I'm hoping someone can give me some input... A little background on me: I'm semi-recovering anorexic/bulimic (that hurts to say out loud). Before starting Paleo I had lost about 25-30lbs, admittedly not in the healthiest way, and then stumbled across Paleo and decided to give it a try. For the first few months I honestly thought I had gotten rid of my eating disorder forever. I felt amazing, I was eating more than I ever have and maintaining my exact weight (this was SHOCKING, let me tell you!), and I was trusting my body for once in my life. I got over my fear of fat and actually started to eat a good amount of it (healthy fat), which for me was unheard of. I thought I was free. Now, after continuing on this for a another few months I have gained about 10-12lbs. For someone with my mental health background that is horrifying! I know that I am not overweight, but it is more the sense of betrayal and loss of control over myself that is killing me right now... I trusted my body 100% and for the first time in a very long time I liked the way I felt and the way I looked...and it tricked me. I feel screwed over.
First of all, I do not understand how that weight gain happened in the first place, but now it seems that there is absolutely nothing that I can do to stop gaining weight or counteract it! I tried VLC, I tried going back to what I was doing pre-Paleo, I started working out, etc. IF is triggering for me, but I am considering trying it out just because I am so desperate right now to gain control over myself again. I feel like Paleo isn't working, but now that I am convinced of all the reasons why I shouldn't go back to eating grains, I don't know WHAT to eat! It seems like no matter what I do, my body is not responding.
Has anyone had a similar experience? I'm getting desperate and considering quitting Paleo, but I just don't know what the alternative would be... I feel like I'm in limbo!
Seek qualified, professional help. While this forum can be helpful in grasping and implementing paleo concepts, an eating disorder is a serious medical condition and I doubt that anyone here is qualified to give you the help you need. Since you labeled yourself as "semi-recovered", I would tend to think that you may not be in the best position to look at what's going on with your body objectively.
Good luck and be well
"Semi-recovering anorexic/bulimic". It sounds like you haven't recovered, and until you do, it will be hard to have a positive relationship with your body and your food that is sustainable. This is obviously causing a lot of distress for you mentally, and your body is probably having a hard time after the long, hard, metabolic strain that eating disorders put on it.
If you are not getting help with a medical professional already, I would not recommend practicing any kind of self-directed restrictive eating- get some real, qualified help. Eating disorders can't be fixed just by eating "right"- they need to be dealt with, through lots of support. Look for an eating disorder therapy group in your area, if you haven't told your GP or nurse practitioner or whatever yet let them know right away and discuss other options with them.
"I got over my fear of fat and actually started to eat a good amount of it (healthy fat), which for me was unheard of. I thought I was free. Now, after continuing on this for a another few months I have gained about 10-12lbs. For someone with my mental health background that is horrifying! I know that I am not overweight, but it is more the sense of betrayal and loss of control over myself that is killing me right now"
As someone who struggled with your issues for many years, this part stuck out at me. As others have pointed out, this indicates you have not recovered. Also as others have said, I would encourage you to seek professional help with this. You have gotten over your fear of dietary fat, but not, apparently your fear of what is likely normal body fat.
The paleo -- real whole foods -- approach can be hugely helpful in normalizing body weight and nourishing a healthy body. But it cannot fix the brain farkle that is the disconnect between how your body appears to others vs. how it appears to you in the mirror. If, as you say, you are not overweight, then there should be no need to feel any sort of betrayal for regaining weight back from a too-low weight. So I hope and encourage you to find help dealing with this.
I think coming to a site like this one can sometimes do more harm than good, especially if you get caught up in reading about counting, tracking, etc. I agree with the others who said to get professional help, but since you said you aren't able to do that right now, I'd just tell you to be careful of coming to PH, or at least be careful of spending too much time surfing around these posts. I recently found a website called, www.paleopepper.com. It's very positive and if I'm not mistaken, written by a woman who is recovered/recovering from an ED. She has another site I really love called, www.paleoforwomen.com. I've found that I feel really good after going to those sites. They're empowering.
Also, I read above that you asked, what would you eat if paleo doesn't work out....I would eat a real, whole foods diet. Nothing processed. Some resources if you're ever interested...www.100daysofrealfood.com. Also, The Weston A. Price Foundation.
