Correlation or causation? This is the biggest unknown in the world of health and nutrition. Does sub par nutrition lead to ill body health or does ill body health lead to malnutrition? Do you blame anorexia for your actions or are you able to accept it and dismiss it? This is crucial to recovery. Recovery is the restoration of nutrients in the body. You need an overabundance of nutrition including vitamins and minerals to repair the sub par functioning and view of your body. It is not weight. It is not food. It is not rules. There are no good and bad foods. A particular food even containing calorie amounts in my opinion is absolutely ridiculous. Once you understand what health is, you’ll understand how out-of-sorts the public makes calories. People really seem to believe that it is the number of calories they consume that determine their weight or health. That is so ass backwards I can’t begin to cherry pick the absurdity. For starters, a low BMI is as related to anorexia and it’s recovery as high BMI is related to uncontrollable eating – occasionally, but hardly exclusively. There are anorexics who don’t ever get deadly skinny, and there are non-anorexics who naturally carry a nonmuscular thin body. Pathologizing someone as eating disordered or recovered is as much of a pain in the ass as pathologizing fat people as being lazy.
I have now accomplished the beaten path of once-over and again of betraying my body. I have ‘recovered’ (though looking back at the first time, it was bullshit) once from anorexia already only to relapse. Not only did I fuck over my body once, but twice. I may have betrayed my body in the last 6 years, but I have not betrayed my heart. I survived at my lowest point much longer than any doctor or onlooker would predict, EVER. And it is a miracle I am still around today- with a life I can now cherish and not take for granted. Out of my own pain, trips and stumbles along the way, I am hoping to do some good, and challenge you to understand conventional recovery is full of mistakes and there needs to be changes made- in anorexia recovery as well as nutrition.
Weight is as much of a health issue as it is a public-eyed stereotypical issue. It’s been made a morality issue, an excuse to deny someone a job or position; taunt them walking down the street, label them damaged, and basically skew ones human decency. Body betrayal or not, I am proud of myself for making it this far. Your worth is not determined by a number on a scale, or your distorted view of fuckability (yup, I made that word up). Neither is it determined by the size of your jeans, a bogus BMI or the number of hours you spend at the gym. Similarly, your recovery is not determined by the number of different ways you can make oatmeal appetizing, nor the number of recipes you can throw on your blog of tofu, protein powder and 8475623 egg white recipes all with annoying pictures attached.
Through recovery time and again, I’ve realized that everyone isn’t meant to be thin and thin is more a frame of mind than an objective observation. What’s thin to me most certainly doesn’t imply that it is what’s thin to ten other people. What’s recovered to me, obviously via reading the blog world, may not be recovery to you. How I choose to recover and promote it is a one-in-a-million read and how you choose to take it, use it and flourish with it, again, is based on your willingness and acceptance.
You can’t escape food. You can’t escape weight. You can’t escape the mirror, a pair of jeans or the critical bashing your give yourself until you are willing, and accepting to the fact your recovery is a simple reestablishment of the grounds of nourishment you lost along the way.
It is not carbohydrates. It is not protein. It is not fat. It is not calories. Back to the correlation vs causation idea…I make my point better by starting with obesity (odd I know). Is an obese person overweight because of overeating or did the individual overeat because of obesity? The industry makes it seem like common knowledge and acceptance that if an individual gains weight he/she must have been overeating, or taking in more calories than expendable. This revolves around the ol calories in and out theory and what thermodynamics tells us. But why? Why did the obese person overeat? Why does the anorexic starting starving him or herself? ONE WORD: MALNOURISHMENT.
Think for a moment, what if overeating does not cause obesity and under eating does not cause anorexia. Look at the whole picture. The overweight individual’s body is starving not for food, but for nutrition. Same goes for the anorexic. You are so utterly paranoid, obsessive and ritualistic because of malnourishment- a body screaming from the rooftops for nutrition, not just food. There is a difference. That difference encompasses the whole point of my blogging. It is to benefit you, not myself.
