BULIMIA: "Signs and Symptoms"
Suffice it to say, people who have an addictive relationship with food and experience themselves as engaging in "compensatory" behaviors [whether self-inducing vomiting, compulsive exercising, alternating between strict dieting and binge eating, abusing laxatives or diuretics, etc.] would meet the medical definition of bulimia. Below is a list of "signs and symptoms" characterizing Bulimia. Many, if not all, are also typical of related eating disorders with the possible exception of restricting anorexia.
Signs and symptoms Bulimia
- Preoccupation with food.
- Compensatory behavior to "undo" effect of binging. [Purging]
- Eating very rapidly or eating constantly.
- Sneaking or hoarding food - even immediately after meals.
- Feeling ashamed or fearful when confronted about the problem.
- Excessive concern about weight and body shape.
- Sense of "losing control" during binge episode.
- Feeling lonely, depressed, worried, preoccupied.
- Spending a great deal of time alone / social isolation
- Alternating between binge eating and restricting
Treating Bulimia at Milestones
Viewing Bulimia from an "addictions" perspective involves identifying a set of symptoms or traits bulimia [and] has in common with other addictions or dependencies. The link below represents a set of these symptoms from which a comparison can be made.
The program offered at Milestones is comprised of two primary elements, each offering participants the opportunity to achieve long-term recovery outside the confines of a hospital.
The first is the setting - utilizing apartment-style residences affording program participants to recover in a "real world" environment. Residents grocery shop with our dietitian at local grocery stores, learn to prepare their own meals per the prescribed meal food / meal plan they have formulated along with the dietitian, attend a full schedule of groups and individual therapies at our clinical campus [near the residential complex], attend local community support groups in the evenings, and visit with our physicians and clinical staff regularly throughout their stay per the program's daily schedule. In effect, the experience is one of providing a supportive and structured setting without the restrictive elements of a "hospital" or institutional environment.
Each resident is assigned a "buddy" upon admission who provides support and a measure of peer supervision during the initial phase of treatment. Although residents are not permitted to be by alone during the first part of their stay, the "spirit" of the residential guidelines are to provide support rather than intended to invade one's privacy. The security of being in the company of others often is invaluable in reducing or eliminating the circumstances from which an individual is likely to engage in their eating disorder.
Secondly, Milestones approaches treatment from a more "holistic" perspective. Doing so is best described by the acronym "SERF" - Spirituality, Exercise, Rest, and Food Plan.
Spirituality need not equate with any religious or spiritual beliefs imposed on or by anyone. In fact, Spirituality at Milestones simply is left up to the individual to cultivate with his or her own working definition. For most, it is a belief in a "higher power" and still for others it may be a return to some of their original religious beliefs. For everyone, it is an individual journey.
Exercise is individualized and represents collaboration between the resident and clinical team. It is meant to be in the service of restoring and maintaining a healthy body rather than an "intensive" means of controlling body weight.
Rest is simply about finding the correct balance in recovery between work and play and narrowing the gap between an "all or none", "feast or famine" approach to daily living.
The food plan suggested by Milestones is a blend of structured eating and a combination of healthy, whole foods that are bought and prepared by participates with the guidance and supervision of our dietitian and ancillary staff. In brief participants select their own preferences within the guidelines of their individual food plans. The guidelines require participants to abstain from "junk foods" - namely eliminating most highly processed [sugar and flour laden] food products during [and in most instances after] the treatment process.
It is important to mention most participants who seek treatment for bulimia may have a tendency to focus on "trading in the binging and purging to become better at restricting or "losing weight" and as such, it is important to understand the predisposition to replace one form of an eating disorder for another. Acknowledging this is helpful to maintaining the prescribed treatment plan both during and after the residential treatment experience. In effect, the "end game" in recovery is allowing your body to achieve a healthy balance between what is the "cosmetic goal" and what a healthy weight [set point] is for the individual. Likewise, it's important to realize recovery does not necessarily equate with weight gain.
Each participant is assigned a primary individual therapist whom they meet with on a regular basis during their stay as well as attend groups and experiential therapies per the schedule In sum, the physical and emotional aspects of bulimia are addressed within these formats and participants are also exposed to relevant support groups within the community.