“I’m not “Underweight”… Do I deserve to eat & recover from an Eating Disorder??”

Have you been wondering:

  • Can I have an eating disorder or be "starving" even if I'm not underweight, and I'm at a normal / "healthy" weight or even considered overweight?
  • Can I go through a diet recovery process if you're at a "normal" weight or a high weight to start with
  • "I'm not underweight" "I'm actually obese, I don't need to gain weight, I need to LOSE weight, but I'm hungry all the time, have extreme hunger, binge eating, can't stop eating and always thinking about food... do I deserve to eat?
  • Do I need to restrict my calories / macros to maintain my weight so I don't gain any more?
  • Am I sick enough?
  • Do I deserve this form of ed/diet recovery??
  • Does all this advice still apply to you?
  • What about once you weight restore and/or get your period back, do I keep eating when I'm weight restored?

Then you're in the right place, and we'll cover all this plus more in this article, so let's get into it!

 


 

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about disordered eating / eating disorder or diet recovery and what body type is "worthy" of going through this process..

A lot of people think:

  • “I never was in starvation”
  • "How can I be starving when I have a lot of fat on my body?"
  • “I have issues around food in my body and exercise, but I don’t have an eating disorder Kayla.”
  • “I'm not underweight, I’m actually coming from a place of being at a higher weight or even 'obese'. I don’t have an eating disorder.. Does this ed recovery approach actually apply to me?”

These various objections, fears and doubts are understandable, I faced them too!

Check this thread out in one of my videos on my YouTube channel:

 

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE TERMS: "EATING DISORDER" / DISORDERED EATING / STARVATION

There is a huge misconception about eating disorders.

There’s this cultural belief that only people who are very underweight, who look "emaciated" or who got to an extreme low body leanness and body fat % can qualify to have an eating disorder, or now, that they are the only ones who are worthy to go through a process of diet recovery to recover their metabolism and mind after a period of restrictive eating and/or excessive exercise.

But even with that, even the people that may be extremely thin, lean and have the six pack, THEY often do not consider themselves to having an eating disorder.

That’s why this video is for a lot of people who don’t think that they have an issue and then it leaves them not finding the help that they actually need.

  • Eating disorders,
  • "semi-starvation,"
  • being malnourished,
  • under-eating and feeling hungry all the time
  • and having major food issues, and negative impacts on health and mental health as a result,

...are NOT experiences only limited to people who are underweight.

 

Having an eating disorder, being malnourished and starving, is not just a matter of how you look...

...it’s about your internal world in regards to food...

...your mindset towards your body, food and exercise.

...And if your general thoughts are ridden with anxiety, stress, guilt, fear, control or shame..

This is not normal, it is disordered. 

Food obsession is actually a result FROM a low metabolism FROM restrictive eating...

...which I dive deep into why this is, the mistakes to avoid and my exact 4 step framework to find true freedom and healing from feeling obsessed around food, in this free masterclass, which you can click here to save your seat!

People at high weights OR low weights, can all have an unhealthy relationship with food, literally be "starving" and can have an eating disorder.

If you'd like to learn more about how a body can be in starvation mode in a higher weight, be sure to read this post on metabolic damage.

Even if you think that you’re the unicorn, that doesn’t deserve to recover, isn’t “sick enough” to recover, that this isn’t right for you or you don’t deserve to eat...

I want to say right now that that’s not the truth.

THIS CAN WORK FOR YOU TOO, NO MATTER THE WEIGHT YOU'RE STARTING AT.

Here's a past client of mine, Jessie Riemann, who now coaches those through recovery, who started her recovery at a higher weight than she is now, after fully recovering, losing her overshoot weight and reaching her weight set point:

*Click here, to read her full post and follow her on IG 😉 (p.s. tell her, "A blue butterfly 🦋 sent me here" lol)

 

Alright so with all that said...

If you’re thinking:

  • “Can I have an eating disorder and not know it?”
  • “Can I be starving and not be underweight?”
  • “Can I have an eating disorder and be overweight / obese?”
  • “Can I have an eating disorder and be fat and not eat that much?”
  • “Can I have an eating disorder and be a normal weight?”