Good luck to you!
N.M Thank you for the bravery you showed in publicly admitting you have a problem. That is the first and most important step in solving the issue.
I echo the sentiments of others here to get help from doctors, therapists, nutritionists etc. But also remember there are other sources of support, inspiration to guide you through this period of "perspiration". Here are a few suggestions you may want to consider to get support from within and without.
Support from "without":
Have you looked into support groups where you can make friends, get sponsors and be part of something bigger than you. Often helping others with their "stuff" is the best way to help yourself.
I know helping people with nutrition has been key for me to stay on track. And I say this regretting the an empty M&M's wrapper laying in front of me. I feel what you are going through and have similar issues myself.
Being an emotional eater, I understand how stress and anxiety connects with our nutrition. And know logical info on what to eat may not be as helpful in the middle of dealing with the broken record in our heads, learning how to stay present and accept what is happening around us and in our minds, rather than "treating it" with food is a very powerful tool. One that is of course more easily said than done.
Support from within:
In addition to knowing what to do, logically, meditation can help you learn how to plant your emotional roots firmly and deeply so the tree that is you can stay strong even there are incredible storms and winds around you trying to push you off balance.
Have you ever done meditation? I went on a 10 day "vipassana" insight meditation retreat, and it was the hardest thing I have ever done but one of the best things as well. I am very secular but enjoy learning about different cultures so going to a Buddhist meditation retreat was a helpful thing for me. But clearly if this is not a tradition or wavelength that speaks to you, get what you are looking for elsewhere. If you are interested let me know and I can send you a link to free insight meditation retreat I went to. They have them all over.
I recommend finding more meditation classes or books that are separated from the spiritual stuff. Perhaps Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction psychotherapists? Cognitive Behavioral is also very good. There are also iphone apps that can help you with breathing techniques that give you similar benefit. All I can say is that the techniques they taught me often helps me avoid the trap of emotional eating and body image issues. Not a magic fix, a but a useful roadmap to getting better. The most important thing is find what works for you, in the language that speaks to you.
There is an Iroquois proverb that says you cannot change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust your sails. I wish you smoother sailing N.M.
It gets better.
First, I commend you for the gumption it must have taken to admit there's a problem. As everyone says, that is the first step to recovery. Also, if you have not yet gotten progressional help, I would say that is absolutely imperative if you would really like to get on with your life.
Without actually knowing what your set point is, I will tell you this- you lost weight quickly and dramatically so your body perceived there was a famine. when you started eating again it began hoarding calories, in case another famine should strike. However, if you keep feeding it regularly, it will eventual realize that food is plentiful, and if you are over your set point, your weight will decrease, if you are under your set point, you will gain weight, and if you are at your set point, your body composition will improve. That is how it works.
Unconventionally, I think that your feelings towards food dictate your body composition as well. I believe that fearing food (orthorexia, and this is the site for it) triggers the same reaction in your body, and it is not until you recognize that food is nourishment (yes, even carbs are nourishing) that your body will stop hoarding calories and allow you to achieve your ideal body composition.
IF-ing for me triggers the some of the same feelings that anorexia did, so I do not do it (even at a calorie maintenance). Also, VLC makes me perform and look and feel worse, so I don't do it. What I have found works now is eating 90/10- 90% paleo (meat, fish, produce) 100% of the time, and leaving 10% of indulgences (for me it's often sushi or whipped cream or something like that). If I were active recovery, I would move this to 80/20 and in that 20% include whole foods like oatmeal, sprouted grain bread, and rice. Just some thoughts.
I was very anorexic as a boy (12-15yrs old) and have been since more or less happily recovered for the past 7 years. During my recovery I ate A LOT of potatoes, meat, and fish and fruit. It was uncomfortable but this is what you have to do- you HAVE to make yourself uncomfortable in order to recover. With time and practice the discomfort will subside. You doctors may not let you do 100% paleo and that's fine, but you can certainly do 80% paleo in most good clinics- I could in mine (both of them).
