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  • Anorexia recovery and weight gain help

    Hello!

    Simple question: Would it be advisable to recover from anorexia via eating primally?

    Some background on me: I'm 15, female, BMI hovering around 15 (water weight is annoying!), been restricting for about 2 months, maybe even 3. I'm trying to recover, but from visiting a lot of forums (ie. Calorie Counter), they seem to recommend meal plans filled with whole wheat breads, ice-cream, etc. etc.

    I want to recover pretty badly, but do so in the healthiest way. I'm aware that I'll obviously gain back fat mass, but ideally, not excessively. I think my muscles are weaker now, so I would like to as far as possible gain back that.

    Would eating primal be a good idea? What should my macronutrient ratio be like? Caloric count? Mostly, I'm concerned about the type of carbs I should eat to gain. Should I just focus on gaining and eat 'healthy', non-primal carbs like whole grains? Or should I go primal straight and eat just the tubers?

    (Edit: Asking specifically about carbs because I'm very prepared to eat all the protein and fats I want. Although I am hesitant about too much saturated animal fats, I think I'll stick to avocados and fatty fish! Suggestions on ways to incorporate them in my meal plan and macronutrient percentages would be greatly appreciated though! )

    If anyone has had experience with anorexia recovery, I would especially appreciate answers on weight redistribution and caloric count! Thanks so much!
    Last edited by eatingtolove; 09-10-2012, 02:54 AM.

  • #2
    Hey,
    I'm a 17yo girl, I've been primal for about a month, and I'm a recovering bulimic as well.
    My last binge/purge was in July, but since then I've been managing it. I'm not an expert so I can't advise you one way or another, but I do have an opinion. Personally, I did isolate carbs as my trigger and driving force behind my eating problems.
    Currently, I'm eating at something like 60% fat, 25% protein, 15% carbs. Of course I'm trying for weight loss (body fat of about 27% if I remember correctly) so your carbs may be higher or overall ratios different. I think that's a good baseline and I found that's what I naturally settle in at. I would say eat primal, give your body the resources to heal. I know to gain weight you're supposed to pair carbs with fat (yams with butter, sweet potato fries, etc). I would say don't limit yourself.

    I'm not familiar with recovering therapy for anorexics, so I can't give you a calorie number, but if you were to ask me, I would say eat as much as you feel you want to. I think it's important now that you allow yourself to reconnect with food. Like me, I know when I get too hungry I binge and lose control. So even if I'm not hungry, I try to snack, so I'm not desperate later. Primal is a good way to nourish your body and rebuild it while mentally reassessing your habits. I know that calorie counting becomes somewhat of a fixation in ED's, so maybe take this chance to try and quit it, and reconstruct your relationship with food.


    Saturated fat is important in rebuilding your body now. I would try to cook things in ghee or coconut oil to get more fat in. In terms of adding more avocado/fish, you could try making pudding from the avocado by blending it with cocoa powder and stevia or a banana. I usually have them for breakfast, sliced with my eggs. If you blend it, you can smear it on lettuce for a lettuce wrap of just eat it off bell peppers and carrots. I'm not a huge fish fan but it's very important for your omega 3's.

    Let me know if you need anything else! Hopefully I'll see you around on the boards.
    Last edited by golangrok; 09-10-2012, 03:12 AM.
    My Primal Journal:
    http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread65788.html

    16 years old
    5'5"
    SW: 170
    CW: 162
    GW: 140

    Primal since 8/12/12.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi eatingtolove,

      Thanks for your brave post. I am recovering from an episode of anorexia and have been eating primally now for about 9 months. I may not be the very best fit for you right now as I'm struggling with relapse back into restricing and also with some binge eating. However, I have gained the weight I needed to and am now trying to maintain it without thinking I'm suddenly fat and freaking out all over the place.

      My BMI was 17.5 when I started, it's now about 19 or even 20. I can't count calories because they spin me out and I get obsessed. I'm 5.10 and fairly lean and strong, I think I eat between 1700-2300 per day, depending on the day. I try to eat intuitively and when I do, it works like a dream and I feel fabulous. But when I'm living in the anorexia I just can't do it, but calorie counting never helps. However, a few days of it will help you understand your macronutients, which is important.

      I would strongly recommend going primal, if you're underweight and sick your poor stomach won't thank you for poisoning it! I can't eat nuts because they trigger binges, but sweet potatoes and bananas are a good way to get some grain free good carbs. When I made the decision to put on weight and heal I ate three meals a day and only snacked when I thought I might eat off my own arm. I eat a lot of eggs, grassfed beef and lamb, tuna and fresh salmon, chicken breasts and liver. I eat loads of vegetables but not much fruit as it triggers sugar cravings and candida. I limit dairy too as I don't think it's good for my hormones, but I love Greek yoghurt and have it a few times a week.

