Genuine Help For Eating Disorder sufferers and caregivers.On this site you will learn how to beat your eating disorder with the power of neuroplasticity and awareness therapy.
Shame plays an important role in developing eating disorders because shame is a controlling device. Basically all people with anorexia or bulimia can recall being shamed or ashamed several times before their disorder began.
Shame is complex. It extends from small things like parents or teachers saying to someone that she/he is a bit overweight and needs to lose weight, or to something more serious like physical or sexual assault. For a young vulnerable person even a wrong look or an inappropriate comment can be shameful and it can trigger control mechanisms in the brain.
The simplest and most available thing that the shamed person has to exert control over is food. Restrictive eating or binging on food and then purge it all up is an action that only the person who is doing it can control. Plus it gives to the sufferer the intimate sense of achievement and conquering their own body. But there is a catch 22, externally the sufferer keeps it a secret because if it was revealed it will be a shameful action if someone was to discover their secret.
So, feelings of shame start working on the sufferer even before the beginning of their illness. Shame makes the person shrink her/his inner self and avoid others in order to stop interpersonal humiliation. Shame produces resentment, irritability, tendency to blame everyone, suspiciousness and bouts of agitations. Shame also blocks the person’s emotions and makes the person unable to be compassionate to others.
Often family and parents themselves promote shame unknowingly. On different stages of development many children feel inadequate in many tasks. Some parents by criticizing, comparing their children with other kids and controlling them can evoke a lot of shame in their sons and daughters.
Other parental behaviors and styles that provoke shame and body images issues are:
- avoiding children and avoiding to feel and respond to their emotions
- being judgmental
- being constantly angry and disapproving
- expecting children to please
- defensive parental attitude
- being depressed and anxious
- acting as a victim in front of children
- being indirect
Turning to food becomes a substitute for non realized emotions in many children. Their mind is searching for a coping mechanism to ease their emotions and food is an easy outlet to find.
For this reason a big part of eating disorder treatment is working on understanding the impact of shame and how to counteract it. The best antidote for shame is compassion, love and understanding. This has to be understood by the sufferer, family and all the people who interact with the sufferer.
The second step is to change the person’s self-talk from negative feelings towards food, to positive feelings about food. These both are important steps in the sufferer’s recovery and have to be done with the help of the whole family and not just with the sufferer.
This may not be an easy thing to do if the family does not understand exactly what to do to help. But luckily there is help available; you can read more at www.mom-please-help.com
The Cardiff University is putting together a Collaborative Working in Eating Disorders module to be studied as part of the School’s MSc in Advanced Practice by the university’s school of nursing.
Although this seems a noble cause I do get a little concerned when academia and governments gets involved with the treatment or suggested treatment of a disorder. Academics are renowned for not being able to think outside the square and get bogged down with dogma, so will concentrate on the so called conventional approach to eating disorders.
Governments are even worse tending to back the established approach even if it does not work, they can’t afford any political backlash if they make a mistake. Plus it is always good to be seen as doing something in the eyes of the voters. So to save themselves down the track they also back the conventional approach.
From reading the article it seems apparent that the course will have its basis on the conventional approach to the treatment of eating disorders and this is worrying and will only produce much of the same thinking that is prevalent now.
As an eating disorder specialist, author of two books on the subject and an ex-sufferer of anorexia and bulimia myself: I know the conventional approach is not that great. I myself did the rounds of therapists etc, to no avail for years and I was training to be a doctor, so you would think it should have worked.
I am not the only person who has gone through multiple treatments only to find they did not work; I get emails everyday from people telling me the same thing.
Here are a few abbreviated emails.
I am helping a young adult girl whom I have become extremely fond of!… At the age of 14 she became anorexic and eventually bulimic. She has been in clinics a number of times, but every time she just goes home things just continue where she left off…
My daughter is 22 years old and she was suffering ED for 2 years… For your information she has been treated in the ED clinic as outpatient, visiting the internist doctor and the psychologist regularly to no avail…
My daughter has been in and out the eating disorder clinic in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the last 4 years. I’m tired of them, she continues to struggle…
D M USA.
I took her to our health care Clinic and they seemed to have a handle on the disorder and they seemed to be helping with all kinds of counseling, nutritionist, psychiatrist and nursing… but once home she “back-slid” back into binging and purging.
