Living Maintenance - How did you get brave enough to eat more?

06-15-2013, 08:32 PM
My situation is not quite the same as those who are trying to maintain, but I thought y'all would be a good resource for my question.

I am getting treatment for binge eating disorder. I am within about five pounds of my goal weight, but during treatment I am supposed to maintain and focus on breaking the binge/restrict cycle. That's where my problem starts.

The therapists and nutritionists want me to follow a meal plan. The amount of food seems huge to me. In addition, they want me to challenge myself with eating desserts and my favorite foods in moderation so I can one day become an intuitive eater.

I'm uncomfortable with the composition of the meal plan, which follows the my model,but that's another story. My biggest problem is that I'm afraid to eat more calories for fear of regaining. They don't want me checking the scale; instead they weigh me weekly (without telling me my weight) and promise to let me know if I have gained a significant amount, i.e. 5 lbs.

But so far, I have kept losing weight because I keep restricting, fighting against the meal plan and exercising more than they want me to. I just can't trust the meal plan. And I can't bring myself to eat my favorite foods on a regular basis.

How did you get yourself to eat more and/or reduce your exercise amount once you got to your goal weight and started maintenance? Was it scary for you? Did you start to regain? Thanks.

06-16-2013, 03:44 AM
I would say change your therapists. They need to work _with_ you so that you know / can trust that what you're doing is in your best interest. Maybe you're not there yet, maybe baby steps are needed. It sounds like you're restricting clandestinely, without your therapist(s) knowing about it? That doesn't sound like a functional therapeutic relationship to me.

As for me, I weigh daily, and chart my fluctuations. That way, I can eat more/different things and not anxious about what I'll do if I suddenly gained 5lbs. I'm a bulimic, so it's extremely difficult for me to eat triggering foods without wanting to throw them up. But I've been successful these past 20 days in not bingeing and not purging - in fact, some days ago I had a pizza. Half a pizza, including cheese and topics, in fact. I didn't throw it up. That hasn't happened in well over five years. Pizza was just one of those no-no foods. And I think a big part of why I could do that without being terrified (only a little anxious) about possible gain is because I've got my security blanket of daily weighing. I can tell myself that I can always just reverse course the next day, if need be. Charting my fluctuations has also helped. The number becomes less and less important to me doing daily weighing, and I can envision that this way, I can at some point toss the scale altogether.

Daily weighing might not be what _you_ need though. That is up to you to explore for yourself and with your therapists, who should help you guide you gently through your fears, not just sink-or-swim put a meal plan in front of you. Bring up your concerns with them, and be honest, most of all. Ideally, they know you much better and can help much better than this forum can.

Now, actually to the point: one thing that has helped me eating more is making peace with the fact that weight loss/maintenance is never a smooth process entirely within my control. There'll be ups and downs, it happens. The key for me was to discover that I can trust myself a little more with being able to recognize and deal adequately possible gain. It's not the end of the world. It's 5lbs. I can handle it. I'm sure you can handle it too.

06-16-2013, 10:56 AM
I disagree with the previous poster (alizarin). I think one of the difficulties faced by people with eating disorders is taking advice from others. The tendency is not to trust anyone else and to want to take control completely.

I am assuming that the therapist is a trained, credentialed and licensed therapist specializing in treatment of eating disorders, and that the nutritionists are actually registered dietitians. If this is not the case, then yes, you should perhaps consider getting other help--but don't assume that the new people are going to tell you anything really different.

There is an old saying: "If all else fails, follow directions."

I would say, if you are going to spend the money and time to get professional help, the least you could do would be to give it a chance. There is nothing wrong with recommendations, although if you have an eating disorder I'm sure you can find something to argue with. I'd say, do what they want you to do and see where it leads. They may actually know more than you do about disordered eating and how to help.

Good luck to you. Don't just go off on your own with this. It hasn't worked well in the past, has it?


06-16-2013, 11:09 AM
Just to clarify, I'm not advocating "doing it on your own" either.

Having been/being a bulimic, and being in recovery in part thanks to the work I did with my therapist - I can say that what helped me the most was her way of walking me through my thoughts in a way that made me understand how absurd they were. She helped me change my understanding of my eating disorder, thus making the behavioral change that followed (not purging in my case; non-restricting and exercising reasonably in yours) the natural consequence of my insights. I really do believe that imposing outside rules onto your eating behavior while you clearly do not understand yet (please don't misunderstand this as an attack) why they are good for you and are ready to make the changes is a recipe for disaster. Now, pushing outside your comfort zone is another animal altogether, but then again, the impetus and the willingness to do so needs to come from you, not from someone else.

06-17-2013, 10:30 PM
Thanks. I do understand why they want me to follow the meal plan. It is to get me used to portion sizes that will make me feel full but not overly so - basically re-teaching me how to identify my hunger and fullness cues. Once I am able to do that, then the meal plan would disappear and I would move down the path of intuitive eating.

I trust the therapist completely. And the dieticians are registered and experienced. The issues are mainly (1) my discomfort with eating the foods recommended by my (little protein and lots of grains/starches) and (2) the fear of gaining weight: the amount of food allowed with this plan seems huge!

I have been reading "Intuitive Eating" at the suggestion of my therapist. This is the path advocated at the treatment center. The book is amazing and scary at the same time. I want to have this kind of relationship with food, so I have been pushing hard the past couple of days to accept the meal plan and the principles of intuitive eating. Let's see how it goes.

06-18-2013, 09:58 AM
Great; this post sounds more like you're mentally prepared for what's ahead than your first one :)

I hope you find the strength to go through with it. Remember that there will be setbacks, and to work with them rather than against them.

I don't exactly see how intuitive eating and following a layed-out meal plan go together. Can you/Did your therapists elaborate on that? One of the tenets of IE as I understand it, and to the extent that I practice it, is to eat exactly what you feel like eating, not to eat it because you're "supposed to" - which a meal plan would imply to me.

06-18-2013, 10:29 PM
I don't exactly see how intuitive eating and following a layed-out meal plan go together. Can you/Did your therapists elaborate on that? One of the tenets of IE as I understand it, and to the extent that I practice it, is to eat exactly what you feel like eating, not to eat it because you're "supposed to" - which a meal plan would imply to me.

Agreed. The idea isn't to keep me on the meal plan forever. The first step is what they refer to as "mechanical eating." Many people with eating disorders have lost the ability to listen to their hunger and fullness cues. So in this first phase, they put you on some sort of a meal plan so you can get a better understanding of proper portion size. Portion sizes are designed to get you through about 3-4 hours before you start to feel hungry and should take you to a satisfied, not stuffed, feeling when you are done with it.

The meal plan may be simple: when I first started, they didn't want to be prescriptive so I was just told to include a protein, grain/starch, and fruit/veg at each meal. But now the plan is more prescriptive.

After a while on mechanical eating, when you have relearned your hunger and fullness cues, you are released to do intuitive eating. We still do a lot of intuitive eating at the treatment center; during those meals I go pretty much off of the meal plan and practice intuitive eating. For example, one night a week, I am challenged to get take-out, which often doesn't come with fruit/veg. And we are also challenged to have dessert that night too.