EATING DISORDERSSymptoms | Damage | Causes | The Usual Solutions | Breaking the Fast | Recipes
If you find yourself skipping meals and ignoring hunger pains, or relishing the thought that you can go for a long period of time without eating, or that enough time has passed that you don't feel hungry any more, you probably have an eating disorder.
Most people concentrate on the three big eating disorders…overweight, anorexia nervosa and bulimia. But most subtle is the one that anxious people tend to fall into, which is simply not eating, and trying to go as long as possible without eating. Sometimes it's because the person feel too nervous to eat, nauseated by the thought of foor, or experiences vomiting or diarrhea not associated with a bonafide illness after making themselves eat.
This is all very disconcerting. If you're suffering like this, you have to accept that you are sick. Anxiety and depression probably have led to this sort of eating disorder and you do need treatment. You need medicine of a very special kind.
Food is medicine.
What are the symptoms of nervous starvation?
1) Skipping meals
2) Ignoring hunger pains
4) Feelings of panic
5) Feelings of disorientation, dizziness
6) Feelings of extreme aggression (fight or flight)
7) Weight loss
8) Loss of sexual feelings (libido)
9) Fear of losing ones' mind
10) Suicidal thoughts
11) Obsessions or compulsions
You cannot commit suicide by starvation. Not directly at least. Your body will shut down, and you'll pass out. After a few of these episodes, your parents will have you at a clinic and if you are suffering from extreme depletion, you'll be hospitalized and fed through I.V.s. You can't just wake up one morning dead from starvation in this society.
HOWEVER, having said that, you can commit suicide indirectly by self-starvation. Here's how. After your body realizes you aren't going to feed it, it begins to consume itself. It quickly uses the readily available fat, but that isn't usually enough to keep it going long. Before it goes to long-term fat for fuel, it will seek protein. Protein comes from two places, muscle and vital organs. During ketinosis, the body begins to digest this. When you begin to feed your body food from outside sources, it will immediately stop. But the body, especially the cardiac system, may have sustained damage and it might be years before you find out.
This process begins fairly quickly after you stop feeding the body…anywhere from six to ten hours...
How long does it take for permanent damage to occur?
That's anybody's guess, but it isn't worth it to risk permanent injury.
(Other damage can occur in the bones and teeth. The mouth is especially susceptible to damage if you are also vomiting excessively and loss of teeth and the underlying bone and damage to gum tissue can result from frequent vomiting. If you do vomit excessively, be sure to brush your teeth afterwards, or at least rinse your mouth well, if you don't already.)
So, with the understanding that someone is going to make you eat eventually, isn't it better to take control of the situation yourself and make it as easy on yourself as possible.
Below, you will find some tips on how to do it..
If you went to a counselor or a medical provider, they might give you a dire diagnosis, put you on meds and screw up your metabolism, hormones etc., and make you dependent on an outside agent for your feeling of well-being. I'll talk later, and at some length about the pitfalls of medications.
But the truth is, that people have suffered as you are suffering since time immemorial and there weren't pharmaceutical companies lined up around the block eager to take your money.
The fact is, most healthcare providers are mystified by what you're suffering. They really don't have answers for these things..which include:
Depression and Anxiety and their children
What health care providers do know is money...
You have it...
They want it.
When I was young and idealistic, I worked at a very well-respected hospital in this area. It was, in fact, the hospital attached to the medical school. I was secretary to a committee that was charged with maintaining safety for the patients. When I proposed measures that would incur costs but give the patients more safety while in the hospital, I was laughed down. The reason? I was told the first job of the hospital was to make money. Taking care of patients was a secondary concern, and unless they were forced to by, for example, a number of huge damage suits, they were not going to spend a dime.
Years of bitter experience in and around the medical community confirmed this.
As for alternative medicine and its practitioners, it's the same thing. Whether the guy is wearing a white lab coat or tie-dye and sandals, the bottom line is money.
This leaves us where?
THE USUAL SOLUTIONS
The general trek of people as they try to find comfort in their miseries is this:
Established medical community for the superficial physical problems which include weight loss or gain, generalized pain, cardiac complaints, headaches, exhaustion, feeling of mental deterioration, and a million more.
Psychological community (counseling, etc.)