For this post I am going to single out stress. View stress as malnourishment, a big ol source of ‘bad calories’ we can say. Overthinking, overconsuming, overanalyzing are all parts of these bad calories and postponing of acceptance and nourishment. What is it? Do you not believe me? Do you think I am different? Do you seem to be convinced YOU are different? Do you want to have a blame for anorexia? Or are you selfish to the fact that it really is ALL in your head, ONLY real to you? Whatever the case may be, you’re overconsuming these bad calories called stress leading to an even further state of malnourishment. This encompasses cortisol. Stress affects the endocrine system- and it is everywhere. Our world is set up to be in a state of constant pressures from all directions. This throws your hormonal system, which controls metabolism and the body’s ability to take up nutrients to be considered usable, in to utter hell.
Let’s say you read a blog, it promotes the next best thing, let’s say Acai berries as they seem pretty ‘dope’ these days. If I told you everyday for the past 8+ months of my weight gain I have been taking 15 Acai berries everyday and I am convinced that is why I gained more muscle than fat, I GUARAN_DAMN_TEE a rack of reader’s of my blog would freak the fuck out and ‘jump the bandwagon.’ So what if Acai supposedly offers miracle benefits to me it surely will to you too right? (insert you freaking the fuck out….) This resembles fight-or-flight, the most abundant source of stress in everyone.
Asshole pull out in front of you almost causing a crash? Doctor jump on you, giving you 2 days to show weight gain or else off to inpatient treatment? Stress. High cortisol. Constant high strung hormones. A malnourished individual is in constant high stress simply because the body needs what it aint getting. This, on top of the unnecessary stress current day life throws at us is detrimental to ones state of mind and body.
In the study, “Occupational Status, Cortisol Secretary Pattern and Visceral Obesity in Middle-aged Men,” researchers conclude, “When the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is subjected to prolonged increases in cortisol elicited by chronic stress, the regulation of cortisol secretion is affected, indicating neuroendocrine dysregulations.” Such dysregulations lead to problems with metabolic rate. This problem is the body reaction to malnourishment. Malnourishment, for the ‘predisposed’ anorexic mind leads to restriction and it trickles downwards from there. The same is true for the obese. The same dysregulations cause a slow metabolism, however the obese person suffers malnourishment as well and predisposes himself to overeating as a source of stress relief and comfort. The anorexic gets stress relief and comfort from starving and control of restriction. Both are malnourished.
As much as high stress and cortisol cause obesity is as much as it causes severe eating disorders like anorexia nervosa. The shittiest most mind altering phase of recovery is the first 2-3 weeks of refeeding because cortisol levels in the body skyrocket. Not only are you psychologically scared of the food and its consumption, but your physiological body is not adapted to eating good food in good amounts. Thus, cortisol flares, and what do you get? Haha, yes I can laugh about it now, you get that pudge-all-my-fat-is-in-my-belly stage. It happens, its real, it sucks. I would be lying if I said most don’t back down right then and there. Your mind convinces you the stress is not worth it and you are somehow different from every other fucking malnourished person on the planet, but you are not. The phase passes, if you fight it and accept, you win. If you accept it you can fight it.
Stress causes the depletion of nutrients in your body. Keying in on this aspect in the beginning of recovery is the key to a healthy and long term recovery. Anorexia rears its ugly head at some point in your life. Something caused your body to start depleting itself of nutrients, causing malnourishment and leading to the mental disease, anorexia nervosa. For me, that stress in life was weight gain my freshmen year in college, something I had never experienced coupled with failing grades and unknown desire of ‘what to do’ with my life. I surely was not nourishing my body by eating bagels for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the cafeteria fully of msg and processed refined shit food, on top of drinking to oblivion every night (and drunk munchies…sugar much?). This path lead to a post first semester diet; an unhealthy diet focusing on restricting, control, and exercise- the three guaranteed wrong steps to weight loss and health. Thus, I developed nutritional deficiencies and in came anorexia. My recovery didn’t begin until I could gather what acceptance consisted of, and the understanding that what I had caused was all in my head, my body and only real to me.
