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:


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Calorie intake in recovery

Post from: X
When you recover from a restrictive eating disorder, you need a lot of food. Still, the sufferer have a hard time believing and accepting this, no matter how much data is provided and how many people in recovery share their stories. The sufferer is often convinced that they are rare unicorns, who dont apply to the rules of energy because (insert invalid reason). These ideas get confirmed by the sufferer because he/she often gain weight rapidly in early recovery by only eating +/- 1500-2000 calores because of a supressed metabolism and some kgs water weight and food in their system. The sufferer assume that if he/she increase their calories they will just gain even more, faster. The scientifical proven fact that your metabolism increases when you increase your intake gets ignored, because like mentioned, the sufferer is a rare unicorn! The reason why I am writing this is because I thought I was a unicorn, and I was desperate to find proof that I was not. I screened the web for more proof and sources. And I found it. And I experienced it.
Your body is a smart machine, it does everything to keep you alive. When you starve yourself, your BMR (basal metabolic rate, the amount of calories you burn by just staying alive) drops. Proper menstruation, building your bones, growing your hair, keeping you warm etc? Aint nobody got energy for dat! It uses the tiny amount of energy it gets to keep you alive while trying to store some energy as fat for later use. But your body still needs energy, so it ends up eating itself - body fat, bones, organ tissue and muscles. You dont only loose body fat, your whole body slims down. A slimmed down, shrinked heart is very often seen in starved people. Your heart is a muscle. When you gain weight, you also gain these things back, if you give your body enough energy to do it. Once again, your body is smart and body fat is important. Body fat is not excess weight, it is a living hormone producing organ.
Your bodys first priority is to gain body fat to protect your inner organs, keep you warm and to have something to eat the next time you starve it. Because that is what your body think you will do. It has big trust issues. And if you dont feed it enough it will not trust you, because you still starve it by eating 2000 calories, even though you gain weight. Still, in early recovery you have to increase your intake very slowly. Some people start as low as 1200 calories, and slowly increase until they reach 2500-3000 and above. Never recover without close medical supervision. You should have a doctor, therapist and perhaps a meal plan.

In recovery, 3500 excess calories does not mean 1 pound. Your body is not a calculator. In recovery you need WAY more than 3500 calories extra to gain 1 pound of body mass.
Normal people have not done damage for hundreds of thousands of calories that needs hundreds of thousands of calories to be fixed. When they eat a higher amount of calories, it goes to weight gain. When a person with a past of restriction eats a higher amount of calories it goes to both repair and some weight gain, both crucial, hormone producing body fat to protect your organs, give you back your period (if you have lost it) keep you warm, and some muscles (during starvation we loose a lot of muscles).
The most important place to save body fat is around your inner organs for protection. Obviously, this is why your body tend to gain slightly more weight on the stomach than for instance on your back. (check out the file ‘uneven weight gain in recovery explained). Your body does not know that this is many anorexics worst nightmare. Your body does not read Vogue and Sports illustrated. Just to make it worse, bloating and water retention can make you look pregnant. The good news? When you feed your body enough, and it starts trusting you, the weight will even out. But once again, if you starve it during recovery (by eating 2000 calories or less), your body will be more cautious about evening out weight gain. 
So what should you do? You should listen to your therapist/doctor/nutritionist/hunger and eat enough every single day no matter what ED tells you. If you experience extreme hunger and overeat, it is not because you are an emotional eater and will develop binge eating disorder, but because your body does everything it can to get the energy it desperately need.
Have you noticed how you suddenly became obsessed by baking, cooking, food blogs, nutrition and cute spoons? Your body thinks foodfooodfooood. I am sorry to break it too you, but your baking skills is a side effect of malnutrition, unless you were that way before ED. Same with your obsession with eating healthy. It is control, not an aim for eternal youth and good health. If it were, you would not have starved yourself and purged.
Have you noticed how you get erotical fantasises about high calorie food? Take the hint! This is also why you binge. End of story. More good news: when you are recovered, hanging out with friends gets more interesting than staying home and making cinnamon buns for your family. You will fantasise about boys (or girls), not cake. You will read novels, not cooking books. You will measure the value of your life and yourself in events, love and smiles, not calories and weight. If not, you are not recovered.