      My macros are around 40%fat (sometimes more, often up to 60%),my protein always seems to come in at around 40% and my carbs are all from vegetables.

      I excercise 4 or 5 times a week, 2 or 3 times lifting heavy weights. You don't need to do this yet, you're not strong enough, but when you feel ready it feels great and gets your body moving and energetic. You could do some slow walks for a while until you get some strength back. Swimming might feel nice.

      Avocados and fatty fish are a great start. Do you like casseroles like lamb shanks or with beef? A gentle way to eat red meat with sweet potato, squash, pumkin and green vegetables. Bacon is good too, and pork chops are fatty and delicious. Coconut milk is a good weight gainer, nice in a smoothie with banana, yoghurt and honey.

      I wish you all the best and look forward to hearing about your progress. It's a tough road, I'm 38 and still battling. But this is the first episode I've treated with primal and I know I'm well nourished as a result.

      Comment


      • #4
        Dear Dexy, EatingtoLove & GolanGrok:

        I hope you don't mind me reading your posts. I'm really humbled by each of you ---- you are all so young and yet you each emulate a maturity beyond your years. I wish each of you the best of health, happiness and recovery. I do believe that Paleo eating is clean and does provide the best for your bodies, soul and mind. I hope each of you don't mind me dropping in from time to time to see how you are each doing. All the best/louisa
        ----------------------------------------
        F, 48, 5'10"
        Start Date: 25-06-12 @ 161lbs
        Goal Reached: 30-09-12 @ 143lb. Now bouncing between 145lb - 149lb. I'd like less bounce and more consistency :-)

        Started Cross Fit 20.12.12 ---- Can't wait to submit my success story on the 1st anniversary of starting primal.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thank you all so much for the kind replies! I feel much better, really.

          Right now I'm eating about 60% protein, 30% fat and 10% carb (mostly veggies, a bit of white rice and sweet potatoes). I don't think starches are really triggering for me, would increasing them help?

          I'm still slightly concerned about exercise though. What sort of exercise plan should I go on if I want to rebuild muscle?

          Also, what has your experience been like? I know this trend is for primal/paleo living, but from a recovering/recovered ED patient's perspective, how has weight gain been for you? Rapid increase in fats? Did your muscles start rebuilding themselves?

          Dexy and Golangrok, the two of you are amazingly brave and kind. This whole ED is such a terrifying process--I want to gain, but I'm afraid that it'll be all fat! ):

          Comment


          • #6
            Oh and another thing--I'd love the idea of paleo casseroles! They sound delicious, do you have any recipes to recommend? (:

            Comment


            • #7
              Hey there,

              I think rather than looking at it as gaining weight, primal/paleo is going to correct your weight. That's one of the great things about this way of eating. It's exactly what your body needs, so if you are an unhealthy weight in either direction this is they way to correct it.
              As far as recipes go, my favorite website for that is chowstalker. You can type in the search box for whatever type of recipe you'd like and find tons of them. You'll then be linked to the original author of the recipe who usually has even more awesome ones on their page!

              So glad to hear you are getting healthy!

              Comment


              • #8
                Hey !
                I don't know if I can compare my past situation with anorexia nervosa, however, considering the fact that I used to suffer from a very severe hypogonadism (very big lack of testosterone, near to no testicular function), my body was in a state of important denutrition and degradation. I also fell into a very short lapse of anorexia during 2 months, thinking that "all was lost", it was the only thing I could hold on to in terms of stupid and futile "goals" in my life. Very ephemeral, and was the total opposite of what my body needed at the time... But I felt too "buried" to do anything else.
                I suffered from ALL the symptoms of anorexia, from the peripheral edema to the wasting of most of my muscle mass, abdominal bloating, face swelling, add to that all the symptoms of my hypogonadism, loss of body hair, "de-sexualization" of my whole appearance, enormous fatigue...

                I was, very late, put on a TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) which is still far from optimal but I hope it'll soon be.
                But it wasn't sufficient in order to recover completely, I had to take the steps to be free of my ritualistic behaviors and to regain weight.
                Paleo was ALL I needed for that.
                Of course, at the beginning, I had severe binges. But they were helpful in many different things: First, if you binge, it's because your body needs the nutrients, especially with Paleo food, and when you binge, you can put things into perspective, realize what you've been inflicting to your own body and the lack of respect you had towards it.
                You'll more than surely go through moments where you will feel desperate because of the messed up homeostasis, the bloating, the swelling of the face, and the strange way you will think that you gain weight, because you lack muscle mass, in the abdomen area, so the skin will tend to "hang" a bit, and you will retain much water.

