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Trouble recognising hunger signals

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    Hi, I’m Pauline, I’m 38 and I have been trying to raise my metabolism for a couple of months since reading Diet Recovery 2. I have 20 years of dieting/bingeing under my belt and I am determined not to go back to that EVER!!

    My temps are finally getting up there from 96.7 when I first started to 99.1 this afternoon (hurray!!) but I have noticed that this week I have been having trouble realising when I am hungry. I don’t know it I am hungrier now that my temps are up or if I’ve just ignored my hunger signs for so long that it takes a while for me to know I need to eat but it seems that one minute I don’t feel hungry and the next I have pains in my tummy from having not eaten quickly enough. Today it happened less than 2 hours after lunch, whereas before I would have to have not eaten for several hours to feel like this. It’s horrible because then I have stomach ache for 3 hours even after I eat. I’m not restricting in any way and eat with gay abandon when I do feel hungry!

    Anyone else have any experience with this? Should I just try and eat something every few hours even if I don’t feel hungry? I’m trying to follow my natural appetite, but maybe I’m not good enough at “listening” to it yet?

    Oh, and I have had swollen hands and legs for 6 weeks and this week I am gaining weight on my middle. I feel huge and uncomfortable but I’m not going to give up! My body is not my own just now, but at least I’m not cold haha!


    Hey Pauline- welcome! Glad you’re seeing some positive improvements.

    Appetite can be huge during recovery and if your body is doing lots of repair work, it can require a tremendous number of calories to get there. You could try to eat on a schedule even when you’re not hungry and just establish a regular eating rhythm that works for you. Regular patterning will entrain the body to get hungry at regular times in anticipation of food, so if you try this, you might find yourself ready for each mini-meal after an adjustment period.

    You didn’t mention how long you went before eating after you got hungry and then had a post-meal stomach ache. If you waited a long time between hunger and eating, then maybe reducing that hungry window will help, while allowing you to follow your natural appetite. You could keep ready-made, easily accessible, tasty food nearby for when that sudden hunger kicks in. Something like meatloaf or mashed potatoes or lasagna or mac and cheese, or cheese and bread, whatever sounds good and can be ready to eat in a few minutes.

    Another consideration- the body goes through all sorts of changes, including edema like you mentioned, and digestive quirks, as it adjust and becomes stronger. Just hanging in there and going easy on yourself while raising metabolic rate will often help those issues along without any targeted intervention.

    Good luck!


    What you describe is fairly common when refeeding. If you haven’t read yet then I highly recommend it. There is a wealth of information there, and it is an important resource for recovering from restrictive eating and lowered metabolism because it lays out what to expect pretty clearly. There is a lot of information there about edema, weight gain, and hunger – specifically extreme hunger.


    Rob, thanks for your reply, it’s really encouraging to read your words! It’s good to know that it’s pretty common to have this type of experience with refeeding. It’s been (and will continue to be I imagine!) a steep learning curve so far, and no day is the same. Some days I’m eating all around me and other days I have no interest in food at all and have to make myself eat!

    When I had the stomach pains it had been almost 2 hours since my last meal, so not very long really. Last night I had to get back out of bed to eat (I had been reading so didn’t go to sleep right away) and then I had trouble falling asleep! Then this morning, a mere 6 hours later, I woke up feeling ravenous (but with a temp of 98.5 yay) and had to eat right away. I’ve been making sure to eat very regularly today and guess what? No afternoon slump at all.

    I had a big meal of chilli beef and rice an hour ago and now I can feel rumblings again! I’m going to roll with this and see what happens. Just keep eating, just keep eating :)

    j-lo, thanks for the reminder! I’ve been reading bits of YE about what to expect with refeeding, but hadn’t got to the part about extreme hunger yet :) I kind of assumed that was just about the very start when your brain goes mad for all the stuff you restricted before. I have been through that, then gone through the disinterest, and now I seem to be back at the “eat everything” bit again!

    Thanks for the reassurance, I’ll just keep plodding on and hope that in time the belly & swelling will go down again. I feel like I have someone else’s body just now!

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