These emails are very typical from people contacting me still searching for answers when the conventional treatments have failed.
There is a very good reason why this happens and why sufferers fail to get better after showing promise while in the clinic? Conventional treatment methods do not confront the disorder where it lives in the subconscious mind of the sufferer. They do not understand that an eating disorder is a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
But unlike the person who has to wash their hands 100 times a day, or the sufferer who has to check to see if the gas is turned off 200 times before they can leave their home. These people get nothing but pain from their OCD, whereas the ED sufferer actually gets pleasure from their disordered eating habits.
This extra element of pleasure adds a different dimension to the disorder and is most difficult to treat with conventional approaches used in clinics and by therapists. Sitting and talking to a therapist rehashing old hurts for hours is not going to help. This is a logical approach to a disorder that is not the least bit logical. After all why would someone purposely starve themselves to death and know they are doing it?
In my view there is really only one method that can beat an eating disorder and that is one that attacks the ED where it lives in the subconscious mind of the sufferer. To do this you have to use the power of Neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability to change the way our brain functions by how we think, feel and act.
With the use of specialized methods to promote positive feelings, emotions, action and pictures we can change the faulty neuronal pathways and negative programming that has occurred in mind of the sufferer. The beauty of using a specialized neuroplasticity approach to curing eating disorders is it can be used at home.
This is the place all ED sufferers fail and relapse back into their old habits, because the triggers that control their habits are all at home, they are not in the clinic or therapists rooms.
I believe that any university course however noble it may seem if it does not incorporate the use of neuroplasticity and a method to change the neuronal pathways in the brain will not help. This will only produce a whole new batch of conventional method thinkers to the detriment of the eating disorder sufferer.
A sufferer’s mother is the most important person in helping a daughter or son to beat anorexia. A Mothers connection to her child is a sacred connection.
Most mothers can not only see but they can feel what is happening to their child.
Nowadays we know that the anorexia lives in the subconscious level of the mind. The subconscious is a level where our feelings and emotions live. It is also a level where people keep their deepest beliefs about themselves and their world.
The content of our subconscious mind depends a lot on what our parents put in there. Parents are our first teachers and role models. Because of this our parents can do a lot to affect the subconscious mind of their child (especially mothers).
Anorexia takes a lot of space in your child’s mind and wrong beliefs can take over the big part of a sufferer’s subconscious mind.
So, what can a mother do to help?
1. Never give up on inspiring your child to learn new things. This will help take her/his attention away from the anorexics beliefs. Remember: The less space you leave for the anorexia the better.
2. Show unconditional LOVE to the child. Love appears to be the most powerful emotion that can stimulate and inspire people. Nothing heals better emotionally, biochemically, physically and mentally than love.
Love is a positive high frequency emotion which can heal and help us overcome many obstacles in our life.
3. Maintain close intimate connections “mother-daughter/ son”. Often these intimate connections do overpower the disease.
4.Watch what kind of words you use when you talk to the sufferer. One wrong word from someone, like “why can’t you just eat” can undo months of good work.
5. Constantly focus on increasing the sufferer’s self-esteem and enjoyment in life.
6. Understand that the first priority for underweight people is gaining weight. A starving brain cannot process things logically, so do not think that just saying things will make changes.
Anorexics should be encouraged to achieve a certain weight appropriate for their height and age. This should be done in small steps, like getting her to aim for a pound (kilo) then another pound (kilos), if you tell a sufferer they have to put on 20 pounds (10kg) they will completely freak-out.
7.Sugar consumption is important for the brain because the brain works on glucose so try to get them to take sugary foods, even if you have to camouflage them.
A high consumption of proteins and calcium is also necessary for anorexics because of their bone density problems. We have had people use the high protein drinks weightlifters use with great results. But you can’t tell the sufferer what it is or they will not take it. We have had mothers substitute diet powders with protein powders so the sufferer will take it: because all anorexics read the labels on everything.
There is no substitute for mothers love and a mother’s involvement in treating anorexia. One mother who was very successful in helping her daughter to beat anorexia said that anorexia should be healed, not just treated.
Karen used a process of healing and took her daughter through it step by step using special methods she devised herself. Healing was the process that saved her daughter from the grips of anorexia and brought her back from deaths door.
Anorexia starts from special beliefs: beliefs about themselves, body image, control and perception of beauty. These beliefs are tightly connected to strong emotions – both negative and positive.