My body’s stress was a by product of malnutrition as was the resulting weight loss. There’s not denying stress can make people fat as food for comfort is (look at the obesity rate) more commonly turned to than restriction for control. Biologically, our bodies are programmed to see chronic negative energy balance and stress-caused depletion to mean a need for food, more and more food. This IS WHY diets fail. This is why every dieter regains their weight. This is why people think they need to control some number, amount or hours of exercise a day. That’s why long term compliance and diet do NOT correlate with one another.
The cause of obesity and the cause of anorexia are one in the same. It is the low nutrient adulterated food society coupled with our high stress lifestyles. We forget that life is to be cherished and leisurely enjoyed. We forget that being social is as important as challenging your body physically occasionally.
Thus, recovery by now should be clear to you that it is not just about the food. It is about the quality of effort you are willing to put into your own life. You can feed an anorexic 2034956203456238456293845 calories a day of ‘food.’ Or, you can feed an anorexic a high quality, high nutrient, most bang for the buck diet in abundance regardless of numerically calculated caloric content or percentages. The difference is accepting recovery and that the food industry and government have worked to make food that is cheap and abundant, not to mention addictive resulting in the detriment of health and nourishment.
Cheap food is addictive, gives blood sugar highs and lows, screws with the metabolism, and makes us gain weight in the case of the obese, or restrict in the case of the anorexic. Some of you probably STILL believe saturated fat is somehow linked to ill health. Regardless of whether you believe me, I know it is truth and I know what works- I AM PROOF IT WORKS. A good start for eating includes breaks from food to allow digestion and assimilation. One that includes choosing food based on how it will nourish your body. There is no reason for you, or anyone to have to eat ‘4-6 meals a day.’ There is NO science behind that. Starvation mode as the commonly touted result of not constantly eating, is absolute bullshit. Almost laughably funny. Starvation ‘mode’ takes months, even years of starvation to occur. Your metabolism is running irregardless of whether you eat breakfast or you don’t eat breakfast. Why people think you need to jump start your metabolism and keep er goin all day is beyond me. That is like saying you need to jump start your heart in the morning to make sure you breathe. Eat the right foods for the right nutrition in the right amounts and you will be just fine. Eat whenever you would like because in all honesty it does not matter. Eat when it suits your day, your schedule, and your ongoing ability to be part of the world around you. Eat when you will be lowest possible stress scenario possible.
Some aspects of recovery you can control while others you simply need to live-and-let be, a hard thing for the obsessive mind to take. You cannot control what your mom ate while you were in her womb. However, that did determine how you handle food, how you established gut flora, and how you absorbed and used nutrients as a baby and even today. You can not control whether you were formula fed or if you were breastfed which reflect your state of health, allergies and food tolerances. You can’t control the pollution you breathe in everyday unless you’re going to live in a bubble and you can’t control the jerk face who side swiped your car this morning. Learn to accept and let go of that which you cannot control and that which you can and establish a healthy habit of dealing with stress. Par the usual, it begins with acceptance. Recovery is one of those things you need to live and let be, understand what nourishes you and get on with it.
My point thus far is this: Your genetic susceptibility and environmental triggers alone are not enough to explain anorexia (you were not born with it). In order for environmental triggers and genetic susceptibility to damage you to the point of anorexia nervosa, a third factor needs to be present. That is, nutrient deficiency and malnourishment. If you’re not recovered, if you’re still symptomatic, still counting, tallying and eating according to the ever common bullshit ‘meal plan,’ you are still malnourished. If your body does not have the innate ability to tell you when you’re hungry and when you’re full, you’re still malnourished. What I mean is if you cannot fucking ‘decide’ whether you should eat, whether you’re hungry or not, you still lack the nutritional reward of having a healthy body. Regardless of what the hell the scale says, what your jean size is, or what you calculate you body fat or BMI to be. EVERYONE IS different. Until you establish a balance of vitamins and minerals in YOUR body, you won’t get any better.
