Posted by Elisa Oras / in Article, Blog, Physical, Video

8 Tips To Restore Your Metabolism After an Eating Disorder

“Restricting, dieting, overexercising and calorie compensating is a recipe for a metabolic slow-down. Your metabolism is not “broken” or “damaged” but what has happened is that your metabolism has adapted to the low-calorie consumption to protect you from losing too much weight. It’s what the “starvation mode” is all about. It doesn’t mean one can’t lose any weight when they eat less (yes, you can lose weight by restricting until you starve to death) but your metabolism just compensates for the lack of fuel coming in as a protection mechanism.

If you get anything out of this article, it’s that to restore your metabolism after an eating disorder you need to be doing kinda the opposite you have done in your eating disorder. If you have been restricting calories, you need to start eating more, if you have been overexercising, you need to completely stop all exercise, if you have been purging, using laxatives, skipping meals, you need to stop all that. You need to REST and REFEED. If you just focus on these two tips, your are on your way to metabolic recovery.

You need to REST and REFEED.

Some people ask me: “But I like how I look, I don’t want to gain any more weight by eating more!”

Your body doesn’t care what you “like” or “don’t like”, it only cares about the best possible functioning and if you gonna try and maintain a lower weight than your natural set point, this optimal functioning can’t happen. You cannot restore your healthy hormonal and metabolic functioning when you are below your healthy set point weight.

And then there is another group of people who say: “But I’m overweight and I need to lose the excess weight. I don’t want to eat more and risk gaining even more weight. I need to watch my calories and exercise more!”

Go ahead! But you won’t lose weight healthfully or sustainably. Yes, you can starve yourself skinny but eventually, your body’s survival response will win – you can’t restrict forever without starting to binge eat soon again, and your metabolism will be even slower to make sure you then gain all the weight back ASAP, plus more for the extra protection. This is an endless cycle.

Yes, you can starve yourself skinny but eventually, your body’s survival response will win.

Or even when you are normal weight, as I was all throughout my bulimia and orthorexia, you have still done a lot of diet behaviors that slow down your metabolism – skipping meals, purging, overexercising, intermittent fasting, you name it. You STILL need to be refeeding and resting to restore the metabolism.

So for a complete list of things you need to change about your habits and behaviors in order to heal your metabolism you need to be focusing on these:

8 Tips To Restore Your Metabolism After an Eating Disorder
  1. Eat more. Calorie restriction is a #1 cause for a slow metabolism, especially after coming from an eating disorder and extreme diet behaviors. You need to get in sufficient calories to reverse all damage calorie restriction has done to your body. Eat until full and satisfied. Period. (If you are unsure how many calories to eat you can read THIS post) Eating more will fuel the metabolic fire. At the same time you need to STOP all calorie compensation behaviors, otherwise, you are just shooting yourself in the foot – no overexercising, no purging, no using laxatives or diuretics, no skipping meals.
  2. Eat regularly. If your eating pattern is not consistent and regular the metabolism can’t speed up. Eat your breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacks in between. Eating every 2-3 hours. Do not skip meals. Many people have the tendency in eating disorder to eat rather little in some parts of the day only to binge out later. For example, starting “from tomorrow” – eating a low-calorie breakfast and lunch hoping to lose weight but by dinner time being absolutely ravenous so they have the “last supper” type of binge only to promise to “start again from tomorrow”. It’s an endless cycle of metabolic suppression.
  3. Eat more warming foods. Eat things with high-calorie concentration – high carb, high-fat foods. Ideally combining something with sugar, starch, fat, and salt together in a meal or snack for the most satisfying and fulfilling experience. The more yummy and tasty is the food the better. For example, crackers with cream cheese, potatoes with butter and salt, pasta with cheese, ice cream with peanut butter and chocolate. Yup! All these foods actually HELP you in recovery! Your body desperately needs them for restoration. Do not focus on eating high water content fruits and veggies right now. No big raw salads or smoothies as a main meal. Eat them more as a side dish, as a snack or even more as a condiment. They are very cooling foods and therefore will not help you to ramp up your metabolism. (See video “5 Reasons to Not Worry About “Unhealthy” Eating In Recovery“)
  4. Add more salt. I come from low salt or even salt-free dieting. Eating lots of tasteless salads, veggie dishes, and smoothies. All it did was to leave my feeling extremely cold even in summertime, made me dizzy, fatigued and having monster cravings for salty foods. If you feel too cold, especially in your hands and feet it’s a sign to eat something salty to warm up – cheese crackers, bread with peanut butter and jelly, potato chips or salted nuts.
  5. Don’t drink too much water. Signs of drinking too much water can be frequent and sudden need to pee. Peeing clear, needing to go to the toilet during night time. Feeling overly cold, especially in your hands and feet. Drinking lots of water to increase your metabolism is an outdated information and doing so can actually have the exact opposite effect. Do not force drink water. Drink only when thirsty. In warmer climates or if more active it’s ok to drink more but your pee should still be yellow and you should not need to urinate every half an hour.
  6. Stop exercise. Many people with eating disorders come from an overexercise background. Even if you exercised just a little bit it can still be way too much if combined with low-calorie consumption and other calorie compensating behaviors. The least you need is to add exercise to “boost metabolism” in an eating disorder recovery. Unfortunately, many eating disorder recovery “experts” do not see a big deal with exercise and actually recommend it to people who are recovering from ED as a “healthy habit” but I disagree with that. Some walking, stretching and light yoga should be fine but that’s it. Yes, exercise is healthy for a healthy person, but for someone recovering from an eating disorder exercise is like adding more pressure and stress to a broken leg. You need to recover your leg before going back to running, not continue putting more pressure on it because “exercise is healthy”. The situation is VERY different here. (See videos about exercise: “Exercise In Eating Disorder Recovery“, “Is Some Type Of Exercise OK In Recovery?“, “How To Find A Healthy Balance With Exercise After Eating Disorder“)
  7. Sleep more – As mentioned earlier the most important aspects of eating disorder recovery and also metabolic recovery is to rest and refeed. Sleep is the most crucial time for your body’s restoration. When we sleep more we let our body put the most effort and energy into healing. The best is to make sure you go to sleep around 10 pm and get at least 8 hrs of sleep, the more the better. Most people need to take naps even during daytime in recovery, which is great. You will feel more tired and exhausted in recovery so listen to your body and make sure you rest and sleep more. (See THIS video and THIS article about sleeping in recovery)
  8. Deal with stress. Everybody knows stress is bad for your hormonal functioning, so of course, it will affect your metabolic functioning as well. If you start to do all of the above – eat more, no exercise, sleep more, stop all dieting behaviors – you are already eliminating a great deal of stress from your life and it will help to recover and restore your body. But also try to eliminate or minimize everyday stress as well – work or school stress, stressors in relationships and so forth. Develop some self-care practices and heal your mindset about your body and food. Deal with the mental aspects of recovery along with the physical recovery.

