

Life turns into a series of desperate attempts to put on your “happy face” for fear of anyone seeing the real you and discovering your dark secret.

You might even start thinking that there is something inherently wrong with you.
Perhaps you’ve been born this way?
Perhaps you’re damaged, broken or you simply lack the strength and willpower to sustain a happy life?
In reality though, nothing could be further from the truth.

You are not broken.
You are not evil or damaged in any way.

What you’re experiencing are the natural side effects which have been brought on by prolonged restriction and malnutrition.

Stage 9. You attempt to recover, but do not succeed.

You might try to stop bingeing with the help of sheer willpower.
You might think that if you learn to ignore your binge urges, they will eventually disappear.

However, the urges don’t go away.

As long as you keep on restricting your food intake, they will not vanish.
On the contrary, they will only get stronger.

Willpower can only work when it comes to short-term recovery goals and general motivation.

No one has enough willpower to resist the urge to binge forever.

No one is capable of overcoming their natural instincts and defense mechanisms.
It’s just not possible.

Eventually, no matter how determined you are, your body will give in.

Stage 10: You accept the fact that you have developed an eating disorder.

There is a limit to how many times you can build up your hopes for recovery, only to suffer the pain of having them shattered all over again.

Eventually, you decide that accepting your disordered eating is easier than pushing yourself to confront the additional heartache and misery that comes with an unsuccessful recovery attempt.

Over time, you forget what having a healthy relationship with food feels like.
You forget your old personality and the old you.
You forget who you were before your eating disorder.
It seems like your life has always revolved around bingeing.

You accept this as your new reality.

Chapter 3

Side effects of a restrictive diet

The picture that I’ve painted here is not pretty and it may be difficult for you to accept.
But eating disorders are not pretty. Nor are diets.

What it all boils down to at the end of the day are the effects of malnutrition.

If you restrict your food intake long enough, you WILL become malnourished.
This will inevitably lead to your natural survival mechanism kicking in with full force.

It might be strange to realize that your body is capable of creating this big, scary, insatiable “hunger monster” inside of you.

There is nothing wrong or weird about this type of hunger.

FYI

Survival instinct!

In fact, it is healthy for your body’s survival mechanism to kick in when it detects that something is wrong. Your body is doing its very best to protect you and sustain your health because it thinks that you are in the middle of a famine!
Think of it this way: if malnutrition didn’t cause food obsession and binge cravings, human beings would have become extinct as a species millions of years ago!

It is primal, instinctual and unavoidable.
It kicks in naturally if you are malnourished in order to try and prevent you from starving to death.

5 Common Side Effects of a Restrictive Diet

Now let’s look at some of the most prevalent symptoms of malnutrition. They include:

1. An insatiable appetite.

You lose the ability to feel satisfied and this can be really scary.

Where normally you would feel too full, now it seems like you just can’t get enough of food – no matter how much you eat.

Numerous research studies have shown that people who restrict their food intake eventually become unable to stop eating when full. Their natural hunger and satiety cues aren’t working properly anymore. Massive, scary, powerful urges to eat lots of food turn into a serious everyday problem.

2. Powerful cravings for energy-dense foods.

Your body needs calories, so it craves energy-dense foods.

This is why products like chocolate and cheesecake can be so appealing to frequent dieters.

3. An increased taste response to sugar.

Normally too much sugar tastes sickeningly sweet.
Now you can never reach the point where it isn’t desirable.

This is because your body has actually increased your taste response to sugar in order to enable you to ingest more calories than your body so desperately needs.

Sugar drink study

A recent scientific study has concluded that when a group of individuals, who fell within the healthy weight range, were given a sweet drink to consume, almost all of them lost the taste for it after a very short time.

The underweight group, however, continued to enjoy it for much longer. This explains why chronic dieters are able to consume huge quantities of sweet foods.

4. Food obsession

Food is all you think about – in your car going to and from work, whilst studying, watching TV or chatting with friends.

You may even have food-related dreams.

5. Cravings for stimulants

As your energy levels plummet, you turn to stimulants such as coffee, tea and diet sodas to keep you going.

They can only provide you with a temporary relief though what you really need is food-based energy.

6. Changes to your brain chemistry

Whenever people restrict their food intake, they suffer from a host of psychological side effects.

Food restriction rapidly disrupts the production of serotonin and dopamine in your brain, triggering a host of negative psychological side effects as a result. Large-scale studies from reputable universities, such as Harvard and Oxford, have noted that dieters can experience serotonin depletion after just three weeks of food restriction.
Regardless of your circumstances or accomplishments, when your serotonin levels drop, so does your self-esteem and overall happiness.
As the brain continues to starve, it deteriorates further and becomes even more self-critical. This leads to outbreaks of various psychological problems, such as obsessive-compulsive behavior, depression, anxiety, general moodiness and poor motivation.
Furthermore, restricted eating triggers dysbiosis within your gut microbiota and this had a direct impact on your appetite, the foods that you crave and the intensity of the binge urges you experience.

Here is some interesting research on eating disorders and the microbiome.

Simply put, food restriction can and does, make you miserable.


Chapter 4

What this means for eating disorder recovery

So what does this all mean if you currently suffer with an eating disorder such as binge eating or bulimia?

This big one is this…

“Here at HealED, we truly do believe that for the vast majority of people, eating disorders, such as bulimia and binge eating, are mainly physical/biological issues, rather mental conditions.”

Ali Kerr

Founder of HealED

It’s not just us.
Science agrees. Studies show that:
“Treating eating behavior directly has been proven to be more effective than CBT in the treatment of eating disorders, even with severely affected individuals.” – Södersten et al (2017)
“There is no evidence to support the idea that resolving underlying psychological problems leads to full recovery from disordered eating.” – Walsh & Cameron (2005)
In fact, the most current research suggests that the positive effects associated with CBT may be due to the fact that normalization of eating behaviour is part of the therapy.

Many people remain absolutely convinced that eating disorders can be healed by focusing on the mental issues alone but the mind-body connection is profound, and it cannot be ignored.

For instance, an overwhelming amount of evidence now shows that physical exercise alleviates low mood, stress, anxiety and depression (Otto & Smits, 2011). In fact, physical activity significantly improves one’s life satisfaction and psychological well-being (Carek, et al, 2011).

It’s the same with eating disorders.

In order to recover, you must focus on addressing the physical aspects first

When you heal your body, you heal your mind.