But the average calorie intake for a person is 2000-2200 calories!? Yes and no The average person have not done damage for hundreds of thousands of calories that needs to be fixed. Also, the 2000-2200 intake is self reported. Most people underestimate their intake (but most ED-people overestimate). The caffe latte with sugar and cream, the extra handful of peanuts and the slice of cake offered at work are forgotten. I once read about an experiment where they asked people to count calories. Almost all of them underestimated, some by 50% (!).The weird, but still completely logical outcome is that people in recovery who eats 3000 calories daily tend to gain even slower (!!???!?!?) than those who eat 2000 calories. The 3000 calorie eater will also get some bonus features; more energy, better mood, faster repair of bones, organs, muscle, mood etc. less ‘bingeing’ and… night sweats. Sorry. But they will pass! People in inpatient recovery often needs a lot of calories compared to outpatient. Not because of the hospital walls, but because they get have no choice but eating 2500-3000+. Ask any person who has been inpatient.
I am outpatient and eat 3000 calories, and I gain 0.5-1 kg weekly. In early recovery I gained several kgs on less than half.

Also, if you eat 2800 calories, but go for runs and burn 800 calories because ”you looove to run”, you are only getting 2000 calories and keep your body starved. Dont waste your precious energy on unecessary exercise, it only breaks your body down. You are only fooling yourself.
Short summary; feel free to eat 2000 calories, but dont expect to fully recover. Your metabolism is not destroyed, it is surpressed, and will be until you give it enough energy to fix it. Recovery is the time to take care of yourself and relax. Eat 2500-3000 and above, and let your body do the job, it knows what it is doing. You will not regret it.

- Amalie

”If you eat 3000 calories every day and stay completely sedentary, then that’s 21,000 calories that go into you for one week.
That may sound like a lot however we have to subtract the 7,000 needed for the actual fat and muscle rebuilding that has to happen each week. Fat is not an energy storage unit, it is the largest and most critical hormone-producing organ in your body.
That leaves 14,000. But then there is the amount just to keep you breathing, heart beating—that basal metabolic rate thing that just keeps you alive. Estimating, that assigns another 7,000 or so.
To repair damaged heart, skin, nails, hair, kidneys, digestive system, brain areas, bone and blood formation systems…you are actually giving your body only 1,000 calories a day to go to that effort. That’s if you dependably eat 3,000 calories each day.
The less you eat, the longer it takes to recover as the harder it is for your body to find any excess energy to repair the damage.”

”Most people are
surprised to learn just how many calories it takes to reverse the malnutrition of anorexia. (Some doctors
are surprised about this, too.) While no one can explain exactly why this is true, the answer probably has
to do with how the metabolism is altered by malnutrition”

” In the 2 to 6 weeks after completion of refeeding and termination of a weight restoration program, patients with anorexia nervosa required greater than normal caloric intake to maintain a stable weight and had elevated levels of activity. By contrast, such patients studied 6 months or longer after weight recovery had normal caloric intake and activity levels. The prolonged delay in normalization of caloric intake and activity is mirrored by the slow resolution to normal of the neuroendocrine dysregulation that characterizes this disorder. This suggests that treatment for weight maintenance in anorexia nervosa should be extended aggressively for months after the return of a healthy weight so as to restore normal neuroendocrine function and thereby enhance the likelihood of permanent recovery.”

”Substrate use after overnight fast indicated an abnormally high use of carbohydrates.”

”Does your metabolism ever recover from having an eating disorder? Recovered anorexics had a higher rate of fat oxidation (the body’s ability to break down big fat molecules and use them for energy), but even then the differences in body composition were basically null. Anorexics two years out of recovery had about the same BMR as those who were never anorexic.”
”They found that their BMR increased significantly within the first two weeks of refeeding.”
”In conclusion - I was wrong. My metabolism is not permanently screwed up. Neither is yours. Initially we gain back weight that was important for our survival, as shown by how low our metabolism got when we were at our sickest. After that? Our metabolism and body requirements mirror those of people who NEVER suffered through an eating disorder. Who else can benefit from these studies? Yo-yo dieters, chronic dieters, people trying to slowly go into Intuitive Eating…these studies cross a wide range of potential eating issues.
Recovery is possible. It’s a long term uphill battle and never an overnight thing. Give your body time to adjust, your mind time to adjust, and find lots of support and love amongst those around you. You have time to turn your life around, it’s never too late”’

”What I realize now is that my body was STILL lacking in nutrients and healthy fats – and bingeing was its way of forcing me to get those calories! Even though I thought I was eating enough and moderating my exercise routine, I was still over-doing it; my body was exhausted and running on empty. The truth is, I needed some real time off from exercise and I needed to eat a LOT more food than I thought.”