In contrast, if you start to implement all of the above suggestions into your recovery and daily life you will see loads of positive improvements:

Signs your metabolism is speeding up:

  1. Higher body temperature, warm hands and feet
  2. More energy
  3. Better mood
  4. Better concentration
  5. Higher sex drive
  6. Night sweats (uncomfortable symptom in recovery but a good sign of raising metabolism)
  7. Possible weight loss (if above set point) or/and loss of bloating and water retention
  8. Better digestion, regular bowel movements

By following all the above tips you will experience positive improvements in your metabolism along with all the other changes mentioned. The most important is to be very consistent with implementing all of the new habits and give it time to work! You did not have your eating disorder just a few months (in most cases) so recovery will also not take just a few months. But I can promise you will start seeing positive results! So stick with this and see your body healing and restoring it’s metabolism and all other functions as well!

Want to know more about recovery and how to start healing? Take this FREE video course: “6 Steps To Recover From An Eating Disorder”

stop comparing
Posted by Elisa Oras / in Article, Mental / 4

How To STOP Comparing Yourself To Others (5 Steps To Change)

People tend to compare themselves to others in all aspect of life. Either it’s their career and income levels, relationships, or even how much material stuff someone owns. But since on my website and Youtube channel I help people to overcome eating disorders I want to mostly talk about how to stop comparing your appearance, weight, and size and start focusing on YOU rather than wasting your life by trying to be someone else.

Why we spend so much time comparing?

I think one of the biggest reason we have those huge body images and self-esteem issues in today’s world is because of the social media and media in general. We are always surrounded with all the “perfect” people with “perfect” lives and “perfect” bodies. The more we see it, the more it will brainwash us to think that this is a normal life and this is what everybody should aim for, but in reality, it’s nothing more than a staged act.

Let’s be real – most people on social media only post the highlights of their lives and normally we don’t see their bad days or their flaws and weaknesses. And also, just because someone seems to have an ideal body it doesn’t mean internally they are actually happy or healthy, physically AND mentally. And one of the biggest misconceptions is that lower weight = an automatic happiness with your body. In reality, if someone is dieting to maintain a lower weight then it’s very VERY likely they are actually trapped in the dieting behaviors like calorie counting, always needing to eat clean, being overly worried about their food choices, being obsessed with exercise and also obsessed about their appearance. It’s very likely those people have similar body image issues you have. So, just know that there is always more than meets the eye. You may see the surface but you really don’t know what’s going on underneath, in their head. So please be very aware of that.

