It’s called Extreme Hunger for a reason.

Its fairly difficult to find first hand experiences of Extreme Hunger (EH) and yet, it is fairly common for someone recovering from a restrictive eating disorder to experience it. So, I find myself asking, ‘Why is it like this?’ and my conclousi0n has been we are ashamed of our EH. Of course, we do not need to be but when we have spent so much time thinking that consuming less food was an achievement, it is hard to admit that we are now consuming far more than is ‘normal’.

I do feel guilty at times for the amount of food I currently eat but it would be a miracle if I didn’t because I have a restrictive eating disorder and that is just the kind of pain my Anorexia puts me through. What is of importance is that I challenge those guilty thoughts and rationalise why the way I am eating is okay. And, it is just that: okay.

Just a quick recap for those of us who are not familiar with EH… Often we:

  • Have the desire to eat food, beyond our physical hunger.
  •  Do not feel satisfied by the food we have already eaten.
  •  Eat faster than usual.
  • Consume far more food than a ‘normal’ person would.
  •  Feel guilty, out of control and fear we have developed binge-eating disorder (we have not)

(Note: These are not EH rules, they are just common factors of EH. Everyone’s recovery is different)

Owing to the lack of personal recordings of EH, I feel it makes sense to share my experience of it at current. I know that not everyone will endure the same experience and I do not wish you to compare yourself to me because your recovery is your own and so long as you are satisfying your hunger and eating enough, it does not matter whether you experience ‘more’ or ‘less’ EH than anyone else. We are all individuals.

It is common during recovery for us to be thinking about food a lot: planning, eating, thinking, cooking, buying. Food. Food. Food. It is our brain’s way of reminding us that we’re still starving. We still need more food. Our brains are clever things. They won’t let us be until we are no longer starved. Its tiring thinking about food all the time but the only way to eradicate these mundane and repeating thoughts  is to EAT and reduce the starvation to a little pile of nothingness.

tumblr_mc1gc4fGjs1rz7ziyo1_r1_500

I would probably describe my own experience of EH as pretty extreme. Its called Extreme Hunger for a reason I suppose. I eat most of the day… almost everyday!

For example, today I woke up feeling fairly full from eating a lot yesterday but my first thought after waking up boiling hot (damn you night sweats) was ‘FOOD’. I instantly thought about ways to suppress this hunger… ‘Oatmeal, that’ll do the job’… ‘I could just stay in bed a bit longer’… ‘Eat xxx calories and ignore those hungry food thoughts’. I knew this was going to be unhelpful and would not progress my recovery in any way, shape or form. So… I went downstairs and ate. Turning a blind eye to my EH would only prolong all these processes and cause EH later which could be far more extreme (I feel this may not even be physically possible though!).

I kept eating for about 2 hours, during which I consumed about 3000 calories. I was stuffed. Finally my hunger was satisfied.

…until 3 hours later. When EH came flying through the air, to slap me in the face again. Another 3000 calories ere consumed in about 2-3 hours.

I lost track of time.

I lost track of what I ate.

I just kept wanting more food.

I thought it wouldn’t end.

I felt stuffed.

I felt gross.

I felt guilty.

I felt a bit like Augustus Gloop.

These are all unhealthy thoughts but I have to remember that I can not just eat and be okay with that yet. Being comfortable with eating will come with time and practice (and eating, of course).

Since recovery, consuming whole packets has become the norm. Hearing that someone has eaten 3000 calories in a day seems like the bare minimum. Feeling bloated ALL the time is just a background bodily sensation.

Its not easy. In fact, I spend 99% of my time thinking ‘I just want to eat a normal meal. I just want to be normal. When will this extreme hunger end?! When will I stop feeling like a 9 month pregnant woman?!’ The answer is soon. I just have to keep going. Keep listening and keep responding to my hunger.

I spent/spend a long time being fearful that I am developing binge-eating disorder but I can assure us all that:

a) My emotions do not cause my eating. Rather, my eating causes emotions. Therefore, this is not binge-eating.

b) It is highly unlikely that someone with a Restrictive Eating Disorder will develop binge-eating disorder. They are very different spectrums.

c) I still very much have the ability to restrict, unlike someone with binge-eating disorder. (Although I definitely do not try to restrict and definitely do not intend to practice any restrictive methods because it would hinder my recovery.)

d) Even if I did have binge-eating disorder, it would not be the worst thing. At current, my aim is to gain weight and gain my life back. If it appears that I have developed binging habits, then I can meet that bridge when I am weight restored and explore the issues there.