This should be your primary concern and focus in recovery.

Whatever you do, keep in mind that in order to break free from binge eating and bulimia for good, you must first rebalance your body.

There are many other aspects of recovery – such as destructive habits or negative self-image – that you can address once that’s done. However, a balanced body will always provide a solid, stable foundation for the rest of your recovery. Everything else will be built upon these principles.

Studies have shown that once food restriction ends and normal eating resumes, adverse health effects disappear or become minimal. Most dieters, who have returned to normal eating patterns, have regained their health with minimal long-term consequences.

If you’re still restricting your food intake, if you suffer from disordered eating but desperately want to change it, remember:

once restriction is eliminated, so are its side effects

Chapter 5

Undoing the damage of a restrictive diet

The solution is, in fact, surprisingly simple.

And it can be summed up in one sentence.

Stop dieting and eat enough nutritious, balanced food spread throughout the day.

That’s it in a nutshell.

We can break this down a little further for you…


1. Eat enough food

Undereating leads to overeating.

To begin with, you need to start saying ”no” to diets.
They don’t work, they’re dangerous and they lead to eating disorders.

If you really want to stop bingeing, you’ll have to start eating enough food to satisfy your daily biological requirements.

For dramatic effect, I am going to repeat that above sentence and stick it in a box to emphasise how important that is.

If you really want to stop bingeing, you’ll have to start eating enough food to satisfy your daily biological requirements.

It can be really helpful to spread your nutrition throughout the day by shortening the gaps between your meals – they should be no longer than 3 hours.

Try not to graze in-between meals. This will help your body get into a much-needed physical rhythm.


2. Then balance your blood sugar levels

Blood sugar drops and spikes can be a huge binge trigger.
To balance your blood sugar ensure each of your meals (and preferably snacks as well) should consist of roughly 50% complex carbohydrates, 25% proteins and 25% fats.

If you stick to this simple ratio, it will gradually stabilize your blood sugar levels and reduce your sugar cravings. Over time, you can discover a different ratio that works best for you and allows you to feel full for longer.


3. Finally, insure you provide your body with proper nutrition

Aim to add more real, wholefoods to your diet.

You know, fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean animal protein, such as fish, chicken and eggs – in other words, you should eat the types of food that your great-grandmother would have eaten.

This will help you feel REALLY satisfied after eating.


Recovery is always possible – and it is always worth striving for.

Of course, it is much easier said than done – especially if you have a long history of disordered eating behind you.

That’s why our qualified HealED recovery coaches are always on hand to guide you through this journey. They have all suffered from eating disorders in the past and successfully overcame them using our method. Click here to start working with one of our coaching team

Rebuilding normal eating habits naturally takes time.
But there is hope.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
You cannot help but reach it if you leave old habits behind and just keep moving forward.

Help us help others?
We’re a small team here at HealED, but we have a BIG message. We want to spread the word about the dangers of diets. If you found this guide helpful please feel free to share this guide via social media, facebook, twitter. The more people informed about the dangers of diets the better!

The meditation guide for binge eating and bulimia

Have you ever felt trapped in a never-ending cycle of binge eating?
Perhaps the reason you’ve felt trapped is because you are.

The minds of regular binge eaters tend to get stuck in a set of habitual thoughts.

“I shouldn’t be eating that.”
“I’m unable to resist the urges simply because of my lack of willpower.”
“I feel so guilty for giving in again.”
“I will never be good enough.”
“I’m nothing more than a failure.”

Are such habitual thought patterns familiar to you?
Do they influence your behaviour around food?

This disordered mindset keeps us trapped in a destructive cycle of emotional eating and food obsession. It makes us feel guilty and ashamed about what we’ve eaten. It makes us feel powerless and weak. We become permanently stressed, emotionally drained, and increasingly unhealthy.

One of the biggest challenges of recovery lies in replacing your old destructive thought patterns with a new, recovery-focused mindset.

One solution that’s been proven to be highly effective in this case is meditation.

The science behind meditation and binge eating


Recently there’s been an explosion of scientific research, which shows that meditation has an almost laughably long list of health benefits – from lowering your blood pressure to boosting your immune system to essentially rewiring your brain for happiness.

Nowadays it’s used to treat depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and countless other psychological issues. But did you know that meditation also works wonders when applied to eating disorders, including binge eating and bulimia?

Recent studies have shown that meditation leads to:

  1. A decrease in binge eating and emotional eating: Mindfulness training and active meditation resulted in a significant decrease of bingeing episodes in people who suffer from them. (1)
  2. Reduced body image concerns and the likelihood of relapse: Programs that used meditation as their primary intervention method improved their participants’ body appreciation and self-esteem. (2)
  3. Improved emotional regulation and enhanced self-control: It’s been scientifically proven that meditation reduces stress and enhances the ability to cope with it. (3)

All of these outcomes are vitally important for anybody wishing to overcome their habits of binge eating or bulimia.

To put it simply:
Meditation has been proven to work!

Meditation can also be quite challenging

When I first started meditating, I was an anxious mess.
My thoughts used to race.
I used to find it hard to stay quiet.
I used to feel uncomfortable in whatever position I tried to assume.
I used to get bored of sitting in one place after five minutes.
Focusing on the present moment used to seem virtually impossible.
I couldn’t stop thinking about all of the things that I had to do, or all of the things that I had done earlier.

I tried my best, but I still couldn’t control my wandering mind.
In short, I felt like a failure.

Nevertheless, I kept on trying.
I kept on reading about the subject and trying out various techniques to reach that peaceful meditative state.
Eventually, I started to experiment. This is how I discovered the method that I’m going to share with you in this post.

Once I started using this method during my meditation sessions, it transformed my experience and allowed me to access the various benefits of meditation.

I call this method the “Half-Full Meditation Technique”.

“I’m going to tell you all about it later on in this post, but first, let’s explore why meditation is so useful for binge eating recovery.”

Ali Kerr

Founder of HealED

How can meditation help you get rid of binge eating?

There are countless benefits associated with regular meditation, but when it comes to binge eating recovery, here are a few that are particularly important:

1. It weakens compulsive thoughts.

“I’m not good enough.”
“I’m not smart enough.”
“Why would anyone ever love me?”
“If only I could be different…”
“If only I could lose a few pounds, perhaps that would make it all okay.”

Sounds familiar?

