Ask An Expert Eating Disorders

Feeling Hunger and Fullness in Eating Disorder Recovery?

Feeling Hunger and Fullness in Eating Disorder Recovery? | Libero Magazine 2
Answer: I can appreciate and understand how hunger signals can be really scary, but I take this as a good sign! It means your body is recovering from the ED.

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Question:

I reached maintenance weight after being anorexic for several years with the help of a treatment team, meal plan, etc. Recently I have been having trouble sleeping, waking up during the night. I sometimes find myself planning my breakfast at 2am in the morning but don’t eat until my scheduled breakfast. Should I eat more? I am stressed and don’t trust my body and feeling hungry really scares me.

Hi, S,

First, I have to say I truly admire your strength along your recovery journey and wish you the best of luck to continue the journey. Thank you for asking this question. Most, if not all, individuals with eating disorders struggle with hunger/fullness signals along their recovery journey.

JUL-HungerYou asked the question, “Should I eat more?” I would say to talk to your dietitian more in depth about this so she can make specific recommendations for you. However, I can say if you are waking up during the night and are feeling hungry, then your body most likely needs more fuel throughout the day.

I can appreciate and understand how hunger signals can be really scary, but I take this as a good sign! It means your body is recovering from the ED and is finally trusting you enough to send those signals! This is all a normal part of the recovery process.

Here are some basic nutrition tips you should keep in mind to get enough fuel throughout the day:

  1. Having 3 meals and 3 snacks. This is a pretty standard meal/snack schedule for recovery. Working with a dietitian can help you to tailor your meals and snacks toward your needs.
  2. Eating every 2-4 hours. This is especially important! Your body needs fuel throughout the day, so having regular meals and snacks will keep your energy up, improve your nutrition and help you along your recovery journey.
  3. Having a variety of foods at each meal including a protein, fat, starch, vegetable, dairy and fun food. Variety is key in supporting recovery! It also helps your body get all the nutrition it needs from day to day.
  4. Keep a food journal. I especially recommend you have your dietitian take a look at your food diary. They can help you recognize patterns and work with you to assure you’re consuming adequate nutrition.

It’s also normal to not want to trust your body when it comes to hunger and fullness. It can take a long time for your body to correctly send these signals; this may be frustrating, but your body will get there if you give it some time.

Sincerely,

Alex Raymond, RD, LD
 Disclaimer: This column is meant to serve as a safe place to ask questions and get opinions from educated professionals; but please always consult your own team before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Although our Experts are certified professionals in their area, their advice may not be suitable for your situation, and thus is not to be taken in place of that given by your recovery team and/or family doctor or personal therapist. Please use your own good judgment, and consult a licensed mental health practitioner for specific treatment. In the case of a crisis, please do not rely on this column, as answers may take several weeks to be published, and not all questions will be addressed. Please contact one of the Helplines listed in our Resources section if you feel you are a harm to yourself or in need of emergency support.

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Alex is a Registered Dietitian at the private practice Empowered Eating. Alex’s goal is to assist her clients in discovering a life-long healthy relationship with food and their bodies. She is a firm believer in intuitive and mindful eating as well as Healthy At Every Size©. Outside of counselling clients, Alex enjoys cooking (especially Italian foods), journaling, hiking and exploring Washington, DC.

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Ask An Expert Column Disclaimer

This column is meant to serve as a safe place to ask questions and get opinions from educated professionals. Please always consult your own team before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Although our Experts are certified professionals in their area, their advice may not be suitable for your situation, and thus is not to be taken in place of that given by your recovery team and/or family doctor or personal therapist. Please use your own good judgment, and consult a licensed mental or physical health practitioner for specific treatment. In the case of a crisis, please do not rely on this column. Please contact one of the Helplines listed in our Resources section if you feel you are a harm to yourself or in need of emergency support.

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