*My Big 3 to get you started*
Fermented Food: Your gut flora, and digestion play a huge role in your body’s ability to restore nutrition in your body. Further, stress level correlates with a healthy gut flora. Fermentation is usually produced through a pickling process used to preserve a food. It makes the food more digestible, and as long as this process does not include heating then the product has all of its original vitamins. Throughout history we have been eating fermented foods that have never been heated. Fermented food produces healthy microbes in our gut that help us absorb the vitamins and minerals from the food. If you have ever taken antibiotics, or currently take birth control or depression pills, I advise you to stop. the choice is yours obviously, but antibiotics/medicine kill off the healthy microbes in your gut and it will absorb carbohydrates(ever hear of weight gain on birth control and depression pills coupled with carbohydrate cravings? It is the beginning of malnourishment as the body is starving for nutrients). If you don’t have the right microbes in your gut, you may not absorb all of the vitamins and minerals you need. This leads to deficiencies and eventually lead you to anorexia. SOOOO, what promotes a healthy gut? Sauerkraut, kimichi and any other pickled food you can find. Good pickles (no pun haha) and ever salsa. Make your salad dressing with good olive oil and raw vinegar. Think about a round of probiotics(costly yes, but if your dropping all the shit pills you put in your body now it should even out). Also, dairy products that have never been heated. Raw milk, raw cheese, and cultured products all offer to enhance the microbes in your gut. A quick google search can lead you to more options. As usual, I encourage you to learn for yourself. Also the obvious, yogurt, FULL FAT YOGURT.
Bone Marrow/Organs/Eggs: I seriously doubt you can find a healthier source of energy and nutrition than in the marrow of a bone. You can read about its benefits here : http://www.theage.com.au/news/epicure/eat-your-bones/2007/02/12/1171128847228.html . Amazing stuff. Use it for bone broth, buy oxtails, and choose rib cuts that will leave you with marrow to suck out. Good stuff. I love it. Buy shank bones, roast them at 350 for like 15 minutes and discover the scoop out and love at first scoop reaction to bone marrow. Organs, you cannot source a better resource of amino acids….KEYS TO reestablishing nutrient balancein your body. Eggs, I mean duh, are amazing, and good sources of cholesterol (necessary for hormonal balance) along with nuts and butttttttta. TRY ALL the organ meats you can get ahold of. Brain, heart, liver, pancreas, kidney, tripe, tongue, cheek…all of it. Easiest EASIEST EASIEST source of vitamins and minerals available- period.
Starchy Stuff: This means sweet potatoes, higher end starch of root vegetables and the sort. This pretty much lends itself to the obviously. There are a ZILLION starchy vegetable recipes out there…pick your favorites. Don’t forget you need to load your taters with butter, tallow, coconut cream, whatever fancies you.
Some key foods that helped my “go juice” for mental clarity
– sweet potatoes
– beef ribs
– beef liver & heart
– coconuts(all of it and its products)
When I say go juice, I mean foods that seemed to provide to me the most bang for my buck. Foods that left me satisfied, mentally ‘clear’ and absolutely energized. The first time I tried beef heart was at night and I was up and at it all night. totally 100% the energizer bunny…but my mind was clam and clear. It’s a strange, odd, different, and good feeling. Eggs are obvious, they’re a small animal lol, eat up! Sardines; get the ones with skin, bones and heads- again, more nutritional bang for your buck. Beef ribs, incredibly saturated fat PLUS bone marrow if you get good cuts. Cant ask for anything more. Coconuts, easssssy source of saturated fat and ehhhh-ok source of fatty acids (plus tasty).
That’s all I have for now… ask away with the questions. Remember, acceptance is the beginning. Just accept nourishing yourself- with real food in real good amounts. Check out by the way, how good nutrition in large amounts has affected me, as of about 2 hours ago…
that is a stir fry of veggies, tallow & butter, beef reduction with marrow, and beef & shrimp. i had a sweet tater cold (i make a bunch at a time) smeared in coconut butter while i was cooking/waiting- we can call that appetizer lol.