Monday, April 29, 2013

Shamed Secret of Recovery: Break the Silence

For quite some time now I have been hiding a struggle of mine with readers and why...because I couldn't find anyone else who discussed it on their blog. I kept dealing with it in silence because I figured sharing the secret struggle on here would make people think I was disgusting...or that something was wrong with me. But recently I have been talking to my recovering/recovered friends about it and we all have experienced it but been too scared to talk about it because nobody else was. You see the problem here. The more we stay silent because no one is talking about the struggle, the more silence persists, the less people talk, and the trap of silence remains. So I am here to break my own silence and hopefully bring some help to others struggling with this shamed secret: extreme hunger and binge urges.

I figure I might as well write about this tonight since the lovely extreme hunger hit me again today. For me, it's this unquenchable gut-roaring hunger that hits at night all the sudden. Soon thereafter I get this urge to eat everything in sight and even things I don't have. I get the urge to go to the store and buy loads and loads of sweets, cakes, and even foods I know I am allergic too and would make me sick and just consume them all. I wish I could say the cravings were "healthy" or "acceptable" foods, but to me they aren't. And tonight...I actually seriously think of just doing it...just to see what would happen if I "let myself go."

It's not nice, but this is pretty much how I feel it goes sometimes. But I am the mean thing saying Fuck you and my body is saying....Please, Jess...please just listen. 
I honestly don't understand why the extreme hunger comes but a lot of people in anorexia recovery deal with it so I figure I might as well discuss it and bring it out into the open. I've heard it's just because of the years of restricting and your body actually in desperation for more calories to make up for all those years. I have also heard that it is part of metabolic healing. And with me some people say it is because of my erratic eating times. I honestly don't have the answer. This is a reason I can't wait to have a nutritionist I can ask someone about it. Not only about why it happens...but what to do when it does happen...that's my real struggle.

Tonight I went to my usual and irrational way of coping. I was in the middle of a snack when the hunger hit and so I did an oh-so-logical thing and stopped eating. I don't know what it is about it, but when I get this extreme hunger my first instinct is to stop eating...the complete opposite of what a "normal" person would do. But for me I have this whole idea that if I stop eating and slow down my pace of eating I can get the hunger to go away. I know this isn't the healthiest way to cope with the hunger, but I honestly don't know what else to do. Problem is the delay in one snack delays my others pushing my timing further and further back which (due to medications I take that must be taken certain time before and after meals) messes me up for the next day. And as much does in recovery slips days turns to weeks, weeks to months, and then you have a messed up timing pattern on your hands.

But I digress. I was thinking today as the hunger hit about what other options would be to cope with the hunger and what beliefs are holding me back. Here is what I got.

1. Continue eating at regular pace and stick with meal plan.
Belief: I am afraid if I keep with the regular pace and just keep with meal plan (which I finish regardless of the hunger anyway) that I will be left with no food and the hunger still being there. I know most people think anorexics want to feel hunger...but when I restricted...I never felt hunger...I felt nothing. In fact...hunger scares me more than fullness now. Hunger when I haven't made it be there by restricting or makes me feel out of control. It scares me to hear my body asking for more and to be faced with the decision of whether to give it more or not. 

2. Give into the hunger and eat whatever I want, just to see what happens.
Belief: This scares me because I used to have binge eating disorder and my biggest fear is to go back to that place. I reality I don't think my "binge" from these episodes would be anywhere near my BED binges...but still it would scare me. It would mean a loss of control and to me it scares me to think what my body would do. What if I gained weight? That would scare me soo much...especially when I let my mind go off and tell me just how much it says I would gain. But what if I lost weight? I am scared this would give my mind an excuse to do the binging again even when the urge isn't there. But honestly...and as ashamed as I am to say it...I think had my weight not been up this morning...I would have seriously thought about doing it. 

3. Keep on with timing and plan and if hunger still there than eat more.
Belief: This one just annoys me because I wouldn't know how much more to eat and get scared my body would trick me into eating more than I need. Again it comes down to complete distrust in my body and myself. It comes down to this belief that for some reason I am this out of control person that needs rules around feeding myself...something my body is designed to give me signals (like hunger) to control. 

Again, I wish I had a dietitian at this point to tell me what is the right thing to do, because really I am not even sure. What I am doing with delaying meals...well I know that is definitely anorexia and needs to not happen next time (because I am sure there will be a next time) this happens. But then I don't know what to do. I guess I could keep with timing...but then what do I do if the hunger doesn't subside. I am left at a standstill....stuck between trusting my body or the structure of my meal plan. Which is better for me long-term? I know some dietitians have told me it would be good if I just let myself go once...just to see what it felt like...but that completely scares me. Yet...I also know at the low weight I am at's the only time I will actually even think about doing it. So what do you do? Schedule a binge? This whole thing is so confusing...and it's all centered around a feeling most people know how to respond to: hunger. But when you are a recovering anorexic...and it's extreme's not so easy to deal with.

So there it is. I broke the silence and shared my struggle. No big insights, and really no solutions. But I promise it's top of my list to talk to the new dietitian about this summer (two more weeks and counting). For now...I am just happy the hunger went away and can't wait to get in bed and sleep. I know again it's sad...but sleep helps me hide from the hunger. As you can see I am far from recovered..but recovery is a process. A process with ups and downs and scary situations just like this extreme hunger.

Have you ever dealt with extreme hunger in recovery? How do you cope?

Are there any other secret struggles you think should be shared?


  1. Hi Jessica,

    you might wanna read the YourEatopia website, namely this post:
    It will provide you with LOTS of answers and make you feel MORE than normal!!
    Good luck!

  2. I've experienced it and a everyone I know that has had an eating disorder has. The people I know who consider themselves healthy today but still count calories and for me, do not appear healthy at all, they cope with it by ignoring their bodies signals. I, on the other hand, gave in to hunger. Completely. I ate like a TON of food everyday for about two weeks, gained some pounds and then it sort of stopped. It still comes back sometimes, and then I just do what my body tells me to do: eat. I have a stable weight today and I do not have an eating disorder. I agree with the above post, and also there are a number of other sources of info that suggests that the only way to successfully conquer an ED is by following your hunger, no matter how extreme it seems.

  3. I've had extreme hunger 24/7 for the past 7 years, in and out of treatment for anorexia. It's hellish and for me has never gone away, even though I'm now weight restored :(

  4. I became weight restored (as an inpatient) 10 years ago. When I got out of the hospital I immediately started restricting and as soon as I did that the extreme hunger started and I started binge eating. I have experienced extreme hunger and binge eating ever since. If you find a solution please blog about it!