Most people recovering from anorexia and bulimia experience what experts in Colorado Springs call “extreme hunger.” It is what it is: feeling an insatiable need for food. As a result, people eat huge amounts of food. This is deeply worrying for patients, as it looks a lot like binge eating, and precisely goes against what the anorexic or bulimic thoughts dictate.
At the same time, though, it’s the fear of the “unknown” that takes over. Without knowing what to expect when you feel extreme hunger, you become more worried about what’s happening. To silence that fear, here are some things you should know about extreme hunger when recovering from anorexia:
When your body has long been starved, it would require more calories than a nourished body, in order to regain its healthy, energy-balanced condition. Regardless of your current weight or the weight you lost, your body has experienced an energy and nutrient deficit, which causes damage internally and therefore, would need proper re-nourishing.
It’s natural for the body to alert you to reach out to more food. A huge part of treatment for eating disorder, as Colorado Springs health experts explain, is a nutritional therapy, which involves encouraging healthy response to food and listening to your body’s cues for hunger and fullness.
It can happen anytime
It can happen on your first day of recovery, so you feel like you’re binging. It can happen in the middle of recovery, commonly when social support has waned already. Or, it may not come at all. Everybody’s recovery, as you know, is unique. In fact, the duration of it varies from person to person. Most people will experience it longer, especially patients who have suffered for years or have restricted their food intake more severely. The intensity of extreme hunger often depends on how much damage the body needs to repair.
It stops eventually
It may be a long and hard journey, but you won’t be in this struggle forever. It will end eventually — when the body becomes healthier. Your body will stop sending hunger signals to replenish energy. This is when the skills you learn from therapy becomes important. You would really have to know how to listen well to your body. You have put on weight already by this time, but the guilt and shame thoughts may have never been totally silenced yet. Your anorexia may tell you that extreme hunger is just an excuse for you to eat more, but listen to your body: it needs replenishment to recover from this sickness.
Extreme hunger is normal in the recovery process, and it can be really frustrating. With social support and proper coping strategies though, the struggles in recovery will be more bearable.