We spend so much time thinking that we’re simply not enough. So many hours go by, while we keep on bringing ourselves down and dreaming up ways of turning ourselves into different people.

But what if you’re already good enough?
What if it’s not your personality, or your appearance, or your weight that needs to change, but rather your thought patterns?
Meditation can help you weaken and dissolve such disordered thoughts. As a result, you become able to cope with them and they seem much less scary.

2. You become less likely to use food to influence your emotions.

Food can have a sedating, or even suppressing, effect on our feelings.

A lot of us binge because it gives us a short-lived respite from complex emotions. The problem is that it’s only a short-term solution – and in the long term, it becomes a crutch that we depend on only too often.

Meditation increases your capacity to comfortably experience a wide range of emotions and provides a healthy alternative to coping with uncomfortable feelings. Pushing those emotions down with food is no longer necessary.

3. It can help you snap out of the binge trance.

In the middle of a binge, we often find ourselves completely lost in thought.
The last place our mind shines any attention on is the actual food we’re eating.
This state of mind is often referred to as the binge-trance.

However, the word “trance” can be misleading.
It implies that there’s nothing going on in your head. It suggests that during a binge, your brain is vacant.
In reality, if you bring your awareness back to your body, you’ll realize that, rather than being in a trance, you’re actually lost in deep thought.
You’re lost in a constant cycle of worrying, planning, remembering, analysing, judging, brooding and comparing.
You’re daydreaming and not really living in the present moment.

Meditation can reduce the intensity of such thoughts and help you snap out of this trance. Consequently, you become able to stop a binge even halfway through.

4. It reduces stress-related binge episodes.

Anxiety and stress are some of the most powerful binge triggers. You may turn to food as a way to relax and distance yourself from all of your daily worries for a little while.
In contrast, regular meditation alleviates stress using only your inner resources.

Once you start meditating, you might find that you no longer need food to deal with everyday stressors.

5. It teaches you how to stop binges before they even happen.

A lot of us struggle with mindless bingeing. The urges become so strong sometimes that we don’t even notice how we give in to them. This can turn into a serious stumbling block in your recovery journey – if you don’t know how it starts, how can you stop it?

Meditation is a wonderful tool for teaching yourself how to notice and recognise your inner states. As you master this method, you become increasingly aware of your feelings and the actions that originate from them. Once you learn to be mindful, mindless eating becomes a thing of the past.

6. It helps your natural instincts of hunger and satiety regain their former power.

Being mindful is all about listening to what your body and mind are telling you. A lot of us lose the ability to hear their inner wisdom amongst the chaos and confusion of bingeing.

Re-learning how to be aware of your body, and its signals of hunger and satiety, can make a huge difference in your recovery. This is exactly what meditation can offer. When your mind is in tune with your physical being, it instinctively knows how to nurture and care for it with the help of food.

This short list of benefits that are associated with meditation is by no means exhaustive.

There are other advantages as well – such as an improved ability to focus, stronger relationships with your loved ones, better memory, increased creativity and many, many more.

No wonder then that celebrities like Oprah, Hugh Jackman, Paul McCartney, Tina Turner and Sting have endorsed some form of meditation and claimed that it had a significant role in their success!

It goes without saying that you don’t need to be a celebrity to enjoy the revitalised sense of well-being that meditation is able to give you.
I always encourage my coaching clients to start practising meditation. I’ve also been witnessing its effectiveness first-hand.


“Me and my husband Richard both meditate regularly.  I tend to wake up a little earlier than everyone else in the house and squeeze in 15-20 minutes of meditation into my morning routine.
It really quiets my mind down and sets me up for the day. Over the years, it has helped me to make peace with my body, my mind and all of the various challenges that I’ve experienced during my journey towards recovery.”

Ali Kerr

Founder of HealED


So, what’s the best way to start practising meditation?

Let me introduce to you the meditation method that I call the “Half-Full Technique”.

You’ve probably heard the expression of a glass which is either half-empty, or half-full.

Although it contains equal parts of water and air, different people tend to see it differently.
An optimist concentrates on that which is present.
A pessimist ignores it and claims that the glass is still half-empty.
Both of them are objectively right, of course. The real difference lies in the fact that the optimist appreciates the half-full glass that he’s given.

This meditation technique applies the very same principle to your wandering thoughts.
Just as I had done when I first started practising meditation, many people see their restless minds in a negative light.
They try their best to fight their intrusive thoughts.
They use force in an attempt to bring their minds under control.
The harder they go at it, the more difficult it gets.
Their minds fight back.
They become frustrated and might give up on meditation completely.

Instead of battling against those intrusive thoughts, you have to learn to accept them.
You must learn to appreciate them – just like a true optimist appreciates the half-full glass on the table.

This is what the “Half-Full Meditation Technique” is all about.
And this is how you can put it into practice in just five easy steps:

STEP 1

Get a sense of what “being mindful” actually means.

At its core, meditation is simply a tool that can help you be more mindful of each moment.
That’s it.
No more, no less.

But what does “being mindful” really mean?

Let’s perform a simple exercise and see what being mindful of the present is all about.

Right now, at this very moment, notice what your hands are doing.
Pay attention to sensations that you can feel in them.
Do you feel warmth? Do they feel cold? Are your hands tired? Is there a slight tingling sensation?
Simply focus on your hands for a few seconds.

Well done! You’re meditating.
Seriously!
As long as you’re mindful of your present sensations, you’re in a meditative state.

You don’t need to sit cross-legged like a monk.
You don’t need to chant.
You don’t need to learn any mantras by heart.
All you have to do is be mindful of the sensations that you feel at the present moment.
It’s incredibly simple, yet surprisingly effective.

STEP 2

Expect your mind to wander.

Our minds like to wander.

A lot.

Especially when we’re meditating.

It’s easy to get distracted or annoyed when that happens.
If we can’t bring our minds under control, we might start thinking that meditation doesn’t work.

Or we might blame ourselves for failing at it.
Or we might simply give up and quit.

The thing is that your mind will wander when you’re meditating.

It’s unavoidable.

It’s in the nature of the mind to think – that’s what it does best.

Don’t expect your mind to be any different.

At the start, even a few seconds without any intrusive thoughts are a great accomplishment.

This is normal!

Nevertheless, as normal as it is, it still leads to frustration.
When I tried to meditate for the first time, I fought my wandering mind so hard that all I ended up gaining from my meditation session was a stress headache!