  1. Izzy do you have ant suggestions on how to eat enough carbs? Sounds like a silly question, but I really need some advice. I love to exercise so I need my carbs! And please don't say something like "just eat more nuts and seeds etc" because it really is not the same. I feel more energized when I eat more carbs than (healthy) fat. I have a high fat intake (1,8 g per kg or so) so I would rather eat more carbs IN ADDITION TO THE FATS! What are good sources of carbs that doesn't take so much room in my tummy? I now eat carbs like sweet potato, brown rice, whole meal pasta and couscous, chickpeas, beans, very brown bread, fruit, (vegetables), oatmeal. But I find it hard to eat as large quantities of these foods that I need in order to reach a high enough carb intake.

    I eat WAY too much fiber than what's recommended and that's really not a good thing. It's recomended to eat like 25-35 grams of fiber. I eat 40-45 grams of fiber (per day)!!! Too much fiber can cause malobserbation of nutrients and vitamins etc. The digestive system has to work very hard in order to digest all the fiber rich foods I eat. I never feel hunger. Like, I do feel when it's time to eat something because of energy levels - and I do eat! But I always have food in my stomach. This is really frustrating as I want to get in the carbs, and that will give me that kind if energy that I want, but the same time I feel like it puts a stop to something - not sure how to explain... It becomes this struggle to physically eat enough carbs. I get in around 180-200 grams a day (last time I checked) and I really want to get closer to 300 grams.

    Does anybody here know how I can up my carb intake without getting SUCH A HUGE amount if fiber?

    I also want to as that I NEED to have a stable blood sugar level! I hate having both too high and too low blood sugar. It drives me crazy and I can't focus. That's why I eat clean - to have stable energy throughout the day :) I do have that now, and I want to keep it that way :)

  2. Hello,
    Well if you ask for how to icnrease carbs im not sure why i would tell you to eat more nuts and seeds as those are very different from carbs. If you had asked how to increase calorie intake i might advise to do that ;);)

    How to increase carbs... i sugggest making smoothies or milkshakes where you add extra oatmeal and things like bananas. Eating rice cakes and crisp bread is a great way as well. Eating hummous on rice cakes. Granola is a favourite of mine as well - can make your own. Simple to eat with yoghurt or even cereal or weetabix is great.

    Or even buy a powder carbohydrate type thing... instead of protein powder its like extra carbs. Thats a good way to get it into you :)
    But otherwise i suggest you just eat things like extra oats, rice cakes, bread, pasta, berries, fruit etc Just try increasing the portions... eat less protein and healthy fats and more carbs. Because protein, fats and fiber fill you up for a lot longer, so instead decrease those a little and increase your portions of carbs.

  3. Thank you! Haha The reason why I said not to recommend nuts and seeds is that most people think that a calorie is just a calorie no matter whether it comes from fat, carbs or protein - but that's not really right :) I wasn't sure if you were that person who will just recommend eating more calories to get more energy. (I'm not trying to gain weight, just looking for that energy boost that a higher carb intake gives :) again: thank you for your answer. I will definitely try to decrease my fats and protein. I think I will try some rice cakes! Never actually tasted it before :o

  4. Hi, I was just wondering, do I still have anorexia even if I stopped restricting? Im not weight restored yet and still have issues with food and such but I still eat a lot. I know I still have an eating disorder but is it anorexia or...???

    1. Well i cant diagnose you, but if you have issues with food and that then it is an eating disorder, but there are many different types. It can be EDNOS, orthorexia (if you are only eating so called 'healthy' foods or anything else.
      But you would have to go to a doctor and get a diagnosis and explain what you are going through/symptoms etc etc

  5. Do you agree with the calorie amounts? Is it really best to eat 2500-3000 calories? Surely it will lead to rapid weight gain?

    Did you eat so much? Sorry for all the questions but I am so worried about eating so much

  6. Salam, dear sister.
    I really, really hope youd answer me as im in so much confusion right now.
    Ive been in recovery for roughly three months. I Had my period last month but lasted for only four days. I had a small, timy relapse that lasted a week where I restristed a little bit and had the most terrible self esteem, had mood swings, I felt worthless and suicidal. But since, ive woken up and resumed my recovery. Will this relapse affect my recovery? If so, how? What should I do about it? Please help me, im so clueless.
    Also, ive.been trying to eat more whole foods and cutting down processed foods. Is this wrong? No need to worry as I stil eat it, just not as much as before. Should I stop and eat whatever I crave even though it is deemed unhealthy?
    Lastly, what can be a mark to let me know that I've recovered?
    Im sorry for the questions, but i dont know who to ask. And you've been such a great deal of help ever since Ive started recovery. You helped me and gave me hope, support when I needed it the most. I could never ever repay. Thank you so so much.