The problem with all of these is that they can't provide what you need to feel better. The medical community can soak you for lots of money, run a lot of unnecessary tests and perhaps give you meds. The psychological community is impotent as hell, because they tend to be impractical and non-concrete in their methods. Alternative medicine is largely just…well…stupid, although there are elements that I use frequently. Organized religion is, well, organized religion. Occultism is bogus as hell. What does that leave?
You're right back where you started.
But that's a good thing, because you are the only one who can give you what you need.
Until you learn to do it for yourself, you need to lean on someone else…and that's where I come in...
Obviously there isn't enough of me to go around.
But you can have my words, here, whenever you like, as if I was sitting next to you. It isn't the same thing as being here, but it'll have to do in a pinch. And I am available by e-mail. You can find me when you need me. Don't be worried that I'm going to reject you. Remember I know what you're going through, and how you're suffering. I've suffered the same way, and learned to deal with it productively. You can too.
What most people are suffering from is a lack of love in their lives, whether they're married, single, dating, straight, gay, ugly, gorgeous.
BREAKING THE FAST
Okay, so, you haven't been eating…Finally, however, you realize you're hungry and you do need to eat. You start to do so, and a few minutes later, you're throwing up violently. You don't get it. You did the right thing, didn't you?
Absolutely. You just did it in the wrong way.
Here's what you need to do...
When you have been fasting (a polite term for starving yourself), your body has gone off its usual mode of processing nutrients. You have entered ketinsos, which I will explain to you later, but involves the body no longer looking to the digestive tract for food. When you suddenly drop food back into the digestive tract, the body rebels.
You have to woo your body into accepting food again.
Start small, soft and sweet.
Soup (see below)
Nutritional drinks (expensive, true, and repulsive in taste, but nutritious)
Instant Breakfast-style drinks (also see below)
Cream of Wheat or other hot, soft grain cereals
(Do I hear all the little macho voices groaning, "Oh, it's all wuss-food? Hush…This is between you and me…nobody else has to know, okay?)
Start slowly. Don't push the food into your system. If you start feeling nauseous, stop eating and wait. It'll probably pass. If you do vomit, it's okay. Digestion starts in the mouth and before you've taken three bites, your body is already eagerly processing the nutrients. You're going to get something out of it, even if you throw the bulk of it up. Check the section on surviving vomiting.
Within as little as an hour, you may find that your appetite is picqued and you can resume eating normally. For the first day or so, obviously, it would be a good idea to avoid overly spicy foods and other things that would irritate your system.
There are times when even those things are too demanding on the stomach. You have to go to Plan B, which involves making your own foods that your body can tolerate. If you have been fasting for days, for example, you might be unable to eat any of the above.
This is the worst case scenario, and I hope none of your ever have to resort to it.
Take a tablespoon of flour, a pinch of salt and boil it in a cup of water. You can put a little sugar in it if you like. Cook it a few minutes until it no longer tastes like flour and then drink that. A half hour later, repeat the same procedure, using a little more flour this time, and incrementally work your way up to three or four tablespoons, which should give you something about the consistency of soupy oatmeal. You can use grits, white or yellow, or whole wheat flour instead of white flour.
In that way, your stomach can adjust to processing something. It remembers how to eat and should, fairly quickly, begin to give you signals that it can tolerate more.
Commercial soup is expensive and if you are seriously mired in digestive problems, you should get good at preparing your own.
The fastest way to make soup is to take a can of vegetables…peas, carrots, even those nasty little potatoes, beans of any description, etc. You can also make fruit purees the same way with canned fruit. Put the contents of the can in the blender with a small amount of milk and whir it up. Salt and pepper to taste, warm it up and voila, you have cream of whatever soup. It takes less than three minutes.
Don't have a blender? Get one. Why? Because it's far easier to handle eating disorders when you have one. They are virtually indispensible, but not entirely so.
You can buy grossly expensive products, or you can make a reasonable facsimile at home.
8 ounces milk
1-3 Tablespoons powdered milk, depending on how you like the taste
2-3 t sugar
½ t vanilla
Stir or blend. You can add chocolate or strawberry syrup.
You can stick it in the blender and add a banana.
But, you moan, this isn't the kind of stuff we have in the house.
Which is a valid argument. But don't let that keep you from getting better.
First of all, you can make adjustments as needed and use what you can that you do find around the house. Or you can go shopping. If any of this is a problem, talk to me or e-mail me and we'll find solutions.