Most often we tend to compare our weaknesses to someone else’s strengths and we get so consumed by focusing on what we don’t have…but all the while, this is EXACTLY what will distract us from focusing on all the good stuff we do have and we forget about our positive sides, some things we actually love about ourselves or some things that we are good at.

Focusing on the negative things is just a waste of your time and life, really! I mean, what does it give you? Does it make you feel any better? Nope. So stop focusing on the things you don’t have and start focusing on all the things and all the blessing in your life you can be grateful for. There will always be someone better than you, ALWAYS! So does it mean you can never be happy? Perfectionism is unrealistic and only leads to suffering. 

And even people who have reached their “ideal” body but have not learned to fully love themselves first will just pick out the next thing they don’t like about themselves and start focusing on that! The list of things to improve will never end! This is also why many people with eating disorders, who lost the weight, NEVER feel any happier but they just want to keep losing even more and more weight. It never ends! So the weight loss is not a solution, but the real answer here is self-love, to start appreciating and accepting yourself as you are right now! 

How to quit the self-comparison and start living your own life.
  1. Become Aware – Awareness is always the first step to any change in life. If you are not aware of the constant comparing you go through in your mind day after day, how can you change it? So firstly, start to notice the thoughts that go on in your head and anytime you feel bad about yourself by comparing yourself to others just take a step back, observe and acknowledge what’s happening and stop the unhealthy habit continuing in its tracks.
  2. Avoid Triggers – When you have become aware of the comparing habit notice what things trigger you? Is it your Instagram feed where you follow some people who have those “perfect” bodies you secretly desire? You might be even aware that the pictures are staged or photoshopped or got by perfect lighting and angles but it can still subconsciously trigger you and make you feel bad about yourself. You must unfollow those accounts and do the same with all other accounts and people across social media. Or maybe you have a particular friend who is constantly dieting and obsessing about their body? You need to find a way to protect yourself from these kinds of friends and either talk to them about it or, in some cases, it’s best to stay away from them. You need to focus on YOU and your mental health is a top priority.
  3. Leave the Perfectionism Trap  You must understand that it’s ok to be flawed. I am not perfect, you are not perfect, NOBODY is perfect! But you need to accept yourself even if you never change yourself and choose to love yourself regardless. Flaws are not necessarily bad because they make you more human, normal, relatable, unique, different and YOU! Leave the perfectionism thinking for good and accept that you will NEVER be perfect but it should not stop you from loving yourself or living your life fully. Accept that it’s OK to suck at something, it’s OK to have unique features, it’s OK to be different. If you spend all of your energy on something you don’t like about yourself and spend most of your time comparing yourself with others it doesn’t really lead you anywhere but serves only as a distraction from living your own life.
  4. Focus On You – And this brings me to my next point. If you focus on your flaws all the time then guess what? You will just continue to waste your life away! All the time you spend feeling bad about your flaws or weaknesses and comparing yourself to others you could instead focus all this energy to YOU and to improve yourself as a human being. I don’t mean to improve your body by dieting and working out but focus on learning how to love yourself unconditionally. If you spend another year comparing yourself to others you are just giving your precious time and energy away to someone else! But imagine if instead, you focus this one year on learning to love yourself fully and improve your body image, creating this loving relationship with yourself then one year from now you would be a different, much more loving and positive person! So don’t waste any more time on the comparison and start working on loving yourself as you are instead!
  5. Daily Practice – It doesn’t help to just read one book about self-love and body image or even read this one blog post and think you are done and now you love yourself fully and will not compare yourself with others anymore! No. You got into this trap of self-comparison with a daily practice and over time those thoughts became subconscious – comparing yourself to others became automatic thinking pattern in your brain. Until you didn’t even notice how often you engage in this kind of thinking all the time. But now you have to change it and you can only do it by daily practice. Becoming aware of the comparison, eliminating the triggers and always changing your thought as soon as you realize the comparison is happening in your mind. And every time keep on changing it and repeat, repeat, repeat until THIS is the automatic response from your brain – self-love, and acceptance. Until you have made self-love and acceptance a new normal response from your brain and you have unbrainwashed the constant negativity and comparing habit. So be very consistent with this and only this way you can change this behavior for good.

Posted by Elisa Oras / in Article, Blog, Mental, Physical

How Diets Mess Up Your Body And Mind!

[This article is an excerpt from my book “BrainwashED: Diet-Induced Eating Disorders. How You Got Sucked In And How To Recover”]

Some people think that “healthy” restriction is okay – that you have to restrict to remain healthy and not become overweight – and this may sound logical to most people, but it could not be further from the truth!

