Having been in recovery from Anorexia for about six months I thought the hard part was over. I was eating a normal amount; slowly putting on weight and learning more about myself than I thought possible. Then it hit me, a gnawing monster of hunger. Was it mental? Physical? Both. And then a new demon arose, binge eating.
At first this panicked me, I was terrified that this meant I was going from one end of the spectrum to the other and that my weight gain would become uncontrollable. I was insurmountably hungry; it took one cereal bar to send me into a tail-spin of eating boxes of cereal and an unfathomable amount of nuts. What was happening to me? Was I going to eat forever?
No, I was not.
I am not.
It took me talking to my support team and others who have been through similar situations to realise that this is normal. It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it does happen to many people recovering from restrictive eating. I think the hormones that signal hunger have just gone slightly haywire and our bodies are trying to get as much food as possible to get you to a healthy weight. This is scary, yes. It is not forever. I believe that when weight is restored hormones start to re-balance and your hunger cues becomes more reliable; you become less inclined to eat more to replenish depleted nutrients.
It is a difficult time though; it can make you feel out of control, guilty and uncomfortable. I thought it would be important to share ways to help the after-shocks. It is, firstly, so important that you try not to restrict after binging. If you binged at breakfast, eat lunch. Binged at lunch? Eat dinner. Follow your meal plan; because this will stop you from binging the next day as your body thinks you have limited food supply as you starved the rest of the day. This helps prevent a vicious cycle of binge-restrict all day- binge and can also decrease the size of the binge.
Secondly, if you have a set calorie meal plan (or a daily calorie allowance) and you binge don’t count the binge calories. They do not count towards your daily allowance, this allows you to follow my first suggestion and continue your meal plan despite having eaten/exceeded your calorie limit. I would also recommend not weighing yourself after a binge as this may cause distress and send you into a restrictive spiral. Remember, it’s all food and water weight at that point! It’s not fat in your body.
I also benefitted greatly from writing down what the cause of my binge was and my thought process (after the event) as this allowed me, and my therapist, to get to the core of the need to binge in order to create tactics to prevent them.
If you feel a binge coming on it is a good idea to get yourself away from where food is available. Why not go for a stroll? Do some painting? Something you enjoy!
However, if you do binge, it is important to forgive yourself. Drink some water and reflect and what caused it (anxiety, stress, extreme hunger) and move forward. It is all a learning experience and in the end will make you a stronger person.
You are all so beautiful.
Stay strong.