It’s okay for your thoughts to wander. That’s just how they work.
This is why I want you to EXPECT your mind to be distracted.
EXPECT your thoughts to wander.
As a result, you will feel A LOT less frustrated when it actually happens.

STEP 3

Just focus on bringing your mind back from distraction. That’s all.

We put FAR too much pressure on ourselves when meditating.
We expect to be able to remain calm and serene for hours.
We expect our minds to do exactly what we want them to do (sadly, they just don’t work that way!).
We expect to feel great during and after meditation – at all times, under all circumstances.

More often than not, our expectations are simply too high.

Such expectations are a fantasy.
It’s not reality.
Your real-life meditation practice will be nothing like this.

There will be challenges along the way, and you’ll have to learn to overcome them.

So let’s reframe your meditation practice.
Let’s set realistic and achievable goals.

I want you to think of meditation as “the act of bringing your mind back from distraction”.

That’s all you have to do.
Each time you get distracted and then bring your mind back to the present, that is meditation.

Don’t worry about how you’re sitting.
Don’t worry about your emotional state.
Don’t worry about how busy your mind is.

Just focus on bringing your mind back from distraction.

Keep doing that over and over again – without any judgement, anger or frustration.
It’s okay for your mind to get distracted.
It’s all part of meditation.
As long as you bring your mind back from distraction you’re doing it just right!
Everything else can just fall by the wayside.

Think of this mental exercise as you would think of lifting weights in the gym. See your mind as a muscle.
The more you practise, the stronger your ability to notice when your mind has wandered becomes. As time goes by, you become better and better at meditating.

STEP 4

Thank your mind for noticing that your thoughts have wandered.

This is the big AHA! moment right here.

This made ALL the difference in my meditation practice.

And the great thing is that it’s also super simple.

This is it…

Instead of getting angry at yourself for letting your mind wander, I want you to try a different approach.

Whenever you notice that you’ve been distracted, I want you to THANK your mind for noticing that it has happened (this is where the “Half-Full” part comes in!).

“Thank you, mind! Well done for noticing my distraction!”

Appreciate your mind for being able to look inwards and notice its own wanderings.
Show compassion towards yourself.

This meditation technique works great for sufferers of binge eating or bulimia, as it helps them nurture their ability to treat themselves with love and kindness (we can all do with a little bit more of that, can’t we?).
Acknowledge that both you and your wandering mind are doing just great!

Tip!

Make it a habit

Do this every time you notice that your thoughts aren’t present during meditation.
Repetition will turn this technique into a habit.
That habit will then morph into a more positive approach towards yourself in general.

STEP 5

Put the “Half-Full Technique” into practice.

Now that you’re ready to apply this technique to your own meditation, here’s how you should go about it:

1. Find a place where you can be undisturbed for a few minutes. If you have a big family, mornings work great. Get up a bit earlier and start your day off with meditation. This is what I do.

2. Sit in a position that works for you. It doesn’t matter what that position is. You can sit on the ground, or you can sit on a sofa. You can wear whatever you want, as long as you feel comfortable. There’s no need to overthink this. Just do whatever feels right.

3. Start off with just a couple of minutes. People tend to overexert themselves during the first few sessions. Yes, you can meditate for half an hour, or even longer. However, relaxation is a skill that can only be acquired with time and patience. Don’t push yourself too hard – 4-5 minutes of meditation are more than enough. As you get better at it, you’ll be able to stay in this state for longer.

4. Pay attention to your breathing. Feel the sensations as you inhale. Focus on the air rushing through your nostrils and reaching your throat, lungs and belly. Notice that air as you exhale. If you find it difficult to concentrate on your breathing, try counting your breaths.

5. Thank your mind for noticing when your thoughts have wandered. Every time your thoughts wander (and, as you already know, they will wander A LOT), THANK your mind for noticing it, and then gently bring your attention back to your breathing. You might have to do this multiple times. It’s absolutely okay. Just gently guide your focus back to your breathing.

FYI

“But I feel uncomfortable meditating!”

Sure, meditation may feel uncomfortable, boring or frustrating at times. This is perfectly normal. It’s not a sign that you’re doing something wrong. The truth is that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable during meditation. You’re not trying to achieve a state of pure calmness. All you’re trying to do is become aware of your present sensations.

No matter what your individual meditation experience is, just accept it and let it be exactly as it is at that moment. Keep on bringing your focus back to your breathing. As time goes on, it’ll get easier and increasingly more satisfying.

Meditation absolutely does work.

It’s a fact.

It’s been proven by scientific research and our successfully recovered clients.

However, you have to remember that massive changes don’t happen overnight.
Real, lasting change is slow and gradual. It takes persistence, patience and motivation.
But, trust me, it will happen.
You will notice subtle differences at first. It’s those slight differences that are going to transform your mindset at the deepest level.

All I ask of you is to give it a try.
Meditate for a few minutes at least 7 days in a row and see if you notice those benefits.

What starts as an experiment can turn into a lasting habit, which will change numerous aspects of your life for the better.

Step by step guide to stopping purging

The Step by Step Guide To Stopping Purging

Purging via self induced vomiting (throwing up after after eating) is not only dangerous to your health and wellbeing, but it is also highly ineffective at controlling your weight. The problem is once you develop the habit, it can be very challenging to stop.

It’s not nice, it’s not pretty and it’s not something many of us want to talk about but for a large percentage of the population purging food (making yourself sick) is a very real problem. If you purge your food, you’re probably only too familiar with the urges, the shame, the secrecy and the dangers of self-induced vomiting.

I’m also sure that you’re aware of the fact that making yourself sick is neither effective nor healthy and can actually wreak havoc on your body, causing long-term health complications and even death.

Nevertheless, getting rid of the habit is still difficult. I know I struggled to make sense of it all at the start of my recovery.

Info

What is purging?

Purging describes any behaviour that attempts to rid the body of calories after eating, the most common being self-induced vomiting. Other forms of purging include abusing laxatives, over-exercising, taking diet pills, misusing diuretics and fasting for extended periods of time. Some people use only one means of getting rid of food while others use a combination of methods.

Since you’ve found yourself here, you might have already made your decision to stop – but where do you start? How do you actually stop? How do you begin cleaning up the mess that your bingeing and purging have left in their wake?

This guide is meant to help my fellow sufferers find their way and stick to it. Think of it as some useful tips to help you stop purging.

I do hope, and strongly believe, that taking these steps, one by one, will aid you in your recovery.