Diets are an ineffective tool to lose weight or get healthy, and science has proven dieting actually triggers binge eating, overeating, eating more food than you need, and eating more junk food than you would normally want. It can result in the loss of normal hunger cues and can even initiate eating disorders. Actually, the most common trigger for a full-blown eating disorder is – you guessed it! – DIETS!

But let’s focus on why dieting is a bad idea and why it’s not healthy.

Yo-yo dieting increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, immune system failure, impaired cognitive function, chronic fatigue, depression, and again…eating disorders.(1)

This study shows that doing nothing in regards to eating is four hundred percent better (!) for weight than dieting.

In The University of Pennsylvania study, rats’ weight was decreased and increased by weight cycling (yo-yo dieting). The second time the rats tried to lose weight by eating less, they lost weight one hundred percent more slowly and regained the weight three hundred percent faster than the first time they ate less. The rats who yo-yoed the second time stored food as body fat four hundred percent more efficiently than rats who maintained a fattening diet! This study shows that doing nothing in regards to eating is four hundred percent better (!) for weight than dieting. (2)

Arthur Frank, medical director of the George Washington University Weight Management Program, reports that out of every two hundred people who start a diet, only ten of them will successfully meet their weight-loss goals. And the odds get significantly worse when you look at the long-term outcomes. Out of those ten people, only one of them will keep the weight off over time. That’s a failure rate of 99.5%! (3)

A team of experts at UCLA (The University of California, Los Angeles) analyzed every study that followed dieters over a two- to five-year period. Every published, long-term dieting study was included. The results were published in the APA (American Psychological Association) journal, American Psychologist. When interviewed about the findings, UCLA researcher, Tracy Mann, said that the results of their data were conclusive: “Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss, or health benefits, for the majority of people.”

She added that most people would be “better off not going on a diet at all. Their weight would be pretty much the same, and their bodies would not suffer the wear and tear from losing weight and gaining it all back.” Initially, she explained, many people lose five to ten percent of their body weight. But the majority of people regain any weight they lose. So the exhaustive review of every published, long-term dieting study found that diets are ineffective for weight loss.

The UCLA team concluded that “one of the best predictors of weight gain over the four years was having lost weight on a diet at some point during the years before the study started.” Not only do diets fail at producing (or maintaining) weight loss – they actually make you gain weight! (3)

While dieters can consciously override the basic drive to eat for short periods of time, most cannot continue to do so. Hormones such as leptin and ghrelin that stimulate appetite after weight loss do not adapt quickly to reduced body weight. They continue to send out “eat more” signals for as much as a year after weight loss. Eventually, biology wins out. (4)

Not only are diets ineffective for long-term weight loss (and they make you heavier!), studies also show that dieting leads to food obsession, emotional distress, and binge eating as already shown in the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. That’s right – dieting has been scientifically proven to lead to binge eating! In reality, restricting what you eat does nothing to restrain you from eating. Instead, it only exaggerates the urge by intensifying your cravings and your focus on food. When you are forbidden from having something, it dramatically fuels your desire for it. You begin to think about food more and more. When you watch TV, you become fixated on what people are eating. You mentally devour every mouthwatering recipe in magazines. You watch what other people eat and secretly judge them. If someone eats something other than what you allow yourself to eat, it somehow matters to you what they eat and why. The more you restrict particular foods, the more you crave them.

None of this is a sign of weakness on your part. It’s simply the natural result of scarcity making something more desirable. Scarcity itself causes us to want something more. If you are told NOT to look at every red color in the room, you start to seek it out more and focus on it. The more you try to avoid something and not focus on it, the more it starts to pop up everywhere. The same thing happens when you try to restrict food. Restriction makes food a forbidden thing, and therefore, you begin to think about it much more frequently and obsessively.

Restricting what you eat doesn’t affect only your mental processes – it also changes your actual physiological response to food. Dieting makes you physically crave it more! And it’s very important to note that dieting and eating disorders are not only about the restriction of calories but also about the restriction of types of foods – something we see in the rise of orthorexia, an eating disorder where certain foods are obsessively restricted.

It’s not your weakness or a food addiction that creates this intense response. It’s the mere fact that the food is forbidden.

Think about the food you last went overboard with. The food that sends you spinning out of control. It’s probably something you routinely forbid yourself from having, right? It’s not your weakness or a food addiction that creates this intense response. It’s the mere fact that the food is forbidden.

Scarcity creates desire. Think about human behavior in stores where the “Last and Only Final Summer Sale” is announced. Everything 50% off for one day only. Or, in your case, “Binge out on everything for one day only! Tomorrow you will start a new diet, so don’t miss out on your last favorite meal!”

Remember how Adam and Eve were told not to eat the red apple from The Garden of Paradise? Despite all of the available fruit in abundance in the garden, that apple was the only thing they ended up eating. Why? Because it was forbidden.

