Recovery Q&A: Going “All In”, weight distrIbution and extreme hunger

I thought it would be useful for a few people to hear a bit about what life is really like now I’m in recovery. I must say as a side note though, this is the BRUTAL HONEST TRUTH and it probably doesn’t sound that lovely, but trust me IT IS WORTH IT!

Q1. Would you ever consider going “all in”?

For those who don’t know, going “all in” in terms of recovery from anorexia means you just eat whenever and whatever the heck you want to, until you’re full. For me, this often means consuming 5,000 calories (at least) in a day and eating fudge brownies at 1 o’clock in the morning. It means listening to your body’s cravings. In my opinion, going “all in” is the only way to recover. If you don’t fully commit, you’re restricting – that’s not recovery.

Q2. Do you get hungry a lot?

HAHAHHAHAHAHA! Yes. All the time. My extreme hunger really is extreme. I am hungry all the bloomin’ time. It’s become a bit of a joke between me and Mum now. I got through a whole batch of blondies and a jar of PB in one day! It’s scary but not surprising seeing as I deprived myself of so much for so long.

Q3. Do you get tummy pains or bloated at all?

Again, YES. My tummy muscles are so stretched and weak at the moment that I am in constant pain. It’s really hard to deal with mentally as I feel as though I have a “pot belly” and I can’t wear anything even remotely tight. However, I know this is occurring because I am in recovery and like everything else, it will pass. I have read up a lot on this topic (I’ve got myself into right states about it) and have learnt that when you restrict so much for so long, all of your muscles and organs literally shrink and deteriorate. This especially happens to the stomach as it isn’t functioning as it should so when you begin to eat larger amounts and recover, your body clings onto every nutrient it can get, in order to rebuild itself. Amazing really. But annoying at the same time. I go to bed bloated, wake up bloated and get on with my day bloated,

I am ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED to post this photo but it shows the reality of my life at the moment. This isn’t even immediately after just eating. I FEEL LIKE I’M IN MY THIRD TRIMESTER!

Q4. What does a full day of eating look like for you now?

Wow ok. I’m eating intuitively so don’t really follow any set schedule of eating. I often nip to the kitchen and have a spoonful of peanut butter or a handful of trail mix. However, as soon as I wake up I usually have about 2 bowls of cereal / granola and some biccies from the snack tub before taking Shuggs outside. (By the way, the maltesers biscuits are AMAZING – defo worth a try). I do that then come back, have a coffee and have 2 crumpets with PB and jam. Then I might wait about an hour or so if I’m not starving anymore (although unlikely) before making my smoothie bowl with granola and all the toppings. I have been eating much more refined sugar (e.g. choccy, biscuits, brownies etc) as that is what my body craves at the moment. For lunch I might have a sweet potato with some hummus, veggies, a yoghurt and then a bowl of cereal and more chocolate and biscuits. When I say this snack tub has been a life-saver, I mean it. Also, how good are croissants. They’re another go-to. I can eat until I’m full whenever I want! Whaaaaaaaat?! Anyway, in the afternoon I’d probably snack on some toast and will definitely at this point have gone back for more sweets or PB. For dinner, I’ll have whatever Immy and Mum are having (making sure it’s completely balanced with all the right nutrients) then some pudding. Some days this could be a fruit salad, others it’s ice cream, brownies and guess what? Biscuits! Haha, I’ve honestly never been a biscuit gal but recovery makes you want some weird stuff. Throwback to my potato dreams… Then before I go to bed I’ll probably have a sandwich or some more granola and some nuts.

Q5. Do you still experience body dysmorphia?

I don’t thiiiiiiiiiiink so. Mum would probably disagree though. I’ll be completely honest here and say I feel huge pretty much all the time nowadays but I’m not sure whether that’s just my stretched tummy or how I genuinely feel. It’s a tricky one.

Q6. What’s the best part of recovery?

Seeing how happy it makes other people! And doing fun things again! And eating amazing foods! Just everything, really. Mum said to me yesterday that going to M and S with me brought her so much joy because it was like old times, me picking and choosing what I want and I wasn’t just buying salad…

Q7. Do you get triggered when people say you look “healthy”?

I definitely used to. I thought “You look better” equalled “OMFG YOU’RE OBESE NOW!”. Now though, I can look at it more objectively and understand people are just trying to be nice. To be honest, I looked rather gross before so it wouldn’t be hard to improve on that…

Q8. Do you get any weird cravings?

I just crave chocolate, biscuits and randomly, flapjack. But honestly, the cravings are like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. They are SO SCARY but I know if I get through this phase of my life I can pretty much do anything. Just gotta ride that wave.

Q9. Have you got your period yet?

Nope.

Q10. Do you still get night sweats?

Yes, although they’re definitely not as bad as when I was in hospital. Thank God.

Q11. How much weight have you gained and how long did it take?

So far I have gained around 25 kilos and it’s been about 13 weeks since I started weight restoring.

Q12. Are you going to keep intuitively eating until you reach your set point?

Again, for those of you who don’t know what a “set point” is, it’s where your body naturally wants to be in terms of weight. This means it’s the weight you are when you eat whenever you want, and whatever you want. I of course am going to weight restore until I reach my set point as I don’t think full recovery is possible otherwise.

Q13. What’s the hardest part of recovery?

The extreme hunger. It makes me feel like a bottom-less pit at times and I really struggle to get my head around it. I can eat 4+ bowls of cereal and still be absolutely starving. Let’s just say I can’t wait for it to pass.

Q14. Were you nervous to leave as an inpatient? Did you feel a lot of pressure to stay on track?

I was more excited than anything but I definitely felt a pressure to keep up what I had learnt in hospital. I didn’t want to waste the time I had spent getting better, in order to restrict at home like I did previously. I knew this time was different but a part of me was still very worried. I also knew how scared my family were about me relapsing and wan’t prepared to let that happen again.

Q15. Do you get any symptoms any more?

I get recovery symptoms oh hell yes but anorexic ones? Not at all! Actually none of my previous symptoms come to mind. My body is pretty badass.

Q16. If you could go back and time and take back every bit of your life that was about anorexia, would you?

YES, YES, A MILLION TIMES YES. Anorexia brought me NOTHING. Ok yes, I made a few amazing friends along the way but how much more incredible would it have been to meet under normal circumstances. To me, the pain and suffering it caused not only me but people around me, will never be worth it.

Q17. What made this admission different to previous ones?

This is a tricky one that I get asked a lot. I think it was mainly due to the fact that I started at my lowest weight, I had never been so close to dying and I knew that I had the perfect opportunity laid out in front of me to recover. Time wise, I had 6 months of nothing (cheers COVID), university in September and no exams. I have been so lucky,

Q18. Do you still get weighed? Does the hospital check up on you?

I have a phone call with the hospital on Friday so I think I’ll find out a bit more then, but supposedly I am going to be weighed by my GP once a week. I will DEFINITELY not look and see what it is though.

That’s all the questions I received this morning and I hope this post shed a bit more light on what life is like for me at the moment! Lots of love. Leith xx

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