Or you have:

...constant repetitive thoughts about "I just want to lose that last five to 10 pounds"

...or if you "just want to get a bigger butt" because yours isn’t good enough the way it is, or if you just want a flat stomach...

...if you think "I’m always hungry, literally all the time, and all I think about is food 24/7.”

...or if you think "I feel like I could go into the grocery store and I could just eat all of the foods in there. I could go to the center sections of the grocery store, the center aisles and I literally could eat everything in there.I’m so hungry that I don’t even know what I want.”

And, all these kinds of thoughts, feelings, insecurities and restrictive behaviors around:

  • what you can eat,
  • what you can’t eat,
  • HOW MUCH too eat,
  • WHEN you can/can't eat,
  • skipping meals,
  • not including carbs / fats at every meal,
  • what your body should look like,
  • feeling not good enough,
  • always criticizing your body,
  • feeling guilt eating, 
  • feeling strong fears and anxieties if you eat a food that’s been off limits because you think it’s unhealthy...

(To get a comprehensive list of how food obsession and disordered thoughts around food, click here to get your Free Test!)

But all these thoughts and mental states, fall into qualifying you as having a legitimate disordered relationship with food, there is a sure problem with food that severely affects and comes in the way of your quality of life, and that you may even have an eating disorder...

...whether you want to call it orthorexia, body dysmorphia, anorexia, chronic dieter, whatever..

(does it matter if you have the label, NO, you do not need a label to act...)

Yes, there are differences behavior wise, but there are a lot of similarities as well and there are different kinds of eating disorders,

...BUT the path to recovery looks quite similar - ie nutritionally rehabilitating to restore your metabolism, hormones, overall health and reprograming one's mind around food, their body and exercise.

There might be differences and things that you need to focus on whereas the other person doesn’t need to focus on.

For example,

  • someone who never over exercised doesn't need help with over training syndrome,
  • whereas someone with bulimia, doesn't need advice on how to stop purging,
  • someone with childhood trauma needs additional help with healing trauma
  • whereas someone who just fell into an energy deficit and was brainwashed into what "healthy" is and became super fearful around getting a disease and dying, will focus on different aspects
  • someone who's starting at a higher weight has different mental blocks and objections to face than someone who's starting underweight

But nutritional rehabilitation looks so so similar, no matter you weight!

And I repeat, this goes for people who think,

 “Oh, I’m at a higher weight. I’m not like these people that you talk about that got to a really low weight or they got super lean and they got a six pack. I’m not like that. I actually am at a higher weight. I’m at a normal weight or I’m actually overweight and I’ve been dieting and I’ve been restricting and I feel crazy around food and I hate myself and I’ve hated myself since I was a kid or you know I’ve hated myself for years or however long, BUT I don't resonate because I never lost the weight...”

Maybe you haven't even been restricting years, maybe you just happened to fall into an energy deficit and negatively impact your health and metabolism when you tried:

  • to clean up your diet a bit,
  • or went through a stressful time and lost your appetite,
  • or thought the Keto challenge at work would be "fun" to try...

...and that’s what spurred the diet on.

Then you eventually begin to "always think about food" suddenly or have a binge episode after a strike of ravenous hunger...

...and then gain weight.

 

THE COMMON MISCONCEPTION AROUND OBESITY & RESTRICTIVE EATING

This is the misconception about overeating, obesity and starvation.

A common assumption and cultural belief is that people who are overweight, just have an "overeating eating disorder" and NOT a restrictive eating disorder, and that overweight people just "need to not eat so much."

And that people who are overweight couldn't POSSIBLY be malnourished and MUST sit on the couch and stuff their faces all day...

or so they say…

That’s how our culture deals with people who are at higher BMI's.

But the reality for many people who are obese, when you look into their story, their past, what they’re currently doing and what they’ve been doing, you see this common scenario,

...they actually eat THE LEAST amount of food, and the LEAST CONSISTENT with meals.

