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  • I'm scared... culture shock bringing out old eating habits

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    Old 06-20-2010, 09:56 AM   #1
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    I'm scared... culture shock bringing out old eating habits

    I'm starting to have a weird mix of bulimic/binge eating symptoms, but only in some settings of my life. I wouldn't call it an all-out eating disorder but I need to get control of it before it gets worse.

    A little background: I'll be 17 tomorrow and I've had a messed up relationship with food for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I was chubby and overate a lot. When I was 8-12, I was already weighing myself everyday, preoccupied, got out of touch with my sense of hunger, forced myself to eat based on a rule, like I can only eat half of what I'm served. I've always had a wide face, so thought I was horribly ugly, even though I had gotten down to a healthy normal weight. When I was 13, I limited myself to <too few> calories a day for a year (more or less -- but I binged a lot on weekends), lost <weight> and got to be too skinny. It was actually the beginning of some esophageal problems that have stayed with me until this day. When I was 14 I gained a little bit of weight but still felt content with my thinness. When I was 15 and started high school in a new district, I gained <weight> (didn't grow in height much), felt HUGE (really I was still at a healthy weight), was constantly trying to go on crash diets but I always ended up overeating... it was a rollercoaster. I've always had a twisted body image, but I've been aware of it so I never paid much attention to how I see myself in the mirror.

    About when I turned 16, I started going to a support group and a therapist and dealing with some of the trauma of my childhood that caused my eating problems (parent divorce, shaming mother, lack of support). All by my own token -- my family never offered me this stuff, I asked for the money and figured it all out by myself. They had never even acknowledged an eating disorder or excessive shyness, and I had never shared with them (or anyone!) how often I daydreamed about food or how unhappy I was. My eating habits had gotten a LOT better through this whole last year. Much healthier. I didn't think about food when it wasn't mealtime, and at mealtime I usually tried to make healthy choices. Though I still binged from time to time, it was pretty normal. I just found it difficult to stop eating once I'd started. But my mental health had improved a lot, I'd gotten better at making connections with others and being myself as well.

    Now I've been on a high school study abroad for four months. The first month, I lost weight because I didn't care about food. The next month was reasonable, I ate but I didn't overeat so much. But these last two months, I've been bingeing and purging (vomiting) quiet often. Sometimes I get into a frenzy of stress--I can actually FEEL the intense anxiety coming on--then decide I can't take it and I go on a binge. Being alone downtown is a trigger for this, or the mornings before school starts when I'm stressing about the day and what people will think of me. Another trigger is when I start feeling the intense desperation/helplessness of being so far away from everything I've ever known. The last trigger is just starting eating--when I start eating, it's very hard to pull away and stop before I finish what's in front of me. This one might have to do with will-power, I'm not sure.

    I read 'The Food and Feelings Workbook,' and I know quite a bit about psychology. That's why I'm so confused! I feel like I should be able to handle this. I recently went on a 10 day vacation (got back Monday) with a bunch of other exchange students. During my trip, I didn't overeat once and I ate very little at each meal and found it easy to stop eating whenever. Now that I'm back here in my daily life, ALL my symptoms are back and strong. School gets out July 9, and at that point I'm going to go on more vacations so it'll probably be easy to chill and not overeat, but until then, what should I do? How can I move in the right direction? I hate the idea of gaining weight, and I hate the idea that I'm not doing right to my body. I want to understand why I'm acting this way. I need someone to give me some words of comfort and wisdom and advice.

    Thank you very much for reading this. It's really important to me and it means a lot.

    Last edited by mod-anon; 06-20-2010 at 11:05 AM. Reason: edited triggering passages

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    bulimia, culture shock, disordered eating, psychology, teenager

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