Eating Disorder Recovery and Training

Long road.

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23/08/2012 at 10:11
I've just entered into recovery for an eating disorder that had taken over my life for 15 years. I have a few training aims and my end goal is to compete in triathlons. I'm struggling with nutrition and snacks. The diet plan given to me is unhealthy, it contains a large amount of dairy, white carbs and processed protein. Has anyone else recovered from something like this? Any tips would be great. My body tends to pack muscle pretty easily but recovery is leading to fat gain. I want to up my mileage and add other training in whilst keeping up calorie consumption. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.
23/08/2012 at 11:10

What is the eating disorder that you had? was the diet plan given to you to try to gain weight? some fat is desirable to keep you healthy. If you lost too much weight due to the eating disorder then a small amount of fat gain will be good.

23/08/2012 at 11:20

First, congratulations with starting with the recovery process.

If you are commited to only gaining muscle to help with triathlon then you aren't fully committing to the recovery programme that you have been given, which will require a gain of body fat, not just of weight. Your body is your engine, not just for sport but for every day life. It needs to have fat, for health, for warmth and also for energy.

I recommend a blogger called sweettoothrunner. She is an ED recoverer, and also a vegan and nut butter addict, and gives loads of interesting and nutritious meal ideas. The programme has been designed using foods that are for quick fat gain. However, other snackable foods that contain healthy fats and other nutrition benefits including good energy include nut butters, which give plenty of healthy fat and protein, and are a great energy resource for sport, avocados, oily fish, nuts and baked beans. It's also important that you replace the calories that you burn whilst exercising. Milkshakes with full fat milk or recovery shakes which contain carbs as well as proteins and electrolytes may be a useful addition to your training and eating plans.

Good luck with your recovery.

23/08/2012 at 12:31
Max's Mum - anorexia but with purging. At my worst, my bmi went down to 16. It's around 19 now. The muscle I carry tends to keep my weight and bmi up. Thank you for the advice.

Dancing in spikes - thank you so much! I'll have a look at that blog. I have been considering going vegan but the drs think that's just another form of restriction. I want to train well and have my body healthy and I think that's possible without animal products. Recovery shakes are a great idea, thank you.
23/08/2012 at 13:00

What would be your reasons for going vegan Tri?

It is another form of restriction, but it depends on your reasons for doing it. Given the context of your health at the moment, it's probably not the best option. You need to develop a better relationship with food rather than having something else to be wary of when eating. Maybe hold it for something to do in the future, once you're further into your recovery

What sort of foods are included in your diet plan that you aren't happy with?

23/08/2012 at 13:40
I'm not a big meat or dairy fan. The idea of milk and other dairy products makes me feel sick and uneasy. I agree with you that veganism is likely to be another form of restriction and probably not something I should attempt just yet. I have developed an obsession with "clean" foods like whole foods, fresh foods and non processed foods.

Meal plans include butter on toast, heavy desserts and a lot of meat and dairy.
23/08/2012 at 17:10

Tri Aims - if you are interested in non processed clean food, can I put in a vote for https://www.facebook.com/fitnaturally.co.uk?  It's not my company - don't worry.  Sal is a big fan of people getting fit naturally.

 

23/08/2012 at 17:51

Tri Aims - I've not had an ED so this is simply a lay person's attempt to put the diet you've been advised to follow in perspective; hopefully this is more of a help than a hindrance!  In order to maintain my weight when I'm in full training I have to have 3 meals and snacks a day (when work permits - I'm a lawyer and I've yet to encounter a judge who will let me snack in court!).  At peak mileage I have 1 or 2 desserts a day on top of this.  At any stage of my training (whether peak or end of season break, but particularly peak mileage) I eat some high fat foods because otherwise the sheer volume of food required to hit my calorie requirements would be (quite literally) more than I could stomach.  Everyone's body needs some fat on a regular basis and plenty of the foods you mention do have health benefits: there are lots of fat soluble vitamins in milk and meat tends to be a good source of iron, which is very important for any endurance athlete, but particularly women.

Good luck with your recovery and training.