 

👇 Here's a screenshot from a client of mine in my Find Your Balance Program who shares in depth how even being on all the fad restrictive diets, her body GAINED weight, while eating less and exercising a lot:

 

 

HOW IT ALL STARTS

Typically one's story goes like this:

As a kid, they may have had parents, caretakers, role models, peers, or other influential people in their life, who: 

  • may have had good intentions,
  • who may have wanted the best for their kids
  • who they themselves were brainwashed and caught up in diet & beauty culture
  • or who were just intentionally putting their diet issues, their body insecurities on their children,
  • or who simply grew up in an environment overly fixated on weight, diet and perfectionism, and saw their mother, sibling, father, caretaker, who was always in the pursuit to lose weight, critique theirs and others weight, feel guilt around eating or with a full blown eating disorder

...and it affected them and shaped the child's stories, beliefs and values around food, their body image, their value/worth and exercise.

Because we children, model our caretakers whether we realize it or not.

And so these people from a very young age, were told to restrict certain foods, and that certain foods were bad, or that they needed to lose weight or avoid weight gain for whatever reason:

  • to make the cheer team,
  • wrestling team,
  • be the star and leading role as the main dancer in the ballet performance,
  • race horses,
  • for the beauty padget,
  • to be a faster runner,
  • to beat Suzie or Joe as XYZ,
  • to be healthier, leaner and fitter,
  • as an experiment for health & nutrition class
  • to not get the disease "family member" had or runs in the family
  • to be as beautiful as one's favorite actor/singer
  • etc.

There’s so many different scenarios..

 

HOW IT PROGRESSES

Then when they would go to their friend’s house for example, and this friend could have all the junk foods, and as many cookies as they wanted out of the cookie jar as they wanted, they would binge at this friends house

...they would begin to find themselves thinking about food all the time that they were at the friends house as they could finally eat all the foods that were off limits.

Then they would come home and their parents would scold them for eating those unhealthy "bad" foods or scold them for if they were "plump.."

..and they may have been limited around foods and serving sizes, whereas their siblings who were thinner than them were treated differently and not limited around food.

..Or perhaps they were put on Weight Watchers or South Beach Diet

...or simply restricted from processed junk foods

...or they were restricted to a certain amount of calories per day

...or you were made to do certain exercise regimes that were not "play time," they were not fun time for you, but you were shamed into doing it.

Did you grew up in some kind of environment like this?

So then you become more confused about food and yourself, a bit more insecure around your looks and body, and start to compare yourself to your siblings, peers or people on TV or social media.

...and then as a teenager, you may hear, your friends at school who pick up a diet, or "just don't eat all day"

...Then this starts the cycle for the perpetual diet-binge cycle into adulthood.

And it goes something like:

🤷‍♀️...goes on a diet,

🥳...initially loses some weight

🙌👊👏🤩🥰...compliments come in: "OMG you look so great! what's your secret?!"

😥...feels pressure to maintain this

🍔🧁🍩...eventually binges on whole grocery store and pantry,

😖...feels guilty

🍽🏋️‍♀️...hops on the next fat diet

💭🧠🍩...feels HUNGRY all the time and cravings take over

😞...overeats

🤬...gains all the weight, back PLUS MORE

😩...feels even worse about yourself

😏...try's this NEW "healthy lifestyle" that "so many people have had so much success on"

🤕🥱🤒😵‍💫🥶☠️...always thinking about food, thyroid problems begin to pop up, digestive problems begin to start, hair starts falling out, etc..

🥴...keeps trying to "manage" by trying every diet and exercise protocol out there...

🤯...keeps gaining weight even when restricting calories / macros and exercising a ton

😑😣😭....so frustrated and confused...

...and on and on, as one continue's to search for a diet to lose some weight or maintain a certain weight that they’re trying to maintain.

They get to a point where they literally can’t do it anymore...

They can’t do the diet any longer, (which is normal) and then their body causes them to binge because it desperately needs that food

This can go on indefinitely.

