Edema / Water Retention / Swelling - Lasting Longer than a Year in ED/Diet Recovery

Hey, everyone. Kayla here with Damn the Diets :)

Thanks for joining me for another post today.

Today I want to talk about edema, water retention, puffiness, swelling once more!

I talk about this quite a bit on my channel, haven't talked about it in a while. I wanted to bring it up to clear up a couple things just from my point of view because I know that there's been some confusion for some people coming up. Just a disclaimer. Obviously I'm not a doctor, I am a holistic nutritionist if that means anything. So do what you will with this information. This has just been from my experience and the people that I work with one-on-one or in my courses to recover from restrictive dieting, control around food, disordered eating, eating disorders and all of that stuff.

There are some people and some sources out there that are saying that edema, water retention, puffiness, swelling, should only last for a couple weeks or three weeks. And that's it. And if it lasts for any more amount of time, then there's something wrong and it's not recovery and it's not healing. And so you need to like cut carbs or something to get it under control.

First off, I just want to say because you guys know that I struggled with edema and water retention so badly in my recovery. It was one of my number one concerns along with severe constipation and severe digestive issues and disorders, but the edema and the water retention was a major concern of mine that freaked me out if you want to be honest, and I thought that I had kidney failure and heart failure because I couldn't find a lot of information out there on water retention. That's why I like to put out so much information about the water retention because it ended up going away from me, but it wasn't within a couple weeks.

For me, it lasted for a year and a half before it even started to taper, and this is what I see a lot with the people that I work with longterm is that it doesn't go away within a couple of weeks. A lot of this stuff doesn't go away within a couple of weeks. For very few people it could go away quicker, but for a lot of people, these symptoms, the extreme hunger, the bloating, the digestive issues, the cravings, the water retention and the fatigue and all of these things last a lot longer than a couple weeks. And so that's what freaks people out. Is that this stuff can last so long, like a year-and-a-half, two years, what have you. But this is like the reality of real recovery is that it takes time.

I just know that for me, if I would have seen this, because I was researching and like, "I need to learn about this edema and what's wrong with me?" That it must be something terribly wrong and I was diagnosing myself with all of these things. I was even given pills to get rid of it, which only amplified it. Terrible mistake. But people just didn't know what was going on. Diuretics, like medication grade diuretics. And this is the last thing that I needed and what last thing a lot of people needed because they're coming from low salt diets, taking diuretics, low-carb diets, which dehydrates you like ketogenic and all this stuff. Fasting and all of these weird diet manipulations that they do in the name of health or to control their weight or to feel in control of something or to cope with their emotions or for whatever reason. And the last thing they need to do is get rid of the edema.

I mean, for whatever reason your body is holding onto water weight and is swelling up and it's puffy. I talk about it more in detail in other videos. I could link it here, but briefly, the last thing that the body wants is for you to get rid of the water and to get rid of the salt. Start cutting salt here and start taking diuretics there and start sweating more to get rid of it here and start cutting your carbs there and intermittent fasting. No, that's the last thing that you want to do in your recovery if you want to get out of the cycle in the longterm.


I just wanted to say, if I would have heard this advice when I was in pain from my edema because it was very painful for me in my knees, in my ankles, in my fingers, in my face, in my stomach, everywhere. It was really painful. Couldn't even stand on it without it feeling so painful and achy and swollen and tight. Felt like I was going to pop and I was always face checking and checking the mirror to see if it had gone away yet, if I recognize myself again. And so if I would've seen this like, "Oh no, it should only last for two to three weeks, and if not, then there's something wrong." I was all ready thinking that because there wasn't any information. And so if I would've seen that, it would've completely triggered me. And I don't think I would have recovered if I would have taken this advice to start cutting carbs because that's all I was craving, was carbs and sugar and processed forms for that. I don't think I would've recovered if I would have taken this advice.

So if anything, this is kind of just to encourage you to stay on the path you've been doing. If you're starting to question things and you're like seven months in it or 10 months in and year in and it's not easing, the stuff takes a long time typically. And it kept freaking me out because I couldn't find anything on it and I felt like I needed to get things under control because it wasn't healthy. This could not be healthy. I needed to do it, get it under control quicker than my body wanted to let go of it. It was holding on for it for a reason. Maybe because I restricted it for so long. It was deprived, not only of energy but also of hydration and salts, for electrolyte balance and adrenal function and all kinds of things that it's good for. Even digestion.

And so the same thing that it does with the energy, it holds on and it conserves it because it doesn't know if it's going to be starved of it again in the future. So if we've come from deprivation of salts in any way, even salts and hydration and they go hand in hand, then your body wants to hold on to water and salt because it doesn't know if it's going to be deprived of that again in the future. And until it trust that it won't be deprived in the future, it won't trust enough to want to let go of what its lifeline and that's its lifeline. If I would've heard this again, I wouldn't have entered into full recovery and I wouldn't have endured the process as long as it needed to take in order for my body to recover and the length and time that it needed to.

And I know that edema in general is not limited to only from restriction. There are other causes, but we're talking about recovering from dieting, longterm chronic dieting, yoyo dieting, low-salt dieting, fasting, juicing, cleansing, low-carb diets, ketogenic, Atkins, a lot of these diets that just put you in an energy deficit and put you in deprivation of any kind. This edema, this water attention, the puffiness, the swelling, it's unique in your recovery. So when you're going through it from a past of this, it's unique to you what's happening. Compared to someone that maybe has some chronic health issue and they have edema, this is unique.

Obviously you can always go get things checked out, but what a lot of people find is that their blood works perfect. It's even better than where they're coming from. Nothing's wrong. They may tell you that they didn't find anything. So you may have a mental health issue, send you on your way, put you on psychotropic drugs and call it a day because this stuff in recovery is very under-researched and misunderstood and there's not a lot of info on it. I'm just sharing to you an alternative if you've tried everything else and you know you want to be free from dieting and the yo-yoing of water retention, weight gain, weight loss and blah, blah blah.

