Friday, February 3, 2012

Healing from Eating Disorders Naturally, by Polly Mertens

My name is Polly Mertens and I’m honored to share my life’s wisdom as a guest author The Body In Form.

I recovered from bulimia after 20 years of living with this compulsive overeating disorder. I have come to realize that recovery is not just about changing the way you behave, but also changing the way you think, feel and perceive.  It is my experience that successful treatments for an eating disorder include inner healing and work to connect the addict to their higher self, God, the universe or whatever you choose to call it.

Eating disorders refer to a collection of conditions characterized by abnormal eating habits that may involve either insufficient or excessive food intake. These disorders can be very harmful to an individual’s mental and physical health.  The most common types of eating disorders in the United States are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Although primarily thought to affect females, eating disorders affect males as well. The number of eating disorders is increasing all over the world, especially within the United States.

More specifically bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by binge eating and purging or consuming a large amount of food in a short amount of time. This is followed by an attempt to rid oneself of the food consumed, usually by purging, using laxatives, or excessive exercising.

Treatments for an eating disorder frequently involve more than just stopping the obviously harmful or dysfunctional behaviors of compulsive overeating and purging.  Just as the condition of bulimia is not just about food, recovery must involve more than merely stabilizing your eating patterns. Often eating disorder treatment programs include inner healing with the help of a spiritual connection – with any higher power you may believe in.

Being spiritual is different from being religious. In fact, spirituality is not necessarily about the divine or otherworldly. It can simply mean a better understanding of yourself and a better ability to look within and like what you see.  Most people suffering from an eating disorder have developed a distorted opinion of themselves, their bodies and lack a healthy self-esteem or a feeling of self worth.  Valuing themselves, and ultimately loving themselves unconditionally, is what makes for a more conscious, more complete, and more lasting recovery from an eating disorder. A spiritual healing is a complete, holistic healing.  Healing the body, the mind, and the spirit.  Spiritual practices as part of your treatments for bulimia can take many different forms.

Yoga and Meditation
Some people perform yoga and meditation separately; for others each is inextricably linked to the other. Yoga consists of gentle, but precise and conscious, movements of the body into various positions (asanas) for therapeutic purposes. Meditation is a practice that involves the concentration and the focusing of all inner energies into the here and now.

Ancient Indian sages practiced both yoga and meditation to attain the kind of control over their bodies and minds that allowed them to suspend breathing, go without sustenance for long periods, be impervious to extreme temperatures and more. It’s a testament to the power of the mind!

Using yoga and meditation can be powerful weapons in your fight against an eating disorder, because they can help you to effectively control your mind, defeating negative thoughts and behaviors and fostering healthier ones. They also teach you to look within without apprehension and to love what you find there. Try either approach, or both if you prefer. You will find them to be effective tools in an eating disorder recovery.

Connect with a Higher Power
For many of us, the ultimate solace is communing with the higher being that some of us call God. The roads that we take to reach that spiritual place can be many.  You may read the Bible or other religious texts, attend a service in church, synagogue or mosque, pray, or you may simply sit in a quiet place and reflect.  However you choose, it is the one-on-one time we allow ourselves to individually connect with our higher power, our higher selves, our inner being.

We all need some help from time to time. We become stressed, tense; feel overwhelmed and unable to cope. At these times, you may find that you are able to draw the required energy from the universe, or that you find the solace in a divine being.  It doesn’t matter how you find that help, so long as you do connect to that meaningful, spiritual place within you.

There are good reasons that a higher power plays an important role in any twelve-step recovery program.  Acknowledging a source bigger than yourself can help you find comfort and support in the midst of a bulimia recovery.

Connecting with nature
One of the coping mechanisms that I developed when undergoing my treatments for bulimia was to go hiking in nature.  This was a physical release of energy and stress. At the same time, I found that communing with nature brought solace and peace to my soul.  I connected better with the universe alone on a hike than sitting in meditation.

It is important to find your own spiritual practice.  Choose something that gives you strength while you focus on overcoming bulimia. Finding a spiritual connection helps with inner healing, releasing addiction, and teaches you to love yourself again.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder I would encourage you to check out my website, Get Busy Thriving.  This website is one of the best resources for support and self help methods to help you recover from an eating disorder. Find real bulimia stories, videos and blog posts all aimed at assisting you on your road to recovery. Discover where you can find additional support to enhance the tools we provide you with.  This site is more specifically aimed at bulimia recovery but is applicable to all other eating disorders.

Please take a look at The Body In Form store to find hand-picked items for easy purchase online such as:  vitamins, herbs, beauty products, and self-help, health, and recipe books that encourage you to have a body - and life - in form!

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