                But in the long run, if you stick to a good Paleo eating with everything in check, O6:O3 ratio and everything, you'll be good.
                For the weight distribution, you'll be the judge:

                Most severe state: http://image.noelshack.com/fichiers/...0101024-15.jpg
                Early months of TRT: http://image.noelshack.com/fichiers/...20120601-8.jpg
                Today: http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphot...17910685_o.jpg (face is a bit "balloon-ish" because I have some hormonal things to "change" concerning my estradiol levels, but nothing too serious, it's not fat btw)
                http://a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphot...51047896_o.jpg

                I strongly encourage you to fight this condition, you and your body deserve much much better !
                Consider it as your temple.

                EDIT: Oh and, I'll add that I did not workout.
                I tried to, and gained a bit of muscle mass, but it was the trigger of my big "hormonal crash" that led me to discover this pubertal weakness.
                But from the "Early months" to the "Today" pics, I did not do ANY physical activity apart from a little bit of walking here and there (for the meditative aspects of it), because my body was too weak and I did not want to screw my puberty once again.
                Last edited by Daydreamer; 09-10-2012, 03:23 PM.
                Young self-caring Paleo-eater from France.
                (So please forgive the strange way I tend to express myself in your beautiful language )

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by eatingtolove View Post
                  Oh and another thing--I'd love the idea of paleo casseroles! They sound delicious, do you have any recipes to recommend? (:
                  One of my favorite things to make ahead for a week of dinners for myself is this:

                  5-6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
                  1 bag frozen mixed veggies (broccoli/cauliflower/carrots for me)
                  oodles of pepper, some salt, and whatever spices i feel like. typically garlic powder, onion powder, paprika
                  some chicken broth for moisture

                  put it all in a large baking dish and cover with foil. bake for around 45-55 minutes at 375. it is comforting, easy as heck, and quite yummy.

                  sometimes i use stew beef and beef stock instead of chicken. in that case, i cook the beef in the oven in the stock for an hour then add veggies and do another 30 mins.
                  yay!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by eatingtolove View Post
                    Thank you all so much for the kind replies! I feel much better, really.

                    Right now I'm eating about 60% protein, 30% fat and 10% carb (mostly veggies, a bit of white rice and sweet potatoes). I don't think starches are really triggering for me, would increasing them help?

                    I'm still slightly concerned about exercise though. What sort of exercise plan should I go on if I want to rebuild muscle?

                    Also, what has your experience been like? I know this trend is for primal/paleo living, but from a recovering/recovered ED patient's perspective, how has weight gain been for you? Rapid increase in fats? Did your muscles start rebuilding themselves?

                    Dexy and Golangrok, the two of you are amazingly brave and kind. This whole ED is such a terrifying process--I want to gain, but I'm afraid that it'll be all fat! ):
                    I think your macronutrients sound fine and I think they are the last thing you need to worry about. The best thing I can do for myself is to eat what I want to and not get hungry. I have to be careful with binge eating, but if I eat only primal foods and enough of them I don't get cravings.

                    As far as gaining weight and body composition go, I was only a fraction underweight with this episode and so had none of the physical abnormalities which come with the body compensating for low weight. Also I was pretty lean and fit too, but my arms were skeletal with stringy triceps and biceps hanging off my bones, it wasn't a glamarous look! My body is naturally pear shaped and I can see my weight gain in my hips and thighs. I have also got some fat around my waist which I've never had before (a mini-muffin top!) but my buttocks haven't gained which is strange. My body composition had definitely changed. To the objective eye I probably look great, but to my super critical anorexic eyes I don't like the weight gain on some more anxious days. The best way to describe is going from a catwalk skinny shape to a fitness magazine shape. My quads have bulked up and my extremely flat chest seems to have gained a little bit of fat (hooray!). However, my ribs still stick out more than me breasts and I don't carry much fat from the waist upwards. My stringy arms have gone though.

                    Some gentle work with light weights and your major muscles groups would be a good first step, but only if you feel up to it on the day. The fitness section of this forum is full of knowledge and a good place to start. Otherwise, if you join a gym with personal trainers ask for a 30 minute programme to help you build up strength and muscle. Avoid chronic cardio, I personally hate it and haven't done any since I read the PB last year. Lots of walking is good for your body and your head.

                    For recipes like the casserole, any good recipe book will have them, I just adapt it to be fully primal, but most of these meat dishes are anyway. I'm English so a big Delia Smith fan, she has a website with all her recipes on it. I find something about the meat, gravy and sweet potato to be very nurtruring to eat.

