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: email@example.com
Wednesday, June 10, 2015
The starvation brain
Did you know that there is a thing called a 'starvation brain' i.e how a person who is malnourished and starved thinks differently compared to someone who is healthy and well nourished. When the body is not getting the energy it needs, the metabolism and body start working differently, trying to perserve energy and most importantly keep the brain alive as well as the heart. Though the way you think changes quite dramatically.
Have you ever thought about why when you are sick you begin thinking so much about food? You might think about all the food you cant or wont allow yourself to eat? You bake, cook. Collect recipes, watch others eat, make food for others, watch recipe shows, smell food, look at food, dream of food and all your thinking goes towards food. This is because of the starvation brain, your body wants food and energy and your brain really wants and needs energy so you begin thinking about food so mcuh as that is what your body needs.
But also how you might begin panicking and crying because your parents used oil to fry the chicken or because your parents bought full fat yoghurt instead of low fat.... those small things can cause mood swings and panic attacks amongst someone who is struggling with an eating disorder and a starved brain. Whilst something as small as that would not even be noticed to someone who is not starved and does not pay all their attention towards food. When you are sick you can not make choices or think clearly, you are so caught up in your eating disorder and your sick thoughts, in your own sick little bubble. So that when you begin recovery your choices are taken away from you because you DONT know what is best for you. You CANT make the right decisions for yourself right then. Its tough, i know how it feels, but its the truth and for the best. You need to give up your choices to people who can make the right ones for you. But also why you arent given choices about your food intake because when you have a starved brain you want food so desperatly, but wont allow yourself and so dont want to eat anything at all when in actuality eating will help you think more clearly. Help you concentrate, help you think better, help you to keep up with conversations or reading a book, make you feel happier, give you more energy and make it easier to think and make decisions. At the time that your brain and body is malnourished you might not even realise how sick your thoughts and behaviours are because you are so caught up in them, Its not until that your brain and body has energy that you can look back and see how sick your thoughts and behaviour actually were.
The Minnesota Starvation study is a very intersting study (You can find it HERE)
The experiment studied 36 healthy males where they went from eating 3000kcal a day to 1600(roughly) a day for a year (i think). And after a year many of the males began experiencing eating disorder symptoms depsite being perfectly healthy before. They had fear of weight gain, anxiety around food, weird habits with food, tiredness, coldness, extreme hunger, binging, depression, low (or no) libido, obsession around food. Though the very intersting thing about this is that after the experiment and recovery from starvation mode some of the men still had eating disorder thoughts and had fear of weight gain, felt huge and/or fat even though they werent and other symptoms which they had never had before the experiment, which shows just how much affect starvation can have on the brain.
Though there is more to it than that, the next part is a summary and in my own words from THIS article.
When starvation goes on for a long time, it affects the brain and body very negatively. The body goes into a sort of 'power' mode and the brain is not as efficient or high power as when it gets the right energy. Also the brain size can 'shrink' as the body just cant power the whole brain, however some researchers say that after starvation the brain can still grow back to normal size, whilst others claim that the damage is already done and may not be as simple as that. The limbic system that controls emotions and memory as well as the frontal lobe which controls judgement, impulse controls and the reward system are also negatively affected meaning that judgement, impulse controls and memory are all weakened compared to when you were healthier. The starvation and malnourishment impacts the brain alot and makes it harder to think and use the brain and hence why things that were once so easy seem hard or why some things can make you angry, mad, sad or happy. Such as if you skip a meal that can bring happiness instead of hunger or a form of anxiety because most people arent happy that they missed meals. But when you are sick, your brain does not function as normal.
But it is also the reason why those who have eating disorders think alike... it is why you feel you can connect to my past posts because i also had a so called starvation brain. The way i thought was my eating disorder. I couldnt think normally or healthy because i was so under control by my eating disorder, or which is also controlled and impacted by starvation.
But when you begin eating more regularly, get enough energy and also have a healthier weight you will begin thinking better, have more energy, make better decisions and things that scared you wont be as scary.
Infact many people notice that when they come past the half recovered stage and gain the last few kilo they need to gain, but have been so scared to gain. Its like something just snaps in their head, something changes and you realise that you look great. You feel happier, have more energy and dont feel as sick, and that is because your brain is no longer in the 'starvation' mode. Your brain begins functioning like any other persons brain, so this is another reason why you cant and shouldnt stay underweight because it affects your brain as well as the rest of your body.
Sooooo.... think about your brain and how you not eating is impacting it. I know many people have high ambitions and goals, but will you be able to achieve them by starving yourself? Will you really be able to become a doctor, or a teacher or a lawyer or anything else if you cant even manage to feed yourself and give your body the energy it needs? Or when you cant think clearly because you are starved?