At first glance it might seem that I am just a happy, normal girl who loves to bake and walk her dog. However, I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13. It was only in May 2014 when I realised that this Voice in my head was slowly but surely trying to kill me. And so began the long, hard, and painful journey which is recovery...

I want My Cocoa Stained Apron to be a special place...a place for reflection, memories, shared stories...and of course a little bit of cocoa-staining ;) Recovery might be the hardest thing you ever choose to do in this life. But it is also the bravest and best decision you will ever make.:)

Friday, 2 June 2017

Food on the Brain...

                                No matter what I do, no matter where I go...
                                Those thoughts  are there with me...

In my latest post I talked alot about my loneliness and how this constitutes one of the most difficult challenges in my recovery.

I want next to address this obstacle head on and outline how I hope to fight and overcome this loneliness. But before we move on there's another issue which I wanted to post on here, and which I thought might be relevant for others.

That being the extreme hunger, again - or maybe, to put it in more precise terms, the never ending thoughts of food and constant preoccupation, even when you feel physically full. I've heard it termed before as "mental hunger". You just can't stop thinking about food.

I'm still struggling with this. Not all of the time - it's by far worse in the mornings - but every day I experience it and it's beginning to make me wonder as to whether there's something not quite right here.

Ok, here's a quick recap on where I am at in terms of the "physical" side of things. If we were to go by terms of bmis and all that, I'm weight restored. The last time I checked it - about two weeks ago, at a guess; I am trying my utmost best to avoid those hateful blue scales as much as possible - I had reached the "healthy" 19 mark.

So in the eyes of some medical professionals, I guess, I am now officially healthy. But am I?

But yet there I was this morning, sitting writing to you, and as I wrote my head had felt awash with rippling tides of anxiety. That being because it was only 10 am, and I had already eaten both breakfast and all of my morning snacks. My stomach was bloated and full; as it constantly seems to be, these days. I am forever wearing yoga pants and loose shorts so I do not have to look at it.

And yet I still -

wanted -


Beside me were all the plates and bowls and spoons which had held the foods I had just consumed. Two bowls of cereal, some cheese, a boiled egg and half a bagel with seeds on it. Over two tablespoons of peanut butter, and another piece of toast, then some nuts and a banana. All in the space of three hours.

I'm not going to pretend that this doesn't bother me, because it does. Not just the quantity of food in itself; eaten so quickly, as if I have just come through a four season famine. It's the fact that I wanted - and still want - more. After finally finishing my last cashew, I had sat for ages, poking at the jar of peanut butter with a spoon, longing more than anything to just dive in and take another heavenly mouthful and relish that sweet, chewy deliciousness for yet another time. But the very thought of doing so repulsed me. How could you even consider..? The cruel voice screamed, outraged. You greedy...little...!!

Finally, frustrated and upset, I shoved the whole lot away from me and buried myself away with my laptop, desperate to ward away the thoughts which hover in the background like stubborn flies looking for a space upon which to land.

Why do I feel like this? Wasn't extreme hunger supposed to end on being weight restored?

It doesn't matter how many times I attempt to swat those thoughts away, try to escape them by taking cover. They always find me, and settle upon my shoulders, buzzing cruel laughter in my ears. I'm scared. Very scared. And confused; oh so, confused. What's going on?

Is it because I am not yet at a weight which is healthy for my body - that that "golden number" of 19 (according to them) is in fact too low for a girl who has been underweight for half her life? Could it be possible then that I have more weight to gain and that I should give into these cravings and hunger as much as possible?

Or is it more because...because, I am obsessed with food? On the brink of a binge disorder? Or is there no logical explanation? I'd do anything to have an answer.

Since reaching this "healthy " weight, I have still managed relatively well to not drastically reduce my intake. There's been a few tiny changes, of course. I knew that there would be. The two pieces of toast and half a bagel became just one piece along with the bagel half; the handfuls of nuts became that little bit smaller, the cereal bowls a kinch less generous.

But overall I have been doing ok. But still these thoughts remain. And how I long to be rid of them.

