No Longer Being Able to Restrict

No Longer Being Able to Restrict After An Eating Disorder

A tough realization you’ll face in discovery from a restrictive eating disorder is that you’ll never be able to go back to the way things were when you were sick. You will no longer be able to diet and even if you do try, your restriction will quickly be met with feast eating.

My first encounter with extreme hunger showed me that my body had adapted and would no longer tolerate famine. Despite logically knowing why my body was demanding so much “junk” food (it’s the most efficient way to come out of energy deficit), my mindset, still rooted in scarcity, was convinced I could somehow override my body’s innate wisdom.

After gaining lots of weight very fast, I decided enough was enough. I had to stop this extreme hunger madness and made a pact with myself to lose the “extra” weight. Just like I had so diligently done when my ED first started, I cut back on sweets, used a little less butter when frying, and forced myself to eat vegetables in an attempt to stay physically full.

A mere attempt was as far as this diet would go. I’d wake up in the morning, full of euphoria and motivation accompanying my fresh start. But when I broke my fast, any hope of sustaining the restriction (let alone long enough to lose weight) shattered into a million pieces. Before I knew it, I was back at the kitchen counter stuffing my face with bread and entire jars of peanut butter.

As my weight fluctuated in the years since starting recovery, the restriction rebounds only got more extreme. Any signal of scarcity caused my body’s alarm bells to go off even louder, a biological warning to create an energetic buffer by eating more. It became harder and harder to slip into an energy deficit, so much so that today, even the mere thought of restricting gives me intense anxiety.

There’s definitely a sense of grief of not being able to go back to the ED even if I wanted to, but what’s a lot stronger is a sense of gratitude. Gratitude for my body’s ability to heal itself and awe for how it's adapted to support that healing. No matter how long you’ve deprived and punished your body, it will show up for you when you provide permission. Yet another reason to stop waiting and to turn “it’s too late” into “it’s about time.”

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