Our clients are a constant source of inspiration to us.
Their bravery, wisdom and perseverance are truly amazing.
We’ve seen time and time again how valuable their experience is to others.
The insights they share can offer tremendous benefits for everybody involved!
Having this in mind, we’ve reached out to our recovered clients with one simple, and yet incredibly important, question:
‘What tips for recovery would you like to share with others?’
Below are the tips they’ve learned during their own recovery journey from bulimia and binge eating. Those are the lessons that can turn into guideposts for numerous other sufferers of problem eating. We hope, as do our clients, that they will inspire you to keep on going even in the darkest of times.
Use these tips as reminders that there’s always a way forward and it’s always, without an exception, worth it.
23 Tips for Binge Eating And Bulimia Recovery
1. Be active in your own recovery.
‘I had attempted recovery so many times that I was ready to give up all hope.
For 23 years, recovery was at the top of my New Year’s resolution list. For the past 23 birthdays, I blew out the candles on my birthday cake with only one wish in mind – and that wish was to be free of my eating disorder.
I finally realised that I needed to stop making promises and wishes.
I realised that I needed to stop waiting for a miracle and instead be an active participant in my own recovery.
I don’t know why it took so long.
23 years of being numb, missing out on nurturing relationships, hating myself and destroying my body. I’ve finally had enough! I wanted to live and bulimia was not living.’
2. Do something else after eating.
‘What made all the difference to me was learning how to distract myself from my disordered thoughts.
When I experienced a binge urge after eating, I would stop for a moment, take a deep breath, go to the other room and do my very best to think about something else.
I know this may sound silly, but it really helps! I haven’t purged once since I started doing this.
Also, if you find yourself alone at home and there’s nobody there to help you fight the urge to binge, try and distract yourself. Do something – anything!
Get out of the house and take a relaxing walk. Call somebody and have a chat. Wash the dishes. Do something you love.
If you get to the point where you’re doing something else, the urge ultimately fades. It’s hard as hell to get there, I know – but fight for it!’
3. Accept all foods.
‘One thing I’ve done is I’ve accepted ALL foods.
There are no good or bad products.
I don’t have to avoid anything when it comes to food.
All I have to do is try and eat healthier, wholesome foods most of the time. As long as I do that, having little treats here and there is absolutely fine!
Restricting your food choices is one the worst things you can do – it just sets you up for a binge further down the line.
You need to broaden your diet and stop labelling certain foods as ‘binge’ foods, hence forbidden. All food is good food if it’s consumed in moderation.’
4. Surround yourself with mentors.
‘I had so much to learn at the start of my recovery!
I remember feeling lost, confused and lonely a lot of the time, and I realised that I needed to do something about it.
The solution for me was surrounding myself with people who could show me the way forward, like my HealED Coach, my therapist and the BEST MENTOR of all – other recovered people.
If I felt sad or lost my motivation, I could turn to them for help. It made all the difference to me.’
5. Have a structured meal plan.
‘It’s really important for me to have a meal plan.
3 meals, 3 snacks, eaten at certain hours and in a certain place.
I know that it doesn’t work for everybody – some people like to keep their days flexible.
I’m well into recovery now and I find myself enjoying flexibility as well from time to time, but having that pattern at the ready helps me to stay on track – and at the very start of my journey, I found it absolutely crucial.’
6. Clean up after a meal.
‘Cleaning up after a meal is really helpful.
I always make a point of putting away any leftovers, doing the dishes and cleaning the table. There are stacks of tupperwares in my fridge every night!
Some might have only two pieces of chicken in them, but thinking about putting them away helps me to stop myself from eating past the point of satiety.
Somehow I feel less anxious about having food inside me after I do the dishes. I hated doing it before recovery, but now I really enjoy it – and there’s an added benefit of having a clean kitchen all the time 🙂
It’s almost like I put a full stop at the end of my meal by cleaning everything up.’
7. Realise just how dangerous eating disorders really are.
‘It might seem strange, but looking at some of the more disturbing information and photos out there really helped me realise what I was doing to myself.
