Reclaiming the Self: Recovering from an Eating Disorder

Little did I know as I began therapy for my eating disorder in early 1973, that I would be embarking on a life-long spiritual journey. What began as an attempt to stop the bingeing and purging (there was no such term as bulimia back then), was the first step in healing not only my mind and body, but my spirit as well.

All I knew was that I was miserable. My whole life revolved around dieting, bingeing, purging, and obsessing about how fat I felt. I wanted so much to live without the constant obsession about food and my body, but I had almost lost hope. I had been in Overeaters Anonymous (OA) for a while, but that approach only served to intensify my focus of food and weight. Then I heard about two women who were doing groups with a “non-diet” approach—Susie Orbach and Carol Munter. They advocated giving up dieting and learning to listen to the inner signals of body hunger and fullness, letting the body determine what, when and how much food it needed. Back in those days no one had heard of their non-diet approach. No one had yet heard of Carol and Susie, for that matter (though they were soon to become very well known). To my OA friends, the notion of giving up outside controls over my eating was considered absurd at best—and dangerous at worst. But give up those controls I did.

Over the next few years, I learned to listen to my own body’s voice. I was surprised to learn that it knew exactly how much food it needed if I was willing to listen to that voice. In fact, the more I listened, the stronger that voice became. Whereas I had been able to eat a gallon of ice cream in my bingeing days, after a year of working on my eating problem, I would become uncomfortably full eating more than a dish of ice cream. Evidently, during my binges I had missed those faint signals of fullness. When I learned to pay attention to those signals however, they became stronger—literally screaming at me to stop eating.

As I began to trust that body wisdom regulate my food intake, I learned that it spoke to other body needs as well. My body wisdom told me whether I needed to rest, exercise, sleep, or just meditate. I started to live my life less dependent on outside authorities for guidance, as I relied more and more on that inner body wisdom to guide me.

And then, over time, a strange thing began to happen to me. I realized that my awareness of the inner voice of wisdom had slowly expanded to the point that the inner guidance was always there. When faced with life struggles, I could now “go inside” and ask my inner wisdom, (what I call my guide), what I needed to do. That inner guide helped me understand my thoughts and feelings, and time and again she has pointed the way out of troubles and pain.

I have grown spiritually through my attention to that inner voice of wisdom. I live that way more and more every day. “She” is always there, and always wise. She is my connection to my higher self. My life has become more centered and peaceful over the past twenty years, despite many difficult times. That voice of inner wisdom led me out of my eating disorder. It helped me deal with my daughter’s brain tumor, and it helped get me through a serious illness and kidney transplant. Now it leads me to a more fulfilled life in every way.

Getting over an eating disorder can be the first step in an ongoing spiritual journey. For me, recovery was not just about getting over bulimia and reclaiming my body, it was about reclaiming my self. This inner voice motivated me to share my experience with others and subsequently write Weight Loss From The Inside Out. I have been quite pleased with the positive response it has received from people seeking an effective approach to weight control.

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About The Author / Credits: Marion Bilich, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in Hewlett, NY. Dr. Bilich specializes in weight control. Her book Weight Loss From the Inside Out is available at SelfHelpBooks.com.

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