So I decided that my best option was, as it is in most instances, to reach out. 💙

I wondered if there is anyone out there who has experienced this, or is currently experiencing it. I really hope you don't mind me directly appealing for your help, but in the past your support has been indispensable to me, and I hope so much you would be able to help me out another time. Thank you so very, very much and I hope that soon I can move on to actually grappling and tackling these porblmes instead of just talking about them!!💪

And tomorrow, yes, I shall step on them scales. Only once. Just to check it and see what it is, how I am doing. Then they will be put away again for another two weeks; put under the bed with all the other trash that I don't really want; stuff that I don't have any use for, anymore. Because the day will come when those scales will be like that stuff too. Something that I no longer have any use for.

The day that I am recovered.💪


  1. Well done for reaching bmi 19, you are so strong and your courage and bravery to keep moving forward is inspiring!

    I am a long way from recovered currently but during afew attempts I have also experienced this extreme hunger. I can relate to how you're feeling right now because I have researched the topic so much and talked to people who have followed the hunger and given in to it and others who have been able to ignore it.. it's hard to know which option is best though..
    I have followed the hunger during recovery attempts sometimes and of course all the food tastes fantastic and I have ended some days on 7400 calories, for me following the hunger as often as it comes has always led to a very intense feeling of guilt and disgust (dispute the bloat, I do however feel more mentally alert) in the coming days and especially once I give in and weigh myself, that's when things go bad and I restrict back to my starting weight..
    If I try to ignore it I find the hunger becomes far more intense unless I start restricting again. Knowing that I'll experience extreme hunger during in recovery is one of the main reasons that I'm unfortunately unable to commit properly to recovery..

    I have read articles written by others though that have followed the hunger and despite eating such large amounts (some up to 10,000 calories some days) say that following that hunger made them feel so much more free from their eating disorder and allowed them to make a full recovery despite a faster weight gain.

    I suppose that everyone's experience is different and following the hunger helps some people and others it doesn't.. I can't tell you what you should do or what will be best for you but it is quite possible that you haven't yet reached a healthy weight for YOU. Bmi 19 is certainly a huge achievement but it's very rare for someone to have a bmi that is naturally that low.
    Perhaps you could just start by increasing your calories a little more again? Have the extra piece of toast?
    Maybe it'd be okay to eat more some days?

    It's your choice how you deal with this and I hope you find a way that works for you. All the best x

    1. Thank you so very, very much for writing to me - and for taking the time to do so, too, I really, really appreciate it <3

      It touched me very much to read your story, and I was so sad to read that your fear of extreme hunger is gravely affecting your motivation to recover - I beg you not to let it. Extreme hunger IS very scary, but when you are underweight and need to gain to be healthy, it isn't necessarily a bad thing!

      You see, the underweight body's priority is to gain, so it is going to do everything it has in its power to eat as much food as possible. And it is true that a malnourished body needs loads and loads of food! In my experience, when I was underweight, I tried to give in to it as much as possible. it was very hard, though, I understand that. But could you perhaps not "compromise" if that makes sense - ie, eat alot, more than you are comfortable with, perhaps, but not so much that you are going to make your anxiety levels shoot through the roof? This is what I did; maybe it wil work for you too?

      And as regards my own situation...this is when it gets trickier. Because as I mentioned above I'm no longer underweight. But is this "extreme hunger" there for a reason? You are so right - 19 is, well, the lower end of the healthy bmi range. And no matter what ED says...there is absolutely no guarantee at all that that "magic number" is the ideal one for me either.

      I'm going to just do it, I think..increase the calories a little bit more again, and follow my own advice I suppose - eat a bit more when I can, not so much I will experience a huge amount of anxiety , but still a good bit more which will hopefully make a positive difference! :)

      Thank you so much again, I appreciate your help very much. <3 xxx

    2. Thank you for your reply and your advice.

      What you say makes sense, I could try to eat extra without going so overboard that my anxiety become so high. When I have tried I either seem to end up excessively exercising to burn it all off or I do end up binging (kind of like black and white thinking) and then my eating disorder says 'well, this is what happens when you decide to eat more and you know you can't eat that much without getting fat' and then the restriction begins again. Maybe I don't really try hard enough or am not motivated enough and I use this as an excuse to put off recovery?

