I have a history of disordered eating, specifically restricting and related exercise bulimia. I am curious about intermittent fasting to further my athletic goals, but I am nervous about how the careful monitoring regarding time and feeding will... mess with my mind, in a manner of speaking.
Because of this fear, I have completely avoided it, and may continue to. Does anyone have any experience with this issue, or any words of wisdom?
Avoid avoid avoid. In my personal anecdotal experience, YES it triggers issues in those with a history of disordered eating. This is about overall health, and if you can't do it without thinking about it, don't do it. I eventually got to a point with my appetite where I was doing it unintentionally, but I never, EVER do it on purpose. If I'm hungry, I eat some goddamn food, the potential trigger is not worth the minute athletic increases.
Yes, I suspect it would be rather like an alcoholic engaging in intermittent drinking.
Hi, I'm recovering from an eating disorder and was anorexic.
I intermittent fast sometimes, like when I'm in a rush to go to school and unintentionally skip breakfast. But most of the time, I give in to my hunger, even if it's just a small meal.
I'm pretty much fully recovered and got my period back last month although it's still most likely irregular since I haven't gotten it this month, but there are times I will use IF as an excuse not to eat. I realize how horrible this is and I'm forbidding myself to do it.
If I do wind up doing intermittent fasting (either because I'm just not hungry or because I don't have time to eat, etc.), I'll make sure to eat a nice large meal when I do get hungry or when I have time. My body (and yours as well!) will take a long time to recover. Don't delay the process by depriving your body of nutrients when it is begging for it.
While most people think it is a dangerous trigger, I come from a similar background, and I feel that it has helped me form a more healthy relationship with food. My fasting periods are always followed by large nutritious meals. Instead of just seeing how long I can go without eating, and feeling shame whenever I consume anything I now see food as fuel and don't have as much of a problem with binge eating either. I think it can be helpful, and also prevent the terrifying weight gain that most of us experience when trying to rehab from an eating disorder
IF is not good for people who are leptin resistant. This group includes both obese people and anorexics. Every time I say this here on PH, some IF trolls come by and downvote me, but I'll say it again. Don't do it if you have signs of LR!
No personal experience, but in a thread on the MDA forum, most folk with prior history of eating disorders, said to avoid IF.
Only one person (with similar history) said it worked for her, but I had a sense that she had done a lot of emotional healing and was in a very different place than the other folk.
I'd say that if you have any concern, you should avoid IF for now.
Maybe not "dangerous," but unwise.
IF is the advanced, "I got to the end, fixed my problems, and now what?" tweak.
You do it when other problems are fixed first, weight is reasonable, and you are a true Paleo fat-burning animal. At that point, IF is planned calorie restriction and fat will burn. Fat buners burn fat.
Do IF before you get to this fat burning point and you are just doing what you did before-not wise.
It troubles me to see so many people wanting to jump on the IF train before they are ready, and they post info where you know they are not ready, and people who are positive about IF don't think and just urge them on. Not wise.
This is a very tough question. Your risks regarding IF are very unique to you and your specific version of your disorder.
My eating disorder was binge eating of refined junk foods. In my case, IF was the cure mechanism because it gave me lots of practice in distinguishing between emotional and physical hunger. I had over-eaten for so long that I didn't know there WAS a difference. In fact, most of what I had been reacting to as "hunger" were just addiction withdrawal sensations from wheat. After regular use of IF, I learned the difference and I learned to feed true hunger while distracting or ignoring emotional hunger. Oila! No more binge eating disorder and now I can even eat non-wheat junk food on holidays without any signs of the disorder coming back.
The main risk I see for you is that your disorder (I'm assuming) involves failure to eat. You are undoubtedly highly skilled at ignoring hunger already and you need practice in feeding it. I can confirm that I don't really feel hungry once I'm well into fasting; once I start I could go for an extended period and not care so I have to discipline myself to eat. That is particularly true now that I'm on ADF (alternate day fasting.) I can't wait to put cream and honey in my coffee (I drink it black on fast days) but after that I really don't care if I eat or not. So, I'm careful to thaw meat and plan menus on my fasting days and create momentum for actually eating when the time comes.
Think long and hard about your relationship with food. I don't think IF, which for most people only means you eat 1 or 2 meals per day instead of 3 or more, is any more dangerous for you than trying to eat more frequently than your body prefers but you have to be prepared going in (and probably you have to be now too) to eat when you should. The important thing is, realize that food is just fuel as Michelle said. Your emotional comfort, relief from boredom and recreation need to come from other sources.
I started IF by just eating a large breakfast--huge, really. I was very full and I didn't eat again until I got strong pangs of true physical hunger. Within a few days I found that was rarely the same day. So for a week or two, my IF meal was breakfast but THEN I still wasn't hungry in the morning so my IF meal became brunch. For about 6 months I ate one meal between noon and 4 pm--you might find you want 3 small meals between 10 am and 6 pm and that's just as good.
My recommendation would be that if you ever decide to try IF make sure you eat breakfast rather than letting yourself go without food all day and then "just skip."
If it makes you uncomfortable, don't do it. Only you can gauge the level of your discomfort, and if you feel it's triggering bad behaviors, just stop. Since you asked this question I'm going to assume you're pretty mindful of your habits, which is awesome when you've had a history of an eating disorder. I also have a history of anorexia and exercise bulimia and I practice intermittent fasting, which hasn't been a trigger for me BUT I do have to manage my calories sometimes to make sure I'm eating enough--and that kind of micromanagement is not fun after you've dealt with an eating disorder! I say ease into it, and again, if you feel it's bringing old behaviors back, don't do it anymore. PHers will be here to support you (:
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