This is something at the core of our human nature. Forbidden fruit is always the sweetest. Do not give unnecessary power and desire to foods by restricting them.

Catherine Liberty from Bulimiahelp.org writes: “Researchers have proven time and time again that a restrictive diet has the ability to induce every single physical and psychological symptom we associate with bulimia. What may come as even more of a shock is the fact that this isn’t new information. The scientific community has been aware of the link between restrictive eating and the onset of bulimia for nearly 70 years!” (5)

I hope by now you have had many light-bulb moments…Yeah, I know, it’s a pretty crazy world we live in!

Here’s an example of how dieting leads to eating disorders:

First, you have a goal to lose weight or get “trim, toned, and sexy.” Or maybe you just want to eat “healthy” and give up a lot of the “unhealthy” foods you love.

You start to diet – you restrict foods and/or calories. You hashtag #finallygettinghealthy on your protein shake Instagram picture.

Initially, you lose weight, and you think…Amazzzing!! Finally! #thingsarehappening…But then you start to have cravings. At first, you resist the urge and use your willpower to avoid eating and stick to your diet.

But sooner or later, you give in. You binge. You overeat. You let go of the restriction and say the hell with it! You eat everything you have been restricting. After the binge, when you begin to think clearly again and come out of your food coma, you realize what you have done. You have “ruined” your diet. Your life is basically over. You get upset, feel panicky and out of control, and can FEEL how you are getting fatter by the minute. You feel fear and disgust. You feel like you’ve become this dangerous, insatiable, eat-everything-on-this-planet kind of Foodzilla who has to be stopped.

After this, you promise yourself to be a “good girl/boy” tomorrow and start over. But today? Well, you’ve already blown it, so you might as well eat for the rest of the day…

(Note: Keep in mind that this binge after dieting is a VERY normal response from your body – you just don’t realize it yet! Remember what happened to the Minnesota men who were starved on 1570 calories a day? Yes, they binged hardcore! Why would you think you are any different?)

The next day you start to restrict and diet again, but this time with even more fear and obsession. You want to be sure that yesterday’s binge never happens again…and the monster is stopped from doing any further damage to the world’s food storage…

But eventually, the same thing happens – you feel the urge to eat more than allowed and the kind of foods that are forbidden on your diet. And eventually, you binge again. You have now entered dieting merry-go-hell.

Of course, thanks to dieting, your metabolism is much slower now, and you’ve also lost quite an amount of muscle and water weight thanks to restriction. You’ve lost some digestive enzymes and might find it very hard to digest some of the foods you formerly ate, causing you to get easily bloated and constipated.

So now when you start to eat more – or even normal amounts of foods – you gain weight very quickly. You can gain all the weight back, often times weighing even more than you did originally.

You may find it very hard to eat normal amounts and feel totally bloated after a meal.

Welcome, ladies and gents! You are now trapped in a vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting! You have been brainwashed to believe you just need more willpower to continue dieting and it’s all your fault it didn’t work.

Some stop here and give up dieting (or become chronic yo-yo dieters)…

But some continue with extreme measures to get rid of the weight “once and for all” – welcome, eating disorder!

Some people begin to overeat uncontrollably (binge eating), some binge and purge (bulimia), some starve themselves (anorexia), some obsessively avoid particular foods (orthorexia), some overexercise (bulimia or anorexia athletica), and some may have all of these together (EDNOS – eating disorder not otherwise specified).

“Getting rid of dieting could wipe out at least 70% of eating disorders. Get rid of dieting!”(6)

“Dieting is a primary trigger of the downward spiral into an eating disorder.” (7)

“Girls who severely dieted were eighteen times more likely to develop an eating disorder within 6 months than those who did not diet. And 2/3 of new cases of an eating disorder came from those who dieted moderately.” (8)

Now you may think, But my eating disorder is different! I didn’t “diet.” My problem was more emotional and psychological – eating disorders are mental disorders!

Yes, some people do develop eating disorders for other reasons and not because of going on a diet. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter! No matter the reason behind your eating disorder, as long as you continue to restrict, you cannot recover. When your brain is malnourished, it can’t think or function properly. When you start to diet and forbid enough food and calories, your brain is much more likely respond in an eating-disordered way.

An undernourished individual’s brain cannot recover

“We know that starvation and weight loss have powerful effects on the body and the brain. Malnutrition impacts on the brain’s capacity to think, manage emotions and process information from its environment. Starvation often exaggerates an individual’s personality traits and ways of thinking. Malnutrition may lead to changes in brain development even after they have restored normal eating and weight. We also know that the brain responds to, and has an effect on hormones and other body systems that are undernourished. Food certainly plays a major role; the most urgent task of early recovery and maintenance is restoring the patient’s normal weight with adequate daily nutrition. An undernourished individual’s brain cannot recover.” (9)

To recover, you need to eat enough calories for your brain to start functioning properly. This is why you cannot recover only “mentally” – you need to recover physically as well so that your body can emerge from the eating disorder. If we recover physically, the mental aspect is much easier to correct. It cannot happen the other way around.

