Last summer, I began my road to recovery from an eating disorder. I did extreme caloric restriction + long hours of exercise. As I slowly increased my calories and cut back on exercise, I ate probably around 3000 on SAD and gained weight slowly. Then after I thought I reached a healthy enough weight that I could cut down my calories a little to around 2000 or so while also beginning to eat Paleo, I gained weight rapidly. And strangely enough, even after a meal of 1000 calories or more, I find myself hungry only a few hours later. So what's the deal?
I've been on other forums (such as caloriecount.com where they have threads specifically for health) and there are people who say they maintain their weight on 2500+ calories. So have I been doing myself a disservice by decreasing calories (plus doing unintentional intermittent fasting) and making my body revert back to thinking I may be starving myself again? I'm hesitant to increase my calories back up to 2500-3000 just to see what would happen.
Also, I got my period back after a long bout of amenorrhea in January but haven't gotten it again since... Could that also be an indication that I'm still not eating enough? I eat anywhere from 50-60% fat, 20-30% protein, 10-20% carbs.
Hi! I recovered (or rather, began my recovery) from anorexia in 2008. I also used to frequent caloriecount--back then, it was a pretty dangerous place (they didn't even have the 'Health & Support' forum!).
As far as gaining weight with restriction, I can relate. I gained a little too much weight over a long period of time without really trying, and I restricted to a low level in attempt to lose some.. And I ended up gaining even more.
How quickly did you drop your intake? if you dropped it 1000 cals in less than, say, a month or two, I can totally see how that might have been a 'shock' to your body and why you may have started storing fat. If you tapered it slowly, it may just be that you need to maintain at a lower level. I know, it's totally unfair that ED-recoverers can maintain at ridiculously high amounts of calories, but everyone's different, and it may be that you maintain at a lower level. Or you may need to stay at this intake for a while (I don't think you mentioned how long you've been eating 2000 calories) and adjust to it.
As far as increasing, I say go for it! You have nothing to lose.. Or, possibly, gain. Stay at that intake for a while and see how it affects you from all angles--energy level, weight, appetite, well-being, etc.
About your period, its visit in January could very well have been a fluke. A few different factors influenced the return of mine: increased fat & overall calorie intake, increased iron intake, decreased exercise (from heavy cardio most days of the week), and maintaining a weight well above what would be considered underweight. All of these needed to be in place for several months before I had mine regularly.
All in all, I would encourage you to experiment, take it easy, listen to your body and be patient. You're doing well (: Good luck!
Having a similar past, I'm one to believe that if someone who has experienced an eating disorder feels hungry, then that's the body saying it needs more food... even if it's after eating 1000 calories. In my recovery I sometimes felt so hungry yet so stuffed at the same time, and it wasn't unusual to eat 4000-5000 calories because I was craving so many things - and I think the cravings were really just hunger disguised, my body really needed all those calories even after I got to a healthy weight. It's only after months of stuffing myself that my appetite is not so intense anymore, which makes me believe it was a necessity.
1500-2200 seems really little... well that's my opinion anyway, especially if you're somewhat active. I used to read the caloriecount forums like mad, and I do believe that once recovered you can eat 2500 calories and maintain your weight. Your amenorrhea does suggest you're still undereating, but then again it takes a few months of nourishment for some things to catch up (period, hair, nails, skin). Is there a reason you're eating such little carbs? No judging here, I'm just curious. I ask because the idea was tempting to me for the sake of fat loss/body sculpting but I chose not to because it seemed like feeding the disorder, focusing on nearly the same issue...
I wish you the best, and hope you figure it all out. If you feel comfortable with it, could you keep me posted on things?
Modern Paleo obsession with Fat 5 Answers