October 5, 2013 at 4:02 am #12999
okay so proper long boring history here but basically quasi-recovered anorexic–thrown into recovery after a year and half of clinical restriction/often total starvation/fasting (which was coming after a lifetime of “casual” restricting), attempted to follow YE protocol but was probably hitting more like between 2000-3000 cals a day (and extremely low carb). Did this for three-ish months until I was told by my docs to stop gaining as soon as i hit a non-underweight bmi. maintained this weight (130 lb at 5’7″) for a year by maniacally weighing and measuring every gram and calorie i ate. weight slowly drifted down; usually hovering between 125-127.
at the beginning of this summer i started a job at a patisserie in france, and as a result my diet was largely comprised of baguettes, butter, pain au chocolat, and other totally bomb pastries. still weighing/measuring what i could, but obviously that had to be a lot more lenient than in the past. in addition, i was often “nibbly”–picking at foods from the fridge etc, but not writing down or measuring the amounts. i was on my feet all day, but was also eating pretty much constantly.
i kept waiting for a ton of weight gain, but it never came. several times throughout the summer, i would become ravenously hungry and “binge”/reactively eat (about 5000-6000 cals). i never gained any appreciable weight but did visibly put on a significant amount of muscle. towards the end of my time there, i actually had a few glorious weeks where everything metabolically seemed to dial in: in the days after my last reactive eating blowout, every morning i would wake up, eat breakfast, and immediately feel flooded with warmth and energy. the feeling would last all day, and my workouts in the evening were fantastic. not only that but i looked forward to them–my body wanted to move. i was eating pretty much whatever i wanted and had so much energy i would run up and down the stairs just for kicks.
when my stagiaire ended i moved to a different country and went back to meticulous counting, weighing, and not going over my “maintenance” 1900 calories. all the good stuff i had achieved went away. i had a refeed or two similar to the ones i had in france, just because i was so hungry–wouldn’t gain any weight and would feel a little warmer for a few days, but then would go back to feeling cold and hungry.
eventually decided maybe a more extensive refeed was in order, so stuffed myself for two days, but only ate enough “extra” calories to gain a pound or two by CICO. to my horror, when i got on the scale five days after the refeed (and the edema had receded), i had gained six or seven pounds! i tried to go back to my normal 1900 cal/day, but was completely starving and couldn’t do anything but think about food. my saintly partner encouraged me to try a week of eating to appetite as a last-ditch experiment. figuring i had nothing to lose, i tried it, netting about 2500 cal/day. at the end of the week or so, i had gained another two pounds, about ten pounds up from where i started and thirteen from my lowest “normal” weight. what makes no sense is that looking back (since i tracked everything), i only ate enough “extra” cals over the course of the whole thing to have gained five! ( and again, i waited for water retention/bloating to subside before weighing)
here i completely freaked out, and have been strictly back on the 1900/day ever since (about a week and a half). i’ve been starving a lot of the time but think my appetite is starting to blunt itself down. what is happening here? why was i able to eat pretty much all the tartines i wanted over the summer and experience all the symptoms of a repaired metabolism, but then when i tried to repeat the process here, it completely flopped? and what’s more, what can i do about all this sudden weight? what the heck is going on, basically.
um sorry for really just asking the same really long question over and over; any thoughts would be awesome (and i would love to get The Real Amy’s opinion up in here; she seems to know the ed recovery game and its weirdness better than anyone)
thanks!October 7, 2013 at 12:37 pm #13027
Heather, my guess is that your body was feeling safe and comfortable and well-fed this summer, and then going back to the meticulous counting (instead of eating to appetite) made it feel back in starvation mode again, causing issues. Keep in mind also that it usually takes a year of normal eating after an ED before metabolic recovery happens. Relapses set the process back. At one point in my recovery I decided to try vegetarianism and my body freaked out because it didn’t have enough protein or calories, and it responded with reactive hypoglycemia and weight gain, even though I was eating less. It is essential that your body feels it is getting what it needs, which is not only overall calories but also all the macro-nutrient and micro-nutrients it needs.
The goal in ED recovery (as I’m sure you know) is to eat 3 well-balanced meals at regular times per day, to appetite, with a snack or two. That helps your body feel safe and well-fed again.
That said, a few additional questions, just in case:
1) What country did you go back to? One thing to be aware of is the flour in France is very different than the US, for example. This may not sound like a big deal, but it can affect the body differently. Also fluoridated water can have metabolic impacts, and all the chemical crap in food. I doubt this is what’s going on, but it could be one additional factor. People often lose weight when going from the US to Europe due to food quality.
2) Were you feeling more happy/less stressed this summer? May not just be the food.
It may be that your body really loved the high starch-sugar-butter combo you were getting this summer, and it allowed your body to feel safe and satiated. You may need to incorporate some of that into your diet again. Maybe snack times would be a good opportunity for that.
It sounds like you are very stressed about food right now, and that is never a good thing. You are definitely very thin right now and you may also need to gain some more weight, but if your body was ok at that weight this summer, then that is a positive sign that you probably don’t need to gain a lot. Getting back in touch with your counselor or nutritionist may be helpful. They definitely would not want you to be starving and cold all the time, and may be able to help with some meal planning.