Sure, it’s tempting to bury your head in the sand and ignore your eating disorder altogether, but you need to learn to be honest with yourself if you truly want to recover.
You need to accept that you need help – and that it’s OKAY to need help!
There’s nothing for you to be ashamed of.’
8. Have a binge-busting strategy at hand.
‘It helps me to know exactly what I’m going to do if I experience a binge urge and to identify the situations that can trigger such urges.
For example, I tend to start feeling bingey after returning home from work in the evening, so I always think of some activity that I can occupy myself with during those tough hours.
I might read a book, or call a friend and chat for an hour, or do some knitting – and by the time I’m done, I don’t feel like bingeing anymore!
At the start of my recovery journey, I used to make a detailed schedule for myself, so that every single hour of every single day was occupied and there was no room for bingeing in my day-to-day life.
I don’t have to be so strict with myself anymore, but I doubt that I would be where I am now if I didn’t plan my time in this way during the first few months.’
9. Look at recovery as a process of climbing a mountain.
‘It’s a long dang hike. There are days when you move up greatly and there are days when you hardly make any progress at all.
It’s absolutely normal! It’s okay to slip up and binge once in a while. If a binge was tantamount to failure, none of us would have ever recovered!
A binge is just a tiny step backwards.
It doesn’t mean that you’re at the bottom of the mountain all over again.
Whatever happens, pick yourself up from where you are, observe your surroundings, see how far you’ve come and move from there.’
10. Don’t let yourself get too hungry.
‘I found that allowing myself to get too hungry in-between meals resulted in me bingeing later on.
I had a busy schedule and eating at my pre-planned meal times wasn’t always an option.
What helped me though was having some snacks with me at all times, so that I could quickly eat something at work if the hunger got too intense.
It seems so simple, but it works wonders!’
11. Be patient.
‘Change can be slow.
Change can be difficult.
Change requires constant follow-ups and it may take longer than you’ve expected, so patience is absolutely key to your recovery!
My best advice would be to foster patience in your recovery process.
Your eating problems didn’t develop overnight, so it’ll probably take longer than that to free yourself from them.
Take things slowly, don’t rush the process and discover a pace that fits your needs best.’
12. Discover a sense of serenity.
‘With all of the chaos that goes on in our minds and bodies, we must have a source of serenity in our lives.
I’m a very artistic, hands-on person, so things like knitting, crocheting or painting do wonders for me.
It allows me to just step outside of all that’s going on around me and focus on myself for a moment.
Simply sitting outside, taking a walk or doing a crossword helps too.’
13. Get enough sleep.
‘Most people need 7-8 hours of sleep every night in order to feel rested and energetic.
I find that getting enough sleep lowers my stress levels and reduces the intensity of my binge urges, so I always make sure to have a proper rest.
It has helped me tremendously!’
14. Make eating an intimate affair.
‘What helps me is turning every meal into an intimate affair.
I like to prepare my food very beautifully, play some ambient music in the background and really focus on what I’m eating – the taste, the flavour, the texture (as opposed to mindlessly scarfing the food down in a binge trance!).
I also love to eat whole foods.
Whole foods are foods in their most natural state – apples, avocados, almonds, onions, garlic, olive oil, strawberries… YUM!
Knowing that your food is nutritious (and naturally low-cal!) makes you feel so much better about what you’re putting into your body.’
15. Stop making comparisons.
‘I know it’s tempting to make food comparisons.
You see people leading seemingly healthy lives on low-carb or low-calorie diets and you might desperately want to do the same, but you need to remember that you’re recovering from a potentially life-threatening eating problem at the moment.
Your body is exhausted and probably malnourished. Your basic nutritional needs are vastly different from other people’s.
It all changed for me when I realised that what other people are eating has nothing to do with what’s best for me, especially at this point in my life.
I don’t have to compare myself to anyone.
All I really need to do is focus on living MY best life and being the best version of ME.’
16. Commit to eating regular, balanced meals.
‘I honestly believe that the sooner you commit to eating regular, balanced meals, the sooner you’re going to experience the amazing benefits that recovery can offer.
