Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hunger, cravings: it's not just during recovery

Fact: two weeks ago, I went through a whole jar of almond butter and half a jar of cashew butter in a period of three days.
Yes, I am already weight restored. I've been eating enough. I weigh MORE than I did pre-eating disorder. I haven't had a period of extreme hunger in months.

It's no secret among my friends that I absolutely adore nut butters and so when I was home for spring break and my mother offered to buy some snacks to bring back to school, I made sure to pick up a few jars of the more expensive nut butters that I normally wouldn't buy for myself. Because you know, #brokecollegestudentproblems. Little did I know that within a week and a half of getting back onto campus, what was supposed to get me through to summer break would all be gone.

When I was physically recovering, I followed the Minnie Maud method and ate a minimum of 3000 calories a day, usually closer to 3500, with many days of extreme hunger where I uncontrollably consumed tens of thousands of calories. Was a developing binge eating disorder? Of course not. My body was just desperately trying to pile in all the calories and nutrients it needed. I knew that of course, but knowledge didn't make the experience any less scary.

Fast forward months and I was physically recovery, intuitively eating around 2500 calories and maintaining my weight, menstruating, regrowing thick, healthy hair, and all was well. I haven't had extreme hunger episodes in months (though I certainly have had days where I ate a good 5000 calories or more) until it finally hit me again two weeks ago.
I was incredibly stressed out, feeling fatigued all the time, lacking any motivation to go to the gym, and studying for hours a day for an upcoming organic chemistry midterm. In between the mad study streak I found myself constantly reaching for my nut butter jars, even if I wasn't necessarily hunger, and before I knew it, I had already shoveled several tablespoons of the jar's contents into my mouth.

I felt panicky. Guilty. Scared.

Even if I am mostly recovered, I still get challenged. I have days where I struggle. I have terrible body image days. And that's okay - I'm only human.

By the time the actual exam day rolled around, a jar and a half of nut butter was gone, amongst bars of chocolate, a tub of cottage cheese, half a bag of pretzels, and of course my usual meals.

Looking back in retrospect though, I can see why my body was absolutely screaming for fats and carbs: I was barely sleeping, incredibly stressed out, my cortisol levels must have been through the roof, and on top of that, I got my period two days after my exam.
I guess what I am trying to get at is that our bodies are constantly in a state of change, adapting, and telling us exactly what it needs. It's our job to honor the indicators that our bodies give us and the rest will sort itself out. Extreme hunger isn't just during recovery; normal, healthy people get it too.

Did I gain any weight from this little episode? No. Our bodies are incredibly resilient and self regulating. As long as you take care of it, it will take care of you.

Now it's your turn:
What's your favorite type of nut butter?
Do you have any plans for this summer?