Well as stressful as this experience has been im learning a lot!
I’ve found for me, and this is the best ‘general’ advice i can give to anyone else stuggling (as we’re all different) is to see food as medicine. Of course it’s a lot more than that, it’s for enjoyment and there are many social aspects that come from eating with others etc, but primarily, certainly in the earlier stages of recovery, food is fuel and it may be easier to begin seeing it in that way before throwing any other thoughts or emotions into the mix.
Guidelines for weight restoration tend to hang around 2500-3000 calories depending on the indivdual. How much?! I hear you ask…how can that be healthy when 2000 is recommended?!
Well think about this…2000 calories is ‘recommended’ for the normal healthy indivdual who’s internal systems are not compromised and are capable of carrying out normal bodily functions..i.e. their body is not under stress. I put ‘recommended’ in inverted commas here as for many people 2000 kcals simply isn’t enough, especially if they are active. Not only has this figure been calculated from studies where people tend to underestimate their actual intake, but i don’t think anyone should just go by the ‘average’..you need to do whats right for you. For instance my dad is very fit and healthy but eats like a horse..if he restricted himself to the ‘recommended’ male intake he would look extremerly poorly…this doesn’t make him glutanous or greedy, he is simply eating the amount he requires. Anyway thats another rant for another time.
Back to weight restoration..so the person who has restricted their intake has done a lot of physiological damage that needs to be repaired. In starvation mode the body’s main priority is to insulated vital organs with fats, which is why you can still gain weight on say 2000 calories or even under, (especially in the first few weeks) because the body doesn’t trust it will get adequate energy so it stores what it can as a defense mechanism. For this reason a lot of people keep their intake here throughout their recovery because logic tells them ‘if i gain on 2000 i will balloon up on 2500 or 3000. However this logic is wrong. Unlike their healthy counterparts, a recovering anorexic needs these extra calories to be used by the body to repair cells, bones and ‘restart’ systems that have been repressed, like the menstrual cycle for example, and will not be stored as fat or ‘weight’ as it would in someone who doesn’t have any damage to repair. Sometimes those who eat 2500+ actually gain weight slower, because the body trusts it will get a consistent supply of energy, the metabolism kicks back in and that energy is now re-dircted to repair damage rather than be stored as fat..at which point even MORE food is needed in order to actually gain any weight. (the stage im at right now). Without the excess in calories however, the body will continue in survival mode, storing fat, but not correcting any damage so you may reach a healthy weight but you will remain in a state of ‘pre-recovery’ with a supressed metabolism and all the health problems of being underweight…not ideal.
This is how i came to the conclusion that food is medicine. If someone offered us some pills and said “hey this will give you healthy bones, nice hair and nails, organs that work and the ability to have children”..i don’t know about you but i’d be popping them like nobodys business. Think of the extra food as a perscription..like a few spoonfuls of calpol to add into your day because thats all it is. In the earlier stages of recovery i found this an easier concept to grasp by having the ‘extra’ with Complan nutritional supplement drinks-yes what they give old people in hospital hahaha- it’s easy, not very filling and very calorie dense.
Any way i hope that all made sense and was atleast borderline interesting..again just message me with any questions or if you want some advice, i have a fair few tricks up my sleeve 😉
Lots of love, Emma xo