  7. ive already gained almost 10 lbs increasing to 2000-2500. should i increase to 3000 or will i just gain faster??

  8. i've already gained almost 10 lbs increasing to 2000-2500. should i increase to 3000 or will i just gain more/faster??

  9. : Recovering from ED my first couple if weeks HELPPPPP? - I Have starved my self to 104lbs and i started eating again about 2wks ago and i eat over 3,000 calories peanuts, anything you can think of i eat i see the water retention but everything im eating is it being stored as fat or is it healing my body i eat protein bars shakes junk and all and i feel heavy but i still see the water retention , i wake up hungry i try not to think of not gaining weight but o well i lift weights about 30 mins i have like water heat rash bumps all over me when i start to sweat i eat some many peanuts will i gain the weight please some one help am i speeding up this process by consuming high fat from nuts mostly and granola i feel miserable but i don`t worry about that i just want to live again i know i have gained at least 25lbs of idk what PLEASE HELP!!!

  10. Hi I love your blog it has helped me alot . But i have a question currently im eating 1200 calories should i jump to 2500 or do this gradually? I'm scared of sudden weight gain

    1. do it gradually! it can be really hard to resist once you start eating slightly more, but shocking your body with 2500 calories all at once is dangerous and can lead to something called re-feeding syndrome. You'll need that many calories eventually, but try to increase by 100-200 calories a week until you reach 2500, future you will thank you!

  11. Hey, I don't know if you can answer this but I really need some advice!!
    I'm currently on an intake of 3000 a day to gain weight. Two weeks ago, heavy restriction meant that I was about 750 calories off my meal plan each day- yet I maintained my weight over that fortnight. Does that mean that I will need to take out about 750 calories to maintain weight when I am restored, or is it likely to be less because I will no longer be in 'energy conservation'?

  12. Hey, I don't know if you can answer this but I really need some advice!!
    I'm currently on an intake of 3000 a day to gain weight. Two weeks ago, heavy restriction meant that I was about 750 calories off my meal plan each day- yet I maintained my weight over that fortnight. Does that mean that I will need to take out about 750 calories to maintain weight when I am restored, or is it likely to be less because I will no longer be in 'energy conservation'?

  13. Hey, sorry to bother you, but I relly don't know what to do. I'm pretty sure I've had an eating disorder(anorexia and bullimia to be exact)and I got to a bmi of 14.8 but I haven't talked with any profesional about it(everything fits tho). I got to the conclussion that I needed to recover and when I found out about the calorie requirements to recover I directly increassed to 2000-3000 calories per day, but apparently I was supossed to do it gradually for my metabolism to adapt. What should I do now, go back to wht my maintenanc was before and increase my calories from there, or keep eating as much as I can. I just really want to help my body heal as best as I can.
    Thank you for all the help you have given me already with your blog!!

  14. Wow so much information! I want to start recovery and are in the beginning... starting from 600 kcals a day.. I restricted my intake for a couple of years (in my 30..started on 18)
    And are afraid because of my age that `i not need that much calories.

    You tell here that:"
    People in inpatient recovery often needs a lot of calories compared to outpatient. Not because of the hospital walls, but because they get have no choice but eating 2500-3000+. Ask any person who has been inpatient."

    He?? I dont understand this? Why need people who are inpatient need more than outpatients? I should think outpatients need more because they do more..?
    Can you explain this?

    Hope you will answer...
    How to increase? Weekly or dayly?
    Thanks sooo much

  15. I have the same exact problem... since a couple of months passed do you ahve any advice?

  16. I began recovery two years ago. Just before I hit the target weight that my doctor recommended I decided to up my calorie intake to 3000+ calories a day. Before that I was only eating 1800 since I'm technically we restored... I started to try to eat normally between 2000 and 2500 but something just wasn't right. I still haven't had my period yet, and so I thought it was time to keep up with the 3000 cal a day intake. Do you agree with what I've done? I know you're not a healthcare professional, however my doctor has not been very helpful in this matter

  17. So if you are eating under 3000 calorie will the weight gain be more rapid because I'm gaining a pound a day

  18. hi,
    i restricted to BMI of 18.2 for four months before restoring my weight yet I relapsed after a month and only restricted for three weeks- I'm not underweight in the slightest and after four days of 'bingeing' the extreme hunger is only mild- how many calories should i consume- an avergae for an adult (female) or over 3000 (which doesn't seem right?)