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.
Bulimia can affect the brain in several ways. First, it enslaves the attention system. The longer one has bulimia the more his/her attention system suffers. In some cases people even drop out of school, universities, give up on good jobs – all due to their inability to maintain attention and concentrate on their work.
In bulimics, food over-stimulates the attention centers represented through the central nervous system. The abnormal activation creates a state of emergency which brings forth the manifestation of the sympathetic nervous system (fight and flight response) when people think about binging food.
As a result, the nervous system has to liberate more energy. The additional flow of energy into the human nervous system gives a feeling of relaxation or a floating feeling called a “high” during the binge.
When the binge finishes, the sufferer is soon drained out of energy and this causes a kind of a hangover and total depression of their attention factors this is the state between binges. The oscillation from over-flow to depression takes their attention fully and registers a shock on the central nervous system. That is why bulimics have difficulty maintaining attention on anything else except of food and binging.
Such repeated experiences create enslavement of their attention and destroys their brain cells at the same time.
Secondly on a physiological level, brain function may be impaired as the sufferer doesn’t have enough glucose, lipids or other molecules that can be broken down for energy. Sometimes, in severe cases the brain even starts to consume its own tissue to get the energy. That’s why in chronic sufferers the brain may shrink as a result of lipids in the brain being broken down for energy. This can result in serious brain damage.
These people feel lethargic, confused, powerless and helpless. They can experience headaches, neck pains, back pains and other uncomfortable sensation in their bodies. Often, their aches and pains are of a psycho-somatic origin and not physical.
The brain can also suffer because of the effects caused by electrolyte imbalances. When people purge they lose enormous amount of important chemicals (electrolytes) which makes brain function slow or even impossible depending on the total loss.
Third, on a psychological level the brain is damaged by abnormal thinking patterns as the individual believes that they are overweight when they are clearly severely underweight or normal. Bulimics also have a fear of putting on weight. These abnormal thinking patterns are so strong that they overpower all other thinking processes. That’s why bulimics get so preoccupied with food, weight and body image.
To conclude, bulimia definitely changes the brain structure to an unhealthy level. It makes the brain think, differently, work differently, function and process information differently.
The process of changing the brain is called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity can be bad, but can be good it depends how the sufferer chooses to use it.
If bulimics start using neuroplasticity in a positive way they can reverse the damage which has been done by the bulimia and return their brain to a healthy level. And not just that: they can make their brain work like the brain of a genius if they use neuroplasticity correctly.
You can read more about changing the way the brain works for eating disorders CDs at http://www.meditation-sensation.com
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