Rachel is a Dietitian in London. Below, she discusses why you might not feel hunger at mealtimes, and how you can work to overcome it…
The journey to eating intuitively and giving full permission to eat in recovery from an eating disorder is often a long and complicated path. Reconnecting and learning to listen to hunger and fullness cues doesn’t come naturally when disordered rituals have previously – or continue to – get in the way.
This is made evermore difficult by the physiological changes that occur from eating disorders. In response to a restrictive intake, the digestive system generally slows down the transit of food from the stomach to the intestines and again through the colon. This can lead to a feeling of early fullness and also constipation, as the system is holding onto the food for longer than normal.
In addition, the level of some appetite hormones change, meaning that hunger signals aren’t felt as strongly as normal which then leads to a decreased appetite. All of these changes can make recovery more difficult, because physical hunger isn’t always recognisable at meal times and this can then reinforce the eating disorder voice of not needing to eat.
At this stage, however, it is really important to challenge this, and to eat at meal times with an appropriate portion size – despite not necessarily feeling hungry.
Fairly early on into eating a meal, the body soma online produces digestive enzymes which may stimulate an appetite and cause hunger that wasn’t felt before, which can make eating easier. We also know that the physiological changes caused by an eating disorder reverse once normal eating resumes and weight is restored. This can, therefore, be a motivator for pushing through this stage, as the ability to eat intuitively – recognising hunger and fullness cues – improves further along recovery.
Drawing from Belle’s previous post about reframing thoughts, a helpful way to push through not feeling hungry could be; “even though I don’t feel physically hungry I know that I need to nourish my body” or “I don’t necessarily feel the need to eat now but I would like to enjoy the taste and texture of this food”.
So although hunger isn’t always felt in an obvious way, it’s important to continue nourishing the body and pushing through that barrier to move further along the recovery journey. Once further along, it is easier to eat intuitively as feeling full occurs at a more natural time and hunger signals are restored to normal strength.
Read more about Nutritional Therapy at The Recover Clinic…
- Read our client’s blog on her journey and relationship with food
- Find out about the nutritional services available at the clinics
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