A lot of what goes on in recovery, even a lot of doctors that don't understand recovery and even doctors that do kind of have an understanding of it, never been through it themselves, even they don't even understand a lot of what's going on in recovery. Perhaps when this approach at the backlash of diet culture and a lot people seeking answers, perhaps when it becomes more normalized, there may be more studies and research on this. People funding this kind of research. It's really like where you get scientifical studies is where the money is at a lot of times. And this isn't normalized. This is very opposite and radical to what we've been brought up in and learned about. So there's not a lot of research yet on it, but there is a thing where people go through a lot of the same symptoms in their recovery. It's like a step-by-step process where a lot of people go through the same things of fatigue, water retention, digestive issues, extreme hunger, hot flashes, and they don't know why this stuff happens but it does and it's very common even to get sick all the time. You may feel like you're sick 24/seven throughout the whole first or second winter of your recovery.

Hopefully this happens in the future so that the people who need science and have based their whole studies on science, which was me. All I did was research and science and wanting to understand every bit of everything about nutrition and health, this and that. Hopefully that it comes out, so for those people that need the science to take action in their life, that they can see it. But blessed are those who believe without seeing. If you're doing it, then props to you. Again, this is just my experience and a lot of what I see with the majority of the people that I work with. Do your will, listen to your body, and start to listen to the internal rather than the external.

A lot of you guys do like the testimonials and I love sharing the testimonials and I was honored enough to convince Maria to allow me to show some of these photos for you so you don't hear it just for me, but you hear it from other people that have gone through recovery that aren't on YouTube sharing about it, that have also gone through the process and it wasn't as quick. It's not a quick fix, but it does happen, and it happens so subtly that you don't even notice it. So Maria sent over some photos and I wanted to give you the backstory of her because she was starting to feel like recovery wasn't working for her. And it wasn't until she looked back and reflected on some photos that she took in the beginning of her recovery that she was like, "Oh wow, this is working. I just didn't even notice it." Because those changes can be so subtle that you don't even realize it. That was the same experience for me.

Let me pull this up really quick. Really quickly, let me just read what she had initially wrote. She found my YouTube, went in my find your balance course. In March last year, she was eight months into her recovery and suffered for years with symptoms of starvation, but she was never considered underweight. Sound familiar? "Therefore, my doctor had me on an extreme elimination diet, several different medications, told me I would likely struggle to have children. Hypothalamic amenorrhea misdiagnosed and left me feeling hopeless. I found you on YouTube videos and started my recovery shortly after. Although I'm still healing, most of the horrible starvation symptoms subsided within a few months of being in recovery. Signed up for your course to keep me on track towards healing and it's worth every penny." [inaudible 00:12:24]... I all ready thanked her for that.

She wrote in later because I begged her to come on the channel, but some people are more private and I totally respect that. So I was lucky enough to be able to show these with you. I wish I would have seen more of this. Again, she wrote back in January this year. If it was eight months in March, so 18 months into recovery because it was the end of January or so I think. Correct me if I'm wrong, Maria.

She wrote in again and she's like, "I just thought I should share these pictures with you and thank you again. I was having a how come recovery isn't working for me type of day. So I took some now and then pictures. So much progress has been made. Thank you for spreading your message. The before pictures are from about a year ago when I was six months into recovery. I'm now a year-and-a-half in."

These are the before and after photos. You can see that first of all, the swelling in her ankles has significantly subsided. My ankles looked just like her before ankles in the first, oh man, year of my recovery and that's how my ankles look now. The swelling is gone.

The breakouts as well. I've talked about this in another video on acne and recovery and I broke out so bad in the beginning of my recovery from head to toe, rashes, breakouts, underground, painful pimples. And I started to blame it on the food. I was like, "Oh, it must be the gluten, it has to be the sugar, it has to be the process foods, it has to be the dairy." I would try to cut them again and Oh my gosh, that just made everything worse. And for the most part, besides around my period and stuff, and if I eat like whole grains, makes me break out. But for the most part, my skin has been better than it ever has been, out of all their restrictiveness and the restrictive diets and elimination diets.

The top, you can see some... I think these are spider veins or the coloring in your skin. Can't really tell, but there's the before and after of that things. Very beautiful and very sweet soul. That's amazing. If anything, I hope that that gives you hope. So it's not just me saying it again. It took time for Maria. It took time for me. It takes a long time for a lot of other people that don't really share these things on YouTube, even though there's a lot of people going through recovery and going through the same symptoms that you're going through. So just know that you're not alone and that you're on the right path to true health and healing. I hope that this helps you just to encourage you to keep going and don't lose hope.

Again, always listen to your body. When in doubt, listen to your body. Your body is the best guide. And remember that your body is not the disordered eating or the condition thoughts from diet culture and conditioning and trauma and control and all those things. Your body is different. So listen to your body, the subtle guide that's trying to fight for your survival. Don't underestimate the voice of your body.

I hope that this video has helped you in some way and big thanks to Maria for letting me share her story with you guys!

I hope that your recovery is going good!

I know that recovery is not the funnest thing or comfortable, but a lot of change is happening and you're going to come out a completely new person with a completely new life and it's going to be better than ever before!

Let me know too, what kind of videos you want to see in the future. I'm here to serve you, to help encourage you on this journey. I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't believe in it 100% and I didn't get through it myself. It's a whole reason I'm doing this because I never thought that there was a way out. So just let me know how I can serve you better in the future. With that said, I'll see you in a future post. Bye for now. :)

Want to work with me in your recovery? Check out how by clicking here!

xx Kayla Rose


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