Hi! I've been having a lot of trouble lately, and I'm wondering if any of you have any advice. I'm a 16 year old female recovering from an eating disorder. I started eating high carb a couple of months ago, and gradually increased my calories from a measly 500-800 a day to 3000+. I've gained LOADS of weight, obviously (i was 80 pounds!!!) but the thing is...I don't feel good! I've lost my mental clarity and focus, am so physically tired all the time that sometimes even walking down the stairs feels like a work out, I have hardly any passion or excitement, and I'm incredibly bloated all the time. I've also been going through bouts of feeling very depressed.
I'm trying to be less strict with my diet because I was orthorexic before, but I tend to crave healthy carbs anyway, so I eat like this almost every day: Breakfast: 10 bananas by themselves usually, or in a smoothie. Lunch: 1000+ calories from bananas and dates with soy milk and sometimes mangos. Sometimes I eat wheetabix and fruit for lunch. Haven't noticed too much of a difference in how I feel on those days. Dinner: 1 cup (dry) rice with half an avocado, greens, and nutritional yeast or 1000 calories of rice pasta. Sometimes I add potatoes to my dinner instead of an avocado.
So I eat around 3000 everyday. I'm thinking my fat and protein intake may be too low because its consistently 5-8 percent. (usually on the lower end) I've tried making it higher, but its hard to eat so much fat when you eat so many calories. To get 10 percent fat I would have to eat an entire avocado and a tablespoon of peanut butter.
A few more details: I go to bed at around 9-10 but I usually wake up at least once in the middle of the night so I'm not sure how much sleep I end up getting. I'm completely sedentary because of mentioned ED. I drink 4 cups of water 15-30 minutes before every meal.
Thanks for any help!
Probably upping the fat intake a bit would help. Especially since you're recovering from an ED! It helped for me anyway!
I'm thinking maybe if you are gaining weight back successfully adding in some walking and/or lifting weights could be beneficial in helping with some of the problems you're describing.
Thanks for the reply!! So perhaps a whole avocado or more? The thing is, I don't necessarily crave more fats so I'm not sure if I need more, but I'm willing to try.
I really want to start exercising and I do think that would help my mood! I've been a little paranoid about exercise though since I only started recovery 2 months ago, and I've read exercise is bad for recovery. I DO occasionally do yoga when I have enough energy which seems to improve my symptoms some.
Are you still really underweight? If you're not dangerously underweight I don't think some light exercise will hinder your recovery at all!
Cut out the avocado. You do not need to up your fat intake or your protein intake and you are doing good with the water and calorie intake.
*If you are still underweight you should smash in some peanut butter cliff bars as a replacement to the AVO.
Remember to have 4 cups of water first thing in the morning and before bed as well, and make sure you are always peeing clear throughout the day even first thing in the morning.
Go to bed at 8:00 and stay in complete darkness until morning. This will help with the energy issues
Wheat + fruit is usually a horrible combo digestion wise, so pay attention to how you feel after that meal.
Do not start exercising until you are at a healthy body weight, and when you do start to exercise start with walking/very light cycling.
Your fat and protein are perfectly adequate, some people feel better eating closer to 10% fat but you can play around with that and decide what feels right for you.
How many hours of sleep do you get? How long do you rest your body at night? Can you get a nap in the day?
How are your energy levels now compared to 2 months ago when you were still eating 500-800 calories?
I wouldn't worry too much about your lack of energy right now. Broadly, when you were under-eating you were running on stress hormones, or your sympathetic nervous system ("fight or flight"). Now that you're eating so abundantly, your stress hormones have been blunted, and you are activating your parasympathetic nervous system more ("rest and digest"). In these situations, after a prolonged period of chronic under-eating, the body will adjust the hormone profile as soon as it gets a chance (the onset of supply of abundant food) and make it so that you feel lethargic etc for the very reason that it doesn't want you to move, it wants you to lie around and heal. (This fits with the brief info you've given us, but of course something else could be going on that we don't know about!) Plus, the contrast of running on stress hormones versus not doing so will be marked anyway, and take some getting used to.
thank you!! This reply was incredibly helpful and I'll definitely try to implement some of your ideas!!
Now that I think about it, it makes sense that my body really doesn't want to excercize right now. I really WANT to exercise (for the mental benefits and to feel good, not to lose weight obviously) but it just doesn't seem right right now. I'm going to listen to my body and try to go with the flow. : )
I used to eat a lot more variety (berries, vegetables, sweet potatoes, mangoes etc.) but now that I'm eating upwards of 3000 calories I've been trying to stick to basic, cheap food because my mom is paying for my food and I don't want to cost her too much. I'll try to incorporate some more of those foods into my diet though, because I DO love berries and sweet potatoes haha.
Have a glucose test. You might not responding well enough for your insulin levels to be the appropriate levels. That usually causes mental fog
Thanks for all the replies! I have another question though...IS there such thing as too low fat? My fat intake was 2 percent today. Cals arent an issue. (3200+ calories of delicious bananas, dates, and rice!) but I was curious about any side effects and whatnot of fat under 5 percent.
I disagree! There's loads of evidence to suggest that whole food fats like avocados and nuts are super important as long as you keep it to a minimum. I try and get some overt fats in every day and feel way better than I did when I avoided them completely!