One of the things you need to be prepared for when you start eating foods again is bloating! As I sit here, I am holding about 8 kittens in my stomach area.
Eh, kittens? P and I measure the size of my stomach in number of kittens to make it feel better!
Anyway, when you have been on a very restricted diet for several months or years and you lose a lot of weight like I did (almost 3 years on 20 foods, heading for a size 6), your body is really going to know about it when you start eating again!
You have basically been literally starving – poor macro and micro nutrient levels mean body systems slow down and you become very cold, fatigued, bony, periods stop or become erratic etc.
I began to think of it a bit akin to how anorexics must feel and suffer. And, as it turned out, my PTSD-triggered hypersensitivity was a form of eating disorder I think although I hesitate to call it that; probably more ‘disordered eating’, although I am not certain what the difference is. In fact, I overheard P telling someone how much better I was the other day and when they asked what it was, he said ‘a bit like an eating disorder’so it is clearly a kind of shorthand for what happened, an easy way to explain it, even if that wasn’t quite it as it started with a purely physiological TGF problem to gluten.
Anyway, yesterday someone liked the post I did When Will I Get Better? and I followed their blog as I often do. The top post was on recovery bloating no less and resonated with exactly how I am feeling! Have a read here:
As you’ll see if you read that, the author talks about the inevitability of the body bloating when you start eating properly again. And, wisely, advises not to let it throw you back into disordered-eating thinking patterns.
I confess, a part of me has body dysmorphia – we discovered this in treatment – and this bloating has certainly made me think abut stopping eating again or at least consider cutting things out again to stop the bloat and fat feeling. This is not good! I am never going there again but it IS hard to deal with the bloating and weight gain, which happens so quickly, that it is quite normal to wobble a bit (in more ways than one!), but if we are aware it will probably happen, we can be ready for it and have a cognitive way of thinking about it ready.
For me, as a nutritionist, this is how I justify it to stop myself slipping back: ‘well, what did you think was going to happen when you reintroduced food? You needed to put weight on and you are doing. Your body doesn’t trust that it is going to get food now and has to re-learn to trust you. In the meantime, it is going to hang on to every bit of nutrient you are giving it. And when you put more food in, the gut flora is bound to change, you won’t have enough stomach acid or enzyme production to cope so OF COURSE your gut is going to struggle. Dur..!” etc etc.
That is exactly how my mind is working currently. I wanted to share it with you so you’ll be ready for it too when you start eating more foods again. Give your body – and mind – a chance to adapt and find its level. I anticipate it will take a good few months and will happen each time I put a major food group back in. And, now I can tolerate supplements again, I shall support my digestion, gut flora, vits and mins more speedily.
In essence, today’s lesson is: Bloating and weight gain will happen until the body finds its level again. Don’t let it faze you.
I need to listen to my own advice 😉