"If you had to wear skirts, pants, or dresses the rest of your life, what would you chose? What was your favorite subject in grade school? What is your favorite memory from growing up? What is your eye color? Do you prefer your hair straight or curled? Would you ever get a tattoo? Favorite time of the year? Anything exciting coming up in your life? Favorite dog breed?" With love, Anonymous.
I would absolutely wear dresses for the rest of my life. In fact, it would be a life goal rather than a restriction!
My favorite grade school subject was reading.
My eyes are brown.
My hair is naturally wavy, which is how I prefer it.
I am not sure if I’d ever get a tattoo, but if I did it would be an Andrea Gibson quote: “It hurts to become”
I love spring.
I’m going to the Boston Calling music festival, which should be amazing.
My favorite dogs are goldens.
"where is your favorite place to go for a walk in each of the seasons? Does it change?" With love, Anonymous.
I like to walk in the city or in the woods in Vermont in the winter. There’s an old snow-covered cemetery that I walk to with my best friend A. In the spring anywhere will do. Especially grassy areas with trees where I can wander to a cafe or lie down and read. Spring in Lake Forest was one of my favorite times to walk. In the summer I like to walk to the beach, if there’s one nearby. Otherwise I walk to wherever I can get ice cream! Fall is a favorite. I grew up in a house that bordered a forest in Maryland and the forest is full of tiny bike trails that are surrounded by trees.
"if you could be an animal, what animal would you be?" With love, Anonymous.
I would most certainly be a cat. I’m adverse to water and love to curl up and nap in sunspots.
"favorite color? favorite song currently? favorite book? what's something fun you did recently? C:" With love, Anonymous.
Favorite colors are probably teal or emerald.
I’m really into Riptide by Vance Joy
Favorite books are all YA series because I’m totally a grown-up: Harry Potter, The Abhorsen Trilogy, and His Dark Materials
Something fun I did recently… It’s not thrilling but I had a friend over for wine and cheese in my apartment.
I’m a bit confused by the question here. Which study and how are people who are malnourished healthy individuals? It is undisputed that folks who have eating disorders have higher depression scores. Could you explain what you’re asking?
"Can you explain Minnie Maud a bit? You had a post about it a while ago and I'm curious as what the approach of it is." With love, Anonymous.
Hello! I think you asked me this before. I’ve been waiting until I had a good chunk of time to answer so I could make sure to do my research and get my facts right. I’m certainly not an expert on these things and a lot of folks know a lot better than I do but I am a biologist, so I’ll do my best to explain without bias one way or another.
Minnie Maud is a set of guidelines for recovery that have been proposed by a treatment advocate named Gwyneth Olwyn at YourEatopia based on scientific information about recovery and nutrition. All articles about it can be found on that site, as well as other scientific information about recovery. It’s called Minnie after the Minnesota Starvation experiment, which gives us much of the scientific information about the biology of starvation and recovery from starvation that we have today, and Maud after the Maudsley Method, a highly evidence-based treatment protocol for eating disorders that focuses on family based treatment.
Although the author is not a dietician, she compiles many scientific articles and draws conclusions in the form of guidelines. As a biologist, I tend to think that most of her posts are drawing solid conclusions from the literature, but keep in mind that all of this is not yet widely implemented.
Here are the three main principles, although many people focus primarily on the first one as the most important biologically and psychologically:
1. Eat the minimum intake for your height, age and sex every single day. It’s a minimum intake and you are both encouraged and expected to eat more. Never restrict food intake.
2. No weighing yourself or measuring yourself. Get forgiving stretchy clothing. Relapse is common if you watch the needle on the scale.
3. No exercise. I address what is meant by this in these posts: Exercise As A Way To Restrict? You Bet and Insidious Activity.
The intake levels that are proposed may surprise many people because we are often told that much lower levels are appropriate. To avoid posting calories, here’s a link to the guidelines for calorie intake— just scroll to the bottom of the page. It’s important to remember that refeeding can be dangerous for some folks and recovery should be overseen by health professionals. Some guidelines for how to get up to this calorie level healthily are here. Another reminder is that most recommendations that you hear have been developed based on self-reporting of what people eat, and most people without restrictive eating disorders under-report the amount that they eat, especially because there is cultural pressure to do so. People are eating more than you think and you need to eat more than you think.