                    My relationship with food is not fantastic, but I keep going one day at a time. I have no desire to turn my back on this WOE, the thought of bread and pasta appals me.

                    And one more thing, there is a lot talk in these forums about IF (intermittent fasting) - for me this spells relpase. Fasting is a stressor for women, and added to an ED it can cause havoc. Three nutritous meals a day is my best plan.

                    Good luck!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dexy View Post

                      I excercise 4 or 5 times a week, 2 or 3 times lifting heavy weights. You don't need to do this yet, you're not strong enough, but when you feel ready it feels great and gets your body moving and energetic. You could do some slow walks for a while until you get some strength back. Swimming might feel nice.
                      Originally posted by Daydreamer View Post

                      EDIT: Oh and, I'll add that I did not workout.
                      I tried to, and gained a bit of muscle mass, but it was the trigger of my big "hormonal crash" that led me to discover this pubertal weakness.
                      But from the "Early months" to the "Today" pics, I did not do ANY physical activity apart from a little bit of walking here and there (for the meditative aspects of it), because my body was too weak and I did not want to screw my puberty once again.
                      Originally posted by Dexy View Post

                      Some gentle work with light weights and your major muscles groups would be a good first step, but only if you feel up to it on the day. The fitness section of this forum is full of knowledge and a good place to start. Otherwise, if you join a gym with personal trainers ask for a 30 minute programme to help you build up strength and muscle. Avoid chronic cardio, I personally hate it and haven't done any since I read the PB last year. Lots of walking is good for your body and your head.
                      Interestingly, I'm still pretty strong despite my BMI (15 does sound appallingly low). I exercise somewhat regularly, but I avoid actually working out (ie. miles on a treadmill or fixed reps). I just lift heavy things whenever I feel like it and do some squats, etc. I'm worried about the exercise because I've read quite a bit about how the body won't build 'non-essential' muscle unless I hit over 2000 calories or something, so I was afraid exercise would just impede my progress and make me catabolic. ):

                      I consider myself pretty fit and muscular (in the defined sense) for my age--at least I was before the ED! Now, I do find myself struggling with endurance type exercise (like jogging) and my legs feel weaker. ): Hopefully it'll improve as I up my intake!

                      I think I'll stick with what I'm doing now: some resistance exercise and long walks. (:

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Katrina422 View Post
                        I think rather than looking at it as gaining weight, primal/paleo is going to correct your weight. That's one of the great things about this way of eating. It's exactly what your body needs, so if you are an unhealthy weight in either direction this is they way to correct it.
                        As far as recipes go, my favorite website for that is chowstalker. You can type in the search box for whatever type of recipe you'd like and find tons of them. You'll then be linked to the original author of the recipe who usually has even more awesome ones on their page!

                        So glad to hear you are getting healthy!
                        I certainly hope so! (: Primal sounds like a fantastic way to go, I was just slightly concerned that I won't be able to gain as easily, since it seemed like so many people use it to lose weight! Thank you all for the encouragement. Scrolling through chowstalker is making me salivate mmm.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Daydreamer View Post
                          I suffered from ALL the symptoms of anorexia, from the peripheral edema to the wasting of most of my muscle mass, abdominal bloating, face swelling, add to that all the symptoms of my hypogonadism, loss of body hair, "de-sexualization" of my whole appearance, enormous fatigue...

                          I was, very late, put on a TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) which is still far from optimal but I hope it'll soon be.
                          But it wasn't sufficient in order to recover completely, I had to take the steps to be free of my ritualistic behaviors and to regain weight.
                          Paleo was ALL I needed for that.
                          Of course, at the beginning, I had severe binges. But they were helpful in many different things: First, if you binge, it's because your body needs the nutrients, especially with Paleo food, and when you binge, you can put things into perspective, realize what you've been inflicting to your own body and the lack of respect you had towards it.
                          You'll more than surely go through moments where you will feel desperate because of the messed up homeostasis, the bloating, the swelling of the face, and the strange way you will think that you gain weight, because you lack muscle mass, in the abdomen area, so the skin will tend to "hang" a bit, and you will retain much water.

                          But in the long run, if you stick to a good Paleo eating with everything in check, O6:O3 ratio and everything, you'll be good.
                          For the weight distribution, you'll be the judge:

                          Most severe state: http://image.noelshack.com/fichiers/...0101024-15.jpg
                          Early months of TRT: http://image.noelshack.com/fichiers/...20120601-8.jpg
                          Today: http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphot...17910685_o.jpg (face is a bit "balloon-ish" because I have some hormonal things to "change" concerning my estradiol levels, but nothing too serious, it's not fat btw)
                          http://a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphot...51047896_o.jpg

                          I strongly encourage you to fight this condition, you and your body deserve much much better !
                          Consider it as your temple.