      Perhaps you may not be 'underweight' in the opinion of professionals but it is likely that you are underweight for you?
      I know that for me, my natural bmi is about 23 (I am a naturally bigger bigger person) which is another thing I need to work hard to except.

      Well done for making that decision, I think it will be for the best.

      Thank you so much for your advice also xxx

    3. Aw please don't thank me, I just really want to help in every possible way I can, I can really relate to how you feel and I know just how tough this part of recovery can be.

      Well, reading your've clearly identified what the Voice is saying, but what you need to do now is to try and recognise its words for what they really are - lies. Remember, these are thoughts of your own making, not facts.. the Voice is in fact nothing more than a product of our own heads.
      Because that Voice is wrong, so, so wrong - you CAN and should eat "that much" and more, and you won't be getting fat - you will be becoming healthier, stronger, and will no longer be so weak you can barely function. Think of all the pluses in choosing recovery and having a healthier body..the list is endless. There is nothing left for either of us to remain with ED. He very nearly took away everything I had - please remember just what this disease has the potential to do to you, if you continue to let it win.

      I agree with you entirely..I think it will be better for me if I go beyond the 19, if I can. I know it will be very tough but I have done tough things before...
      thank you so much, take care and good luck! xxx

  2. My dear Emmy,
    I want so much to reach out to you. I AM recovered -- truly, but it took such a long time and so many mistakes. I cannot tell you how to do it perfectly, because I DIDN'T, but I can tell you about how I felt and things I would do differently, about roads not to take, and roads to try out.
    1. Yes, what you are feeling is totally normal! Can it not be BOTH physical AND mental hunger? I am very sceptical of the idea that 19 is suddenly magically healthy. (Have you read Emily Troscianko's posts on Psychology Today?) I think the body needs to keep gaining long, long after that. Eventually it settles, to actually recover, you have to let the body take over on this. You have to learn to trust it. You have to let go of trying to control it. That is mental and physical recovery. It doesn't happen overnight. But eventually one learns one can trust one's body, and let go. It is not your job to monitor your weight -- it is your body's job! :-) x <3
    So, to your question about whether 19 is too low for a girl who has been underweight half her life. My hunch is very probably yes, and especially so at this stage of recovery.
    2. In answer to your question about are you on the verge of a binge disorder. I think this is more to do with the mental side and how you respond in the situation you are in now. If one "gives up", if one gives in to the darkness of how it makes you feel and just lets go because it all hurts so much you may as well feel awful by eating ... then yes, it just gets blacker. I have been there, I struggled with this for years. Yes, it can happen.
    So, to some extent I am exploring the road not taken in making suggestions and looking back. But eventually one gets around to the same place anyway.
    Control is not the right answer, if that means rigidly trying to keep control over all that you eat and all that you weigh. It won't fix AN, or any other ED. It may be necessary for a while longer if you are too scared to go beyond that, if you may end up restricting, but you need to let your body have the extra weight.
    The opposite extreme is total lack of control -- binging.
    The road not taken? I think it is partly physical: keep regular mealtimes and regular amounts of food. And it is partly mental: keep your sense of what is good in the right place -- keep it away from ED who infects it, and keep recognising that when you eat more and respect your body, that that is GOOD, not bad.
    Binging is in part giving in to ED -- it is like saying yes it is bad to eat all this and I feel bad and I am bad so I'll just eat it all because it is a whole lot easier. Keep recognising and rewarding and praising yourself for the GOOD and the truth and beauty of where you are heading -- not measured in body or food or weight but in life and smiles and happiness, and in the real Emmy.
    3. Mental recovery. Don't forget that part of getting better is learning to cope with mess. It is learning to cope with making mistakes, and getting it wrong, and still getting up and trying again. You have done this with AN, lots of times. Recovery keeps on being like that. If you were ever to binge (and you need not, but if you did), it is not the end of the world. Remember the child in you, and give her a smile of compassion, and let her grow, and fall, and grow.
    Lots of love, <3. I think you are doing brilliantly, x.