23/08/2012 at 18:41

Hey there Tri Aims

I just wanted to ask if the diet plan you are on has been given to you by an eating disorder counsellor? If so, there is a reason for everything that is on it and so you should probably try to stick to it, especially this early in your recovery.

An eating disorder had its hold on you for fifteen years and it won't let go without a fight - so deep inside you there will be a little voice still urging you to restrict your diet and up the excersise to compensate for eating.

Every change that you make to your diet plan could put you back at risk, as you are giving in to the bad feelings that you have about certain foods. Deciding to fight the disorder is  a brave decision, so beware of that little voice trying to sneak its way back in.

I binge/purge/fasted for many years, and will always only ever be a few steps away from a relapse, but my running helps me see food as fuel for a beautiful healthy body, not as an enemy or a test of my willpower.

Finally, don't be afraid of weight gain - it is simply your body blossoming into the healthy shape that it was always meant to be. Be kind to yourself, and if you are looking in a mirror, never say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to your sister/mother/daughter/best friend.

Best of luck with your recovery, it is a long and difficult road, but you will get your glow back and start living again, and you are not on your own x

Edited: 23/08/2012 at 18:44
23/08/2012 at 21:45
Thank you so much for such a helpful and motivational reply. I will try abd stick to the meal plan. I'm hoping that running and race goals will help me to achieve a healthy body and mind.

15 years is a long time and such a waste of my life so far. I'm excited about recovery most of the time. The ed voice is definitely there and very strong but I'm doing the same as you and trying to see food as fuel.

Thank you again, everyone, for such kind replies.
Pethead    pirate
23/08/2012 at 22:59

I can't match the quality of some of these replies, but as a fairly hard-training runner and tri-er I definitely agree with Joolska: a fit strong person doing good training needs a heck of a lot more nutrition than Johnny Average. 
Sure, it's quite possible to eat big portions of pasta, rice, shreddies and so on and not much fat. But at the end of the day calories in needs to roughly equal calories out, and all food is just molecules (and eventually Glucose) after a bit of digestion's occured. 

24/08/2012 at 07:32
That's a great reply Pethead. Thank you! Looking at it as molecules and fuel that my body needs certainly makes these first steps much easier.
25/08/2012 at 19:01

Springle wrote (see)

Be kind to yourself, and if you are looking in a mirror, never say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to your sister/mother/daughter/best friend.

I'm always telling these people they're fat, because they are.

 

31/08/2012 at 19:06

First of all well done on what you have achieved so far - the response above are all very sensible as well and I can't add much. But as a fellow ED runner (in partial recovery) I know how hard at times it must be for you. You do deserve to eat and have a healthy diet and be a well, healthy person living life to the full, BUT you can only do that if you nourish yourself adequately - like a car needs petrol you need fuel!

I was veggie long before I developed an ED, but I do accept that in some cases it can become a form of control so be wary of how far you restrict. However, I have found the following website very useful www.nomeatathlete.com the recipes are vegan or veggie and lots of ideas for meal planning etc that are healthy and wholesome. The dietician I was linked to always said I must eat protein, fats and carbs in each meal - is this something you can try? Have you thought about almond/coconut/rice milks - I actually dislike milk and have done all my life (no link to ED), but some form of calcium is necessary obviously.

Have you read Chrissie Wellington's book? It's a good read - very inspiring and motivational - but at the end of the day you have to eat well to have the energy to run/etc and be healthy!!

Good luck with the Tri but don't try to run before you can walk! (You know what I mean!!) Take it carefully and monitor what you eat etc in a positive way not a restricitve counting calories way!

 

01/09/2012 at 20:42
Hey jelley,

I'll take a look at that website, thank you! I think becoming veggie is part restriction and part wanting to be healthier. I really don't want to gain fat, I'm ok bing a not bigger but I want to be very lean and build muscle. I know it's possible but I have to be careful as people are watching me very closely at the moment.

I actually have just bought Chrissie wellington's book, haven't started reading it yet but I'm hoping it will inspire me. I want to be free of the ed.
04/09/2012 at 16:43
Jelleybaby wrote (see)

I was veggie long before I developed an ED, but I do accept that in some cases it can become a form of control so be wary of how far you restrict. However, I have found the following website very useful www.nomeatathlete.com the recipes are vegan or veggie and lots of ideas for meal planning etc that are healthy and wholesome.  

