Does healing your gut have anything to do with dieting? With restricting? With eliminating the foods you love? Yes and no.
Your gut is the gateway to your health and actually plays a much bigger role in your journey towards recovering from bulimia than you might think. In fact, 90% of serotonin (your feel good hormone) comes from your gut! Your gut and vagus nerve (connects the gut to the brain) contribute to digestion and serotonin levels. So for instance, when you say you have an upset stomach or leaky gut your mental health takes a hit too- you may feel anxious, stressed, depressed even OCD behaviors may come into play. Of course, what happens next with someone struggling with bulimia is that they tend to gravitate towards a binge so they can fill the void in their stomach or escape any emotion that is uncomfortable such as depression.
Gut health is crucial to successfully recovering from bulimia as well as all around mental well-being. When you feel good, you have a higher level of self-empowerment. When you feel good, you make better decisions. When you feel good, you have more energy. When you feel good, you are able to use recovery tools such as therapy, self-help books, meetings etc., more effectively. Certainly seeing a nutritionist or certified health and wellness coach is also beneficial.
Here are some simple steps to start working on your gut health:
Certainly there is no single magical remedy to sustain recovery from Bulimia-there are many from the most important which is to work with a professional to others such as participating in support groups.
But one lifestyle that I embrace is eating mindfully and eating healthy and nutritious foods. I believe and have experienced firsthand that eating the right foods has had a profound impact on maintaining my life without the daily struggle of bulimia. Am I advocating a diet? Absolutely not! Am I labeling foods as either “good” or “bad?” Again, absolutely not! Having spent 25 years of my life struggling with Bulimia with all the crazy behaviors that accompanied this disorder, I am 100% convinced that what food choices I make directly affects my entire mind and body, my mental and physical self.
So how do you know what is truly healthy and what is not? A little research and applying common sense goes a long way. Start with the basics, take one step at a time and truly take inventory on how you feel both physically and mentally.
One place to start is with eating whole foods. Think of whole foods as those that grow in the ground or live in the sea. Eat protein rich foods and limit your intake of sugary foods and refined carbs. Again, this is not a diet, but a lifestyle change with the goal of decreasing the physical and emotional urge to engage in your bulimic behaviors. When you eat a healthy diet and use food as fuel for your body you will begin to shift your relationship with food and your relationship with your bulimic-self. For me, I no longer feel deprived (why can’t I have cookies...) but revived (it feels good making sound choices to nourish my body and mind. My bulimia does not hold the power it once had over me. I feel happy).
Eating foods rich in nutrition is a win-win no matter what. But for me the best part of eating well is the absence of the urge to run to bulimia (for whatever reason, good, bad or indifferent). My body feels better and my mental being feels better.
After a 25 yr battle with Bulimia I am recovered and dedicated to helping others also win their battles with Bulimia or other Eating Disorders. I have chronicled my struggle, as well as strategies for recovering, in two books and encourage anyone who is struggling to reach out to me confidentially