Hi! This is a general 'troubleshooting' question. I want to be energetic and happy, and I feel like something is holding me back physically.
Some background: I am a 5'10 female, 60 kg, 19 years old, and in 2011 I put my body under a lot of stress with extreme caloric restriction (200-1000 calories with exercise, fasting for days) and a 5 month stint into veganism. Lost my period, dropped to 55 kg. Ate mostly 'whole foods' like rice, beans and veg, but had a problem with binge eating on sugar. I often feel like my body is more sensitive and very rattled because of this. I believe I had an eating disorder. Have always had depression, and unsurpringly it got super bad last year. Still occurs but not so often and is not so crippling. I still have feelings of low self-worth and maybe a skewed perception of my own body.
So basically, totally textbook stuff. My questions are related to my extremely low energy levels. Have I just hurt myself from that crazy dieting, and it will take a while to recover? I haven't tried low carb paleo for the 4 week 'adjustment' period people talk about. I'm not sure if it will work and it's not worth the gamble right now, I think. I also just don't care about fat loss anymore- just want to feel strong and happy. I plan on stocking up the freezer with fatty grass fed lamb next week, making bone broths, eating offal regularly and making some water kefir. I think all these things will help.
Here's what I ate yesterday:
4 eggs, 4 tbsp pastured butter
2 grass fed lamb chops, 1 cup chinese cabbage/broccoli
1 cup sweet potato, 1 large tin salmon
1 cup white potato, 2 tbsp coconut oil
2 kiwi fruit
1 cup blueberries
Adding up to 2500 calories. 60% fat, 18% protein, 23% carbs. I have been really hungry for more food and I tend to go for fruit. Hard to say if sugar makes me tired, I think it would be better to eat more fat and protein in general however. I eat salmon twice a week, take fish oil, avoid excess omega 6, don't eat anything in a packet with more than 1 ingredient...
I'm wondering if I could just eat more, until I am stuffed? I only really walk or ride my bike for an hour a day, and I don't kill myself over it because my energy is so precious. It seems to be important though, otherwise I just don't have the appetite to eat what I do. I get out in the sun every day and try to sleep 9 hours a night.
Thanks a billion in advance to anyone who takes the time to read and share their thoughts about this. This is a great community and I really hope I can make paleo work for me.
It sounds like you're on the right track to me. Adding in the protein and fats should help regulate your energy levels although it will take a bit of time to adjust. I'd say eat that first and then fill up on veg and/or fruit. If you need to exercise more to get the appetite to eat more then it should be ok to increase things steadily, I would expect that it would help get your body functioning quicker - you won't be doing any more harm by taking time over it though. I'm not sure you need to eat more, but there's no reason to hold back if you're hungry so you want to give your body every opportunity to recover. So make sure you get the fatty proteins in first at every meal, and possibly for snacks as well if you get hungry and can stomach it, and then eat fruit and veg on top as and when hungry.
Also I guess try and look at getting a good range of micronutrients, although in due course it looks like your current diet should work out fine. If you do all the things on your plan and aren't feeling a whole heap better in a few weeks then I'd be very surprised.
I agree with you that it sounds like you have an eating disorder. These things take a long time to sort out, and it's usually a good idea to do this with a competent therapist who can help you try and find out where it's coming from and give you some techniques to deal with it in a non-food related way. At 5'10" and 60 kg if you are thinking about fat loss you definitely have a skewed perception of your body - which is part and parcel of the ED.
Your low energy levels are probably tied into this - when your body is in survival mode you just don't have any energy to spare. I'm not an expert but I have been through some of this, and I definitely recommend being gentle with yourself. I totally agree with blueballoon that visualizing healing from within is very helpful. The food you eat is nourishing you. If you want to eat fruit, eat fruit. Stick to whole, unprocessed foods and don't obsess, because obsession can be a major problem with EDs. I also recommend getting outdoors in the sunshine as much as possible - go for a walk or a bike ride just to be out and moving. THat helps with depression and will allay your anxiety about gaining weight.
Your sample diet sounds very healthy, and it sounds like you're very self-aware, which are both really good signs. Your stated goal - to just feel healthy and have good energy - is perfect. Now just internalize that a little more every day and you're on the road to recovery. Bon courage!
I think you're probably doing fine, but it will take you a while to recover. I dealt with eating disorders (specifically bulimia and binge eating disorder) for years. Don't try to eat to stuff yourself--in my experience that just ends in a bad spiral--just try to be kind to your body for a while. It'll take time, both for your body and your mind to heal.
I know this sounds really hokey, but when I finally started eating paleo-ish I kind of visualized my body healing from within because of the nutrients I was [finally] giving it. I'm sure it didn't help in real life, though it helped my mindset immensely. Just being nourished is a huge change from extreme calorie restriction/exercise addiction/etc.
As a recovering anorexic, I just want to point out that most women with a restriction-based eating disorder (which it sounds like you had) will have elevated caloric needs post-disorder. Tons of studies on this. So you may need more calories than your average 5'10 60 kg woman. Keep eating. Don't "stuff" yourself but eat til you're full. In in-patient treatment, our goal was to assess our hunger on a scale of 1-10, pre- and post-meal. So it's ideal to go into a meal at a 2, 3 or 4 (hungry but not devour-the-fridge starving) and finish at a 7 to 9 (full but not so stuffed you can't stand it and decide to binge and purge). Might be something to mentally check with during your mealtimes.
http://www.gwynetholwyn.com is a good site by a doctor who discusses what's involved physically in recovering from an ED, how it affects your metabolism, caloric needs, periods etc. The "Health and Support" forum on CalorieCount.com is also good.
if you're hungry, keep eating, that's the main thing.
You crave sugar for a reason. Fasting destroyed your ability to make thyroid properly, sugar is pretty much the only thing that corrects this with its ability to powerfully refill liver glycogen.
Drop the fish oil too, it destroys your ability to process glucose properly and has many other nasty side effects.
O3 deteoriates glycemic response- "Average blood glucose concentrations during the third week were significantly higher fasting (+ 15%, p < 0.01), and during the day at 1100 h (+18%, p < 0.001) and 1500 h (+ 17%, p=0.002) on PUFA than on the saturated fat diet."
Dietary supplementation with n-3 fatty acids may impair glucose homeostasis in patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.- "The blood glucose concentration tended to increase during MaxEPA treatment, and to decrease during the placebo period, the changes under the two regimes being significantly different (P less than 0.01). In addition, the rate constant for glucose disappearance (k value) for the intravenous insulin-tolerance test, which reflected the peripheral insulin sensitivity, tended to decrease during MaxEPA treatment and increase during administration of the placebo, there being a significant difference (P less than 0.03) between the changes during the two treatments."
Fructose improves glycemic response to glucose- "In conclusion, low dose fructose improves the glycemic response to an oral glucose load in normal adults without significantly enhancing the insulin or triglyceride response. Fructose appears most effective in those normal individuals who have the poorest glucose tolerance."
You sound like the perfect example of someone who should start eating a lot of white rice. It's not very filling, which for some would be a bad thing, but in your case you should be able to just pad your diet with it, or replace the tubers with rice for a while. Give it a try for a few days and report back.
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