Now take a deep breath and step forward – towards a happier, healthier you.

Before we begin I want to touch on something very important, if you have been purging via self induced vomiting and/or taking laxative/diuretics, it’s very important that you visit your doctor to make sure that your health has not been jeopardised.

Purging is dangerous and it can have serious health consequences. Some conditions associated with vomiting, such as tears in the oesophagus, can be very serious or even fatal. If you see blood in your vomit, see your doctor immediately.

Don’t be embarrassed to see your doctor. They are presented with all kinds of conditions every day, are sure not to judge you and can refer you to specialist services.

Also, please note the advice in this article is for informational purposes only and should never be taken over the advice of a trained medical professional.

STEP 1

Show some forgiveness to yourself (really, it’s not your fault!)

True recovery always begins with forgiving yourself.
You must understand that this is not your fault.

Why?
Because studies show that diets cause bingeing.

FYI

Did you know?

In fact, one large study found that frequent dieters were TWELVE TIMES more likely to report episodes of binge eating.

If you have ever restricted your food in the past this can lead to MASSIVE urges to binge on food.

Over time these urges to binge become stronger and stronger.

The more you restrict your food intake the stronger they become. Eventually your willpower to resist wanes (eventually it always does) and you give into the cravings and binge on food.

This can lead to feelings of disgust, shame and anxiety.

You may feel like you did something terribly wrong.
You feel like a failure.
You worry that the food is going to turn into fat.
You feel like you have to do SOMETHING, anything, to make the feelings of shame and intense guilt subside.

This anxiety, worry and guilt is what causes us to turn to self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, diet pills or excessive exercising.

Hey!

Why do people purge?

People make themselves throw up after eating due to the mistaken belief that it helps to avoid potential weight gain (in the long run it doesn’t). Also to help release uncomfortable, negative feelings (in the long run this doesn’t work either).

The problem is, once you start to make yourself sick, it can quickly turns into a habit.

It may start as a one-off occurrence – you overeat and find yourself desperate to relieve the pressure inside your stomach. You think: “I’ll just do this once”. Then the next time you overeat, the option is already there and you decide to take it. Just this one time.

Just today, and then never again.

In my case, as in so many others, that ‘one time’ turned into years of physical and psychological torture.


“I got used to the unpleasant sensations of vomiting. The taste, the smell and the secrecy became the new norm. Before I knew it, I was stuck. Before I even had time to realise what was happening to me, I was already caught up in the trap of my eating disorder.”

Ali Kerr

Founder of HealED


It is time to stop blaming yourself

Right now, it’s time to stop blaming yourself.
So take a moment to realize, it is not your fault that you are in this situation.
The reason you are purging now is because in the past you went on a strict diet.
The diet lead to a binge which lead to a purge.
If you never dieted, you would never have binged and you would not have purged.
It’s really that simple.

If you are looking to blame someone, blame our societies obsession with dangerous restrictive diets (that don’t work!).

You are not weak, sick or broken. You have simply become trapped in an uncomfortable situation due to the misguided belief that restrictive diets are helpful.

So, take a moment now to forgive yourself.

It’s not your fault!

It’s not your fault!

It’s not your fault!

So, forgive yourself!

You will feel lighter, relieved and more motivated to pursue recovery.

By getting rid of the guilt, you’ll have freed up some much-needed mental space – which you can then fill up with energy, strength and resolve to break free from purging.

Hey!

Download your FREE stopping purging audio

We’ve created a free meditation audio that will help to reduce any urges to purge. The audio will help to reprogram your sub-conscious mind, embedding some powerful suggestions that will make the whole experience of stopping purging a lot easier. Click on the link below to get your free audio.
Download the Stopping Purging Meditation Audio

STEP 2

Understand how purging affects your weight

If you’re trying to stop purging, your biggest concern is very likely to be potential weight gain.

Let’s make one thing clear.

You CAN stop vomiting without gaining weight.

Ask yourself – does vomiting food really help you lose weight?
The truth is that, ultimately, it doesn’t. On the contrary, it can lead to weight gain in the long run.
The theory that throwing up helps you undo the bingeing is just another myth that we desperately need to raise awareness of.

When you first start vomiting after eating, you might experience some initial weight loss – however, this is usually due to dehydration and is thus impossible to sustain. Since water is a large part of your natural body weight, some water loss is sure to show up on the scale. This ‘weight loss’ is only temporary, since your body will return to its normal state as soon as you rehydrate.

Here are four more reasons why purging is not an effective weight loss tool:

A. After purging your body still absorbs the majority of the calories.

Your body is very efficient at absorbing calories.

As soon as you eat something, your body begins to absorb calories before the food reaches your stomach – it takes place in the mouth and the oesophagus. No amount of purging can stop this from happening.

Also purging isn’t very effective at getting rid of all the calories eaten.

study

Lab Study Into Purging

In order to put this hypothesis to the test, the Pittsburgh Human Feeding Laboratory conducted an experiment. It included 17 individuals, all of whom were diagnosed with bulimia and whose weight fell into the ‘healthy’ category.

After an overnight fast, the participants were instructed to pick items out of a vending machine and “binge in the laboratory as they would binge at home”. There were no restrictions on time or the amount of calories they could eat. They were given a plastic bucket to purge into.

The study concluded that, while the average binge consisted of 2131 calories, the subjects of the study only managed to purge an average of 979 calories by vomiting. Over 50% of the calories remained.

You can read more about the study here

To be fair, this is a small study and a lot of important factors haven’t been taken into account.

Nevertheless, it still clearly shows that our bodies retain the majority of the calories that we’ve consumed even if we purge the food afterwards.

B. Purging encourages your body to hold on to fat

If you purge your food, your body registers the act as calorie restriction.
It responds to deprivation by trying its best to fight against it – consequently, your metabolism slows down and your body quickly converts the calories that you do absorb into fat stores.

Info

Did you know?

By slowing down your metabolism your body becomes more efficient at holding on to fat.
The very thing you were hoping to avoid.

C. Purging leads to massive sugar and binge cravings

People rarely binge on salads.

Instead, they crave muffins, pies, sweets, fizzy drinks or donuts – namely, refined carbohydrates.

The problem with this is that refined carbohydrates are very appealing sources of energy.

They are easily broken down into simple sugars and quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a sudden rise in our blood sugar levels. As high levels of sugar are toxic to the cells, the body immediately reacts to the change by releasing a surge of insulin, which pulls the sugar from the blood.