Thanks for the website! I'm a long-term veggie, though recently developed a lactose intollerance which is making life somewhat difficult. I've resigned to eating fish, but a bit more reluctant to move back to meat. I think my diet is ok, but the difficulties with variety and the fact that I am living and cooking with others is making it hard to be picky.

06/09/2012 at 10:35
My recovery is slipping. I hadn't really noticed (or chose to ignore) the fact that I've been really cutting down on what I've been eating. I haven't had a proper meal for 3 days; obviously there is a multitude of excuses for this such as the time of day that I'm running not being compatible with a large meal etc. I am really cutting down though and struggling to force in the calories I need to maintain my weight. I'm running a lot and reluctant to take rest days. I probably need to take a step back and look at things with a sensible head. I made the mistake of reading the book 'Eat and Run' - the book focuses a lot on the author's diet and it certainly hasn't helped. I might try high calorie snacks in an attempt to get something in. I have a weigh in on Tuesday that I'm dreading, although from what I've read, running doesn't lead to much of a decrease in weight does it?
06/09/2012 at 11:53

If you are getting worried, then that is a good sign; that you are aware enough of what you are doing and know that you need to stop it.

However, it is a slippery slope and the actions that you take now will have a huge impact on your recovery, or possible relapse. (Not trying to be negative, but this is important.)

It sounds as though it is your running, rather than your eating, which is causing the problem. Perhaps you are so focussed on eating a healthy diet that your eating disorder is trying to manifest itsself in other ways.

You need to create a written running schedule and then stick to it, otherwise it will undo all of your hard work. Rest days are just as important as running days, not just for people with eating disorders but for any healthy, balanced runner.

Why not schedule running or training sessions for 4 or even 5 days a week, and plan them in advance so that you can fit your meals in around them? After each run make sure that you re-fuel with a snack or meal as soon as possible to help your body recover. Shredded wheat with a banana is a favourite of mine and doesn't feel too "heavy."

If you can put all of these things in place at this early stage in your recovery then you will be more likely to stick with it, and you will keep the running under control, rather than letting it become an obsession or addiction.

Best of luck with your weigh-in, and with your continued recovery - I hope this has been of some help!

06/09/2012 at 12:59

You say you are in recovery - I assume you are getting medical advice and support? What are their views on your training, I had an ex that was in recovery and she was discouraged from training as it can so easily be another form of control. Sorry if that sounds negative.

Pethead    pirate
06/09/2012 at 13:35
Tri Aims wrote (see)
My recovery is slipping. I hadn't really noticed (or chose to ignore) the fact that I've been really cutting down on what I've been eating. I haven't had a proper meal for 3 days; obviously there is a multitude of excuses for this such as the time of day that I'm running not being compatible with a large meal etc. I am really cutting down though and struggling to force in the calories I need to maintain my weight. I'm running a lot and reluctant to take rest days. I probably need to take a step back and look at things with a sensible head. I made the mistake of reading the book 'Eat and Run' - the book focuses a lot on the author's diet and it certainly hasn't helped. I might try high calorie snacks in an attempt to get something in. I have a weigh in on Tuesday that I'm dreading, although from what I've read, running doesn't lead to much of a decrease in weight does it?

In a word: Flapjacks!
In several words: If your daily life and/or training schedule is so packed that you don't have time to eat properly, I'd say it's probably best to take a little step back, look and see if you're trying to do a bit much. ED or no ED, mileage is only one part of being a good runner - Rest/recovery, nutrition and variety are all important. 
I definitely agree that a lot of running/food literature is targeted at people who want to lose excess weight and are using running to help them do that. I'm sure these people are numerous, but there's less (that I've seen anyway) about useful nutrition for people who don't need to lose weight and/or are training hard.
Running will make you lose weight if you suddenly do a lot of running without replenishing the extra calories used up. However, if you re-fuel correctly, just the act of running shouldn't make you lose weight, especially if you're also developing muscle as you get fitter.
Just remember - Love life,love running, but never let one rule the other!

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