These “Beliefs+ Emotions+ action” form the long-term memory in the brain.
So, why do these memories get so ingrained in a person’s brain that nothing seems to change them?
This happens because these “Beliefs + Emotions+ action” actually change the structure of a person brain. Experiments have shown that for short-term memories to become long-term ones, a new protein has to be made in brain cell (neuron).
The experiments also show that short-term memory becomes a long-term one when a chemical in the neuron called protein kinase A, moves from the body of the neuron into its nucleus, where our genes are stored. The protein then turns on a gene to make another protein that alters the structure of the nerve endings, so that it grows new connections between the neurons (brain cells).
Why I am telling you this scientific stuff – is to show you that Beliefs are not just something intangible, Beliefs can actually change the structure of the brain (brain cells and connections between the brain cells).
It seems reasonable to me that the real cure for anorexia is to change the sufferers Beliefs about themself, body image, control and perception of beauty. These new Beliefs should also be emotionalized: this is important. These new “beliefs + emotions+ action “will form new long-term memories and new chemicals will form in the brain cells changing the brain structure in a new positive way.
The same process occurs in learning. We learn something, we believe it is factual, we emotionalise it, and we use in over and over (action).
Why nothing seems to be of help for many anorexics?
This is because nothing so far has evoked strong emotions in them. Nothing has inspired them to change their mind or stop their anorexic ways. They can find nothing to believe in more than they can believe in the anorexia: it is all powerful.
Anorexia just can’t be taken away from them; anorexia can only be replaced with something they believe in more than their disorder. Changing the person’s beliefs is the real cure for anorexia.
Changing beliefs for the anorexic can only happen on the subconscious level: the level where our feelings and emotions live. This can only be done with beliefs+ emotions+ action the same way they got their anorexia in the first place.
The best people who can help a sufferer with this are people who are close, like a mother, father, spouse, sibling or a very close friend.
People who are close to the sufferer can affect the subconscious mind of a person much deeper and easier than anyone else (including therapists, doctors and psychiatrists). Anorexics need family support much more than anyone else.
But they also need a process to affect the subconscious mind and without this it is doubtful they will recover. This process must contain Beliefs+ Emotions+ Actions the same as they used before only positive ones not the negative anorexic ones. Luckily there are such processes available to help today they are call neuroplasticity treatments.
There are many kinds of meditation techniques available these days. How to choose which one is the best for a person with an eating disorder?
Are any methods better than the others?
Meditation is a practice of focusing your attention for some time on specific emotional states, mantras (non-religious), breath, intentions, specific focal points, visualization, thoughts, or simply being aware of what is happening in the present moment.
But please don’t think because we used the word meditation that you have to become a Zen monk or some kind of guru who sits on top of a mountain in India some place.
We are also not talking about some weird religious cult or anything like that. We are talking about scientific techniques proven by modern day science. In fact we like to use the term Mindful Awareness as this is one of the secrets to beating an eating disorder.
To choose the right meditation technique (Mindful Awareness) for an eating disorder sufferer let’s look at what kind of meditation are the most common nowadays.
Each meditation system has certain benefits and people with eating disorders can practice any of them if it is what they believe in.
But has previously stated we recommend a kind of meditation called Mindful Awareness.
People with eating disorders need a special focus on resolving their issues like stopping urges to binge, purge or starve while meditating. This is important for them because until they learn to ignore, re-label, re-value, and re-focus their thoughts about food, weight and body image issues, they wouldn’t be able focus on anything else. That makes all the above meditation techniques except Mindful Awareness difficult for them.
First if they learn to concentrate by focusing on how to cope with their abnormal food and weight urges that this is much more helpful to them.
This special meditation can be done in an upright seated position either in a chair or cross-legged on a blanket on the floor, even lying down. The spine is straight yet relaxed. Eyes can be closed to better access a relaxed state. Then by listening to specific guidance (on a CD, iPod etc) telling them how to deal with their urges (binging, purging, starving, etc) they can reach their subconscious mine where the ED lives.
By listening and following the instruction while in meditative (Mindful Awareness) state they can benefit and over time learn to control the ED voices that keep them locked into their eating disorder.
