Bulimia is a disorder that largely affects women (90% of bulimics are women), and is a disorder that can be hidden relatively easily. If you understand it, you can recognize it in a friend or loved one, or yourself, and get help.
Bulimia Nervosa affects 5% of the population in Australia. According to the Butterfly Foundation, “Bulimia Nervosa is characterised by recurrent binge-eating episodes followed by compensatory behaviours such as self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, fasting and over exercising.”
Bulimia is a psychological disorder that is characterised by feelings of intense guilt and shame, low self-worth and a feeling of lack of control. Some of the physical complications that are typical of the behaviour are significant damage to the teeth and oesophagus, clammy hands and tremors, anxiety and heart palpitations, risk of osteoporosis, puffy skin, menstrual irregularity, constipation. Bulimia can be split into the purging and non-purging type. The purging type will compensate for the binges with vomiting, diuretics or laxatives. Non-purging type will compensate with fasting or excessive exercising. Bulimics are often normal weight or only slightly under or over weight, so can often mange to keep their disorder hidden for a long time.
Bulimic behaviour is typically a compensation for some other deeper issue related to the persons self-worth and can be an unconscious way of feeling in-control, loved, or accepted. In this way it is the far end of the psycho-eating scale. Psycho-eating means eating for psychological reasons rather than physiological ones. The only true physiological reason to eat is to nourish and fuel the body. Many people psycho-eat, very few “normal” eaters do not eat t some times for some psychological reason, however bulimics will continue to eat when others would stop, and then feel such intense self-judgement, shame and guilt they need to compensate in extreme and unhealthy ways for the food consumed. When you eat for psychological reasons then the normal signals to stop, (your belly being full and hunger hormone turned off) do not apply. If you are eating to fill a psychological hole, it can never be satisfied by food.
From a coaching perspective bulimia is the most extreme and disordered end of the internal pain / external pleasure cycle. The internal pain of low-self worth, extreme self-judgement and/ or unresolved past trauma, drives the external pleasure of the bingeing behaviour, then cycles back down to shame and guilt of the binge, and then to the external pleasure of the purging. This is a vicious cycle, and can only be completely healed by dealing with the underlying self-worth, self-judgement, body-image and past trauma.
Bulimia often begins with body consciousness as a teenager, usually beginning with a strict deprivation diet in the pursuit of thinness, resulting in a starvation response and uncontrollable hunger, which often creates a binge. Usually the purging behaviour is learned, many young girls have been shown how to purge by a girlfriend while in high school. When the many body changes of puberty hit, you’re reading beauty magazines with slim, photoshopped models, and the sense of being judged by your appearance in school cliques is at its most influential, the conditions are ripe for this disordered thinking and behaviour.
With the social acceptance of the secret girlfriend group, the bingeing/ purging behaviour is anchored to feeling cool, accepted, part of a group, keeping slim, and being desirable. So even though the behaviour of self-induced vomiting is painful, difficult and unnatural, the psychological pleasure that it evokes can be stronger than the pain of the behaviour.
The behaviour is also driven by many unconscious limiting beliefs including one’s like these…
Many women who are overweight or dieting will exhibit some similar behaviours to bulimics, including seeming to be obsessed with food and the health values of food, weighing themselves, exercising a lot, having low self-esteem, and being judgemental of their bodies. This is why it is essential if you want to shape your body to do it through self-love and adopting healthy lifestyle practices instead of extreme diets. However, bulimia is much more extreme, anti-social behaviour and is typically accompanied by secrecy and shame, regular toilet visits after meals, excuses not to eat, avoidance of social occasions with food. Normal eating does not have the same feelings of shame and secrecy and uncontrollable desire to binge and then compensate for the binges in some way.
“Normal eating includes the ingestion of healthy foods, the intake of a mixed and balanced diet that contains enough nutrients and calories to meet the body’s needs, and a positive attitude about food (no labelling of foods as “good” or “bad,” “healthy” or “fattening,” which can lead to feelings of guilt and anxiety). Normal eating is related not only to health maintenance, but also to acceptable social behaviour, and is both flexible and pleasurable. It is important for people to understand that normal eating fluctuates; however, it should not fluctuate to the point of leading to a nutrient deficiency or excess weight loss or gain. Thoughts about desired foods and meal planning should be part of person’s daily life, but should not dominate it.”
– Perieira, R.F. & Alvarenga, M. (2007). Disordered Eating: Identifying, Treating, Preventing and Differentiating it from Eating Disorders. Diabetes Spectrum, 5, 141-148.
Body image is not what you weigh, or what you look like, but what you feel and think about your body. You can build a healthy body image with acceptance, self-love, affirmations, coaching and counselling, and having a critical eye for mass marketing, magazines and media images of slimness and beauty. In a heartening move from a fashion media giant, VOGUE banned the use of girls under 16 or those who appeared to have an eating disorder.
“Today’s fashion models weigh 23% less than the average female, and a young woman between the ages of 18-34 has a 7% chance of being as slim as a catwalk model and a 1% chance of being as thin as a supermodel. However, 69% of girls in one study said that magazine models influence their idea of the perfect body shape, and the pervasive acceptance of this unrealistic body type creates an impractical standard for the majority of women. Perhaps if we become a little more aware of what effort and enhancements go into a photo shoot – we can enjoy the image for its beauty, yet not use it as a means to measure ourselves.”
