12 things I did to recover after learning about the evolutionary theory for eating disorders

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

I cover some of this in my Eating Disorder Recovery Story interview with therapist Kiki Attonito: https://youtu.be/J0HNmUcsesM

Dr. Shan Guisinger's adaptedtofamine.com website covers her evolutionary theory of anorexia causation.

Before learning the EP perspective I was committed to recovery, but didn't have the right tools to overcome the damaging anorexic behaviors. I was exercising at least an hour daily and cut that down. I stopped my gym membership. The food I ate were still too low-calorie in general so I upped that. I was binging and purging, and I learned to stop purging because the purging would also continue to make my body think I was in a famine. Purging by the way is not just vomiting, but doing anything to try to “undo” a binge like fasting or over-exercising.

Before learning the EP perspective my sleep was especially broken because I was so hungry when I tried to fall asleep. I would wake up feeling faint and ravenous. After learning the EP perspective I really committed to eating frequently (at least 3 meals and frequent snacks daily) and a lot of fat to help satisfy me. And if I did get hungry at night, instead of ignoring the hunger I got food. Because I knew my body needed it.

So in general, some things that I did to recover were were:

  1. I ignored my exercise compulsion. I literally had a 24/7 desire to move but instead chose to lie around and sit. I no longer saw this as a lazy action, but as the most productive action I could do in the moment to recover.

  2. It was scary the first couple times I did it, but soon it was such a relief to do. I was honestly just so tired. So wiped out and fatigued. What I did instead of move was listen to the Beat Your Genes podcast and get distracted by it. Honestly. Also stretching really helped because I was moving still but putting less strain on myself.

  3. When I think back to my time of recovery I think about lying out on a bed or yoga mat and listening to podcasts, mainly Beat Your Genes. And self-help audiobooks all about psychology. I got really into psychology at this time and was deeply reflecting on my life and all my friends and familial relationships.

  4. It helped that my family didn’t call me lazy for lying around all day, and helped encourage me to do that. Seeing my number on the scale move up really helped encourage me to keep resting - as I’d mentioned, not once was I happy to see the numbers drop.

  5. After learning about the biology of ED recovery I stopped feeling like it was possible to eat "too much" in one day. I ate as much as I wanted. I had uncontrollable hunger as I recovered weight, which is what Dr. Guisinger's theory exactly predicts. Instead of trying to ignore the hunger, I realized the only way to stop it was to just EAT. And that when I was fully recovered the constant hunger would resolve. I needed to keep this end goal in mind to motivate myself to eat.

  6. I also stopped measuring food at all. I measured for like a day to make sure I was getting at least the number of calories necessary to recover. I made sure to eat that minimum at least and not feel bad if I ate more.

  7. This all felt scary at first. Again it helped that my family was really supportive of me eating as much as needed, as often as needed. I was really lucky to be in this supportive environment.

  8. I stopped hating myself for binging on food. I realized it was natural. I allowed myself ample time for meals. I allowed myself to eat snacks. I stopped caring about following a strict meal time schedule - I know maybe it's best for weight gain, to follow a schedule, but I was so unbearably hungry that it was better for me to just eat when I wanted to.

  9. I had loathed my body for feeling “broken” or “defective,” for not gaining weight when eating literally felt like my 24/7 job. I had to learn to cut myself some slack and just relax more. And think about how all the stress and self-hate was using up more of my limited mental energy.

  10. Listening to Tabitha Farrar’s work was critical. I enjoyed listening to her videos and reading her blog posts and books.

  11. I started eating more processed foods, knowing that it was healing me, and way more fat.

  12. Eating more fat was the hardest to do. It literally felt like it was giving me pain. But I forced myself to do it because I knew it was good for me and eventually my tastebuds neuro-adapted to the taste of more fat on my food.