This story is from a Mentee that I have worked with for a year now. She wants to remain anonymous, choosing to go by the name Magnum Macncheese. (Caroline Haagen, anyone?!?!). English is her second language, so I have edited some of the phrases to read more fluently.
During our time working together, she was so worried that she was eating way too much, that she would never stop gaining weight, and that she would never accept her body again. Reading this, I’m really proud of and excited for her.
I was 30 when I first had an eating disorder. I was working full time and doing my post doctorate education. Combining that with my lifelong personality traits of perfectionism, introversion, and insecurity – it triggered an eating disorder.
I exercised a lot (running) and started to restrict my calories more and more until I was severely underweight. I couldn’t sleep anymore, couldn’t watch tv because my mind was occupied with meal planning/skipping, and I constantly thought of food/calories and how to compensate.
I got help. And it worked a bit, but after a year of therapy I was still underweight. Though not as dangerously underweight anymore. So I lived my life until I got pregnant at the age of 34 and my eating disorder was triggered again.
After I gave birth to my daughter I was at my lowest weight ever. Something had to change. My family and friends were really worried and my doctor wanted me to go inpatient. But of course, as a new mom that would be my worst nightmare. So I started to search for treatment options and came across youreatopia.com and Minniemaud (*see note at the bottom from Caroline).
I read the literature for days and days and decided this would be my way to recover.
I jumped in. And it was hard. I started to eat whatever, whenever, and as much as I wanted. I promised myself to ‘de-head’ myself for a couple of months, not use my head, not think about my eating, and just eat whenever I was hungry/thinking of food/craving something, or when I couldn’t sleep. It meant that I ate lots and lots of food. Day and night. And I quit all exercise.
I got hit by extreme hunger. I could eat bars and bars of chocolate, chunks of cheese, family bags of cookies in one sitting. I ate to nausea and had to lay down sometimes and still crave more food. And then I ate again. I promised myself that thinking or wanting food was a sign of my starved body. I knew I had to give my body what it wanted in order to make it trust me again. It took months. The extreme hunger lasted for months. I had extreme hunger episodes three times a day/night for months! But it helped me overcome a lot of fears.
I ate all the food I was afraid of, I didn’t do it step by step but just took the plunge. I had a lot of fear after the eating sessions. I thought I would become obese, that would never stop eating junk again, or that I was developing Binge Eating Disorder, etc. I even had a purging thought after extreme hunger when I had never purged during my eating disorder.
At times I wanted to exercise more. But I didn’t. I quit all exercise. I knew I had to eat without any form of compensation in order to heal. Physically and mentally. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it saved my life.
After half a year or so my eating started to stabilize. I didn’t have a lot of extreme hunger anymore. Sometimes I did (and still do) but now I know it’s because of my period/stress/busy times or something. Or before I got the flu or after I was sick. My body is so smart. That’s what I learned. It knows perfectly well how to cope in times of distress.
Caroline helped me a lot on this journey. She could always put things in perspective, and tell me that what was happening was all normal.
The hardest thing was letting go of counting calories. It was such a habit. I knew the caloric value of all different kinds of lettuce for crying out loud. But it gets better. Sometimes I still count or add things I eat in my mind, but I can much easier say to myself ‘well whatever, my body probably needs it’.
I stopped weighing myself immediately when I started eating again. Really scary but I’m positive this is one of the things that helped me most. I still don’t know what I weigh now. I’m fine with it. I’m pregnant again and I’m not going to weigh myself. I never want to risk interfering with what my body wants again. So all thoughts I have about weighing /exercising/how much I should or shouldn’t eat, I label those thought as my old eating disordered thoughts wanting to gain power again. And I know for sure that if I give in, it will become more powerful. So I put those thoughts aside and trust my inner gut feeling.
My life is so much better now. I eat what I want, I never compensate, I can be a good example to my kids, I can sleep again, go out for dinner spontaneously even though I had a big lunch, and concentrate again. I don’t give a shit anymore about cooking/watching or reading food related stuff. I can live my life again. I can even like vegetables again after a year of just eating veggies in the form of potato chips or apple dipped in cashew nut butter…..
It changes, It really does. We just have to trust our bodies.
–Magnum Macncheese Cashewnutbutter, Denmark
* Youreatopia.com is an excellent source for recovery for extreme restrictive eating disorders using Minnimaud, a radical science based eating disorder recovery method that focuses on eating A LOT OF FOOD as opposed to strict meal plans. If you have an extreme restrictive eating disorder, I recommend you seek help from an eating disorder professional and read Youreatopia.com.
My site and method are congruent with Minnimaud, but I do not specialize in coaching restrictive eating disorders, I specialize in the emotional chiropractoring soul recovery that comes with the aftermath of an eating disorder or people who have dieted a lot and want to stop. Magnum and I worked together once she was well into the eating/recovery process, getting support to keep going and getting her life back in place.
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AN EATING DISORDER, Extreme Hunger still may apply to you. It did for me. Most people who have been restricting, even if it isn’t full blown anorexia, need to eat a lot of food in order to normalize their appetites, metabolism, and to neutralize food. So Magnum’s story is applicable to us all!