Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Nutrition Review

Well, I did keep the appointment with that nutritionist that I mentioned last week. Basically I was too indecisive and didn't make up my mind soon enough to cancel it, so I went. Aaaaand.....she was okay. I have mixed feelings, but overall I think I came out of it with a pretty healthy sense of which recommendations to take away and which ones to ignore.

The Good: She seemed to have pretty holistic, well-rounded ideas about general nutrition. Whereas J used to basically just say EAT FOOD ANY FOOD OKAY BYE at every single appointment, New Nutritionist definitely took a more focused approach. (To be fair, I was underweight throughout the whole period that I saw J, and am not anymore.) After talking about my history and looking at a typical day of food for me, Nutritionist concluded that my diet is majorly lacking in fats. As in, I'm not even coming close to the recommended daily percentage. I don't have any particular aversion to fats themselves, although I still have this tendency to get the most volume of food for my calorie-buck, which leads to loading up on a lot of veggies and protein—not exactly conducive to incorporating high-fat (and therefore calorie-dense) foods. Once we established that pattern, Nutritionist pointed out a lot of opportunities for me to substitute higher fat options to help regulate my whacked-out system (your body needs fat to produce hormones!) and keep my hunger in check.

girl was ALL about the nutz

The Questionable: I got the impression that Nutritionist was very very very concerned about creating the Perfect Diet. For example, when we were discussing possible fat sources, she got super nit-picky about plant vs. animal sources. Um, I don't know about you, but I don't really give a shiz about whether my fat comes from yogurt or nuts. And for a recovering anorexic, that doesn't seem like a distinction we should be worrying about. She also had major qualms with processed foods; I don't eat a ton of them, but am definitely no Puritan about the issue. Luna or Clif bars are a pretty common snack for me, but Nutritionist was definitely Anti-Bar, and wanted me to start packing nuts, cheese and crackers, fruits with peanut butter, etc. for snacks instead. I'm sure the "whole, non-processed food" thing is indeed theoretically healthier, but not always feasible when I'm running around campus ten hours a day and need something easy to toss in my backpack. I also mentioned at one point that my grandmother had had Type II diabetes, and Nutritionist launched into a lecture about sugar intake and insulin production and yada yada yada. I had to put the lid on that one because while I have no degree in nutritional science, I assure you that my sugar intake is nowhere near excessive.

Luna bars

The Bad: Calories. I told her the number I eat every day, which even I know probably isn't sufficient. My biggest concern was that I'm eating this lowish amount, exercising, and still slowly gaining weight. J used to say that was because my metabolism was sluggish and that the only solution was to eat more—of course that was scary for me to trust, but it makes sense. Basically, Nutritionist said that my caloric intake was fine; that I should maybe increase eventually, but focus for the time being on swapping out stuff for higher fat options. I brought up the possibility of increasing calories a few times, and she sort of shrugged it off as unnecessary.

New Nutritionist definitely had some positives to offer, but I'm not going to take her word as gospel. And probably won't be seeing her again, although may check in periodically via e-mail. I am coming to the conclusion that my current weight gain (again, veeerrrrry slow but of course still freaking me out) is a combination of post-anorexia internal recovery happening with my bones, organs, cells, etc.; water-weight/muscle-building from resuming exercise; medications (I'm on a couple different ones, so who knows what effect/interactions could be happening); and funky hormonal action. Plus, who knows what the heck is going on with my body after the hell it's been through over the past few years?

My plan of action from here on out is going to be: increase fat and calories, keep up with the exercise in moderation, continue the hormone treatments from Dr. A to hopefully take care of this damn pain, and hopefully maintain my sanity in the process. I may need to accept the fact that the last time I was really at a healthy weight, eating regularly, and not being an anorexic FREAK was at 16 or 17 years old, and my body just may naturally want to be at a higher weight now that I'm 22. It's kind of hard to come to grips with the fact that I may need to be a higher weight for a while (and of course, by higher I just mean "higher than what I'm used to"—my BMI is still lowish-normal. Perspective...), but I so badly want to be healthy, to graduate from college, to go to graduate school next year, and finally leave all this crap in the dust.


  1. Glad you're probably not going to keep seeing that nutritionist. I would run for the hills :-)

    I didn't reach full recovery until I completely eliminated the idea of a perfect diet. I don't even aim for a particularly healthy diet these days - my only goal is to eat a broad diet, and as long as my autoimmune and GI symptoms don't return (and as long as I continue to feel strong and healthy), I'm going to stick with it. I must admit that I sometimes (fortunately, this is only very occasionally) feel a wave of panic overcome me when I read about some new research indicating that I should never eat a particular food, or should eat more of something else, or should be doing x minutes of exercise a day ...but then I remind myself that dietary and exercise recommendations have changed drastically over the years, that statistics can be heavily massaged to lead to a desired conclusion, and that there is a solid body of research supporting the Health At Every Size philosophy. I have made the decision to completely ignore dietary and exercise recommendations/research for the next five years, at which point I will re-evaluate.

    Your last paragraph is full of wisdom - I hope you can remember it when anxiety strikes. I wish you the best of luck - I continue to cheer for you from my little corner of the world.


  2. Like Elizabeth mentioned, I loved your last paragraph. It reflects such a healthy mindset and attitude, and it sounds like you're so very committed to doing whatever is necessary for complete health. Yay!

    The "bad" and "questionable" do sound suspect, so I'm glad you categorized them as such. I understand her anti-processed-food mentality, but I agree with you that whatever the source, nutrients are nutrients. Also, I have to remind myself of this a lot--what am I most likely to continue packing for myself to bring with me as lunch/snacks? If something starts to seem like a hassle or inconvenience, it's unlikely that I'll keep up with it as regularly as something like a Clif bar (which are super tasty!). Would checking in with J help also? Maybe via e-mail, just to help keep yourself continuing to move forward?

    Your action plan sounds excellent, and I have no doubt that all of the things that you want for yourself (and even more awesome stuff!) will happen!

  3. I haven't kept up with blogs lately (sorry! school is chaotic) so I haven't read everything, but as to the weight gain: TOTALLY get that. and i just wanted to let you know that it's completely normal, and i went through it as well... scary as hell, but its just the post-anorexia thing where your body doesn't know wtf to do and how to adjust. i way overshot my target weight when i was in treatment last summer, and i freaked the f out. its just one of those things you have to tolerate for a while, and it WILL come back down (i had this notion in my head that i would be the exception/i would keep gaining and gaining). but after six months to a year, your body regulates itself and it finds it set point. patience :)

  4. Egads. Glad you're not going to go back to her and even more glad that you were able to see that situation for what it is and not let your ED run with what she was telling you about "healthy eating." That's such progress!

    If you still decide not to go back to J, at least try to find a dietitian with extensive experience with EDs. My own dietitian is all like, "Eat white bread! Eat poptarts! Eat everything!"

    Also, crazy proud of your acceptance into grad school - you deserve it!


  5. My favorite on the go fast paced college lifestyle snack: on the weekend I will make a tupperware container of various nuts & seeds, dried cranberries, and dark chocolate chips. I couldn't make it through the day without this!

    <3 Melissa