The benefits from doing this special meditation are:
1) Reduction of stress and anxiety,
2) Decrease of urges to overeat and purge,
3) Improvement of food toleration in anorexics,
4) Improved confidence, calming the mind, clarity of thinking,
5) Improvement in motivations, understanding of happiness and indentifying their purpose in life.
To get significant and life-changing benefits from this kind of meditation people should start with as little as 5-20 minutes a day practiced consistently over time.
Generally speaking, mediation (Mindful Awareness) can help enormously to improve mental, physical and spiritual health of people suffering with eating disorders.
Meditation (or mindfulness training) is proven to be very helpful for eating disorder sufferers. If practiced regularly, meditation can balance abnormal mental states of patients. It can also bring them peace and stability.
The brains of eating disorder sufferers are overloaded with abnormal thoughts and feelings to the point that they sometimes have to give up on their studies, jobs and relationships; because they simply feel that they can’t cope with anything anymore.
Meditation (or mindfulness training) is not a magic cure for all the problems that an ED patient has, but it can help enormously to improve their mental, physical and spiritual state of mind. Hence clearing up some of their muddled thinking and straightening out some of their obsessive tendencies.
First, let’s define what is meditation? Meditation (or mindfulness training) is consciously focusing your attention for a period of time on something positive. It is a process where a person is guiding her/his focus in a specific way: directing it to promote health, personal development and spiritual growth. Mindfulness training can be use to drive a person’s thoughts away from food, weight issues, personal problems and bad emotions.
An eating disorder at its roots is a disorder of attention or a too regimented thinking process. All the problems sufferers have started with abnormal attention; or their attention always focused on the wrong things. To cure an eating disorder people need to be able to re-train their whole attention focusing system. That means to learn how to focus on constrictive positive things, and stop focusing on the things that give abnormal feelings like food, weight, body image etc. Meditation is an indispensable tool for doing this.
Will this be an easy process: absolutely not.
The results of meditation will depend on the chosen technique and the intention a person brings to her/his practice, meaning are they really serious about getting rid of their ED?
If you are a sufferer, you may say I really want to stop, but in reality deep inside you are not willing to do the hard yards, so you will remain the same regardless of what you do.
So: are you ready, really ready? Or are you just playing lip service to your ED?
This can be a confusing time for many sufferers. Do I want to get better or not? You have to choose no one can do it for you. But how can you find out?
The answer lies in getting in touch with the real you, not the ED you, but the person who lives inside, the healthy person you can become again: meditation will help you find that person.
In general, when eating disorder sufferers meditate they can expect to experience:
- A reduction in stress, muscular tension and bring about a state of general relaxation.
- Decreased or even the eliminate the urge to binge or purge
- A better tolerance towards food in the case of the anorexic or bulimic
- Feel happier, more peaceful and more compassionate towards others
- Improved confidence
- Calm, clear and a more focused mind
- Identifying their life purpose and gain a sense of spiritual connection with that purpose.
Another major skill a person can learn during mindfulness training (meditation) is the ability to make clearer choices. That means the ability to do constructive things while their eating disorder tells them to do non- constructive things, like binging, purging, starving, over-exercising, takings diuretics or laxatives. Initially it may be hard to do but the more a person meditates the easier it becomes, because their mind will gradually start to lose the old conditionings it had.
Every person who learns how to meditate becomes a unique individual. This is because these people are able to work and understand their previous conditioning and change it through an awareness of their problem. This will make them a stronger person and set them free.
There is an old saying in Buddhism that all changes start from being dissatisfied or even from suffering. It is not the matter of where the source of your eating disorder stems from or the reason why: but the best reason to start meditating is your eating disorder.
Using special mindfulness training (meditation) developed for eating disorders can easily change your perspective fast. You even don’t need a special trainer and you don’t need to go anywhere, just sit at home and follow the instructions and you will see an amazing difference.
To read more about mindfulness training for eating disorders go to http://www.meditation-sensation.com
Since eating disorders are rooted in emotional conflicts, the solution for the problem can be found in emotional healing. Emotional healing doesn’t happen instantly; it is a process. Many existing treatments nowadays promote only a physical fix while the emotional component is severely underestimated. This could be the reason why some ED treatments failed to make the person better. It is simply because the deep intimate emotions remain unchanged after these kinds of treatments.
To make any eating disorder treatment successful people should concentrate on the emotional healing of the sufferer, foremost.
