A Rare Word About Eating Disorder Recovery (Highly Requested): My Thoughts on/Experience with Minnie Maud
So if you didn’t know, this blog originally started as a documentation of my recovery from eating disorders.
A year and a half ago, I was mentally healed from this disorder. Read all about that here.
I have been moving toward writing a post about tips for gaining weight, menstruating regularly, and all the physical aspects of recovery when I realized that… oh yeah, it’s been a year and a half and I am still not fully weight restored, and still don’t have my period, so I am not really in a position to write about those things at all. Ha.
I have, however, gained 12 pounds in the last 5 or 6 months, and gotten my period twice in the last year (slow by steady progress).
I know what it is like to be so frustrated by the weight gain process. I personally have experienced bouts of ravenous, “extreme” hunger in which it is very easy and desired for me to eat four large meals and multiple snacks in a day, but those days are accompanied by days in which my stomach is in terrible pain, and I have no appetite whatsoever. I have experienced such frustration in I’m so positive I’ve gained weight, and the scale sometimes dropping. My metabolism is now very fast, and sometimes it seems as if I’m a bottomless pit.
However, I was in this for a whole year with basically no change in my weight, and just in the past few months have slowly gained those twelve pounds.
What did I do differently?
Two important things:
- I acknowledged that, while I was mentally free from food rules and obsession, my physical body was not caught up with that whatsoever. My hormones were out of whack, my bones and muscles weaker, stomach smaller, brain less alert, and body having been undernourished for a long period of time. Simply put, I was in an energy deficit.
- I needed, therefore, not to “just eat” as, in freedom, I had been, but actually eat in a surplus. My body needed lots of extra food, past my hunger which was out of sync, to repair damages in my body, regulate many things, on top of simply sustaining me AND adding mass. For an awesome article, and the best resource out there to explain eating disorder recovery, check out this post.
Gweneth Olwyn, the originator of the “Minnie Maud Method” as outlined in the above linked article, suggests that the recovering individual count calories just in order to ensure that they are eating the minimum food guidelines. I know for myself that measuring food or counting would not be beneficial, and rather have a good idea of how much I should be eating. Essentially, for several months, even if I felt full, I rarely said no to food, and found that my appetite increased and extreme hunger grew as I gradually ate more and more. I could LITERALLY feel the healing in my body; my stomach growing, my hair shining, my brain fog clearing. It’s messy and gastro-intestinally horrible– still– but recognizing that my body needed extra food, more than the average person, was essentially key. AND that there wasn’t really a limit to how much more.
Resting was key, too. Resting my body and brain. One of the two periods I’ve retrieved happened right after a vacation visiting my boyfriend in Winnipeg, in which I ate big meals, ice cream, lots of healthy fats– and de-stressed and de-overwhelmed my usually go-go-go body. So vital. And what does that tell ya?
Minnie Maud is a controversial recovery form, and I know that my body is still in the process of physically recovering from the disorders because of the absence of my period, and that I still want to gain a bit more weight (although I’m not clinically underweight anymore!). I plan to write a lengthier post when this happens, but for now, I want to highlight the vital importance of adequate amounts of food for physically and mental recovery, the dangers of energy deficits, and the vitality of the matter that, if someone is going to physically recover from anorexia on their own, they must be mentally capable of recognizing that their body is in a deficit and needs extra food.
Think of it this way:
If a person who has never had an eating disorder eats only one meal in a day, forgetting to eat or without food available, they will be ravenous the next day, and probably eat extra. When a person suffers from a restrictive eating disorder for a long time, they both physically and mentally lose hunger signals, but that does not mean that the hunger and damage is not there. Therefore, the person has months/years of energy deficits to make up for, thus needing extra calories.
I am always open to answering questions about this journey, because, while it is no longer the focus of my blog, I feel that the purpose this disorder had in my life was that this story might impact or help someone else out there.
Jesus is the miracle behind my healing, and I do believe I’m physically getting there, too.