I am pleased that you have found the comments useful thus far. I wanted to follow up with some of your questions.
My mom HAS GAINED weight during the past months of eating. She is eating 3000-5000 Cals per day, probably averaging 4,000 Cals per day. She eats a lot of bananas; home-made mashed potatoes with butter, ground beef, and peas (like a ‘Shepard’s pie’); raisins; raw honey; scrambled and boiled eggs; liver sausage from US Wellness Meats; yogurt; Cheese; other fruit; and sweet potatoes. We buy everything Organic/Grass-fed from stores, and eggs are pastured from some local farmer’s markets. That’s her ‘healthy food’ that she eats a decent amount of. But, SHE ALSO eats throughout the week AT LEAST 2 Medium pizzas from Papa John’s; 1 burrito from either Chipotle or Qdoba; some beef teriyaki with extra rice and no salad from a local Teriyaki place; LOTS of Organic Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream; and MANY of the Organic Nature’s Path Pop-Tart-like things (toaster pastries). So, she definitely balances ‘health food’ with ‘junk food’. She and I have both found that we simply feel better (energy, mood, sleep, other symptoms) when we eat some calorically dense foods (sugar, salt, fat) in addition to our fruit/meat/starch. But the opposite is also true. If she eats pizza and teriyaki several days in a row, she’ll crave a couple meals in a row of just fruit and yogurt. So, she has found it best to just FOLLOW CRAVINGS/INSTINCT. (But we do try, within reason, to avoid vegetable oils, corn syrups, artificial preservatives/flavorings/colors.)
My Mom started at about 285lbs on 5’2″ several years ago with MANY health problems. I got her on the paleo bandwagon (which I do now regret, in hindsight) in about 2008. She lost weight to about 175’ish (with slight fluctuations) by summer of 2010. She had better energy than she had in years, her arthritis was improved, and her skin was consistently better. But, starting in middle 2010, she started to worsen in EVERYTHING. By summer 2013, we really became desperate. We had tried by then nuances of the low carb/paleo thing including the Perfect Health Diet (slightly higher carbs, about 100-150 grams per day mostly from potatoes and rice), the no starch ‘Specific Carb Diet’ approach, and some Intermittent Fasting. Nothing worked and her health kept getting worse. So, the idea was: ‘If restrictions aren’t working, let’s do the opposite and see what happens.’ I don’t know her present weight exactly (she won’t tell me), but she says she’s gained about 20 pounds since summer 2013. Coming off of low carb, intermittent fasting approach, the bulk of that is water and intestinal mass, but surely some is also visceral fat. In anorexics, the weight ‘overshoot’ is typically 10%, and it has been reported that ‘chronic dieters’ may overshoot by 20%. Then, after many months (6-18 months for most), the weight redistributes and/or comes off (without dieting, just due to an increase in natural metabolism). So, we’re just trying to have her live instinctively for the first time in decades and we’ll be patient.
I would expect that you WILL GAIN weight, and you should expect that. If you have some people around you who judge your weight to be somehow ‘moral’ or a ‘personal pejorative’, then this may be tough for you. If you are the one who judges the person in the mirror, either stop looking into the mirror or try to focus on something else, like how much strength you have in trying to overcome the demons of health, or how unique your struggles have been and how beautiful you are in light of these. I would recommend you consider putting your scale away somewhere if you think it gives you anxiety.
But, the good news is that weight gain implies your body IS WORKING, since it is smartly trying to protect itself for next dieting go-around, which your lifestyle has led it to think will happen again soon. The typical progression is weight gain (water, intestinal mass, visceral fat) -> then stable wight with body temperature normalization and improvements in hormones (mood, period cycle, sleep, etc.) -> then (last) tissue regeneration and weight redistribution, fat loss. I encourage you to see on YourEatopia.com various experiences with anorexics trying to recover. MOST ARE NOT skinny when they start recovery, and MOST DON’T EVEN KNOW that they are anorexics, until they get some help from someone. Like everyone, we all are effected by the ‘cultural wisdom’ around us, and ‘Eat Less, Exercise More’ is the Self-Evident Truth that our culture won’t shut up about, even though most ‘scientific data’ refutes it.
I also wanted to comment on your note that your temp drops after you eat. My mom and I have both experienced this, and MANY MANY people say the same on this and other forums. Food and Eating (especially starch) is very ‘Parasympathetic’, meaning that it shuts off the ‘Sympathetic’ or ‘Stress’ hormone system of your body. (Think of Parasympathetic as ‘rest and digest’ and Sympathetic and ‘fight or flight’.) In cases where the stress hormones are the primary system raising your body temperature (as opposed to thyroid hormones, which are not ‘stress’ hormones), then eating will very quickly make you cold. This PROVES that you are overrun with stress hormones. So, eating enough and consistently will, overtime (weeks to months) raise your thyroid hormones and lower your stress hormones and prevent you from being so cold after you eat. For my mom and me both, it took about 4 months. But some days we still notice a little of this. But last summer, before re-feeding and coming off of Paleo and Intermittent Fasting, I would be shivering very uncomfortably even with a sweatshirt and pants on after a big bowl of rice. So, the point is, do what you can to be comfortable, including wearing more clothes, but KEEP EATING. Your body is ‘telling’ you that it needs it.
Your brownie and cake cravings are a sign that your body needs quick calories. Your are good to deliver the goods. Such strong cravings will go way eventually, but please keep following cravings wherever they may take you. I wish you a quick and pain-free recovery, but I would put money down that that won’t happen. The road will be long and arduous. But there is light on the other side. Please keep us all updated on your progress and setbacks.