There are 5 steps to emotional healing:
1. Acknowledgment: One must say” I need emotional healing because my emotions are not in balance at the moment”. They have to believe this is true, not just say the words.
2. Locate the cause of the pain: Emotional pain is located in the subconscious mind so it is basically impossible to find out the true cause of pain by simple thinking or rationalising. One should have access to their subconscious mind to sort out the problems. The best way to do this is through mindfulness training techniques. Mindfulness is a mental and emotional state when the person is fully aware of her/his owns body and brain. It is when communication with the subconscious mind becomes easier.
3. Cleansing the emotional wound: This can only be done on the subconscious level of awareness, so mindfulness techniques are a great help for doing this. Cleansing occurs when the person reassess the old emotional hurts, attaches a new meaning to them and maybe even replaces them with other more constrictive emotions.
4. Receive healing: This means accepting a new positive emotional state which comes with the healing and hanging on to it. When a person becomes more mindful she/he should be grateful even for little positive changes in their emotional state. Feeling grateful for small subtle changes will attract bigger changes and so on. This means receiving and accepting the healing at all levels.
5. Strengthen the weak areas: This means to continue on with a new way of living and maintaining a new level of awareness for the rest of their life. This is the only way to stop an eating disorder from coming back. It is easy for many sufferers to cling to their old programming as the weak areas seem safe and comfortable. It is scary for some to take the next step and face their weaknesses head on, but it has to be done regardless of how hard it may seem.
To accomplish these 5 steps the person should remain non-judgemental and mindful. Mindfulness is a mental state when one becomes an observer of themself and they have the ability to see things without criticism. People’s emotions often make that person sway to one or the other side: too far either way can lead to disorders.
But mindfulness does not take sides, mindfulness does not get obsessed with the good stuff, it does not try to sidestep the bad stuff, it takes a balanced path.
Mindfulness doesn’t cling to the “pleasant” and there is no fleeing from the “unpleasant” either. A person has to learn to face the ED and control their ED demons and mindfulness training will achieve this.
Mindfulness sees all experiences as equal, all thoughts as equal, and all feelings as equal. Nothing is suppressed. Nothing is repressed. Mindfulness does not play favourites.
The beauty of being mindful is it will cause emotional healing in the eating disorder sufferer and it does not matter how long one has had the disorder.
Emotional conflicts will be solved by just being mindful and wounds will be healed. Mindfulness training is also harmless; it has no side effects and is beneficial for the health of the majority of people, even non-ED sufferers.
Dr Irina Webster MD is a Director of Women Health Issues Program. She is an author and a public speaker. To read more about meditation for eating disorders go to http://www.meditation-sensation.com
Eating disorders are rooted in emotional struggles. These struggles are deep emotional conflicts within the sufferer, these are called self-conflicts.
How the conflicts started in the first place?
This process begins by fantasizing at a very early age. People fantasize a script, for example like a Hollywood production focusing on TV stars or other celebrities. Then they start rehearsing their part. As they go, they either give up on their initial part and take up a new one, or they practice the first part and role -play that script out until it becomes who they think they are. Practising the script automates their behaviour and it becomes fixed.
For example, a young girl perceived that she is overweight. By looking through magazines, watching TV and movies she finds herself a role- model that is slim, polished and glamorous and play out this picture in her mind. From the same source she gets a script to follow to achieve this kind of unattainable look. She rehearses it until it becomes automatic and turns into an eating disorder, anorexia or bulimia.
Her imprinting environment plays a significant role in the alternative scripts available to her. If her parents happen to be too strict or uncaring, she would be unable to develop a positive coping strategy to counteract her developing problems. In some problematic families being warm and friendly is seen as an embarrassment, so the child becomes cold and aloof to compensate.
Self-conflict is a conflict between different “selfs” inside one person. There are 4 different “selfs”:
1. The actual self.
It is the private self. This self consist of thoughts we wish we didn’t have and actions we wish we haven’t done. It also contains our self-esteem, our attractiveness, and our secret ambitions. Eating disorders sufferers may dream of looking like a slim movie star, or a sport champion etc. Her/his self-esteem is really proportional to a degree of how alike she/he looks compared to their famous role-model they are trying to emulate.
2. The ideal self.
This self is built by culture and society. Ideal self is about living a perfect life, without any mistakes and therefore without room for growth.