    1. Words can't even begin to describe how much your comment meant to me - thank you so much for sharing with me your advice and insight. It really was so helpful <3

      And I so needed to read those words..deep down, I truly don't believe that a bmi of 19 is ideal for someone who has had anorexia for 12 years. Indeed I remember all too well (though ED does try to make me conveniently forget), my old consultant's parting words to me - she maintained that, due to the severity of my osteoporosis, a bmi of at least 20 would be best for me. At the time I wouldn't hear a word of it..but now I think differently..

      And the binging..I don't think - I really hope not anyway - that I will. I know myself...I have a good bit of self-control, perhaps too much so, in one sense. I just hate this constant longing to eat and the uncertainty as to whether to follow it or not. But I am going to try very hard to find a middle ground. Ok, have another tablespoon of peanut butter, perhaps - but not ten!! And I know, even though I look "recovered" on the outside, there's no telling what remains to be healed on the inside in terms of organs, bones etc.

      Aww, thank you so much for your words, they really did speak to my very soul..I fully intend to take your advice very much to heart! :) Thank you ever so much!! :) xxx

    2. My dear Emily,
      I am so glad....
      I wrote quickly yesterday, I was rushing to something else, I just felt so moved to respond to yours, but naturally have been thinking ever since of all the things I didn't say, all the concerns for you, hopes for you, etc etc. I don't want to overload it, overdo it, I know you have to find your own way. You have such grace, and I just pray for your continued wisdom and strength in following the scent through to full recovery, ie freedom and life and the joy that is.
      There is so much more I want to say, but I am mindful that I already said much, and I guess there will be other chances, perhaps it is better to let things rest now.
      Bless you, and every grace for you in this path, x.

    3. thank you so much, I am so touch what you wrote here and above <3 Bless you too and take care <3 xxx

  3. Hi Emmy, I would stop worrying. From other information about extreme hunger I have read what you are now going through is entirely normal. And theres no guarantee that although you are now weight restored that this is in fact your natural healthy weight, you may find you need to gain a little more so your body feels "safe". Your body needs to find its set point - the weight it feels safe and healthy at, so don`t deny yourself the extra food. Listen to your body, if it says you need to eat, then eat! If however you know you are eating out of boredom then find ways to distract yourself. its all about listening to your body and knowing what is right for you.
    I understand that it is scary. Although I am still in recovery and not weight restored I have found that my hunger cues just aren't there, I have to eat my meals because its time, not because I am hungry. But what has been happening lately is that although I`m not hungry and not really interested in eating when I first sit down to a meal once I start to eat I don`t want the food to end. This scared me and I too worried about binge disorder - would I go on to develop it, would I loose control over how much I ate. But apparently this is not the case. What I am experiencing is normal after my body has been deprived of food for so long, I just need to trust it.
    If you ever read/have read Izzys blog she has written a lot on extreme hunger so maybe its worth you looking at past posts on there or even messaging izzy herself and asking her advice?
    I think you have done so well to get where you are now so all credit to you for all your hard work!
    Think about having a look at izzys blog, there is a wealth of information on there and it has helped me so many times in the past.
    Take care xxx

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and for all your advice..I appreciate so much you taking the time to write to me. Every comment really does mean ever such alot <3
      I agree entirely...given the length of time I've been ill, I think it would be in my best interests to ensure I'm not at the lower end of the healthy bmi range. I don't want to get "stuck" on a certain number/bmi either. My aim really I suppose is to be at the weight which my body is most healthy at, and which my periods will finally come..I know it will be very hard and scary, though, and of course there's so many unanswered questions at this stage: exactly how much to eat, how much exercise is "ok", and so on. :(
      I do find it very hard to distinguish between actual hunger or just eating because of emotions..I never really feel hungry, I'm just bloated all the time but in the mornings there is this intense craving for food, as I described above. It's very frightening and very hard to know whether to follow these cravings or not..
      Your experience sounds very like my own - I get that too! But you are right..we have restricted for so long that we both have alot of "catching up" to do. And I just need to remember that, too, even being weight restored. I don't know what remains to be healed inside, after all I guess. I think the best thing we could both do would be to eat well and plenty.
      Definitely that's a great idea, I really love Izzy's blog too, it is such a wealth of helpful information.
      Take care too and wishing you all the luck in the world in your recovery journey. xxx