Saturday, November 27, 2010


Re-feeding has to be one of the most frustrating/confusing/mentally agonizing process I've ever had to go through. I've experienced in twice - once in IP and once at home. There were different factors in both these situations and ones that were similar. They are things I have come to accept as facts when it comes to re-feeding.

- Re-feeding is uncomfortable physically. I personally experienced a lot of pain and bloating for the first 2 months of the process. It isn't pleasant and it really makes you want to quit. But if you stick it out for just a little longer eventually things get better and the unpleasant symptoms go away.

- Re-feeding is anxiety provoking. You are constantly hit by thoughts like: "Am I eating too much?" "Is this binge eating?" "Will I gain 100 kgs from this one bite of food?" Although these thoughts seem very real at the moment, I know from experience that they are usually unfounded and pretty illogical. So I just sit them out and try to not let them influence my actions in a detrimental way.

- You will never feel you did everything 100% right with re-feeding. If you are working with a dietitian or in IP and have a set meal plan you will always feel the people in charge are doing something wrong, that the laws of nutrition magically apply to everyone else - just not you. If you are working on your own it's even harder. You CONSTANTLY second guess yourself and get hit with a lot of guilt.

I am currently working through re-feeding myself. I don't have the money at the moment to consult a dietitian, so I'm doing the best I can on my own. It's hard, and there are days I wonder if everything I do is going to back-fire on me some day. I used to struggle with a lot of guilt. This is mainly because in IP I was FORCED to eat. It was that or a feeding tube. So I could sort of justify it in my head and say "Well, I'd have to eat anyways, I might as well get it over with". Also, I knew I couldn't leave till I reached a certain weight. So I ate, while mentally rebelling against it the whole time.

Now things are different. The process is definitely slower, but I feel it's more long lasting. I feel the need to gain weight and eat properly not because I am FORCED to, but because I WANT to. It's a personal choice. This makes is harder for my ED thoughts to cope with, but it is better in the long run because I am pushing myself harder to overcome these thoughts as opposed to just pushing them aside. I am learning to ENJOY food and the process of eating. It's odd that something so basic has to be practically re-learned from scratch, but that's just how it is. And I've accepted that.

I've also accepted the fact that I can't be perfect at recovery/re-feeding, just as I can't be perfect at other aspects of my life. There are some days I eat too little, or have the wrong "balance" of foods.Other days I eat too much, or eat something that affects my body in a negative way. But that's ok. I never promised anyone perfection, I only promised I would do my best. And I am doing my best.

Something that has really helped me was the concept of intuitive eating. I've mentioned this before, but it really did open my eyes to the fact that my body generally knows what it needs more then my mind does. Sure, I still have to do my part to make sure it's balanced (as in if all I'm craving all day is veggies it's probably a good idea for me to eat something else). But it's so liberating to be able to say "I feel like eating a ....(fill in the blank with pretty much anything)" and just eat it without it being a big deal. And I know it's ok because it's what my body wanted and generally my body wants something for a reason. It's really a comforting knowledge.

Of course I think the concept of intuitive eating needs to be applied only to a certain extent during re-feeding. I personally need to force myself to eat sometimes, even if I don't feel like it, just so I can gain. If I were to "listen to my body 100%" I probably wouldn't eat that extra little bit of food. They say ideally you should stop eating when you are 80% full. I stop at 100%. I eat things I don't particularly feel like eating, because I know it's necessary for me right now.

And I struggle with this. I feel like I'm somehow "betraying" my body by forcing it into eating. I fear I will develop unhealthy habits which will make me keep gaining weight my whole life. And this is what I struggle most with at the moment.

Any personal experiences/thoughts you can share on my dilemma?


  1. Oh, L!
    You have NO IDEA of how much this post meant to me. Really... I'll be forever grateful.
    I'm going through re-feeding right now too... I feel EXACTLY as you described! I feel so fat, bloated and ugly all the time. And I feel so guilty for eating so much, for stopping only when 100% full, etc.!
    But, deep down, I know I'm most probably doing the right thing. I DO want to be healthy... But healthy-MINDED. I don't want to be a health-freak forever, I don't want to be that-girl-with-anorexia anymore. I want to live, enjoy life, have friends, succeed, reach my personal goals (career-wise, social-wise, ...), do what everyone else does. If THEY can do it, why can't WE? If THEY can eat whatever crosses their mind, why can't WE?! What makes us so different?! WHY do we WANT to be different?!
    Ok, I'm probably loosing focus right now. Ops.
    But I hope you understood. You ARE on the right path. And - guess what? - you've been helping others along the way.
    What can be best? ;)
    Wish you an amazing weekend.
    Brazilian XOXO's,

  2. Wonderful post!

    A couple month ago in my recovery, my dietitian told me I could either make my own choices with food at home or go inpatient and get a tube stuck down my throat (not if those words though of coarse)....I chose to try eating more at home, let's say I don't like to be forced to do things.

    I don't have a "meal plan" so I sometimes tend to eat the same things over and over again. We (me and my dietitian) set food goals for me regularly. She'll ask about a particular food ED still isn't wanting me to enjoy( last time it was fats - any fats). Then we spent part of the session talking about the importance of fats, what they do in the body, where to get them....and so on... Then I have a challenge to try some new fat's I'm not "supposed to".

    I completely get what you mean about feeling too full. Try noticing how long it lasts, how long do you feel stuffed? ED tells me it's going to last forever and I'm going to be extremely huge. But in reality feeling uncomfortable doesn't last forever - a couple hours usually.

    It is so freeing to think that one day , hopefully soon, I'll be able to eat whatever because I am really craving it no matter what it is!! =D

    Have a great day!

  3. I'm really proud of you, it really seems like you're leaving the ED behind. I've never experienced re-feeding and I'm not quite sure if I want to. I would probably gradually increase from my normal amount so that I can adjust or make little changes here and there so that I couldn't notice the change or something.

    But, that said, I'm really happy for you. Eating more is tough but you seem to be handling it quite well. I hope I can be like you some day.