I would make this more in depth and helpful if I could but I gotta jet. I would also add that orthorexic sites like these are not the best place to be when recovering, as they can make things worse if you aren't yet comfortable with where you are at physically and with your relationship with food. I wish you the best on your recovery. Take small steps everyday, don't give up, and you'll get to a better place, I promise. OH, you have to want it too.
These are all things you would probably hear from going to a clinic (if you haven't done that yet) and getting help and talking with your peers. That is the best option.
Have you gotten professional help for your eating disorder?
I started getting professional help and they won't let me stay on paleo ( not saying its a bad way of eating, it's the BEST way of eating, but unfortunately I can't do it anymore, I don't have an aversion of food in the same way as other paleo people, and I quit certain foods for the wrong reasons).
I dropped about 7 kg's ( ended up being like, 3 kg underweight) quite fast and then gained it back with paleo after being questioned by doctors. But I got out of my little delusion that I didn't have a problem. Now I visit a psychologist once a week and I am overcoming it.
The way in which you are freaking out isn't exactly normal, and i know it isn't quite right because it sounds like me. I can only guess a normal person would be somewhat concerned, but not panic like this.
Fixing diet doesn't necessarily fix the mind. A certain diet may mask the symptoms, but it doesn't fix anything. You do these things for a reason, the main reason often being to cope with stresses. It's normal for a person with an eating disorder to start to change to different diets. ( not saying everyone here has this issue! )
Often after comming out of being underweight, depending on how long, your matabolissm, TEMPORARILY slows down, you may reach higher than your ideal, but you will sink back down again.
Seriously concider getting some help if you haven't already. Go to a GP and get a referral. Please, do it for you.
First of all, thank you for admitting this - even though I realize how hard it must be for you! My best friend is anorexic/bulimic and she is living in denial, being afraid of admitting it even to herself...
The reason why you are gaining weight on Paleo is because your body wants you to recover. It wants you to do well and to be healthy. Your normal weight that is.
I agree with everybody who told you to seek professional help. However, in the mean time, before you go to the doctor, there is something you can do that is healthy and helpful at the same time.
Please continue to eat as many vegetables as possible - lots of kale, cabbage, green leafy, onions, rainbow vegetables and mushrooms. YOU WILL NOT GAIN ANY WEIGHT by eating those.
Please eat bone broth, meat and fish. Again, it won't cause any gain weight no matter how much you consume.
I would only eat berries for fruits since they are more nutrient dense.
If you continue to eat like that - believe me, you will not have any problems with your weight, other than being in the best optimal weight you are in.
Do not worry - you will get through this. And being nice to your body and gentle on yourself is the first step.
Good luck and thank you for this question.
I have had the same experience- I also have an eating disorder. With people like us, diets really are unfavorable... they are just another way for us to be IN CONTROL, of our bodies/weight/size, etc..because we are afraid. What I had to do was overcome my FEAR of the foods I would avoid, for example going paleo & developing a fear of grain & wheat. When I would "relapse" on "NON-paleo" I was overcome with guilt and shame, and thus, a vicious cycle... I have spent too long trying to be in control of what I look like... I needed to give my body a chance to normalize. Something I had not allowed for YEARS. Always SOMETHING, whether it be restricting, over-eating, only eating certain things(diets), over excerscising, etc. you get the point. I was done having such an F***ed up relationship with food..and I had to make the decision that I would be willing to love my body no matter what, and that if I ever wanted to be happy, having the "PERFECT" body may be impossible, plus even when I WAS thin & cut it was NEVER good enough, I was chasing something that I could never actually achieve. I had to overcome my fear by eating what I desired...eating the foods I feared would make me fat-but mindfully and slowly, and until I was comfortably full, NOT totally STUFFED. learning how to be an intuitive eater, and listen to my body. It is smart and can handle more that you think, it is very intuitive if you allow it to be- and we aren't meant to be overweight, its all the weird shit we do with our bodies that throw it out of wack- give it some time with mindful eating, and normal foods- and see what happens. Here is the website that has begun to change my life...I learned everything from this girl Carolines experience.... <3 good luck and know that it will be brighter on the other side, but you have to face the darkness first.. it's essential.