When you purge by throwing up, your body produces excess insulin, which causes your blood sugar levels to suddenly plummet to sub-normal levels. This leaves you feeling shaky, anxious, dizzy and most importantly craving fatty, sugary foods.

study

Lab Study Into Purging

A study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders found that low blood sugar levels were directly tied to increased desire to binge on carbohydrates (Volume 9, 1990).

Have you noticed that the more you purge, the stronger the need to binge becomes?
It’s a vicious cycle.
Purging your food makes you crave carbs and sugar, which leads to more binge eating on refined carbohydrates, which leads to more purging.

And around and around we go.

Throwing up causes those binge urges to skyrocket, meaning that by purging you’re likely to consume more food than if you just ate normal portions throughout the day and refused to purge them.

D. It changes the way you think about eating.

As you start purging more frequently, the way you view food usually undergoes a drastic change.

You begin thinking that you can engage in binge eating without any immediate consequences.

This is likely to encourage you to eat even more, as the eventual purge seems to undo the damage.

It may seem like you’ve found the perfect solution – now you can have your cake and eat it too!

This explains why most people who binge and purge generally weigh no less than they would if they didn’t engage in disordered behaviours.

They give themselves permission to eat whatever they want in quantities that become ever bigger due to increased appetite and maddening sugar cravings. Rather than resulting in weight loss, purging leads to growing obsession with food, rapidly declining health, and destructive mental and physical impulses.

All forms of purging are highly ineffective for weight loss. Vomiting after eating does not help you to lose weight.

This is good news!
This makes it easier for us to finally let go of purging once and for all.

STEP 3

Be aware of the dangers of self-induced vomiting

You’re probably already scared.
I know that.
I get that.
It is not my wish to add more anxiety on top of what I am sure you already feel.

Nevertheless, it’s important to talk about those dangers of purging.
You don’t have to dwell on them for hours at a time, but ignoring them will do you no good either. You must acknowledge your enemy if you want to fight against it and win.

So, let’s briefly touch on some of the dangers associated with vomiting after eating food. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, your heart is not built to withstand laxative use or daily vomiting. This type of stress may cause arrhythmia, heart palpitations, heart attacks or ultimately death. Purging can and does kill. 

Other dangerous side effects of purging include:

  • Damage enamel of your teeth, leading to yellow teeth, mouth sensitivity and rapid tooth decay, cavities or gum infections;
  • Hair loss and brittle fingernails;
  • Burst blood vessels in the eyes;
  • Irritated or infected sinuses;
  • Skin rashes and acne;
  • Swollen or infected glands;
  • Overall swollen appearance of the face, particularly the cheeks;
  • Irritation or damage to the lining of the stomach and the oesophagus;
  • Hypokalemia (low potassium), which can result in an abnormal heart rhythm, fatigue, constipation and muscular damage;
  • Amenorrhea (irregular periods);
  • Edema (swelling) of the body due to water retention and dehydration;
  • Russell’s sign (visible scars and calluses on hands and knuckles).

“I know from my own personal experience I suffered many of these symptoms (I’ve spent thousands on teeth repairs over the years). The good news is that the sooner you stop, the less damage you do and the more your body will repair itself.”

Ali Kerr

Founder of HealED


I know that this is a lot to take in.
I know that it’s scary. Nevertheless, it is important to know the dangers.
This knowledge can be used to help further your resolve to give up purging for good.

The risks are simply not worth it.

STEP 4

Get ready to stop self-induced vomiting.

Now that you’re familiar with the effects and potential dangers of purging, it’s time to take action and start fighting back.

So, let’s take a moment to get prepared.

1. Firstly, let’s choose a date:

Choose an exact date and time in the not-too-distant future – perhaps within the next couple of days or so.

This is the day when you’re going to stop purging.

Your chosen date should be as free of potential stressors as possible.

2. Next, let’s decide what you are going to eat:

You must also decide what you’re going to eat beforehand.
To begin with, stick to foods that feel safe.

Keeping a few slices of cake down might be too big of a challenge at first. It’s best to start with foods that your know to be safe and less triggering.

Let your body get used to the feeling of being nourished again. Even more importantly, allow your mind to make peace with the fact that you do NOT need to purge food.

If you are used to purging every little bit of food that you happen to ingest, start out by keeping down a small snack. (Also it you are purging everything that you eat, you really should see your doctor as soon as possible!)

The key here is to take little steps forward and leave more challenging tasks for later.

STEP 5

Make the mental decision to remove the option to purge

When your chosen date has arrived and you feel ready to give this a try, do your best to let go of the option of purging.
Be clear with yourself.
No matter what happens, you will no longer make yourself sick.
Make that decision.
Draw a line in the sand and refuse to cross it.

“You and I both know that you don’t really want to purge.
You’re tired of the pain, the obsessive thoughts and the feeling of being trapped. You are strong, even if you don’t feel like you are.
You are capable of saying ‘STOP’ and sticking to it.
Say to yourself “I do not DO this any more”.”

Ali Kerr

Founder of HealED

The chances are that you only continue purging simply because you can see no way out of the habit.

Make that commitment.
No matter how hard it gets, no matter how strong the urges are, no matter how much effort you have to put into resisting their constant pull, YOU WILL NOT PURGE.

I can assure you that, as more and more purge-free days go by and the option slips further away from your mind, you will find yourself becoming a much more peaceful, confident and a carefree person.

STEP 6

Expect to feel uncomfortable

The very act of not purging is easy.
You simply refuse to do it and stick to your decision.
However, this is not where the problem lies.
The real problem is the fear and anxiety that can be induced by letting go of a familiar coping mechanism.

You might feel like your mind is going at a thousand miles per hour.
‘This food is going to turn to fat.’
‘You will blow up like a balloon if you don’t purge now.’
‘You’re losing control and it’s disgusting.’

These thoughts are bound to come. They are to be expected.
And, as surprising as it may seem, it is absolutely okay to have them

You’re facing your biggest fears. You’re only human – of course you’ll get anxious!

The initial anxiety is, in fact, an important part of the recovery process.

It’s scary to be scared – but it also means that you’re on the right path and there’s happiness waiting for you at the end of it.

Remember that there’s no real need to panic.
These thoughts have no basis in reality.
They are fears, not facts.
Your body is very much capable of handling the food.
The food in your stomach is not fat. It will not make you gain weight.

