Life without Anorexia

My motto is
'Dont let the sadness of your past & the fear of your future ruin the happiness of your present'

My life at the moment is completely different to how it once was. I spent 5 years sick with anorexia nervosia and depression as well as struggling with self harm and overexercising. I spent 2 years in different treatment centres.
And since 2012 i have been declared healthy from my eating disorder.

I have been blogging for 7 years, and my whole journey is written in my posts. I now represent healthy and happiness. I want to show anyone struggling that it is possible to recover, no matter how hard it may seem.

I now blog about recovery, my life, veganism and positivity!

If you have any questions leave them in the comment section as i am much quicker at answering there, otherwise you can always send an email: lifewithoutanorexia@hotmail.com

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Extreme hunger

Ive often got asked about extreme hunger, and whether it is common or not. And it is something which causes alot of anxiety within the person. I went through it during recovery, and i felt awful. I thought i was binging, and so restricted to keep myself from eating the amount that my body needed. Because eating loads, and not knowing how much you are eating is anxiety provoking.
  But i found this great article from - http://www.youreatopia.com/blog/2012/5/22/extreme-hunger-what-is-it.html - which talks about Extreme hunger and Why you need to eat.
   So read through the article and hopefully it helps anyone going through this stage.. :)


Extreme hunger is a common experience for almost everyone undergoing recovery from any kind of restrictive eating disorder.
Next to the presence of edema (water retention), extreme hunger is one of the most anxiety-provoking elements of recovery. 
It can happen at any time in the recovery process and varies for everyone as to how long it lasts. Many of you will have already seen this information, but it is worth repeating:

Extreme Hunger:

1) Starts day one.
2) Starts a few days or weeks in.

3) Does not happen.

4) Lasts from months two through six uninterrupted.

5) Shows up and disappears intermittently throughout.
6) Shows up near the end of weight restoration.
7) Blasts away like a fire hose from start to finish.

And if I have missed any variation in the above 7 items I can assure you that it is still perfectly normal.
During this time you will want (and very much need) far more than 2500-3500 calories a day and may find yourself consuming anywhere from 6,000-10,000 calories in a single day. That causes panic for pretty much everyone on the restrictive eating disorder and they lock down on the incorrect thoughts that they will “just keep going” and are “bingeing”.
The enemy is restriction. When extreme hunger hits then you commit to never eating less than the recommended guidelines* on any given day no matter what you ate the day before. It is restriction that will pull you to relapse, not the extreme hunger itself.

*Minimum Recommended Intake Guidelines for Recovery:
a) Females under the age of 25: 3000 calories and sedentary.
b) Females 5’0”-5’8” over the age of 25: 2500 calories and sedentary.
c) Males under the age of 25: 3500 calories and sedentary.
d) Males over the age of 25: 3000 calories and sedentary.
e) Females over 5’8” over age 25: 2700 calories; under age 25: 3200 calories.
f) Females over age 25 and under 5’0” as well as post-menopausal women can lower the minimum intake to 2300, but more is always better.

A few patients (very, very few) do not experience extreme hunger and just go through the process steadily at the minimum required intake plus a few hundred extra calories here and there as desired. The vast majority hit extreme hunger.
It is a unique experience because often the digestive system struggles to keep up with demand. Many describe it as "I'm not hungry, but I'm hungry", or (because the emotions are so difficult to put into words) they will define it as though they are just eating out of boredom.
Usually for non-ED humans the complex signals that arrive from both the digestive system and all other areas of the body are in agreement. The physical fullness of the digestive system coincides with the much more arcane and complex satiation experienced throughout the body's cells.
The signals that the brain receives as to whether the digestive tract is physically capable of handling more food or not is best described as the sensation of "fullness".
The signals the brain receives as to whether there is sufficient energy present throughout the body is the experience of satiation and it involves an emotional response as well that reinforces the neural pattern demanding action.
For those in recovery, often the digestive system is somewhat atrophied in several ways: the stomach may be practicing gastroparesis (drastic slowing of the emptying of the contents into the small intestine to try to extract maximum energy from the too-little food coming in); the enzyme-producing organs are running at half-speed (again to conserve energy); and the bacterial colonies in the large intestine (the good ones) have been decimated due to insufficient energy as well.