If you want to read more awesome content like this you can read my book “BrainwashED: Diet-Induced Eating Disorders. How You Got Sucked In And How To Recover”


References:

(1) Bailor, Jonathan. A Calorie Myth: How to Eat More and Exercise Less with the Smarter Science of Slim (2014)

(2) G. L. Blackburn, G, T. Wilson, B. S. Kanders, L. J. Stein, P.T. Lavin, J. Adler, and K. D. Brownell, “Weight Cycling: The Experience of Human Dieters” (1989), American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, PubMed as cited in Bailor, Jonathan, A Calorie Myth.

(3) Spinardi, Josie, How to Have Your Cake and Your Skinny Jeans Too: Stop Binge Eating, Overeating and Dieting for Good, Get the Naturally Thin Body You Crave from the Inside Out (2013)

(4) Priya Sumithran, MB, BS, Luke A. Prendergast, PhD, et al, “Long-Term Persistence of Hormonal Adaptations to Weight Loss” (2011), The New England Journal of Medicine, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1105816?viewType=Print.

(5) Katherine Liberty, “The Alarming Link Between Diets and Bulimia” (2011), Bulimia Help, http://www.bulimiahelp.org/articles/alarming-link-between-diets-and-bulimia

(6) Reflections on Body Image,” All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image and Central YMCA, online magazine, http://issuu.com/bodyimage/docs/reflections_on_body_image/69

(7) Kathy A. Benedetto, SPE, LPC, LMFT, Stephen Todd Callahan, MD, MPH, Rhonda Rose, RN, BSN, and Edwin S. Rogers, PhD, ABPP, “Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents,” https://www.tn.gov/assets/entities/behavioral-health/attachments/Pages_from_CY_BPGs_195-207.pdf

(8) Irene Alton, “Eating Disorders,” online document, University of Minnesota, http://www.epi.umn.edu/let/pubs/img/adol_ch12.pdf

(9) H. Walter Kaye, Puzzling Symptoms: Eating Disorders and the Brain (2014), A F.E.A.S.T Family Guide to the Neurobiology of Eating Disorders, 7, online document, accessed February 5, 2016, https://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.feasted.org/resource/collection/DBF23DC3-CF99-488E-9FC6-A51632E8012E/Puzzling_Symptoms_LTR_11.20.2014.pdf.

circadian rhythm
Posted by Elisa Oras / in Article, Blog, Physical / 2

Are Your Sleeping Habits Ruining Your Recovery? How To Fix Your Circadian Rhythm?

In this blog post, I will talk about how important it is to have healthy sleeping habits so it supports your body’s recovery rather than making it worse. Providing your body with enough rest and sleep is crucial for healing! Just as eating enough and stopping all calorie compensation behaviors. But often times we solely focus on food and forget our body’s primarily restoration time – a good nights sleep!

Also, I will explain what is something called Circadian Rhythm and why it’s important to sync your body to this natural rhythm. I will explain how it affects your energy levels, hormones, metabolism and even hunger cues – all of these need to be healed for your body to fully recover.

What is circadian rhythm?

So what is circadian rhythm? In short, it’s our biological clock that is closely tied to the 24-hour rise and fall of the sun. During the 24-hour cycle, our body secretes various chemicals and enzymes that regulate our biological clock. Yes, we as humans are connected to the earth and its natural rhythms. We are designed to work aligned with nature – when the sun rises we should be ready to face the day with enough energy and when the sun falls our body should start to wind down, getting ready for a good night sleep.

However, our world nowadays is not very supportive of this natural built-in system of our body and it can easily become messed up. We have electronic devices (TV, phone, computer) illuminating blue light from the screens that suppress our body’s production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. We stay up until 2 am because we have the ability to use indoor lighting that can send our body the signal it’s still daytime. We drink too much coffee so the cortisol levels in our bloodstream make us energetic when we actually could use rest instead. We are stressed out about school, work, or from watching negative stuff from the media. All of these things mess up our circadian rhythm and it will affect our health. circadian rhythm

The circadian rhythm is responsible for a host of different hormones and neurotransmitters of our body that make us awake and energetic. It drives hormones related to our appetite, metabolism, stress. Almost every hormonal system of our body is tied to the circadian rhythm.