3. The ought-to-be self.
This self is about our “should” and “oughts” which have been learned from our culture and our society but they are not ours. For example, when a swimming coach tells a young girl: ” You should lose weight immediately in order to fit the criteria for the swimming completion.” Initially the girl was probably OK with the way she was and didn’t think she needs to lose weight immediately. Her swimming coach installs the “ought-to-be self” in her. Her “ought-to-be self” may go into conflict with her “actual self” after the coach’s comments and if she is vulnerable she will develop an eating disorder in order to comply with the losing weight rules that have been set in her mind.
4. The desired self.
This is a self we believe we could be and desire to be. This self is especially obvious in young people when they plan for the future. Later in life this self can be a source of discontent if the desires have not been fulfilled. For example, a woman after 30 suddenly develops an eating disorder. This eating disorder is very likely to be a consequence of discontentment due to her unfulfilled desires of an earlier time (or the “desired self”).
What is a solution for solving this self-conflicts? Emotional healing would be the answer and you can put it into 5 steps:
1. Realize that one has emotional conflicts and they are probably the cause of the eating disorder.
2. Believe that one should and can solve these self- conflicts.
3. Accept that emotional healing is the only way to solve these internal conflicts.
4. Go through the emotional healing process.
5. Follow the emotional healing strategies as a way of living your life.
Emotional healing is the only answer to resolve self-conflicts in eating disorder sufferers. If emotional healing does not occur during a particular treatment – there is little hope for this kind of treatment being helpful.
Maybe in this case the person ought to look for different alternatives. Mindfulness training seems to prove itself as a great emotional healer for these kinds of ED sufferers. It has been proven that if one is mindful and aware, one can experience true freedom and liberation from all their self conflicts.
Dr Irina Webster MD is a Director of Women Health Issues Program. She is an author and a public speaker. To read more about mindfulness for eating disorders go to http://www.meditation-sensation.com
Michael Jackson died aged of 50 on 25 of June 2009 from a cardiac arrest. Now Brittany Murphy has died aged of 32 from a cardiac arrest also.
Both of these people were treated by paramedics but all attempts of resuscitation failed to revive them.
If you look at both these cases closely you see how similar they are. Both, Michael Jackson and Brittany Murphy suffered from an eating disorder and body image problems. Both were underweight for a long time before their death and undertook many plastic surgeries.
Then there were the prescription drugs?
When Michael died the coroner record said that the combination of drugs was the reason of his cardiac arrest. The number of powerful drugs were found in his body: anesthetic propofol , anxiolytic lorazepam, midazolam, diazepam, lidocaine and ephedrine. The coroner is keeping the complete toxicology report private, so there may be some other drugs present we don’t know about.
After Brittany’s death 10 pills bottles were found in her house according to media sources.
The tablets included :
- Topamax (anti-seizure pills),
- Methylprednisolone ( anti-inflammatory),
- Fluoxetine (antidepressants)
- Klonopin and Ativan (anti-anxiety drugs)
- Carbamazepine (bipolar drug)
- Vicoprofen (painkiller)
- Propranolol ( prevent heart attacks medication)
- Biaxin (antibiotic)
- Hydrocodone (painkiller).
The combination of all these drugs is more than just dangerous. According to the toxicologist’s opinion anyone can die from this “cocktail”.
Both people, Michael and Brittany, appeared have a very low body weight before their death. Both suffered from anorexia.
From medical point of view it is a well known fact that people with eating disorders have much higher sensitivity to drugs compare to people who don’t have eating disorders.
The question remains “How come Michael and Brittany were prescribed that lethal “cocktail”?”
Who is responsible for these deaths? – Their doctors? Or is it the medical system that allows these drugs to be prescribed without checks? Or the pharmaceutical companies who would do anything for the sake of their own profit?
It is also apparent that both these actors were plastic surgery addicts. They undertook numerous operations to “improve” their look. After the surgeries they took drugs to relieve the pain. Was it worth the effort? No I don’t think so? We loved the original Michael (as a vibrant and talented African- American boy) much more then the mask he later put on himself.
You can say it was the same with Brittany. She looked much better before the plastic surgeries which distorted her image significantly.
The question is: “Were there another ways for them to avoid such plights?” I believe there was.
If they could have seen or realise that they were being conditioned wrongly earlier in life, they probably could have done something about it. The problem was that they were conditioned to think that they were “not enough “and they couldn’t see what was happening at the time.