October 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm #13031
- This reply was modified 10 years, 2 months ago by The Real Amy.
hi amy, i moved to australia/nz; i know absolutely nothing about the flour down here, but the dairy and meat are all grassfed etc which is a plus
i’ve been “weight restored” for over a year now, but again, don’t know if i can say i really recovered properly or ever ate normally/to appetite
my first instinct would be to say i was way more stressed over the summer than now, but there’s been a whole bunch of panicking and tears over food and weight stuff these past few months, so i’m not sure
i’m clearly terrified of gaining more weight but also have gotten to that place of “hungry but not hungry” where i’m rarely feeling physical hunger but am thinking about and obsessing over food a lot–i’m not sure if this is a result of an actual energy deficit/need for more food or if it’s just psychological blowback to cognitively perceived “restriction” and rules
my temps have been steadily dropping; getting down today to mid 95s
i’m mostly driving myself crazy trying to determine whether this weird weight gain is just from overeating or if it’s a reaction to restriction, and if the solution is to eat more or eat less? am i “really” hungry or just being a brat about “missing out” on the “eat whatever you want” aspect of recovery? it’s maddening
thanks so much for your thoughts regardless though !October 7, 2013 at 7:57 pm #13032
This all definitely sounds like you are back in starvation mode, which is priming your body for weight gain. I would get back with your treatment team and get back on track again.October 7, 2013 at 8:43 pm #13033
not really an option since my team is all back in the states, and i’ll be down here for about another year (and since i’m not a citizen and health insurance isn’t a thing here, any professional help would be prohibitively expensive)–is there anything you would suggest doing on my own? sorry to be so helpless and peppering you with questions :/ but thank youOctober 7, 2013 at 9:12 pm #13034
Hmmm, I am definitely not a professional. The best I can suggest, from experience, is 3 balanced meals a day, and 1-2 snacks, all at regular times. No calorie counting, instead tuning into appetite. I’m not sure you can do that without professional help, though. If not, maybe stick with your regular measuring routine with the 1900 calories, but add a couple hundred calories a day for a week and see how that goes in terms of your hunger. If still hungry, add a hundred more the next week, and so on. Just make sure it’s all balanced and that you’re also getting some treats so you don’t feel deprived. Carb, protein and fat at each meal. Make sure you’re eating breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks at regular times so your body knows when to expect food.The good news is, 1900 isn’t horribly low, but it’s obviously not enough for you either. You will probably see some weight gain, but if you are meeting your appetite (not exceeding, but listening to your body) there’s a good chance it will moderate quickly, given that your weight was stable in the summer when you did this. Try to practice self-love and care with your body overall.October 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm #13035
i know the folks over at YE would say that i had screwed up recovery by not hitting the food hard in the very beginning or responding to extreme hunger, and kept my metabolism suppressed by gaining on “sub-optimal” levels; do you think there’s any validity to that? i worry about it a lot but (again) can’t tell if it’s a legitimate fear or just a bratty sense of deprivation at not getting permission to eat how much ever of whatever etcOctober 7, 2013 at 9:43 pm #13036
also, re:pro status, sorry! not meaning to put you on the spot or push you into giving advice you don’t feel comfortable/qualified to give! just looking for some non-dogmatic help, since it seems like pretty much everyone else’s advice is just “eat more”October 8, 2013 at 10:33 am #13039
Personally, I think the YE protocol is pretty good for someone just starting recovery but I don’t think it’s necessarily the only way. I recovered just plain eating to appetite, no calorie counting, with regular meal times, which I think is the way to go. You will have to get there at some point, but it sounds like you were in pretty good recovery this summer, so if I were you my goal would be to get back to that.October 8, 2013 at 11:14 am #13044BauerPowerParticipant
Heather I am RIGHT with you, recovering from an ED, and probably almost 1.5 years in. Not sure I have even started eating normal, but feeling weight stable mostly.
I totally feel like this… “i?m clearly terrified of gaining more weight but also have gotten to that place of ?hungry but not hungry? where i?m rarely feeling physical hunger but am thinking about and obsessing over food a lot?i?m not sure if this is a result of an actual energy deficit/need for more food or if it’s just psychological blowback to cognitively perceived ?restriction? and rules”
I’ll have days where I just have this mental hunger that will not go away, and I try to not count calories but I end up tallying.
I secretly know my weight is not exactly where it should be… I am comfortable where I am at and I don’t have to do TOO MUCH to remain somewhat stable with exercise. But, I still feel trapped in the ED!October 8, 2013 at 7:41 pm #13050
@BauerPower actually we sound like our deals are pretty similar, re:”don’t have to do TOO MUCH to remain somewhat stable with exercise” etc. a lot of the time i think “well i’ve done it for a year i can just count every calorie i eat forever” but i don’t know if it’s sustainable or if i even want it to be? it definitely isn’t real recovery, i’m pretty sure
and dang, it’s funny–seeing someone else say the same things and my first response is “yo, i do not think you are eating enough please eat more?” but ofc can’t come to that for my own situation (which is crazy)
but for what it’s worth, i really do think that would help you, just from reading your posts about how much you’re exercising and how tired you are. hopefully both of us can get to the place i managed to (briefly) reach a few months ago–eating any/all foods to appetite (sometimes 6000kcal/day!), having boatloads of energy and warmth, awesome workouts, and maintaining effortlessly
i still feel trapped too! but i know definitely there’s a way out and that we can get thereOctober 9, 2013 at 9:28 am #13062BauerPowerParticipant
Yes, very similar! I’ve had to dial down the exercise AGAIN because of reoccurring injury. Frustrating, but this is what happens when you don’t listen to your body. My fatigue is better, thank God. I would love to have buttloads of energy and just be in a state of being content and feeling good! I haven’t had that in a looong time. I definitely want to be in a place where calories do not matter, I think I am on my way to it as I eat regular dinners without measuring, counting, etc. Maybe I can start to do that for the entire day!October 10, 2013 at 12:31 am #13075
that sounds like a really good plan, Bauer–I’m totally kicking myself for retreating back into counting/weighing and losing all the awesome stuff I’d managed to get for my body! best of luck in your recovery efforts!
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