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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Monday, August 4, 2014

Minnesota starvation study

Source X
Did you know that most, if not all, symptoms of an eating disorder are direct results of starvation? You probably do, you have heard it a million times. But somehow, you are sure that you are the exception, the unicorn. That you enjoy being alone, are interested in baking, are addicted to bingeing and purgeing and that recovery will give you nothing but extra weight. You may feel like your eating disorder is a part of your personality, interests, identity and lifestyle, something you cant give up. You might believe that the only way to get rid of the mental symptoms is therapy. The truth is, recovery is mostly doing itself. All you need is to close your eyes for some months, eat and relax, and let yourself heal. I am not saying everything will be magically cured with refeeding, but very much will. Minnesota Starvation Study illustrates this, so we often ask people to google and read about the study. Fair enough, but reading about this study from online sources is for many too time-consuming, and the language is very advanced. Therefore, I will shortly (compared to most other sources) and simplified explain the study - what it is, what it showed, and what it can teach us. This is interesting stuff that will calm you down in recovery and during your eating disorder if you experience extreme hunger, binge-purge episodes, anxiety, isolation, low libido, weight- and food obsession and a weird body image where you feel ”huge” when you are not.

From 1944-1945, a brutal yet important experiment took place - The Minnesota Starvation Study. 36 perfectly physically and mentally healthy men basically got starved. Starved? In todays society it is called dieting. They ate around 1650 calories, and the only exercise they did was walking on a threadmill. The men lost on average 25% of their body weight. Before the starvation started, they went through a control phase, were they ate around 3200 to stay on their set point. Yay for the cereal boxes that say 2000 is the recommended intake! More about why that is bullshit here. The whole point with the experiment was to see how starvation effects us, and how to properly recover from starvation. 
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Here you have the hunks.
And then the experiment started. What happened to the 36 human guinea pigs? They got eating disorder symptoms. Like, serious eating disorder symptoms. These men had NO problems with food or body earlier, their mental health was good. What did they experience?

Food obsession and rigidity. Suddenly, food became the main conversation topic and meaning in their life. They read about food and started collecting recipes, daydreamed about food, looking through trash cans, collected kitchen utensils, drank tons of coffee and chewed bubble gum like crazy. None of the men were specially interested in food and cooking before. Now they were all mentally hobby chefs. They started doing weird things, such as toying with their food, spending up to 2 hours finishing a meal, planning how to eat and gulping food and then eat it again to get the most out of it.

Bingeing. One of the man broke the rules, and binged like crazy. Afterwards he felt guilty and disgusted by himself. Same thing happened with another one of the men. He binged hard, and afterwards he got an emotional breakdown, hated himself and, wait for it, vomited. In other words - he got clinical bulimia.

Mental problems. One man cut off three fingers. Two became psychotic. 20% experienced severe emotional problems. They got depressed, anxious, nervous and lost interest for sex and women. Quoting one of the participants;

“It’s almost too much trouble to see her even when she visits me in the lab,” one subject states. “It requires effort to hold her hand. If we see a show, the most interesting part of it is contained in scenes where people are eating.”
Physical problems. Lots of them. Sleep issues, coldness, extra sensitive to sound and light, dizziness, weakness, tickling/pricking in hands and feets, water retention, problem with sight and it goes on and on and on.

And then recovery started…
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Extreme hunger. The men ate, ate and ate. They never felt satisfied. 
[One of the volunteers] ate immense meals (a daily estimate of 5,000 to 6,000 calories) and yet started snacking” an hour after he finished a meal. [Another] ate as much as he could hold during the three regular meals and ate snacks in the morning, afternoon and evening. (Keys et al., 1950, p. 846)
There were weekend “splurges” in which intake commonly ranged between 8,000 and 10,000 calories. The men frequently found it difficult to stop eating:
"Subject No. 20 stuffs himself until he is bursting at the seams, to the point of being nearly sick and still feels hungry; No. 120 reported that he had to discipline himself to keep from eating so much as to become ill; No. 1 ate until he was uncomfortably full; and subject no. 30 had so little control over the mechanics of "piling it in" that he simply had to stay away from food because he could not find a point of satiation even when he was "full to the gills." … Subject no. 26 would just as soon have eaten six meals instead of three." (Keys et al., 1950, p. 847)
After about five months of rehabilitation, the majority of the men reported some normalization of their eating patterns; however, for some the extreme overconsumption persisted: “No. 108 would eat and eat until he could hardly swallow any more, and then he felt like eating half an hour later” (Keys et al., 1950, p. 847).
More than 8 months after renourishment, a few men were still eating abnormal amounts, and one man still reported consuming “about 25 per cent more than his pre-starvation amount; once he started to reduce but got so hungry he could not stand it” (Keys et al., 1950, p. 847).Overshot. The men temporarily gained slightly above their pre-starvation weights.

”It should be emphasized that following the months of rehabilitation, the Minnesota volunteers did not skyrocket into obesity. On the average, they gained back their original weight plus about 10%; then, over the next 6 months, their weight gradually declined. By the end of the follow-up period, they were approaching their pre-experiment weight levels.”
 (source).And now to the scary part; even though most of them physically and mentally recovered, some of the men developed disordered behaviors after the experiment.
Some kept on restricting to stay at a low weight.
Some felt ”huge” and ”fat” during weight gain.
Some became chefs, though they had no interest in this carrier path before the experiment.

2 comments:

  1. wow, this is very intense to read!! what an interesting study.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is really interesting. I am doing a little research and learning a lot. Thank you for posting this!
    Olivia

    ReplyDelete