Carbs, “Fats,” And Weight Gain.

My recovery started on 4.1.13, and is going incredibly well so far. I’ve had wicked ups and downs, but the ups have been much more impactful than the lows. In order to help with meals and regaining confidence in my own abilities to regulate my body, I’ve also been seeing a nutritionist. She is absolutely wonderful, and one of the most influential people I have come across in a very long time. Not only does she not believe in “dieting” in any way, shape, or form, but she believes there is no such thing as a bad food unless you treat it as such. My biggest fear in seeing her meal plans was viewing the classifications of foods written out rather than the actual names. For example, rather than write “2 slices of whole wheat bread,” she wrote out “2 carbs.” Similarly, she also wrote, “1 fat,” instead of “1 slice of cheese.” Seeing these two words written out on paper, and knowing that each time I visited her they would increase in my meal plan, truly horrified me. My two biggest eating disorder worries- carbs and getting “fat”- were suddenly both combined and required of me. So, at our visit this morning, I decided to voice my fears rather than hide them, for I have no idea how to overcome them alone. This led the nutritionist into an hour-long explanation of what carbs and fats do for your body. The goal is not to make you gain weight, and neither do, unless you eat them in excess amounts. The media’s portrayal of carbs as “bad,” and “low carb diet” fads are not credible, nor realistic…And the same goes for fats! “Fat” from cheeses and other foods is no where near the same as “body fat.” The fact two completely different things are share the same word is unfortunate, and is the root cause of so many body-image issues. <– When my nutritionist told me this, I was flooded with a sense of understanding previously not present. Throughout the session, I took many notes, and here are some that may be of help!

Carbohydrates: 

*Carbs are used in every bodily function you have.

*Your body’s preferred energy source is carbs- meaning it knows how to use them most efficiently, and it uses them first!

*When you cut out carbs and replace them with protein, you are doing more harm than good. Due to a lack of energy that carbs normally provide, your body will compensate and expend higher amounts of energy converting that protein into carbs. This causes the body to make more carbs than necessary, thus a higher storage of extra carbs than if you had just eaten them in the first place.

*Taking in carbs is better than taking in large amounts of protein because excess protein will cause liver dialysis and malnourishment. 

***CARBS ARE NOT FATTENING, THEY ARE ENERGY- A.K.A LIFE!***

*There is no such thing as a “fattening food”, and weight is only gained when we eat more than our body can use. Just because you eat extra food one day does not mean your body will immediately gain weight. Any weight held is water. Your body is incredible, and will increase your levels of hunger to match how you feel. If you eat extra one day, food becomes not as interesting the second day, and your body craves it less because it has a boosted amount of energy to do it’s job.

*Carbs are the building blocks for Serotonin, the chemicals in your brain which enhance mood and make you feel better.

*Your heart would not beat without carbs.

*Your muscles will eat themselves and fall apart without carbs.

*Carbs do not create fat.

*Carbs are used to create glucose in your brain, and without glucose, your brain cannot function. A lack of glucose in the brain causes irrational thinking, irritable behavior, brain shrinkage, damage, coma, and death.

Fats:

*Your heart requires fats to beat. This is why people who are malnourished have lower heart rates- in order to preserve life. If you take enough fat away from your body, your heart will stop beating.

*Fats work with carbs to provide energy to live.

*Your body cannot make Omega-6 or Omega-3 without fats from food. Without these, your brain, bones, and immunity are impaired. 

*Vitamin A, D, E, and K all come from fats, and these nutrients cannot be absorbed properly without them.

***LACK OF FATS = LACK OF NUTRIENTS = LACK OF LIFE.***

*Shortages of Vitamin E take away fertility in women.

*A diet without fats can cause constipation, as fats boost the integrity of your intestine linings and help you to poop. (Take it from someone who’s ED(S) was so severe that I went a month without pooping. Horribly painful.)

*Fats from food are not the same as fats as in “body fat.”