And every time they diet, they further compromise the metabolism causing it to lower

...and then every time they ended up binging, their body holds onto the weight, water and fat storage for dear life because the body thinks that it’s going to be in this continual threat, because it has been since a child.

These people can literally diet themselves into being at be at a higher weight than their natural weight set point.

 

And the sad thing is, people often see the person as being weak, or that there’s something that they’re doing wrong...

...which they are, they’re restricting and dieting, that's what's wrong, not the person or that they're weak!

It’s not that their body is the problem,

it’s not that the binge eating is the problem,

it’s not that the weight is even the problem,

it’s that they’ve been yo-yo dieting for so long, trying any and every diet, any and every weight loss gimmick, any and every fat burner or appetite suppressant drug / supplement, and they’ve literally dieted the themselves into a higher weight.

I’ve talked about this in this many times in the past, but the reason I’m talking about it again is because I hear this so often - that these people that are at a higher weight don’t deserve to recover, or can't be starving because their body is holding extra weight.

But that is just not always the truth if restrictive eating of any kind is in the picture.

These people completely deserve to recover and the approach looks the same.

Yes, you may still put on even more weight in recovery, because, rebalancing Andre-training the metabolism and brains response to food, doesn’t just happen overnight to where you choose recovery and your body senses:

“Oh, okay, we’re safe now, even after so many years, we've been starved and deprived ongoing and continually, yep, we're good now!" 

Nope.

That doesn’t happen overnight.

These people too, may still gain weight just like pretty much everyone else does, but the same thing happens.

The weight gain will plateau eventually, and then the body will want to go to where it naturally feels the healthiest and most comfortable - back to your weight set point, WITHOUT dieting or extreme workouts.

A lot of us want to be like, “Okay, I’m done with dieting and extreme workouts so the body should "get over it too" because I'm done, so it should just trust me on that. I want this to be done with, and I want it done and rebalanced now. I want to be recovered now.”

Here’s where patience comes in and here’s where you have to realize that it may take some time, but you have to be willing to accept this process for as long as it’s going to take.

 

TRUST YOUR GUT

When you don't feel "good enough to recover," ask yourself, when you found my resources or others like mine, what led you to searching for answers?

If you really have tried anything and everything, and it hasn’t been working for you and that’s why you stumbled onto my resources,

(because normal eaters, don’t stumble upon or hang out on Damn The Diets or any other recovery channels, they just don’t...

They’re doing other things with their life and they think we’re silly for being so weird around food).

So, if you stumbled onto recovery resources, there was something deep within you that knew that something was wrong and you were seeking answers.

You were seeking a solution and you didn’t want to hear about another diet, maybe the eating disorder or diet-y conditioned side of you wanted to just hear another diet to latch onto because that was still a sense of control, of familiarity and "what everybody else does," to keep you stuck...

...but deep down, you knew, you felt that this recovery thing felt so liberating and so freeing...

...yet immediately, your doubts, and limiting fears may have creeped in and been like:

“No, that’s a load of bull crap and this crap definitely won't work for ME even if it is true, it only works for people who are underweight.”

And then the ED wants to say, “You’re overweight, you’re at a normal weight, so you don’t deserve to recovery. You don’t deserve to eat. You don't "binge" or have "extreme hunger" like Kayla did...you just have binge eating disorder or an "over eating" and "emotional eating" problem...”

But this is the lie and you have to tell yourself the truth.

This is a lot of what recovery is - replacing all these lies that we picked up along the way and replacing it with the truth.

And yes, replacing the lies around weight and worthiness to eat with the truth that people who are coming into recovery at a higher weight, they deserve to eat and they deserve to endure the same recovery process.

 

DO I RESUME RESTRICTING ONCE MY PERIOD RETURNS OR MY WEIGHT HITS A CERTAIN POINT?

And the same goes for those of you who, get their period back and you continue to gain weight, or face extreme hunger...

...You still deserve to keep eating and there's more to recover and heal!