The best time to start eating nutritious meals is definitely now.
I’ve been doing my best to have some carbohydrates, fat and protein in every single meal that I consume ever since the first day of my recovery.
It was a big step and a scary challenge at first, but striving for food balance is definitely one of the main reasons behind my success.’
17. Find a hobby!
‘Bingeing and purging used to take up A LOT of my free time, so when that ritual was gone, I had no idea what to do with all of the extra hours in my day that I suddenly acquired!
I knew, however, that I needed to occupy myself with healthy and productive activities instead.
I use jogging, writing and knitting as time fillers now.
Jogging provides me with a physical release, writing helps me sort through my feelings, and knitting relaxes my mind.
Some people meditate. Some do yoga. Some sing or dance.
Whatever your new hobby is, make sure that you love it because you’ll be doing lots of it!’
18. Remember that every binge urge will peak, then fade.
‘What goes up must come down, right?
Whenever I have a bite of my trigger food and find myself yearning to eat another 20 servings, I remind myself that if I just wait this binge urge out, it’ll ultimately disappear.
I don’t have to give in to it, and neither do you.’
19. Seek support.
‘I know only too well how painfully lonely eating disorders can be. If that’s how you feel, it might do you good to share your struggles with your loved ones or connect with people who are going through the same experiences as you.
It took some time for me to open up to my family and tell them all about my eating disorder, so I sought help online during the first couple of months of my journey.
I was surprised to find out how many people were also dealing with the same challenges and how many of them were ready to be there for me!
It’s easy to feel like the only disordered person in the world if you’ve isolated yourself from others, but once you get out of that bubble, you see that it couldn’t be further from the truth.
There are people out there who truly do care about you – even if they don’t know you in real life.
Make sure that you have such people in your life. I promise, recovery is so much easier when you have somebody to confide in.’
20. You can start over every minute of every day.
‘When you do give in to your urges, don’t write that day, or even that afternoon, off. So what if you slipped up? That doesn’t mean it’s all over! Get back on the horse and just keep going.
Take all of that anger, sadness, guilt and pain that you’re feeling right now, and convert it into a fighting spirit!
Don’t let a little slip-up hold you back.
Don’t beat yourself up, don’t obsess over it, don’t punish yourself.
You’re allowed to wipe the slate clean every minute of every day, and then concentrate on the now.’
21. Know your triggers.
‘If triggers get in your way, write them down. Think about them, analyse them and figure out a way to deal with them in a healthy manner.
I’ve learned that it’s best to fight your triggers by REALLY getting to know them.
Recovery is a personal journey where you get to figure out who you are and how you operate.
Be self-aware and embrace YOU – fears, triggers and struggles included.’
22. Do yoga.
‘I feel grateful to my eating disorder in a way, just because it allowed me to discover the pleasures of yoga!
It has given me so much more than I ever thought possible. I’ve found inner peace, healing, acceptance and love there.
Meditation and mindfulness also helped with my anxiety – I’m much less likely to binge now that I’m feeling calm and relaxed.
It’s been a huge turning point in my recovery and I recommend yoga to everybody who’s willing to listen to me!’
23. Stop blaming others.
‘Learning to deal with triggers in the outside world is hard.
At the start of my recovery, I really struggled with being around friends who tried to feed me junk food 24/7 or talked about their diets all the time.
I used to put all of the blame on them. I used to get angry with them for bringing binge foods around to my house, for tempting me to eat with them, for talking about diets and weight loss. I used to blame them for triggering me.
I’ve since realised that there’s simply no use in doing that. I know some people avoid social situations to get away from these triggers, but honestly, that’s not life!
There’ll ALWAYS be triggers around us, so we need to find ways of dealing with them.
Making myself accountable was an important step for me.
If I did slip up and binge, it wasn’t my friends’ fault.
It was all on me.
And no, it didn’t mean that I had to blame myself for it! What I had to do was learn to accept my slip-ups, learn from them and then simply move on.’