Alright I know I have vented about this before, but lately my appetite is raging. My hunger cues are not always the best but I can honestly say, I could eat for a good portion of the day. I am not typically an unhealthy eater. I don’t crave cakes and pies (sometimes a good cookie with milk though) or full-fat chips, or anything like that, but I do often have the desire for smoothies, and cereal, Protein Bars, Meat, Bread, Peanut Butter…all things like I said, that are not unhealthy, but that I am not used to wanting in this quantity.
The reason I am revisiting this topic is because I know there are people/readers out there who struggle with the issue I like to call “food guilt.” I certainly do. Any dietary “rule” I break causes an all-out war in my mind, so eating when I am hungry, especially if it is more frequently than normal, makes me have some form of a mental break-down. But here is the thing, you cannot argue with science. If your body is being deprived of something it needs, I,e. food, or even a single nutrient you may be restricting (fats are always a popular one) then the body will signal for you to get it. My body craves food in general, but specifically things I tended to limit. My once illogical fear of carbs and fats may be long gone, but the residual effects unfortunately still lurk, and are still not always easy to deal with. So how do I get through days like this? When I am constantly wanting more, or having an appetitie that is “abnormal?”
I remember all the horrific points in the last few years, that I NEVER want to revisit…specifically the nights I can never forget…aka, the midnight munchies. They have gotten a lot better since I am giving myself pretty much anything my stomach asks for, but there was a time in my recovery where I would wake up, usually around 2 AM and be starving. Starving to the point where I couldn’t go back to sleep because my tummy ached and growled and made all sorts of noises loud enough to wake my sleeping husband. Early on I would tell my stomach to shut the *uck up and curl in a ball praying I would get so tired I would pass out, but then, as I could no longer tolerate it, I would get up and have almost a full meal in the middle of the night.
The first time I ever did this my mom happened to be home, and she came downstairs to see if I was alright. I wouldn’t even look at her. I was too focused on measuring out the stupid Frosted Mini Wheats and Almond Milk to barely notice she was there. And as I ate them furiously at our breakfast counter she sat next to me and rubbed my back. Then I went for more cereal because lets face it, who eats half a cup of FMW? Ill tell you, a 3 year old. This time there was no measuring, just handful, after handful because I felt like my stomach was eating away at the rest of my body (newsflash, it was). And then as soon as I realized what I did, after half the box was gone I cried.
Ryan came padding down the stairs asking if everything was alright until he understood what had just happened. Both he and my mom hugged me as I rocked back and forth, sitting on the granite, tears streaming down my face because I felt so helpless. After half an hour I climbed the stairss, Ryan following behind, and I climbed in bed but couldn’t stop moving. My body was rebelling from what I had just consumed. Movement was the only way I knew how to counter all those calories I was eating at such an abnormal hour.
“Relax, Goose. You were hungry because you didn’t eat enough earlier. Everything is going to be fine.”
I don’t know how I got so lucky but Ryan is pretty darn good at making even the worst of my ED situations better.
But then this happened more often. I would wake, couldn’t fall back to sleep and would go down to have breakfast early, like, very early. After spending many sessions on this with my R.D. I finally accepted that without nourishing my body properly during the day, I would never be completely satisfied during the night, and my sleep would ALWAYS be disrupted. This made perfect sense considering the most sleep I had gotten in the last few years was while I was in hospitals, where my intake was one hundred percent monitored. I sleep much better now, am always ready for breakfast when I wake, probably more because it is my favorite meal of the day, but at least I no longer toss and turn in starvation.
Coming back to the present, the last few weeks of recovery have been horrific as far as food guilt is concerned (Im sure you could tell by last weeks posts), but I cant panic. I have to remember that I am still a long way from my goals in recovery, and I have a pretty flexible meal plan as long as I don’t go beneath what is advised. Who cares if today I eat something extra. Maybe that means my body is recouping from actually being social and leaving the confines of my home! (Something I rarely did when I was in the deepest throws of ED) Maybe my body is being normal and requesting fuel to get through the first week of school, and working at the pool? In any case, someone once told me if I am hungry, and don’t eat, regardless of how many calories I had in that particular day, it is still a form of restriction, and I am certainly not venturing down that road again…
Do you have a bedtime snack? Any favorite snacks to share?