*Your skin is composed of almost 99% of fats, meaning it needs fats to keep itself shiny, hydrated, and clear of blemishes.

*Fats keep your hair strong and sheen.

*Fats are necessary for physiological functioning, and that fat is NOT THE SAME as obesity. 

If you are currently in treatment or recovery for an eating disorder, meal plans can be scary. Even though they somewhat take away the stress of deciding what you are eating, you are still left with the fears of what you must consume. Placing your trust in someone else’s hands is often a tremendous fear, especially when you previously held so much control. But chances are, your control was killing you. Believing that the people helping you are trying to provide you with the necessary nourishment and tools to live a normal and happy life- the life you deserve- is essential. Your meal plans are not continually increasing to make you gain weight, they are continually increasing to help you close the gap between malnourishment and health. In most cases, eating disorder patients in recovery are given double-to-triple the amount of food your “average” healthy person would have in a day. That may sound frightening and unimaginable when you are told you have no choice, but the only other option is death. Eating more than the “average” person does not make you a freak, it does not make you a failure, it does not make you fat. It makes you brave enough to stand up to what is hurting you. (Destroy what destroys you!) One of the hardest understandings I have had to wrestle with is knowing that eating what others around me are eating is not going to make me healthy or allow me to gain the nutrients I need. When you are malnourished, your body uses everything it was lacking when you finally give it food back. Do not believe what others say, such as “If you recover from an eating disorder you are going to gain a ton of extra weight because your body stores it all.” UNTRUE. Your body will not store excess amounts on your body in recovery, or after, because it is using what you kept from it! Those with eating disorders who are recovering actually often have very high metabolisms throughout their journey back to health, because eating and restoring nutrients kicks your body into overdrive. If you are recovering and experiencing bloating or night-sweats, do not give up. These are not signs of “fat” gain, these are signs of a body that is coming back to life. However, you should not believe that you do not need to gain weight in recovery. Weight gain is necessary in order to live a healthy life, and become that “average” person again. And the weight you gain will not be unhealthy “body fat.” Providing your body with food means it will begin to rebuild muscle- and even bone. Many people are unaware that eating disorders are so dangerous because when an individual gets to a point where their body has eaten all of it’s fat reserves, they are already extremely unhealthy with a compromised health. Once the stored fat is gone, the body then takes anything it can get in order to sustain life. The heart, brain, bones, and muscle, become eaten alive by your own system. The reason ribs and collarbones show as someone with an eating disorder loses weight is because their body eats the muscle from in between their bones. Shrinkage in overall body size occur even more rapidly when the bones begin to break down to provide any last bits of energy the system may contain. 

When you truly take the time to sit down and think about your eating disorder, was it really worth it? No energy to be physical, no desire to go out into the world, compromised family relationships and friends; a constantly cold, hairy, skeletal, frail, weak, tired, dying body- all to be thin? To have a “thigh gap?” To have your collarbone show? To have smaller shoulders? To have a “skinny” stomach? To have control of something in your life? Achieving all the above is impossible and unworthy of your time. Feeling miserable 24/7 and wasting away may get you a “thigh gap”…But it will get you your “thigh gap” in a casket. You will be “skinny,” in your grave. Eating disorders will kill you. 

Weight is essential to live. Carbohydrates provide your body the energy it needs to fuel the organs that keep you living, fats do the same. Food is food, and if it wasn’t necessary, no one would eat. By the same token, who wants to eat solely what is necessary and nothing else?

 

Remember what it felt like to be free, to eat and enjoy food without fear or obsession. You are born knowing how and when to eat because your body is smart, and it is beautiful. Don’t waste your time on a facet of life that is vain and laced with unrealistic ideals. In your recovery, trust others and let go. Your body did not cause your eating disorder, your head did. And if anything, though it was negative strength, an eating disorder(s) should show you just how strong you really are. Take that strength and live!

Happy recovery! xoxo