                          EDIT: Oh and, I'll add that I did not workout.
                          I tried to, and gained a bit of muscle mass, but it was the trigger of my big "hormonal crash" that led me to discover this pubertal weakness.
                          But from the "Early months" to the "Today" pics, I did not do ANY physical activity apart from a little bit of walking here and there (for the meditative aspects of it), because my body was too weak and I did not want to screw my puberty once again.
                          Gosh, your recovery looks good! It must have been tough, having anorexia thrown on you with such a medical problem. ): Personally, it started with undereating, then the mental aspects of it started creeping in. It's kind of scary, because I never really considered how 'natural' the psychological damage creeps in! I'm hoping that I'm pulling out early enough before anything serious happens.

                          Physical symptoms I have experienced are hair loss, dry skin, cold, fatigue/light-headedness (when I restrict), probably muscle loss and heart palpitation. I can sometimes feel my heartbeat through my chest when I fast long enough.

                          When I started eating more, I got pitted edema in my ankles and feet! I was pretty afraid, but it's mostly gone now. Hopefully it's a sign of improving heart health?

                          Thanks for the advice, and congrats on your success!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hi guys!

                            If anyone is still watching out for this thread, I still have a bit of queries.

                            1) How many calories should I be eating? Should I purposely count, or just rely on intuitive eating? The forums on some websites all seem to recommend that a minimum of 2500 per day is necessary, but I'm not so sure. Their meal plans are typically filled with a lot of carbs.

                            2) Which brings me to my next point. How much carbs should I be eating? I eat mostly veggies now, with some sweet potatoes and rice thrown in (relatively little though). I know macronutrient ratio should be the least of my concern, but I have heard that our muscles need glycogen and water to rebuild. Should I go higher carb now to gain weight? I love protein though, and fatty fish, I could (and have) binged on them while upping my intake!

                            3) A sample meal plan would be helpful, perhaps? I think I'll start another thread for that though! (:

                            I feel really much better after reading your replies and encouragement, screw this ED, a la caveman-style!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by eatingtolove View Post
                              Hi guys!

                              If anyone is still watching out for this thread, I still have a bit of queries.

                              1) How many calories should I be eating? Should I purposely count, or just rely on intuitive eating? The forums on some websites all seem to recommend that a minimum of 2500 per day is necessary, but I'm not so sure. Their meal plans are typically filled with a lot of carbs.

                              2) Which brings me to my next point. How much carbs should I be eating? I eat mostly veggies now, with some sweet potatoes and rice thrown in (relatively little though). I know macronutrient ratio should be the least of my concern, but I have heard that our muscles need glycogen and water to rebuild. Should I go higher carb now to gain weight? I love protein though, and fatty fish, I could (and have) binged on them while upping my intake!

                              3) A sample meal plan would be helpful, perhaps? I think I'll start another thread for that though! (:

                              I feel really much better after reading your replies and encouragement, screw this ED, a la caveman-style!
                              That really depends on your height and current weight. At 5.10 and 130lbs I was probably eating 1300-1500 daily on CW diet. Now I eat 1700 - 2300 daily, hormone and acitivity depdendent. I think a medical professionalty might be best to advise you on calories and weight gain, but unless you have a paleo dr or dietician they're going to suggest the whole grain approach.

                              Have a look at my thread when I was recovering a few months ago. It could be a little triggering, but the meals I ate were good ones.

                              I tend to eat 2/3/4/5 eggs in the morning, sometimes fried in butter, sometimes in an omlette with some cheese. I have a tea with milk and a coffee with heavy cream. For lunch I usually have a salad with whatever is in the fridge (a pretty big one, quantity is important to me as I have an inherant fear of not getting enough) with bacon/tin of tuna in olive oil/3 or 4 slices of bacon/ leftover meat. Sometimes I have Greek yoghurt as well. For dinner I have meat/fish with lots of vegetables and sometimes with sweet potato. If I think I'll still be hungry I melt butter on my vegetables. My portions sizes are pretty huge I think, but I don't snack as it triggers relapse.

                              Carbs will help you gain weight, but keep them good, like sweet potato, bananas and white rice. People do of course lose weight eating primally, but if you eat enough fat you will gain. Enjoy the liberty, it's quite an amazing experience to feed yourself again after starvation.

                              Can you post what you ate in the last couple of days?

                              Comment

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