Accept and expect that you will feel scared, anxious and uncomfortable.
It’s okay.
It’s okay to be afraid.

You don’t have to like these feelings.
All you have to do is accept that they’re there and you can’t do much about it. They will pass by themselves.
They can’t harm you.
You’re stepping outside of your comfort zone.
The experience is never pleasant at first, but the gifts that it brings later on are absolutely invaluable.

You can’t control your emotions, but you can control how you react to them. No matter how uncomfortable you get, the decision to stop purging is still yours.

Having gone through it, I can confidently say that it’s the best decision that you could ever make.

Here are some of the benefits of stopping purging:

  • A much improved sense of wellbeing, vitality and health.
  • A dramatic reduction in your binge urges.
  • A huge surge in metabolism and energy levels.
  • An improved sense of self-worth.
  • Improved digestive tract and ability to absorb nutrients from foods.
  • An ability to think clearer with better focus and concentration.
  • You avoid all the dangers associated with purging (teeth loss, bodily harm etc).
  • Generally little to no weight gain (some even report weight loss).
  • A happier, less stressed life 🙂

“But I don’t like the feeling of a full stomach!”

You may feel distressed and uncomfortable when your stomach is ‘full’.
You may feel compelled to purge to remove the discomfort.
However, it’s normal for your stomach to feel slightly different for a short while after you’ve eaten, as the food takes some time to travel through your stomach and into the intestines.

It’s possible to get used to the sensation and even start finding it quite pleasant.

Your stomach is, after all, full for a reason – the food that you’re digesting is meant to keep you alive, healthy and mentally stable.

STEP 7

Engage in your safe activity immediately after eating

What really helped me stop purging was replacing the habit with something else. I had to find a new activity to engage in after eating.
I call this my “safe go-to”.

What is a “safe go-to”?
It’s something different. It’s something you don’t normally do. It’s something that has no negative associations attached to it.
It’s a positive ritual which is meant to take the place of your purging.

Here are some of my suggestions for a “safe go-to”:
Go for a walk – get out of the house and fill your lungs with fresh air. Staying active helps to keep your digestive system running and wards off pangs of sadness or depression.

Phone someone – even a short chat with a loved one can do wonders for your anxiety. Let them know that you’re struggling. Ask them to try and talk you out of purging if you’re having a particularly bad day. Most importantly, admit that you need help and be ready to receive it.

Do some yoga – yoga is a wonderful tool for managing stress and getting rid of intrusive thoughts. You don’t even have to be particularly good at it – just look up some simple asanas online and do your best to replicate them at home. Listen to your body and let it guide you through the process.

Relax and meditate – wrap yourself up in a blanket, close your eyes and listen to a relaxing meditation audio on YouTube. Allow yourself to forget your frustrations for a while. Stay in a seated position, stay present and let waves of relaxation wash over your body.

Hey!

Avoid the bathroom!

Whichever activity you choose – and it can be anything that works for you, even if it’s not amongst my suggestions, – avoid visiting the bathroom for at least 30 minutes after a meal. At the early stages of your recovery, even the sight of a toilet can act as a powerful purge trigger.

Stick to your new routine until it becomes a habit – this usually takes around 30 days.

Once you get used to it, you’ll begin to associate the end of a meal with your safe activity rather than the act of purging.

You may not be able to follow the exact same routine every time you eat – that’s completely understandable.

Just try and stick to it when you can.
It’s very likely to have a huge impact on the success of your recovery.

STEP 8

Hold out for 10 minutes at a time

If you find yourself struggling to avoid purging despite making use of your “safe go-to”, just try and delay it for the next 10 minutes.

Why 10 minutes?

Research suggests that even a 10-minute wait can drastically reduce the brain’s response to a craving.

By delaying the act of purging for as little as 10 minutes, you’re giving yourself an opportunity to ride the urge out.

If your stomach feels uncomfortably full, try to embrace and accept it.
Remind yourself that there’s nothing to fear.
Food in your stomach won’t turn to fat.
Food in your stomach will heal you and reduce your binge urges.

If the 10 minutes are up and the urge to purge is still there, don’t give up.
See if you can go another 10 minutes.
You might even need to repeat it the third time.
However long it takes, try and stay with it. I’ve found that, as time goes by, these increments become shorter and might even disappear completely.
All you have to do is be patient with yourself.

It takes time for old wounds to heal.

STEP 9

Be prepared for some bloating

If you’re trying to stop purging, it’s extremely important to understand that just about everybody experiences some bloating at the initial stages of their recovery.

It may be characterised by:

  • Bloating of the stomach;
  • Slight swelling of the hands and feet;
  • An uncomfortable feeling of heaviness throughout the body; and
  • A temporary increase in weight.

First of all, you must remember that your body is NOT ruined and it CAN bounce back from the damage.


I spent years not letting my body digest its food properly and, when I decided to recover, I was convinced that it must have forgotten how to work on its own. That is not true. Our bodies are equipped with infinite wisdom and perseverance. We’ve helped thousands of people over the years and we are yet to encounter a body that wasn’t up to the challenge.

Ali Kerr

Founder of HealED


Sure, the bloating is not pleasant – but it is also absolutely normal. Your body just needs time to adjust to its changed circumstances.

If you’ve been purging for a considerable amount of time, the chances are that your basal metabolic rate has temporarily lowered and the digestive process has slowed down. The food might take longer to pass through your digestive tract at first, adding to the initial bloating.

Why do you bloat?
When you purge for a prolonged period of time, be it by vomiting, abusing laxatives or using any other compensatory method, your body can become chronically dehydrated – which means that you have low levels of both salt and water in your bloodstream.

In a state of dehydration your brain basically thinks: “I’m dying of dehydration in the desert. In case I don’t come upon an oasis anytime soon, I must prevent this body from urinating away the last of its life-saving resources.” That is exactly what it does. It instructs your adrenal glands to overproduce aldosterone, a hormone that prevents your body from getting rid of the necessary salt and water by urinating. Any salt or fluids that you ingest after first stopping purging will most likely stay in your body. That’s a good thing at first. Your body always has your best interest in mind. You’re so dehydrated that your blood and tissues need the extra salt and water. It’s life-saving.