EH is a very scary process, I won’t deny it.

Some of my hours were also consumed by me questioning my EH. Here’s some advice:

Do not question your hunger. If you are considering eating. Eat. Eat. Eat.

You’re in recovery. If you do not eat now, when will you eat?!

tumblr_mhtur8Ws1q1rm1lp3o1_500

I would like to mention that many people feel like they need to eat less during the day because they experience EH at night. This is aa restrictive and controlling habit and should be avoided. I have managed to overcome this by allowing myself to experience my EH during the morning. Turns out, I don’t particularly end up eating that much more in a day, just because I start eating more earlier. Logically.

On a final note… Let us try and enjoy our EH. Once its gone, we’ll no longer want to eat LOADS and that’ll be rather a shame… won’t it?

Some important and helpful links on the topic:

Personal, heart-felt recounts of  EH here, here, here and here

Information on what EH is here and here

Sharing-food tumblr_nhg6yqFxiW1sqq3who1_500

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “It’s called Extreme Hunger for a reason.

  1. This is beautiful! I am so grateful you post this, and I will be featuring it in my link love if that is okay. I have never experience Extreme Hunger, and I often receive emails on how to work through it. Maybe I have experience Extreme Hunger and I have never realized it? It’s just.. it’s never felt out of control for me. If I wanted to eat 4,000 calories, though it may seem daunting, I have tried really hard to work with my feelings and allow my body food when it is telling me it needs to be fed. Love how honest and open you were throughout this entire post. You are going to help a lot of people suffering with EH by expressing your own experience. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ahhh, beautifully written as per usual! I think so many people struggle with their EH in recovery and i think you’re right, everyone is wondering around thinking ‘I’m-the-only-one-and-i-better-not-talk-about-it-because-shameful’, but if all those people stay silent then they all still walk around thinking its shameful… IT IS NOT SHAMEFUL. It is there for a purpose; to re-fuel a starving body. it has a purpose.

    I have to say the more I fought against episodes of EH, it the more it overwhelmed me. so, go with the flow. our bodies know what we need much better than our eating disorder does… we have to learn to listen to our bodies, thats the only way they will trust us again.

    I also think it’s great you said this bit: ‘ know that not everyone will endure the same experience and I do not wish you to compare yourself to me because your recovery is your own and so long as you are satisfying your hunger and eating enough, it does not matter whether you experience ‘more’ or ‘less’ EH than anyone else. We are all individuals’. <—yessssss. This. Some people experience EH constantly, some not at all, others might be somewhere in between the two or a few times or -IT DOESNT MATTER. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that we are listening to our bodies… and I'm so proud of you for listening to yours… and also for putting this information out there, because the more its talked about, the better. xxxxxxx

    Like

  3. Pingback: Link Love: June 21st, 2015

  4. For what it’s worth I think this is fantastic and I know it’s going to help me 🙂 I agree with everything u say, I just sometimes don’t manage to challenge this thoughts, but knowing I’m not alone an feeling this way makes fighting seem that bit easier – thankyou and you keep going 💕

    Like

  5. Pingback: Support? Really?! | Stumble on Serendipity

  6. Pingback: Link Love 6.30.15 | be vulnerable; have joy

  7. Love this post. I’m 5.5 months into recovery but still almost every night get up to eat. i’m stuck in a cycle and during the nights i eat the unhealthy foods and amounts that during the day i would feel too guilty to eat. any advice on how to break this cycle? im so tired of it. it interrupts my sleep and makes me feel totally abnormal 😦 i’m more than weight restored, still within the healthy range but my weight continues going up, despite my rather healthy eating.. does the weight gain & EH ever stop?

    Like

    • Thank you for your comment 🙂 so glad to hear you are in recovery and facing your fears head on! So great!! For me it really helped to accept that no foods are ‘unhealthy’ as such, especially in recovery. They all fuel our bodies and we just need fast and easy energy when we need to gain. Your body is just learning to trust you again so give it reason to. Eat what you crave and allow that to happen during the day and it won’t happen at night. I didn’t have night hunger because I sleep like a log but a lot of people have experienced it anf it does pass… My extreme hunger has gonr and only returned after a virus I had and on my period haha. I know its scary but trust it, you’re body knows best. My weight has redidtributed and I havr naturally lost some weight I think but without restricting at all. Bedt wishes and contact me if you havd any struggles or want to talk 🙂 xxx

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s