Minnie Maud cites that many of the psychological symptoms of eating disorders, such as preoccupation with food, anxiety, and depression are directly reflective of inadequate nutrition. This has been shown to occur in healthy individuals who are underfed for a period of time. It also proposes that people who have been put on a recovery weight gain meal plan that is too low often do not complete the physical recovery process. They don’t get enough steady nutrition to reach and maintain at their body’s actual set point (which is often above BMI 20). They also do not get enough extra nutrition to repair the cellular damage that has been done through restriction. Your body needs extra energy in order to complete the maintenance on your organs and tissues that it had to neglect in order to keep more essential functions going. This insufficient nutrition can cause individuals at “normal” weights to still experience the physical effects of starvation such as fatigue, cold extremities, anemia, loss of menstrual periods, dull skin and hair, etc. Minnie Maud argues that failing to provide someone with an adequate nutritional goal or getting them to their actual set point leads to an incomplete recovery, where many symptoms may still be present.
Trying Minnie Maud can be a huggeeee shift for a lot of folks because it is very contrary to a lot of what treatment professionals do and it might seem like a lot of food. You owe it to yourself to provide yourself with the best possible chance to be happy and recovered. It’s a way to refuse to live the rest of your life with any limitations.
"did you had a relapse when you were older or do you have anorexia since you're 14? but can someone survive that long? You dont have to answer if you dont want to talk about it xx" With love, Anonymous.
I relapsed when I was 20, so there were a lot of non-anorexia years in there. I’ve been in a medley of relapse/recovery/lapse/relapse/recovery/etc. for the past 3 years. However, some people definitely survive that long with anorexia. I’ve met a number of people who have. It’s a really sad way to live.
"Im 14 and i have ednos how do i stay on the path to recovery? I keep failing" With love, Anonymous.
Since I’m not sure of you’re exact situation, I’ll give you pretty much what I wish I would have been told when I was 14 and in recovery.
- The biggest piece of advice I would give to you is reach out. Eating disorders love isolation and secrecy. I’m not sure where you are in the recovery process in terms of getting treatment. If you haven’t told your parents, try to find a way to tell them. If that seems daunting, get in touch with your guidance counselor or school psychologist. If people aren’t helping you, try to keep reaching out until someone does. It can be hard for parents to understand things like EDNOS, so sometimes having a professional explain it to them is very helpful. Building a support network of friends, adults, and professionals who are there for you lets you lean on them emotionally and also helps keep you accountable.
- Try not to lie. Even when it seems benign, even when it just seems easier, even when you feel like you can’t doing what’s being asked of you. It’s much better to tell the truth, even if you have to admit something like throwing away a lunch, because it addresses things that could be changed and doesn’t foster the lies that can get out of control and keep you sick.
- Set achievable goals and reward yourself for meeting them. If your parents are supportive, you can ask for their help on this. For example, if you follow your meal plan completely for one week, you could get yourself a charm for a charm bracelet or if you go for a week without purging you could ask your parents to take you and a friend to see a museum. Focus on rewarding and celebrating your progress.
- Practice self-compassion. Don’t beat yourself up about “failing” at recovery. It’s extremely hard! Self-hate or blame for messing up are destructive to your recovery because eating disorders are fueled by those emotions. Try to feel compassion for the part of yourself that is hurting so much that you feel the need to use these behaviors.
- Remember that the person you are now and the life you have now are very different from the person you’ll get to chose to be and the life you’ll get to chose to have 5 or 10 years down the line. You’re recovering to get to live that life. Even if things suck right now, it does get better and they won’t be this way forever. That life is what you’re fighting for.
- This might be the hardest thing you have to do in your life, but then you’re a teenager who has already conquered their biggest foe. You can really get through anything at that point.
"Just wanted to say how much I love the authenticity of your blog. I'm on the (stinkin' hard) road to recovery, and it's great having a blog like this to read every now and then when I need some inspiration. Keep on keepin' on--you don't know how much you've helped! xox" With love, Anonymous.
Aw, thanks so much hon! I really appreciate messages like this and I’m so honored to provide inspiration to anyone. Best of wishes on your road to recovery <3
"think I have dermatillomania. I've picked the skin on the bottoms of my feet since i was about 4, but recently i've started picking skin from my head to the point where it bleeds and i'm going bald. I've been told i have anxiety issues by doctors in the past but that was disregarded and 9 years ago, i'm going back soon but i'm worried they'll tell me i'm just being stupid or treat me for some skin condition when the skin used to be healthy, they're quite old fashioned about mental illness." With love, Anonymous.
I can understand why you would be anxious about speaking to a new doctor after having been wrongly dismissed in the past and it’s very brave that you’re seeking help now. It definitely sounds like you’ve got something going on in terms of dermatillomania or trichotillomania that is worth seeing a doctor about (the two tend to coexist quite frequently). I think it might be helpful to bring them some information about trichotillomania and dermatillomania so that they can familiarize themselves. Here’s a link to one resource for doctors.
