My 5 greatest recovery epiphanies

Updated: Nov 27, 2021

In essence, I learned through the Adapted to Famine hypothesis that my anorexic urges were biologically normal adaptations. I'd spent years being told I was crazy, and finally I realized I was sane. Through behavioral genetics I was able to better understand my personality which definitely lends itself to anorexia - the overly-conscientious and perfectionistic traits which anorexia essentially hijacks.

I had some of my hugest ah-hah moments while reading Tabitha Farrar's blog and work, actually, which incorporates AFH and corroborates it with her personal narratives. Her books and memoirs described exactly my own behaviors.

Here are 5 of my greatest “ah-hah's":

1. Me thinking about food all the time was a consequence of being hungry all the time and needing to eat, what Tabitha Farrar calls “mental hunger.” So to stop these thoughts I had to eat. It was really motivating to me that eating would help stop my distracting thoughts of food, because I was just tired of thinking constantly of food. I wanted to be able to support my friends and family, and a breaking point for me was realizing I wasn’t healthy enough to physically be present to be there for them. Or give them my fullest mental energy and attention.

2. I had to eat A LOT. And I mean I was eating like three meals, multiple snacks daily, doing zero movement, and I was eating massive portions and huge calorie densities. I truly didn’t understand just how much a starving body’s metabolism goes into overdrive, like the Minnesota Starvation Experiments show.

3. Extreme hunger and binge eating were a natural mechanism activated to help restore weight. So instead of restricting food all day and binging at night, which I was doing frequently once I was almost fully weight-restored, I had to eat adequately throughout the day. Dr. Guisinger’s theory accurately predicts that people who are almost weight-recovered will get the compulsion to binge. No doctors had ever told me that before, and it’s a shame because people get frightened at this stage of their cravings and will try to ignore them. They just end up restricting more.

It was scary to eat what I thought was SO much. I had to learn to just ignore whatever other people ate, because it seemed they ate way less than me. I ahd to remember my body was on its own unique healing journey and that it had a lot of repair to do.

Extreme hunger experienced near weight restoration is really scary for anorexics to feel and no doctors warned me about it. I wish when I was 17 I knew how wanting to binge on food after being starved is so natural.

4. My exercise compulsion had an adaptive basis but didn't serve me in the modern world. Now I got why I was so restless all the time and couldn't sit still. Exercising had zero link to a desire to control my body shape or size. I never thought about it like that or cared about my appearance.

5. Physical recovery, gaining back over half my body weight, would be uncomfortable. But the more I ate the faster I would recover and get over the discomfort.

It was physically painful to eat a lot. My body was malnourished and my GI system was of course not properly working at all. Physically recovering from an eating disorder, to put back on over half my body weight, is probably one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my entire life. If not the most difficult thing. It helped to learn from reading Dr. Guisinger’s work and the work of others online, like Dr. Nicola Rinaldi especially, that recovering weight is going to be painful and hard.

With the information that it was going to hurt, I could push through forcing myself to frequently eat calorically dense food even when it was very physically distressing. I knew I had to do this to get better, and as my weight increased my anorexic symptoms and the discomfort decreased.