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IF And Eating Disorders

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  • #16
    I think in your case "if in doubt, go without". I have an ED and have used IF in an unhealthy way - as a legitimate and healthily acclaimed reason not to eat. I'm still learning here and have used some great information from these forums to help me. I am using primal living to help recover from anorexia and I am making great progress. I'm at the stage when I am learning to listen very carefully to my body and sometimes I am genuinely not hungry and don't desire breakfast. But sometimes I'm not sure and will IF to restrict calories (on a bad day) or eat anyway to nourish and care for myself (on a good day). My hunger signals are currently in a state of chaos. I ate and ate last night and went into the fear, decided I must IF every day this week to make up for it but woke up this morning ravenous and have learned (through these forums) that this is probably a good time to eat.

    If IF might trigger you, be gentle with yourself and for now maybe 3 primal meals a day will be most helpful. Wait a few months and see how you go. I use IF because I'm frightened on gaining weight, and that's not what it's for.


    • #17
      As a former ED person myself, I have to be very mindful if I do decide to do an IF. I think about my reasons for doing it and if I need to do it. For me it's the matter of taking a step back and viewing it differently..... Am I starving myself bc of control reasons, or to jump start my metabolism or something else?

      I'd be careful about the IF bc it can trigger those disordered thoughts, but I have to say that I've never felt better than I do now with my eating choices and the PB. You know your body and you ED best


      • #18
        I devolped anorexia at 14, when i had my tonsils and adnoids removed. I was in bed for a month, and lived off of broth. I lost 30 pounds, and felt elated, that after bed-rest, I no longer felt compelled to eat. It was an elated feeling of power, after having been previously chubby. I got lavish praise for my slimness (105 lbs at 5'3) and was even offered modeling contracts. It was nearly a decade of malnourishement, that left me with health problems, that I still struggle with today (as well as alcohilsm). I feel your struggle!

        I do not intentionally IF, but am perfectly comfortable just eating one, filling, satisfying lunch per day. My husband watches me like a hawk, though, and will NOT let me skip dinner. I love cooking and make big gourmet meals for him, but he won't believe that I'm not hungry enough to eat them. When I met him, nine years ago, I had only mustard and beer in my fridge. He won't let me forget that or believe that I am not starving myself.

        My advice is to eat consciously, when you are hungry. Don't force a fast and don't force-feed yourself, if you've already eaten your basal number of calories for the day. I wish you luck, you can do this!!! *hugs*


        • #19
          Rasputina - It's so interesting how eating disorders can develop. I developed anorexia after unintentionally losing about 15 pounds (from an already very slim figure) at 18 during a serious case of mono with lots of complications. I was also in bed for over a month and barely ate anything at all.

          Personally, I would not mess with IF. It can be great for some people, but I don't think it's necessary for good health, and I think that for most people with eating disordered histories, it can be very dangerous. I have been recovered for a good amount of time and I have attempted IF several times, and it has never led anywhere good! Skipping breakfast can easily lead to skipping lunch, etc. Also I find that the feeling of being hungry, in general, can be triggering; thus, I eat when I'm hungry! Simple.

          Just like there are special considerations for Primal/Paleo for people with autoimmune disorders, people who need to lose a lot of weight, diabetics, etc., there are special considerations for people with histories of eating disorders, and I just don't think IF is in the cards for us! Having said that, no one knows you better than you know yourself, so ultimately the decision is your to make.


          • #20
            I'm a former bulimic, so while I have some insight about the struggle over control, my ED didn't take the shape of starving myself.

            IF may be triggering, so it might be wise to avoid it for now. Meanwhile, maybe focus on picking up your body's signals -- recognizing when you're hungry, and making sure to eat at that time (instead of forcing yourself not to eat at that time).
            F, 44 years old, 111.8 lbs, 4 feet 11.5 inches (yes, that half inch matters!)

            **1st place sparring, AAU TKD regional qualifier, 2/15/15 - It's damn good to hit like a girl!**

            **First-ever 5K race 11/28/13: 37 minutes, 18+ seconds, no stopping**


            • #21
              I (probably) have an ED and I IF most days by fasting until I get home from school but if I actually count the hours or think about fasting then it's triggering because I feel like I haven't fasted for long enough and if I eat at any time then I don't feel like I'm in control anymore. So if you're going to fast then either get into the habit of doing it without thinking about it or actually plan the exact time you're going to eat so it doesn't feel like you're failing when you do eat.


              • #22
                Don't know that much about ED, but my understanding is it is to do with self image/worth primarily, so the question would be how do you feel about yourself when you stand naked in front of the mirror (male or female). If you can say yeah not bad, could improve a bit, but all in good time, then you are probably in a good state, conversly if you are applying a microscopic analysis of criticisms about your body state and can't see more positives than negatives in who/where you are at this moment then maybe some more self loving is in order.
                The true Paleo life would suggest that in order to exercise all our body systems, then at different times we need to be cold, hot, hungry, beyond full, tired, lazy, etc. Because we live in a thermostatically controlled world with sugar & comfort on tap, then to achieve true Paleo we must deny the comforts a bit sometimes and this of course is the issue, how much is too much, well this is often hard to ascertain, even for those without a history of ED.
                If you are on a power/control trip because you can supress your hunger, then this may be questionable, I imagine it should be more of a meditative process, in the knowledge you will eat soon enough. I am currently on the 2 meals a day, but not counting anything specifically, will look at doing the occasional fast maybe 24 hours fortnightly, I figure that should be enough to let the body sample hunger. I haven't really looked at any fasting protocols, but imagine they are often promoted as the "cure all", which is not true, I just see fasting as a very small part of a very big picture, so if you are concerned you may go too deep, then don't go there, the overall nutrition & moderate exercise is the bulk of the picture.
                It's like adding optional extra's on a vehicle, a couple enhance the vehicle, but if you were to do every protocol discussed in Paleo groups, that would be an awfully strange looking vehicle you are driving, so find what works for you and leave the rest.
                "There are no short cuts to enlightenment, the journey is the destination, you have to walk this path alone"