It’s not that your weight restored now or you’re at a higher weight and so now you need to start restricting again...

...so you're saying that now you need to go back to the exact behaviors which caused you all this misery and ill health in the first place?! 

No no no.

This is the other misconception - that once you get to a certain weight, then you need to start restricting again, or you don’t deserve to eat anymore.

But this is a lie stemming from fear, once again.

And the only way to get to full freedom and recovery, is to keep eating, keep recovering, keep going.

You'll KNOW & FEEL when you're recovered, you won't have to think, worry or stress "if you're recovered yet" and have to force anything.

Keep eating as much as you want, don’t let those pesky little thoughts come in and say,

  • “Well, should you really have that?”
  • “Do you really want that? That food?” 
  • “Are you really that hungry? Come on, you already ate this much, you don’t deserve to eat that much at this time. You already ate this much.”
  • “Should you really eat more carbs? You already had so many carbs, you should probably have some protein.” 
  • "Maybe if I didn't eat so much, the weight would come off by now."
  • "You’ve already gained this much weight, if you keep eating these processed foods, or if you keep eating as much as your body is asking for, then you’re just going to gain and gain exponentially and this process isn’t going to work for you. This is just a bunch of BS."

All of those are lies, programming and conditioning.

Don’t listen to them.

Do not let them take that strong hold back over you and bring you right back to where you’re coming from.

Because diets don't work, they'll never be sustainable, the'll always lead to binge eating and food obsession, and where you’re coming from, you know and I know that it doesn’t work.

Any initial "positive" feelings will be fleeting, before your back miserable and stuffing your face with a jar of peanut butter.

I just want to instill this in your brain that you need to keep eating and recovering, don't stop before completing the rehabilitation process.

...And if you are at a higher weight, you need to start eating and recovering,

...And if you’re coming from any past of restriction of any kind, for any extended amount of time... you deserve to endure this recovery process too

And yes, it works.

You just have to be patient with the process, you have to trust your body and you have to remind yourself every day to re-accept and re-commit to the process.

Because you’re probably going to have all the fears and doubts come in every day and you have to re-submerge yourself into recovery and you have to take it one day at a time.

Not thinking about the future, but thinking one day at a time, one moment of time, what do you need right now?

Not thinking about, “Well, I shouldn’t have this food because that’s going to make me gain weight in the future.”

 

 

No, if your body is asking for a certain food, amount of food, at a certain time of day, then listen to that.

Wherever that fear is coming from, that’s exactly what you need to be addressing right now.

Wherever you feel the most fearful around, that’s what you need to be focusing on challenging by doing the opposite of the fear...

...instead of getting overwhelmed with the whole process of recovery, which can be overwhelming if you think about the whole ENTIRE process right now, rather than just this present moment, right now, then yeah, you’re probably going to get overwhelmed.

Instead, focus on where you need to start right now.

If you’re in the beginning, just focus on where you’re at.

If you’re later on in different stages, focus on what new and different challenges arise.

 

Of course, I can’t create content without getting off on a tangent of some kind 😆 

So, I’ll leave it at that.

I hope that this eases your fear a bit.

I want you to face the fears to get over the fears.

You deserve to eat.

You deserve to recover.

You deserve freedom.

Do it for you.

You know, deep down that you want this, and you know how good it felt initially to feel that permission of "you need to eat."

You should be eating more, you may need to gain weight, and you may need to gain more weight.

This process is you calling.

Freedom is calling you.

The ED or limiting beliefs, wants to suppress you, but you’re getting your power back, every bite you take.

The ED or fears are going to cry really loud when it’s losing power, it’s going to scream the loudest.

That’s when you keep going and through that, you’ll rewire your brain, you’ll create new realities for yourself, and that'll be your new normal, and it’s all going to come together.

Just stick with it, you got this!

 

Xx 

Kayla Rose

Holistic Nutritionist

P.S. I’m hosting a free masterclass specifically for people who want to stop feeling obsessed around food and truly heal their metabolism and you’re invited! Click here to sign up.

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