The circadian rhythm is best described as having these peak and valleys of energy levels throughout the day and night. The peak should be at daytime giving us plenty of energy to live our lives and dealing with everyday tasks. The valley should be during night time when the energy levels naturally drop making us ready for a good night of rest and regeneration.Circadian-rhythms-of-melatonin-and-serotonin-Black-lines-represent-normal-circadian

 

Ideally, the peaks should be high when you have high energy levels and the valleys should be low enough you fall asleep easily and sleep until the morning restfully. But our modern world disrupts this with artificial lighting, blue light emitting screens, high-stress levels caused by our hectic lifestyle and by using stimulants to give us energy such as drinking too much coffee. And because of this the peaks and valleys are flattened out – during day time we have low energy so we tend to be tired and even sleepy and during night time we feel overstimulated and can’t fall asleep easily. So we develop daytime fatigue and nighttime insomnia symptoms.

In which ways messed up circadian rhythm affects our health?

As said earlier circadian rhythm is responsible for a whole bunch of hormonal systems of our body. For example, the hormone leptin that’s responsible for adjusting your body fat levels. Also cortisol, the stress hormone. If your cortisol levels are too high during the night time (because your sleeping patterns are messed up) the leptin levels in your body will increase. So you can gain weight just by having a messed up sleeping schedule. This is a stress response of your body! Having an unhealthy sleeping schedule, on a physiological level is a form of chronic stress which can lead to adrenal fatigue.

Circadian rhythm also affects your thyroid hormones that regulate the speed of your metabolism and even your hunger hormones. During the evening it should be natural for our body to decrease producing cortisol and increase producing serotonin that can lower your appetite, making you calm and sleepy, ready for a good night rest. But with an unhealthy circadian rhythm, this system is rather upside down – we feel most energetic during the evening with a huge appetite and during the morning our appetite is almost non-existent and we might need coffee to get the day started.

Matt Stone, one of the leading experts today on metabolic health notes that “People with various signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome seem to almost always have circadian rhythms that are totally out of whack.” ( from here.)

In terms of eating disorder recovery can you now see just HOW negatively the irregular, out of whack sleeping schedule and habits affect your recovery? The hormonal and metabolic recovery?… Yes? Good! So now you know you must address this issue and fix your circadian rhythm.

How to fix your circadian rhythm?
  1. Go to bed early and wake up early. Ideally, I would say be in bed, ready to sleep by 10 pm. Wake up by 7-8 am. This is not a die-hard rule but generally what to stick to. But don’t take it lightly! Don’t think you can go to bed 2 am and just wake up 11 am because you will still get the same hours of sleep, right? Nope, it’s not the same! Remember, our body needs to sleep during night hours and wake up in the morning with the sun. The difference is BIG!
  2. Eat your breakfast. I know, you are used to your big night time meals, I get it. And during recovery, you should eat whenever. BUT, in terms of your energy levels you need that well-sized breakfast to fix your circadian rhythm and in the long run, it will also help you to normalize the nighttime overeating sessions. This is not to say anybody should start restricting food during night time, but your body needs food during the morning as well to support the natural circadian rhythm of your body! So start with a filling breakfast! And I still recommend regular eating for recovery – eating every 2-3 hours, breakfast, lunch, dinner, also snacks in between as you like!
  3. Reduce stress during the evening. Don’t watch a violent movie or engage in any arguments. If you find yourself overthinking and worried use journalling as a way to clean your head from all the clutter that has been piled up. You want to be in a relaxed and calm state during the evening so it will be much easier for you to fall asleep.
  4. It’s best to close the TV and eliminate any blue light emitting electronic device at least 1-2 hours before going to sleep. Blue light mimics daylight and suppresses melatonin production that actually helps you to fall asleep. Dim down lights, take a hot bath with some Epsom salt, fix yourself a cup of sweet chamomile tea and read a novel before bedtime instead. This helps your body get ready for sleep.
  5. If you absolutely must use your computer or phone in the evening I use an app called iFlux for my MacBook that changes the blue light to yellow light during the evening so it doesn’t effect my body’s natural clock. You can get it from here: https://justgetflux.com/. And for my android phone, I personally use an app called Blue Light Filter – Night Mode. You can see it here: http://bit.ly/2o3gBrv. I am not affiliated with those or anything and I am sure there are other apps available, maybe even better ones, but these are just what I use. Better yet – just don’t use your electronic devices before bed!

See the video below about insomnia and my experience with sleeping problems in recovery:

Cover photo: Shutterstock

 

Posted by Elisa Oras / in Article, Blog, Intuitive Eating / 3

5 Tips for Healthy Non-Restrictive Eating After Orthorexia | Intuitive Eating

Why we develop an eating disorder differs for everybody. For some, it is a result of a traumatic life event or body-image problems developed in childhood. Some have weight issues and resort to calorie restrictive dieting that messes up their hunger cues and their eating becomes disordered. But for many, it can also start from a health issue that leads them to make drastic diet changes which later develops into an eating disorder.