                • #23
                  Originally posted by Paleobird View Post
                  What bothers me is how the term "eating disorder" gets tossed around this forum as an insult, as a way to discredit a person and their ideas. When I have talked about IF, carb restriction, and calorie restriction, in each separate instance I was accused of having an eating disorder by several people.

                  I don't have and never have had an eating disorder. My sister, otoh, nearly died of bulimia/anorexia. I don't know if the difference between us is biochemical or psychological or, more probably, some mix of the two. In any case, we are very different people and I would never recommend for her the kind of dietary restrictions that I have used to reach my goal.

                  Eating disorders are very real very deadly things but we should avoid projecting one onto people who are just trying to improve their health and appearance.
                  But the OP indicated that she previously starved herself, ate only every few days, and was worried about relapsing. I don't think anyone "accused" her of having an eating disorder. She was seeking advice on how to not trigger it.
                  Using low lectin/nightshade free primal to control autoimmune arthritis. (And lost 50 lbs along the way )



                  • #24
                    Originally posted by jammies View Post
                    But the OP indicated that she previously starved herself, ate only every few days, and was worried about relapsing. I don't think anyone "accused" her of having an eating disorder. She was seeking advice on how to not trigger it.
                    No, no. I know that. That part was a tangent. Then I got back to saying that I would not recommend IF for her, particularly if she were feeling like she needed to follow some website's plan to the letter or else.
                    Sorry if I didn't make that clear.


                    • #25
                      Sorry, Omni, but you COMPLETELY missed the mark on that one.


                      • #26
                        It can be variable. It's possible it could be beneficial or even exacerbate eating disorders for certain people. Personally I know it has been a godsend for me after I developed somewhat of a disordered eating pattern thinking I had to eat 6 meals a day to lose or maintain weight. These days I know I don't have to fear hunger and can eat a proper sized meal when I'm actually hungry, instead of becoming food obsessive from eating lots of small unsatisfying meals.


                        • #27
                          You might focus on learning to eat primally first.


                          • #28
                            I have a looooong history of binge-eating, but never went above 125lbs because after eating a whole bag of potato chips and a dozen doughnuts, i'd feel guilty and eat turkey breast and lettuce for 3 days to make up for it. It took me many months to retrain my brain to not want to contantly binge every time i got stressed out, end even now i occasionally have the desire, but i don't need to act on it anymore.

                            For me, doing the Ultimate Diet 2.0 was actually really detrimental - 5 days of severe (50%) calorie restriction, one day of 'normal' eating, and one day of super high calorie (3,000+)/high carb (800g+). This completely threw me back in to the binge/restrict cycle, and it took a few months before I could get back to just eating healthy food without having to weigh every thing on the scale.

                            However, I have had no problems with IFing at all. It feels good to me to be able to go without a meal here and there, and doesn't lead to binges or unhealthy eating as a result; if anything it put an end to mindless snacking, and a better understanding of true hunger vs. boredom/emotional hunger.

                            So I think this is something that is really individualistic. If you're at a point where you're not obsessing over calories, you're not giving yourself major guilt trips for indulges here and there, and you can trust yourself to recognize if there are negative responses, then I'd say cautiously give it a try. Start small. See if it's triggering anything. If it is, back off immediately.


                            • #29
                              I really dislike the term intermittent fasting because it just frames the discussion in completely the wrong terms and things go downhill from there. I would much rather that people spoke of intermittent eating, or meal timing, or anything else that did not immediately bring to mind self deprivation or puritanical dietary self flagellation.

                              In general, IF refers to an eating pattern completely independent of caloric intake. Please read my first post on this topic ( it's in my sig ) and realize that all of the studies that relied on Ramadan adherents involved precisely a changed eating pattern that was approximately isocaloric ( that is, folks ate the same amounts of food, but just changed when they did so ).

                              If one has a history of ED, then I do think IF might be a slippery slope. However, as adults, we all make our own decisions with hopefully the best information available to us. With that in mind, if you are determined to give fasting a go, I would advise the meal coalescing approach I outlined. In a nutshell, do not change your daily caloric intake, rather restrict the number of meals. So, if you daily ate 1800 calories spread out over the conventional three meals ( breakfast, lunch, and dinner ), try maybe 900 each over brunch and dinner, or maybe eventually 1800 over dinner.

                              My blog :

                              Interested in Intermittent Fasting? This might help: part 1, part 2, part 3.


                              • #30
                                Former anorexic here - way back before it had a name:
                                I easily IF from 6pm one day to 12pm the next.
                                This lifestyle has made eating very organic, and I LOVE my meals.
                                Just one person's experience.