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Thread: Anorexia recovery and weight gain help

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  1. #1
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    Exclamation 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 at 03:54 AM.

  2. #2
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    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 at 04:12 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote 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.
    Quote 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.
    Quote 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. (:

  4. #4
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    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.

  5. #5
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    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.

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

  7. #7
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    Quote 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.

  8. #8
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    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! ):

  9. #9
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    Quote 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!

  10. #10
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    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!

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