Bulimia and Eating Disorders

Bulimia DonutOver the past forty years, Judi has helped many overcome bulimia and eating disorders. She is a public figure and advocate, known for raising awareness of these conditions and the need for early intervention. She has often said that the sooner one comes for treatment, the better the prognosis. As the past president of the Washington Society for the Study of Eating Disorders, she brought educational programs and training to new therapists and other mental health professionals, as well as to schools and women’s groups.

Judi will help you see the events that led to your bulimia in a new and different light, how it helped you survive during parts of your life, and how it now hinders you. Once you have a deep understanding of bulimia’s origin and meaning, you will be free to change your mindset and alter your behaviors. Judi will ask you the tough questions that challenge you. “Is this the way you really want to live?” and then, “Let’s envision your ‘future self’ without the worry and constraints of bulimia.”

BULIMIA

Bulimia is also called Binge-Purge Syndrome and comes from the Greek word “boulimia,” which means “ravenous hunger.” Bulimia is the most prevalent and secretive eating disorder, affecting approximately 3%-4% of the population, yet only one person in 10 comes for treatment. The ratio of men to women with bulimia is 1:10. In our Western society which places a premium on thinness, sufferers equate their value with their weight, above any other pursuits. Naomi Wolf, in her book “The Beauty Myth” states that eating disorders are the greatest “brain drain” on women, due to their internal turmoil and the time spent in the relentless pursuit of thinness. People with bulimia often suffer from coexisting conditions, such as anxiety and depression, and even addiction. They may use food to distract from uncomfortable, painful emotions. After a bulimic episode, they are desperate to get back on track, but often repeat a cycle of restriction that leads to further bingeing and purging. Dieting is the most common behavior that precedes and predicts bulimia, which is often referred to as “the diet that fails.” In fact, 95% of all dieters regain their lost weight in one to five years, increasing frustration and desperation that may lead to an eating disorder.

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized as bingeing (excessive or compulsive consumption of food) and purging (getting rid of food). Symptoms may include repeated episodes of bingeing and purging, eating beyond the point of fullness, feeling out of control during a binge, inappropriate compensatory behaviors following a binge, frequent dieting, and extreme concern with body weight and shape.

–Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association

According to MentalHelp.net and The National Institutes of Mental Health, eating disorders in women typically begin at puberty, in late adolescence or early adulthood, though the age of onset is currently decreasing. Half a million teens struggle with eating disorders or disordered eating. The incidence of bulimia in women between the ages of 10 and 39 tripled between 1988 and 1993. Males tend to have a later onset than women, though the nature of the illness is similar in both sexes.

Bulimia is often caused by stressful life events, such as the pressures of adolescence, the changing body at puberty, the loss of peer friendships and belonging to a group, bullying, and fat-shaming. It may also be triggered by family conflict, divorce, sexual abuse, death of a loved one, or the weight restrictions placed on certain sports and careers. Consider the swimmers, soccer players, gymnasts, and ballerinas who are no longer the ideal weight for their endeavor. They may not only lose the slender, athletic body that is necessary to succeed, they may also lose the sense of identity and specialness they have enjoyed.

While much has been written about young people with bulimia and eating difficulties, they are not the only group that is suffering. Many baby boomer women who came of age in the 20th century are still struggling with chronic eating disorders and body dissatisfaction. Sixty-two percent of women over the age of 50 feel their weight and body appearance have a negative impact on their life. For a woman in midlife struggling to remain svelte and youthful, bulimia may impact her career, marriage, partnership, children, health and happiness. As her body becomes less resilient with age, she is less able to bounce back from an episode. She increases the risk of gastrointestinal, cardiac, bone, and dental complications, as well as depression, anxiety, guilt and shame.

Judi will guide you down the path to recovery, helping you release trapped energy that may now be used for happier and more fulfilling pursuits.

HOW CAN YOU BE HELPED WITH EATING DISORDERS?

Judi’s therapeutic approach is multi-modal, tailored to your needs. Your bulimic part has most likely served you in a beneficial way, distracting you from painful emotions. Yet, after a binge, another part of you wants to stop the cycle, desperate to “get back on track.”

Judi helps you understand these conflicted parts of yourself, recognizing the existence of your eating disorder as a part of you that needs to be embraced, accepted, yet diminished. Through the work of therapy you will learn to relate to this part of yourself in a new, self-compassionate way. You will understand that your bulimia is but one part of you, and not your whole identity. You will learn how to manage your hunger cues separate from your emotional triggers, your negative self-talk, and all or nothing thinking. These changes that manage your cravings and impulses will increase your self-esteem and self-acceptance. As you become stronger, you will understand that you are capable of surviving without your eating disorder. The energy that was invested in bulimia will now be freed up for whatever endeavors and pleasures that you choose.

5530 Wisconsin Avenue
Suite 802
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
(301) 654-3211
judithasnertherapy@gmail.com

Serving: DC, Chevy Chase, Bethesda, Potomac, Arlington