Trigger warning. In this post I discuss calories and BMI. If this is triggering to you, please take care of yourself and do not read on.
You know those days where you you’re hungry every second of the day regardless of how much you eat? No matter how many bananas, spoonfuls of peanut butter, pieces of bread, bowls of pasta, scoops of ice cream or glasses of milk you drink, nothing seems to satisfy your growling stomach? If you’re reading this then I assume it gives you a great deal of anxiety.
The amount of food you feel the need to consume scares you. You couldn’t POSSIBLY need that amount of food. It’s way too much. You’ll gain xx pounds over night. You’re out of control.
I actually seem to get these days on my lazier days. Yep. Days where I’m binge watching netflix, relaxing with my fiance, shopping and doing other leisurely things. You could argue that I’m having these days out of boredom, not hunger. Wrong. I love rest days now. I’m very easily absorbed in to whatever book I’m reading, what show I”m watching, who I’m chatting with, etc. I am not bored. My stomach is physically growling and begging for food. I am a bottomless pit.
It was always on these days that I would get very anxious and tell myself, “You don’t need this. You’re barely doing anything today. How could you possibly want so much? You aren’t burning it off. Stop being a glutton.”
The truth is, I got these days a lot before I was completely weight restored. Knowing what I know now, it was just my body screaming for nutrition so that it could go back to it’s happy place. It happened because my body was finally getting a rest day and it was taking every chance it could to get some much needed calories and nutrition in to my damaged body.
Does that mean that now that I’m weight restored I don’t get these days? Absolutely not. I most definitely get them. Does it still scare me? No, not as much as it used to. Before, for the first few months of my recovery, I was using a calculator to monitor my activity level and calorie needs for a bmi of 19.5. I was 15.5 and knew that pre ed, my bmi was 19.5 and I was incredibly healthy. (note: I have not weighed myself in a very long time therefore do not know my current weight/bmi. I go by clothing. I also let go of weight expectations. If I was going to be bigger than 19.5, that was okay too. I just wanted a healthy starting point for a goal). I did this to make sure I was eating enough to support a healthy weight since I no longer had any idea what a healthy amount of food actually was. I did my best to hit my calorie goals every day (It was between 2400-2800 and yes, that was a weight maintenance level for that bmi).
As I ventured in to trusting my body, paying attention to how certain foods made me feel, paying attention to my cravings and hunger levels, trusting my body to tell me what I needed instead of a calculator, I began to notice a pattern. On days where I was more active, I noticed that I was only hungry for 2100-2300. I would feel very, very full and simply could not eat more and frankly, didn’t want to. I felt sick if I ate more than that. At first, I thought that this wasn’t good because I could start losing the weight I had worked hard to gain. BUT on the days where I was relaxing more, letting my body recoup from the previous days activity, my appetite was just crazy! I was hungry for SO MUCH MORE FOOD than what I thought I needed. I began to realize that this was my body’s way of making up for the lack of calories on my active days. You see? It all evened out.
I have realized why this happens. On my active days (my business requires me to be on my feet for 6-8 hours a day most days), I simply don’t have the time to sit and eat full meals during the day. I also don’t have the time to allow my body to properly digest the food I’m eating to get all of the nutrition I need. I need energy NOW, not a half hour to an hour from now after I’ve eaten a proper meal. My body has adapted to this.On active days, my body relies on stored glycogen and fat stores for my energy. Yes, it takes it from the food I eat as well, but it is able to take the remainder from my energy stores in my body. Makes sense, right?
So here’s the thing. My body and your body has a set range where it likes to keep it’s weight. It has a certain amount of fat stores that makes you happy and healthy. You can fluctuate within that range from day to day. On days where my body is pulling from it’s reserves, the following days, it increases my appetite to replace those stores. Once replaced, my appetite returns to normal. It all balances out as long as you pay attention to your body and respond accordingly.
Your body is brilliant. It knows exactly what it needs, when it needs it and how much. It’s telling you if you will listen. Having an increased appetite is scary. Eating more than you think you need is terrifying. But you know what? There’s a reason it’s happening. Trust your body and eat the food. Don’t let your body think it’s starving and doesn’t have access to the nutrition is needs when it needs it. It needs to trust you to function properly. You are not bingeing, you are taking care of yourself.
Eat the food. Rest. Relax. Have a wonderful day!