Have food recovery questions? Our Dietetics team answer them…

The Dietetics team are back in our online space and share their latest answers for your food recovery questions.

It has been a while since we have shared our specialist Dietetics team’s answers, so for all of you who sent in your recovery questions over the summer, we thank you for your patience.

1) How do you get past extreme hunger?

The most important thing with extreme hunger is to lean into it – hunger won’t reduce or go anywhere without food.

It’s important to think about what you are eating throughout the day and not just at the point you experience the hunger. For example many individuals experience extreme hunger at the end of the day or at night and this may be because they have not be eating adequately prior to this.

Specific things I would be looking at would be:

  • Is someone eating every 2-3 hours?
  • Are all food groups being included at meals (particularly fats as these signal satiety to our brains)?
  • Are snacks substantial enough?
  • Minimising high volume/low energy meals (e.g. avoiding lots of fruit and veg – this can often feel like a safer way to manage hunger and may create an initial sense of physical fullness but will not last
  • Think about ‘taste satisfaction’, are you not allowing yourself the types of foods you want – this can create a sense of feeling mentally unsatisfied after eating despite feeling physically full
  • Remember extreme hunger is not your body turning against you – it’s a normal response to having been in an extended state of restriction

2) What happens if you eat too much protein and very little carbohydrates?

Eating too much protein can have a negative impact on kidney function – a by-product of the breakdown of protein is urea which is processed in our kidneys. Therefore, eating excessive amounts of protein can be someone’s kidneys under pressure due to the work they need to do to process this.

Carbohydrates are our bodies main source of energy and the preferable source of glucose for our brains. Carbohydrate intake is associated directly with the release of serotonin which helps to regulate mood and sleep. This means that a low carbohydrate diet can lead to symptoms including fatigue, lethargy, irritability and poor concentration. Carbohydrates are also a crucial source of fibre and a low carbohydrate diet will have a negative impact on digestion and gut health.

3) Why is weight recovery important?

For some individuals weight recovery will be a necessary and essential part of stepping into eating disorder recovery. There will need to be some level of engaging in disordered and restrictive behaviours around food or compensatory behaviours to maintain a suppressed weight and therefore avoidance of weight restoration is not conducive to recovery. The same processes required to engage in psychological therapy (e.g. perception, problem solving, cognitive flexibility, emotional regulation) are directly impacted by restriction and starvation – when the brain is adequately nourished, individuals are generally in a better position to engage psychologically.

4) What’s the difference between bingeing and honouring mental hunger?

Thinking about whether there is a sense of a loss of control around food – eating without feeling hungry, not being able to stop eating when you feel satisfied, eating in secret, searching for food, eating very quickly – these would all be indicators of binge eating as opposed to honouring hunger (whether that’s physical or mental).

It’s important to try and take a step back and think about whether the restrictive part of your eating disorder is trying to convince you that leaning into hunger is ‘binge’ eating, as this can often be a way to justify restriction.

If you had any food based questions for your recovery, make sure to check in with Orri’s Dietetics team every Friday. All questions will be shared and answered anonymously through Instagram.

Alternatively, if you would like support or wanted to get in touch with us, you are welcome to send an email to ask@orri-uk.com or fill out the form below.

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