The Cyclical Nature of Eating Disorders

October 31, 2013   •  Posted in: 

One of the first steps toward overcoming an eating disorder is understanding its cyclical nature. If you are struggling with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, while you may not consciously identify the following progressive components as they are manifesting in your behavior, upon closer examination they should resonate with you, and ring true.

1) Unease or dissatisfaction.

There is something in your life that is just not quite right. In fact, it feels really wrong. It could be sadness, anger, or resentment stemming from a relationship, an event, or a situation. Or it may just be a general sense of negativity, or even boredom, inherent to the general outlook on life you have developed as a result of past experiences, perhaps starting in childhood.

2) Desire to exert control over these negative feelings.

You can only feel bad for so long before resorting to behaviors that will bring some sort of relief. Some people turn to alcohol, drugs, and other addictions to distract their thoughts and suppress their feelings. You have turned to food.

3) Using food to distract and suppress.

If you have anorexic behavior, you feel a sense of control in your ability to resist hunger and abstain from eating. If you have bulimic or disordered binge eating behavior, you control your thoughts and feelings by focusing on food consumption, followed by purging in the case of bulimics.

4) Negative feelings re-emerge.

Whatever respite your disordered eating gives you from negative feelings, it is short-lived. Only now, the negative feelings are compounded by the guilt, shame, self-loathing, and hopelessness associated with your disordered eating.

5) Self-hatred renewed.

It is all too much to bear. You hate your behavior, and yourself, more than ever. It cannot go on like this. Something must done.

6) Repeat the behavior.

Though the previous disordered eating behavior garnered no true or lasting relief from the pain, you are desperate for something, even if it is the briefest of respites. Thus, the behavior rears its ugly head.

Clearly, what starts as an activity intended to exert control actually becomes a behavior that controls you. Fortunately, you need not go it alone. Seek help from a professional counselor. Hope is out there. You just have to find it.

Are you struggling with an eating disorder? Take our eating disorder survey. A Place of Hope has eating disorder treatment and resources that can help.

Dr. Gregory Jantz

Pioneering Whole Person Care over thirty years ago, Dr. Gregory Jantz is an innovator in the treatment of mental health. He is a best-selling author of over 45 books, and a go-to media authority on behavioral health afflictions, appearing on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN. Dr. Jantz leads a team of world-class, licensed, and...

Read More

Related Posts

Eating Disorder Recovery: Coming Out of Exile

By: Dr. Gregory Jantz  •  November 18, 2016

One of the first bricks you need to remove is the one that hides the truth about your relationship with food from those who truly love you. They need to see what this has been doing to you.

What Is a Binge Eating Disorder?

By: Dr. Gregory Jantz  •  February 3, 2022

Everyone overeats sometimes. But for some people, this pattern of overeating becomes chronic and severe. A binge eating disorder is a lot more serious than having a little too much ice cream in the middle of the night 一 it’s a dangerous mental health condition (specifically an eating disorder) that...

Detour of Denial: Accepting Pain of Past Key to Eating Disorder Treatment

By: Dr. Gregory Jantz  •  November 20, 2013

When someone seeks treatment for an eating disorder, they want help addressing the immediate issue at hand -- their anorexic, bulimic, or compulsive overeating behavior. What they often have a hard time accepting, though, is that there's a lot more to it than that. Though there are a number of...

Get Started Now

"*" indicates required fields

Main Concerns*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Whole Person Care

The whole person approach to treatment integrates all aspects of a person’s life:

  • Emotional well-being
  • Physical health
  • Spiritual peace
  • Relational happiness
  • Intellectual growth
  • Nutritional vitality