A psychologist might be better equipped to treat you in the longer term. These conditions tend to respond well to cognitive behavioral therapy. Perhaps you could ask your doctor for your referral to a psychiatrist or psychologist. If you look into seeing someone who deals with OCD and anxiety disorders, you might find someone with a better understanding. Anxiety and compulsive picking/pulling disorders should definitely not be disregarded by anyone. I’m sorry that it’s taken so long for you to get some help for this. If your doctor doesn’t listen, I hope you can reach out to another professional like a psychologist or psychiatrist. One doctor’s information doesn’t have to prevent you from getting the help you need. I really doubt that they will discount you because it sounds like things are becoming pretty severe. They may be able to give you some creams to prevent infection on the areas that are bad right now, but you need more than just physical support.
Just so you know, I suffered from dermatillomania and trichotillomania pretty severely when I was younger and I am basically free of it entirely at this point, so it’s certainly something that is treatable. Don’t let anyone discount you— you can beat this.
Best wishes <3
"I am having the hardest time trusting the recovery process right now :( I feel like a failure, and I need some serious motivation." With love, Anonymous.
Hey beautiful. I know that it’s really really hard to trust in the process and that your eating disorder will be questioning things every step of the way. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is that your eating disorder will NEVER make you happy. Even if you can’t trust every moment in the fact that recovery will be worth it, there is hope. There’s the chance for happiness with recovery and that just doesn’t exist when you’re stuck in a disorder. A doctor once told me that recovering from my eating disorder was probably going to be the most difficult thing I ever had to do in my life, and that sounds daunting, but it really means that when you conquer this, you can literally do anything. You’re unstoppable.
Recovery is hard and you’re going to have stumbles. Don’t beat yourself up or feel like a failure! It’s normal and the struggle is part of the process. The struggle is the feeling of the eating disorder fighting you and you pushing back against it. Sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t. Over time, the skills you will learn help you win more often, and the more you win, the easier it becomes. Keep with it.
I found that it takes somewhat of a leap of faith to jump into the recovery process. You are taking the leap of faith that recovery holds what is promised- happiness, peace, emotions, relationships, life. Other people know that this is true and have experienced it, but your eating disorder might tell you that this isn’t true for you. Take that leap of faith and chose the hope that’s in recovery over the certainty of unhappiness from your disorder.
"Ugh. I know the feeling. Stay strong, darling, you've been my one inspiration to recover." With love, Anonymous.
(In response to the extreme hunger post)
Thank you so much hon. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through this too. The thing is that I’ve unfortunately done this whole shebang before, so I know that it’ll end if I eat properly on a very consistent basis. It’s a question of getting from here to there. I wish you the absolute best in your recovery and thank you again for your kind message.
"You are beautiful, strong and amazing. You will get through today, this week, this month, this year. I believe in you. You deserve to be happy. You deserve to live a wonderful life." With love, Anonymous.
This is so sweet and inspiring. I’m not sure who takes the time to send such lovely messages but I am so happy that you’re putting such positive energy into the world. I wish you all the best <3
"I have EDONS and no one takes me seriously because it's not anorexia or bulimia. It really upsets me that they think I'm not hurting because I am" With love, Anonymous.
Oh, hon. I’m sorry to hear that you’re hurting so much and I certainly take your pain very seriously. Anyone who thinks that EDNOS is less serious than anorexia or bulimia is seriously misinformed. There are lots of folks on here who have EDNOS or who understand eating disorders and know that eating disorders don’t discriminate when it comes to misery. I know how hard it is for the rest of the world not to understand how much pain you’re in but remember that the pain you experience emotionally is important even outside of a given weight or behavior. Try to get the people closest to you to understand the severity of your pain, and if they don’t let them go. You’re worth taking seriously but you don’t need to prove to the world anything about being sick. If you ever need to reach out to someone, there are many people here who can support you.
"How did you get through those moments in recovery when you just want to throw your hands up in the air and say "I give in, and give up" ? I have been feeling that way alot lately and I just want to know how other people kept going, even when ED is screaming at you to stop." With love, Anonymous.
I feel this way frequently, and I’m sorry to hear that your ED has been screaming at you so much right now. I know that everyone deals with it differently, but mostly I postpone the giving up. I’ve had this feeling frequently enough to know that it will pass as long as I don’t engage it. I say to myself, “Okay, I can give up but not today” and then just keep pushing myself. It almost always passes and I’m left wondering what was so awful that I wanted to give up. You can accept how crappy it feels and how much pain you are in. You don’t need to push the pain away, but you do need to postpone acting on it. The screaming will pass and the more often you don’t give in to its demands, the stronger you’ll get at moving past it. Not sure if this will help, but it’s what I can do to get through those moments. Hope you feel better soon <3