Bad conditioning is a problem with millions of people who suffer from eating disorders, body image disorders, addictions and obsessions. Conditioning is characterised by being insular and dogmatic and shows itself through tension, clinging, prejudice, and lack of spontaneity.
In a more limited sense, conditioning is any process or activity which results in a behaviour which is not spontaneous, unlimited, and appropriate to the specific situation.
Bad conditioning results in diseases and conditions like Michael and Brittany had. Breaking conditioning requires individual understanding, willpower and focused action to fix it.
One good and reliable way to free you from painful conditioning is mindfulness training (which involves meditation).
Mindfulness training is the best healer. If Michael and Brittany mastered mindfulness training earlier in life, they would probably still alive and well today. It is really pity that the medical system offered them so many drugs instead of teaching them other more constructive ways to moderate their emotions.
But the problem is that normal medical training is totally focused on drug dispensing and drugs are the remedy for all ills. Of course this is a total falsehood, modern research is now showing that changing the way our mind is wired (neuroplasticity) and mindfulness training is more effective than taking heaps of drugs.
Most eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are linked to significant stress, mood disturbance, anxiety, phobias, substance abuse, and physical complications. All these factors have to be addressed when people are trying to overcome their Anorexia- bulimia.
Mindfulness training is a technique which can help to cope with all these factors. Mindfulness means a calm awareness of body functions, feelings, emotions, thoughts and sensations. Mindfulness consists of paying attention to an experience at the present moment — without moving into thoughts from the past or concerns about the future. Using mindfulness training, people with anorexia – bulimia can attain control over their body and mind.
What exactly does mindfulness do for the mind and body? The main benefits of mindfulness are:
1.Calm and quiet the mind. This will bring more happiness, joy, positive feelings, appreciation and gratitude in people’s lives. It will also increase kindness to yourself and others which is necessary for ED people as they are often bad to themselves and others due to their conditioning.
2.Diminish the grip of habitual responses that causes suffering. ED sufferers all have certain habitual responses to their feelings, thoughts and emotions. For example, bulimics have habits to binge-purge at a certain time a day; anorexics have strict habits and routines about their diets and exercising.
Mindfulness can diminish these habitual behaviours to the point that the sufferer is able to choose how she/he is going to behave at a particular moment.
For example, instead of realizing 10-30 minutes later that you’ve been lost in bad thoughts about your body, weight, food, or your bad memories or fantasies from the past, you as a person can stop her/himself after only 30-60 seconds. With practise, people can increasingly observe these habitual responses and choose to respond in other more constructive ways.
3.Develop a stronger “observing self”. This means to observe what one does . It is like becoming a third person who sits inside your own chest and constantly watchs what you do.
Mindfulness makes a person become an observer of what one does, think and feel. This helps you to have better control over anorexic or bulimic thoughts and behaviours.
For example, when a person gets stressed, instead of reaching for alcohol or going on a starving or binge –purge cycle , the person could simply sit and observe the negative emotions and sensations which were brought on by the stress until they go away.
Unlike relaxation techniques, mindfulness can be developed to the point where it can be practiced in the middle of stressful situations. So instead of reacting to stress a person starts to respond wisely. While being mindful a person can still remain alert and respond appropriately to the situation at hand.
4.Slow down the pace of thoughts and become more attune to the present moment. Anorexia and bulimia sufferers often complain that they have too much continual inner “chatter” and images from the past or from the future in their minds.
This chatter and images don’t simply go away, because that’s the nature of the human mind. But they can settle down with practice. This settling down of mental processes bring relaxation and freedom. With practice one will have the ability to choose what to think about instead of being dragged along with uncontrolled thoughts and feelings. This effect can be experience just after 8-12 minutes of a mindfulness state of mind. So, if one practices mindful awareness at least 10 -15 min a day, it may be possible for him/her to choose what to think instead of their thoughts going uncontrolled.
Mindfulness will also increase your concentration and people can perform tasks , study and work with better accuracy. It also improves the immune system and general health. It regulates the autonomic nervous system which control automatic functions of the body organs. Mindfulness is a great anti- aging factor as it improves metabolism of the cells.
Most of anorxics and bulimics who practice mindfulness find it an incredible tool to beat their problem right at its root.
Dr Irina Webster