For me, my eating disorder started with a health issue. In my early twenties, I had acne and after trying numerous ways to get rid of it (creams, treatments, medication..) I concluded that I had to make a fundamental diet change. I left out dairy products, minimized sugar and other processed foods. At first, there was no problem and I even felt much better. But over time I became more and more rigid with rules and restrictions, started to leave out more foods from my diet in hopes of achieving my “peak health”. But I went overboard with it. Big time. I developed bulimia and orthorexia as a result.

Last year I posted an article about Orthorexia and how I overcame my obsession of purity. So please read that to know my story. But in short, I had to let go of the “clean eating” mindset in order to recover and find freedom around foods and eating. But I have also said many times that eating healthy is important but it’s all about the MINDSET of how we approach it.

It’s all about the MINDSET of how we approach it.

Just because I overcame orthorexia does not mean I now eat junk foods all the time and do not care about nutrition at all. I practice intuitive eating and listen to my body of what foods sound good for me to eat at any given day. I do not have any rules or restrictions around foods. But intuitive eating does not solely consist of listening to your taste buds with no regards to how some foods make you feel or paying no attention to your health. Intuitive eating is also about listening to your brain, using your nutritional knowledge and having some common sense around foods. It’s about listening to your body as a whole.

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Posted by Elisa Oras / in Article, Blog, Physical / 2

Why Counting Calories For Weight Loss Doesn’t Work

(This is a guest post by RawRitta from www.rawritta.com)

Our ancestors were never told what to eat or how much to eat. Animals don’t think to themselves “hmm, what should I eat today and how much?” They just sniff the food and use their instinct to determine whether they want to eat that food or not. Isn’t that how humans should be also? I mean you don’t let anyone tell you what hobbies you should have, what kinds of music you should listen to, how to raise your children and so on. So why let others tell you what and how much to eat?!

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body image
Posted by Elisa Oras / in Article, Blog, Mental / 2

Body Image And Media Brainwash

[This article is an excerpt from my book “BrainwashED: Diet-Induced Eating Disorders. How You Got Sucked In And How To Recover”]

You may commit to eating enough food, and you may stop restricting. You may even recover your normal hunger cues and normal eating. But if you still have a bad body image and still think your body needs to change for you to be happy, then it can be very easy to fall back to your eating disorder behaviors or stay in a destructive mindset, one that never lets you enjoy a full recovery and the true freedom of being and feeling normal around foods and your body.

In one study of college students, 74.4% of normal-weight women stated that they thought about their weight or appearance “all the time” or “frequently.” But the women weren’t alone because the study also found that 46% of the normal-weight men surveyed responded the same way. (1) That’s an alarmingly large number of people.

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Posted by Elisa Oras / in Article, Blog, Inspiration / 4

50 Best Quotes On Instagram For Eating Disorder Recovery

Happy new year!!! :))) 😀

To start this year with a positive kick in the butt I searched for the most positive and inpiring eating disorder recovery related quotes on Instagram. If you feel you have some of your own best ones to share you can post them in the comments below!

The quotes here are in no particular order but just a bunch of cool, clever, awesome, inspiring, true piece of thoughts, advice, comments, quotes I found on Instragram 🙂 You can read the original caption by going to the author’s page (link provided with all pics). Below every picture I decided to add my own two cents of why I love this quote. So let’s get started!

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Posted by Elisa Oras / in Article, Blog, Inspiration, Video / 2

Angela Gulner Recovery of Bulimia: “It Was A Diet That Went Too Far” [Interview]

With this interview, I am honored to share Angela Gulner’s story of her recovery from bulimia. She is a young actress who just recently released her TV pilot BINGE what is inspired from her struggles with bulimia.

Angela is now fully recovered and was happy to share some of her best advice for those who are trying to recover and get better. I hope you can feel encouraged and inspired by her story and experiences.

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orthorexia
Posted by Elisa Oras / in Article, Blog, Mental

Orthorexia – The Worship Of Purity

I think one of the biggest things holding me back from achieving full recovery from my eating disorder was my worship of purity – orthorexia. It may not be like that for everyone, but for me, it was the final thing I had to let go of in order to start healing from bulimia.

I found out that I did not binge because food was “addicting” (as I’d thought previously!) but because I had an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy or “clean” and not allowing myself to have other foods I craved.

The more I restricted something, the more I craved it.

Worshipping purity made me binge on junk foods and overeat in general because my cravings weren’t satisfied. The more I restricted something, the more I craved it. The more control I wanted to have over food and eating, the more out of control I felt.

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