If you suffer from bulimia this message is for you… Ultimately bulimia is a disease that stems from self-loathing and damages and undermines your health. It may have begun as a protection mechanism or to fulfil a psychological need to feel loved and accepted. Bulimia does not love your body. It does not help or heal your body, it does not allow you and your uniqueness and beauty to shine. You are worthy of true self-love, loving yourself through your choices for nourishment. Please love the behaviour that loves you back. Choose to serve your body and your body will serve you. You can heal and release the emotions from whatever trauma has caused this behaviour to begin, You deserve to be loved and you can love yourself.
Reflect on when you first learned or began this behaviour. Write out the answers to these questions to understand more fully why this behaviour began and to gather the strength to decide to change it.
If you have bulimic episodes or behaviour it is essential to get help to change the behaviour, as it is physically and emotionally damaging and unhealthy. If you have questions about this, feel free to contact me directly or please seek help through ones of these community organisations.
Please feel free to post your comments anonymously if you suffer from this and would like to share your story. The more we understand, the more we can help each other. (the facebook commenting is not anonymous)
“Having ongoing training is essential for our team and our business. It’s important to look after the people that look after others. Kylie has the experience, professionalism and knowledge to engage with our team and help them understand about human behaviour and why people do what they do. In the wellness and health industry it’s a different sales and service delivery and it’s imperative to keep on top of these understandings to perform at our best to help others. We couldn’t recommend Kylie high enough.”
“I have worked with Kylie over many years. She has helped me as a Business Mindset Coach, as a motivational speaker for my gym clients at both Vision Personal Training & now at Flow Athletic. I bring her in to train my Personal Training teams in mindset, communication and how to coach our clients better and excel in our own personal mastery as fitness leaders. At my recent Fitness Business event, my gym owner colleagues were blown away by her talk, saying she is the best speaker they have ever seen. After every event we always get rave reviews about her talks and training. I highly recommend Kylie’s work as a coach & speaker.”
“I finished the Spiritual Awakening Course yesterday and I found it truly amazing. An incredible next step after our coach training. I feel so much more enlightened and “opened-up”. It has really opened my eyes to the power of the universe and the energy flowing in each of us. I loved it – thank you.
I am feeling so lucky at the moment. So many things are just falling into my lap. I visualise it and set my intention to manifest it and it comes. Things such as getting more clients, needing help to put my business online, not knowing how to get known in my local community etc. Courses / insights / clients have just fallen into my lap at the right time.”
Of course I am still learning and growing, but the course has really helped. Thank you”
“Before I met Kylie I was feeling very lost working full time in law in Sydney CBD. I’ve known my whole life that I was here to help people, but I just didn’t know exactly how. So when I found Kylie, it just was really fitting that it was going to help me ground my magic. I started the coach training and had an amazing time. It was beautiful to go through the process of having a mentor that had that spiritual element and that holistic element, as well as the very grounded science-based knowledge as well. So that really helped me to conjure that for myself.
I started my business before I even finished the course. I just started putting myself out there. And now I’ve gotten it to a point where I’ve got really grounded solid message, and two years later am running a multi-6 figure coaching business as a leading pioneer in my niche, helping clients all over the world.”
“Before I signed up with Kylie I had a busy PT business… I was exhausted and on the brink of burnout and no matter how hard I tried, I had reached a ceiling in my income that I just couldn’t break through. After completing my NLP Coaching certification, I found my true voice and the energy of my business has been completely transformed. I’ve created an online program, up-levelled my entire business and totally smashed my previous income goals. I make decisions more confidently and I can help my clients create change in their life even faster. On a personal level, NLP gave me the inner strength to leave a toxic situation and rebuild myself which lead to me discovering the love of my life! Today I am living the life that I’ve always wanted – but just hadn’t been able to put into words. I have never been this happy or this powerful. If you want to manifest the life of your dreams I would not hesitate to reach out for help from Kylie.”
Before attaining my NLP Coach certification, I was an online trainer who was getting excellent results for “some” of my clients. I used a mixture of experience, intuition and an exhausting “helicopter-parent” style of accountability coaching. It was like the 20% of the clients who weren’t getting good results took up 80% of my effort, and it was draining my passion for my business. Completing my Certification with Kylie has been the best decision of my career. The very next month after finishing I created a new program and made $30,000 in new sales. I now have a repeatable system to coach my clients and I can get them both immediate AND long-lasting change, sometimes in less than 40 minutes. In the past 12 months, I have doubled my freedom and fulfilment in my business I have created raving clients who snap up my offers.”
I signed up with Kylie because I knew that to have a bigger effect as a PT I needed to improve my understanding of how the mind works. Through NLP Coach training I now have great coaching techniques that break through all sorts of negative behaviour patterns. I’ve noticed big improvements in all areas of my life including my own personal finances and my client retention. This has allowed me new freedom to work on scaling my business and helping even more people with less one on one time from myself. The coach training has given me the ability to fully unlock the power of your mindset and those that don’t have this skill are only tapping into a small amount of their potential.
This morning I had a kick-ass coaching session with Kylie Ryan. We’ve been working together for a couple of months, and she’s the perfect person to help me integrate the rapid transformations I go through regularly. I’d been getting this vision of my fully mature creative and entrepreneurial self. His discipline, commitment, and command of wealth was 10x what mine is now, but it wasn’t really about money for him. Our coaching sessions usually roll with me saying, “Kylie, I want to be, do, and have EVERYTHING” and Kylie helping me find the archetypes and parts that aren’t integrated and bringing them together. MAGICK HAPPENS EVERY TIME.