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Anemia during refeeding

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    I started refeeding in early March, 2014, mostly following the guidelines on YourEatopia but also following Matt’s advice in his books. I switched from eating a lot of red meat and not much else (except sugar binges) to eating a lot of carbs and dairy. The main reason I stopped eating a lot of red meat was financial, and I sort of hoped that eating more calories would compensate, then put it out of my mind. Eating more calories was good for me in that I started sleeping better and my digestion improved. I also got really fat.

    In March 2015 I got some blood work done and was severely anemic, with hemoglobin 80 g/L (normal range 120-160). (I was getting enough protein.)
    Symptoms of anemia: being out of breath and tired a lot, same as symptoms during refeeding! Also I got really pale, but have always thought of myself as a paleface, so didn’t really think anything of it.

    At the same time, I had been relapsing more and more over the previous two months, and had been having a hard time of it even before that. So I quit eating to minimums (as recommended on YourEatopia) and went back to eating a hefty serving of red meat every day, plus whatever carbs I could afford on top of that. I also started taking iron pills (2/day until now, but will be switching to 1/day for the next while).

    My hemoglobin is back up and my iron and ferretin are getting there, so that’s good news. On the other hand, I’m more irritable, I don’t sleep as well, and my lactose intolerance has returned. Oh well.

    What I figured out:
    1. You need to have enough money to be able to eat what you want, as much as you want. If, like me, you have a history of anemia if you don’t eat red meat, that means money for red meat (which can be expensive). Avoiding meat for financial reasons was still restricting, so I guess I wasn’t going to recover because I was blocking myself from truly following my hunger. Only I was doing it for realistic financial reasons, not ideological/delusional ones.
    2. You need to be able to eat a varied diet so you don’t get in a rut, and also so you can pick up on cravings better. (I tend to want to eat what I’ve been eating, and waving something new under my nose can trigger a shift in what I want to eat.)
    3. Regular blood work, even if you don’t have a doctor. (I didn’t to start with.)

    Just wanted to let you all know. Hopefully this will never be a problem for the majority of you.

    Also, I recently found out about iron overload, and how some people donate blood regularly to keep their iron from getting too high. I no longer feel guilty about not donating even though I’m O-. The one time I did I was dizzy and tired for about 5 weeks (anemia!).

    I posted a slightly different version of this on YourEatopia.

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