Tag Archives: Eating disorders

More than a body (2021)

I haven’t recommended any book to do with eating disorders so far. I wonder why because I do read quite a few though not usually cover to cover. But I came across this book published last year, written by both PhD twin sisters, and found it pretty relevant. 

More than a body: Your body is an instrument, not an ornament, by Linsay Kite PhD and Lexie Kite PhD

There are six chapters covering:

  • Rising with Body Image Resilience
  • Critiquing and Creating your Media Environment
  • From Self-Objectification to Self-Actualisation
  • From Divided to United as Women
  • Reclaiming Health and Fitness for yourself
  • A Resilient Reunion

It’s less so a workbook (unlike “The Inside Scoop on Eating Disorder Recovery”), but more of a journey of gaining perspectives, awareness and insights. However, in the beginning of each chapter there are usually some questions asked, for reflection purposes and it’d be good to do so before you begin reading the chapter. 

My own Journey with Eating (disorders)

Recently I’ve been seeing three teenage girls (as individual clients) for body image and eating related issues. This reminds me a lot about my own journey of eating disorder, which I wasn’t aware of back then.

It was during the years when I was still doing my undergraduate in the UK. I remember asking my friend who lived with me to keep my chocolate bars for me. For example, I could get a pack of 5 snickers bars, and asked her to only “release” one to me each day after dinner. I also remember chewing food and then spitting them out just so they don’t go into my digestive system and make me put on more weight. (I obviously love myself enough to not purge?)

This usually happens to people who are highly disciplined, or thought they have great self-control. So imagine how we feel when we can’t control yet another binge or compensation that follows. But the fact is, for people who don’t even care, they wouldn’t be worrying so much about working hard to compensate for the food that you just stuffed into your body. So no, it’s not about being disciplined and/or having self-control.

It’s also NOT about willpower. The physical and emotional restrictions (with your discipline and control) actually make them worse. I used to eat only 6 to 8 apples for the whole weekend (both Saturday and Sunday). As I was working so it’s easier to not focus on food. I remember feeling my heart beating very hard when I lied on the bed in the end of the day. I can still recall the feeling even today. These restrictions, likely lead to more binging later. From an evolutionary perspective, food was scarce back then, and when you starve, chances are your body wants you to eat as much as you can the next time you encounter food!

It is also double rewarding – when you binge you normally feel good and then right after awful and guilty, then you purge and feel great again. From a behavioural perspective, you are never punished but even rewarded, you are a lot more likely to do it again next time, and this is what makes it really difficult to change as over time it gets reinforced more and more strongly.

I wonder how many people suffered or have suffered from this and never talk about it (or realise it). If you watch the Crown you would have seen Princess Diana’s binging and purging behaviour too, and this definitely isn’t something people would do or share or talk about in public. The student that I am seeing wouldn’t tell anyone about it, not even to her mum whom she shares everything with (yet the mum was also always restricting herself and wanting to lose weight all her life). Another one was referred by the college clinic to see me, and it took her 4 months to eventually arrive at my room. And myself too, I don’t think I told anyone about this, although the thing is I wasn’t even aware that my relationship with food was problematic. And looking back, the problematic relationship started way earlier in my childhood, when I always ate with my older siblings who can swallow food in lightning speed!

I believe I would never properly recover from my bulimia if I weren’t a psychology graduate. Imagine me doing psychology learning about all the types of eating disorders but never thought that I was living one. I realised it much later. But my relationships with eating can still be unhealthy sometimes. Ultimately, what really helps me are:

  • Always taking time to savour food
  • Urge surfing
  • Postponing the wishes for another cookie or chocolate (As long as I managed to postpone it, I almost always forget about it later)
  • Physical activities, doing them in a not-for-compensation way
  • Being with my family
  • Or at least have people around me when I eat!
  • Eating enough (not restricting myself!)

Share your tips too!