As you begin eating to the recommended minimal guidelines, the digestive system has quite a bit of catch-up. And if that coincides with the cells throughout the body demanding a massive infusion of energy to repair damage, then you end up experiencing fullness and hunger at the same time, which is disturbing of course.
The digestive system is frantically sending messages to the brain "I'm going as fast as I can here" and the cells throughout the body are screaming at the brain "More energy now!
Respond to the hunger always; never allow any restriction to creep in. To deal with a digestive system still getting up to speed, eat very calorie-dense foods (lots of ultra-processed, fast food options are great for this phase), snack on nuts and seeds constantly and eat tons of small meals to help the digestive system cope as it gets back to normal.

To summarize, you may find extreme hunger triggers relapse and you need to be prepared and remind yourself of the following facts when it happens:
1) You do not keep eating 6,000-10,000 calories a day indefinitely. There is no concept of "getting used to" the amounts, or being unable to stop.
2) Your body really, really needs that amount of energy.

A daily dose of wear and tear is naturally repaired each day in the human body.
Now imagine a fully stitched hem on a skirt, but there are always five stitches of the hem that come undone by the end of the day and have to be sewn up that night.
After only a few months' worth of restrictive eating behaviors of any kind and the hem is now frayed throughout. There are stitches missing everywhere, long loose threads that can catch really easily and unravel even more of the hem, and so on.
Now, the owner of this skirt finally decides she's going to get out the thread and fix the whole mess. But she still wears the skirt everyday and those five stitches still have to be dealt with at the end of the day.
If she only pulls out enough thread to support fixing the usual five stitches, well that hem will never get fully repaired and will continue to deteriorate -- think of that as analogous to providing 2200 calories per day to your body to 'recover' from an eating disorder.
If she pulls out more thread, she's able to attend to some of the other stitches and that's an analogy for eating the recommended guidelines every day to recover from an eating disorder.
If she pulls out even more thread to attend to some of the areas where loose threads may unravel the whole hem, then that's extreme hunger.
Because the woman sewing is essentially the body and we cannot see the hem it needs to fix, we just go with the demand for more thread when it comes up.





Extreme hunger happens because your body is not just addressing the need to restore weight to the optimal set point, it also has to repair a lot of physical damage that occurs when you create energy deficits within the ecosystem that is your body.
When you restrict energy intake and/or create energy deficits with exercise and exertion, then the body does two things in response to that vacuum you are creating: 1) stops whatever biological functions it can to save energy and 2) takes energy from fat tissue, bones, muscles, organs and nerves to fill the void.

5 comments:

  1. this is so true! no matter how much i eat the day before i always wake up at 4AM starving haha. i think i have like 3 breakfasts. have you watched the series my mad fat diary? i really recommend it to you! it's about a 'bigger than normal standard' girl who has been admitted to the clinic due to her eating disorder and self harm and is now released and has to cope with a normal teenage world. of course she falls for the cutest guy and he reciprocates her feelings! her best friend is the stereotypical beauty type but the series brings over the message that even the prettiest ones have their problems. being pretty doesn't solve anything especially if the guy doesn't like you back haha it's a confidence boost watching that series!

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    1. No ive never seen that... is it on youtube, or TV?
      Sounds like a good series, i might begin watching it if i can find it!!

      Remember to listen to your body if you're hungry its ok to eat... even if its more than usual :)

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    2. haha i am! i just reliazed i gave a pretty bad summary of the series... anyway it's on youtube:)

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  2. seriously thats the best comments. i live in a world with almost no hunger. eliminating complex carbs and having carb load below 30g per day has freed me from hunger. try a ketogenic diet its amazing to no longer feel hungry 2 hours after eating pasta. why dieticians keep pushing low fat high carb is beyond me they must enjoy torturing their patients

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  3. this literally decribed my experience to a T. it was awful because it appeared on my stomach but i reminded myself that 1) weight will redistribute 2) once healthy both physically and mentally i could exercise lightly to tone up and look better than i did with a flat stomach because there was no food 3) most importantly: I didn't want to be unwell forever or worse die

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