However, the glands can also produce so much aldosterone that it ends up overshooting its target – and, before you know it, the salt and water squeeze out of your bloodstream and set in your fingers, ankles and stomach. This is what leads to bloating and edema. If you experience server bloating it’s very important that you seek medical advice as soon as possible, this can be very dangerous and fatal

How long does the bloating last?
For mild bloating your body will catch up sooner than you think.
Once you stop purging, you should expect the bloating to last anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks – although a small number of people may suffer from it for a little while longer.

Is bloating dangerous?
Most people they will only experience mild bloating with recovery. While it may feel a little unpleasant, you have to remember it is not dangerous and that the bloating will pass with time.

However, if you experience intense, prolonged bloating or it’s very uncomfortable, or if you are concerned about bloating in any way please consult with a your doctor.

What should you do about bloating?
There is tons of advice out there on how to reduce bloating.
More often than not, the advice involves imposing new strict food rules or implementing diets that eliminate whole food groups. Not only is this not recovery-friendly, it also does not work.

There are no quick fixes.

Your body is bloated because it’s trying to heal from the effects of bingeing and purging.

You must be patient and give it all the time that it needs to achieve this.

Make sure you drink enough water throughout the day


As strange as it might sound when you are dealing with water retention, the best way to cure it is drinking water. Make sure to drink at least 2-3 litres of water a day.

Sip it at work, take a bottle with you wherever you go, drink soothing herbal teas and incorporate lots of fresh fruits and vegetables into your meal plan, as they are naturally hydrating.

Whatever you do, don’t overdo it.
The process of rehydration has to be gentle. This isn’t the time to guzzle water.
Listen to your body at all times, limit yourself to a couple of litres of fluids a day and incorporate moderate amounts of sodium in your diet.

Stop weighing yourself.

If you purge regularly, your body might be lacking 5-15 pounds of fluids at any given time, so it’s only natural to observe changes in your body as it rehydrates.

Your weight might shoot up quite suddenly and you might experience slight edema. Remember that this is not fat – it’s simply excess water.

Seeing big changes on the scale early on in your recovery might derail your efforts.

Try and make a pact with yourself. Avoid stepping on the scale for the time being. Better yet, move it out of your bathroom or throw out the batteries.

If giving up the scale completely feels intimidating, challenge yourself to go without checking the number one week at a time.

STEP 10

Use this simple technique for healthy stress relief.

Many people describe purging as an effective form of stress relief – but is it really so?

Once you get rid of your purging habit, you’re more than likely to realise that a life without purging is actually a lot LESS stressful.
You no longer obsess about calories.
You no longer have to go through the pain of making yourself throw up.
You no longer feel ashamed of the habit, or have to hide it from your loved ones.
You can stop worrying about the potential health implications.
You notice a dramatic improvement in your overall well-being.

Even if you do nothing else, you are guaranteed to live a much more carefree life simply because you’ve eliminated your purging problem.

However, for some of us that is not enough.
Purging, as well as bingeing, often develops as a response to overwhelming stress and you might need to find some additional healthy ways of dealing with it in order to prevent any future relapses.

Now I am going to give you a really powerful and simple technique to reduce stress. This can be a lifeline for you in those moments when you feel really stressed out. Don’t just read this and ignore it. Please, please give it a try when you are feeling stressed. You will notice its effects kick in instantly.

I call it the “Muscle release technique” and this is how you do it:

Muscle release technique

1. Take a very deep breath and hold it in.
2. While you’re doing that, tense every muscle in your body for 5 seconds. Contract your toes, thighs, calves, buttocks, stomach, chest, arms and hands. Just squeeze, squeeze, squeeze as tight as you can.
3. Release every muscle as you slowly exhale.
4. Rest for 10 seconds and then repeat the exercise 3-5 times. This should take you less than 2 minutes.

That’s it.
Try it now and notice it’s powerful effects.

This simple method can do wonders for your nervous system.
Give it a try right now and see the effects for yourself. You’re likely to experience an instant wave of relaxation.

Hey!

Download your FREE stopping purging audio

We’ve created a free meditation audio that will help to reduce any urges to purge. The audio will help to reprogram your sub-conscious mind, embedding some powerful suggestions that will make the whole experience of stopping purging a lot easier. Click on the link below to get your free audio.
Download the Stopping Purging Meditation Audio

STEP 11

Build your support team


Having a reliable support network can make your recovery a whole lot easier.
You don’t need a crowd of well-wishers. The strength of the network does not lie in numbers.
Find a couple of trustworthy people and let them help you achieve your goals.

Ask your friends and family members to support you

Asking for help is too often seen as a sign of weakness – that couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, it can be the bravest decision that you’ve ever made.

Do not be afraid to open up to your loved ones.
Let them know that you’re struggling and tell them how they can help you.
Meet up with them when you’re feeling lonely.
Phone them when you’re battling a particularly strong urge to purge.
Something as simple as a friendly chat can go a long way towards helping you manage your disordered eating.

Work with a HealED Recovery Coach

Sometimes you need a little extra support. You may be interested in working directly with a HealED coach. Our coaches are ready to guide you through all the challenges and obstacles that you may face on your road to stopping purging.
Learn more about working with a coach here

If you end up relapsing and purging…

Go back to step one and forgive yourself.
It’s the best thing that you can do if you encounter a bump in the road.
Being angry at yourself won’t do you any good, nor will dwelling on the feeling of disappointment.
At the end of the day, you’re embarking on a life-changing journey – and journeys like this one aren’t meant to be easy.

Even if you end up purging at some point during your recovery, it doesn’t mean that you’re back at square one. If I relapsed on day 50, I would count the next day as day 51 instead of going right back to the start.

The road to recovery is never linear. As long as you just stay on it, you’re on the right path.

Focus on today.
Don’t dwell on yesterday.
Release the anxiety about tomorrow.
Recovery is always happening in the present and this is where your attention should be focused.

Your next steps.

Download your free ‘Stop Purging’ audio here.
If you need extra support to stop purging you can always work with one of our qualified recovery coaches here.


Final Words…


I truly do believe in you. I am certain that you can recover. Yet, my belief, however firm, can only go so far. What is really capable of turning your life around is your belief in yourself.

This is the thing that you should always hold on to. This is the thing that you should fight tooth and nail to regain if you happen to lose it along the way. This is the thing that can ultimately help you stop purging for good. You deserve to stop purging.

And I do hope that, with the help of this guide and your growing self-belief, you’ll be able to walk the whole road towards real and lasting recovery.

Ali Kerr

Founder of HealED


Good luck!

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