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. solution? eat more food .

May 15, 2011

Woooowie. Can I just say that your responses to my last post blew. me. away. Seriously. If you’re ever feeling frustrated or guilty for eating “too much” or “too dirty”, then just head on over and read some of the comments that people left behind and you’ll instantly feel better. Or, come and visit me, and I’ll eat you under the table 😉 We’ll start with breakfast, which will most certainly include chocolate in some form:

… enjoy one of those “killer cupcakes” (the tiramisu is mine)

(Katie, I’ll save some frosting for you ;))

… and see what happens from there. Sound good? Good stuff. Hit me up and it’s a date.

So because you guys inspired me so much with all your words of wisdom and anti-restriction diet protests, I thought it would be fitting if I dedicated this post to my own hatred dislike of low-calorie diets by pointing out all the “wonderful” consequences that you can look forward to if you don’t eat enough.

Again, I’m not a nutritionist. I speak [unfortunately] only from personal experience.

. – . – . – .

Your physical performance suffers.

If I don’t fuel myself properly, I can’t run as far and fast as I want to, nor lift as heavily and efficiently as I’d like to. My workouts become sloppy and seem to drag on forever, and any progress that I’ve been making with my training plateaus and sometimes even begins to decline. My motivation to work out basically disappears, and it takes longer for my body to recover from my training sessions – I end up feeling lethargic and achey a lot more often.

Your cognitive performance suffers.

Thinking in general, nevermind logically, becomes a lot harder if I don’t give my body the right amount of food. A starvation induced mental fog begins to set in, and I find it a lot more difficult to focus my thoughts and concentrate on whatever I’m trying to do. In school, this was a big problem –  writing essays was a nightmare as I struggled to express my thoughts in a coherent way. Outside of school, I’m not able to focus on any of the things that I love doing, or pursue any of my interests becaaaaause…

You begin to obsess about food.

Don’t get me wrong, I like to think about food and come up with creative meal/snack ideas, but not when it reaches a point where I’m thinking about it twenty-four/seven. Oftentimes, I don’t feel hunger in a physical way (think grumbly stomach), but I begin to feel it mentally. If I start thinking about food non-stop, or finish a meal only to think about my next snack, I’ll know it’s either time to eat or that I need to start eating more. Speaking of which, I’m starting to think it’s snack time… intermission!

*insert elevator quality music here*

What do you mean you don’t consider a bowl of “overnight” oatmeal with chia seeds and a fresh nectarine a snack? Why not?!

That’s better. Now, where were we? Ahh yes… on we go.

You get cranky, moody, and bitter.

You do NOT want to run into me when I’m hungry. Seriously. I will mow you down if you stand between me and food. Of course, I’ll come back, help you up, dust you off, and apologize afterwards, but I really advise you not to get in my way, or to just avoid me in general if I haven’t had enough to eat. When I’m hungry, I’m cranky, and when I’m cranky I’ll snap at you and say things I don’t mean. Furthermore, if I’m denying myself treats, and you’re eating something that looks delicious, I’ll hate you for it… for no reason other than you can have it and I can’t. I’m a much happier and more approachable person when I’m well fed. There’s a reason those toothpick runway models are always scowling… Just saying…

You begin to experience a host of digestive problems.

If I go too long without eating, or let myself get too hungry, I suffer when I finally do eat. My stomach does not take kindly to food when its pH has been thrown off, and I end up with a host of digestive complaints that make life that much more miserable. It’s hard to be happy and upbeat when you feel crampy and bloated… or when you’re forced to face a sight like this…

… that would be an empty bottle of kombucha; which, while we’re on the topic of digestion, has done absolute wonders for mine. But I digress… One more point to bring up before I’m through…

The quality of your sleep suffers.

Ahh, sleep, how I love you. It’s almost impossible for me to fall asleep on an empty stomach, so I always eat a hefty snack before I go to bed to put me to sleep and get me through the night…

(whoever thought of the rule that prohibits eating past 7 o’clock needs to be shot scolded)

If, by some miracle, I’m actually able to fall asleep when I’m hungry, there’s NO way that I’ll be able to stay asleep. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been awoken by a grumbling stomach in the middle of the night, and then fallen asleep only to be awoken again an hour later. Not fun. The night is very long when you can’t sleep as a result of starvation induced insomnia, and you wake up very tired.

. – . – . – .

There are tonnes of other negatives, but it would be impossible to cover them all and, quite frankly, I’m getting a little tired of thinking about how crappy life is when you don’t eat enough; I’ve wasted enough years of my life living just barely getting by already.

Luckily, there’s a very simple way to avoid all these unpleasantries, or to bid them farewell:

Eat. More. Food.

And it works. Trust me.

Can you relate? Anything to add to the list?

45 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2011 6:00 pm

    EXCELLENT reminder!!!

  2. May 15, 2011 6:06 pm

    Goodness I loved loved loved this post! All of the items you listed are things I am currently battling, especially my physical performance suffering. I recently talked about this on my blog and how my legs have felt DEAD on runs lately… Well duh, that is probably because I don’t eat anything before the run! Last year I was able to maintain my workouts on very little food with no problem, but your body can only take so much wear and tear before it starts to rebel…and I have reached that point.
    Obsessing about food is another thing! If you are constantly hungry and restricting, of course you are going to always be thinking about what necessary nutrients you are not giving your body.
    Thanks for this great post, I will be returning to it for reminders and inspiration 🙂

  3. May 15, 2011 6:07 pm

    I am reading a book that talks about how food obsession an cause you to gain weight? Why? The same reason you salivate when you see something that looks and smells good. The Cephalic Phase Insulin Response….your body produces insulin and then when there is no food there it just starts to store fat.

    Oh, and starvation kills your mojo. And by that I mean sex drive.

  4. May 15, 2011 6:31 pm

    this post = my life (unfortunately). Thank you for putting things in to perspective, my dear! It’s ridiculous how much inadequate nutrition manifests itself in SO many areas of our lives. I’m really hoping meeting with my nutritionist tomorrow will get me on the right path and eating enough food to resolve all of those issues. The lack of sleepage has become a real issue .. I look like death in the morning.

    p.s. slightly personal question so PLEASE don’t feel obligated to answer — but did you ever meet with a nutritionist or did you regain your weight/develop all of this incredibly inspiring insight on your own? Either way, you’re a recovery WARRIOR!!


  5. rebecca permalink
    May 15, 2011 6:54 pm

    I ate more food.
    Real food.
    Wholesome food.
    I got to a healthy weight.
    I grew a half of an inch since January.
    I love it.
    I recovered (can’t say fully yet) from an eating disorder.
    I eat a ton of food.
    It makes me awesome at sports.
    I feel the best I ever have.
    I look best with no makeup.
    I glow.
    And I eat a lot.
    But I think I already mentioned that.

  6. May 15, 2011 7:04 pm

    Good to know I’m not the only one who eats a massive bowl of calories before bed. I use to be that girl who never ate past 6pm because god forbid the carb fairy was watching the clock to turn all those calories into fat. I’m so happy to have learned my lesson, our bodies don’t run on a 24hr clock. I actually had cereal with milk when I came home last night at 3am lol I must of gained at least 2 lbs 😉

  7. May 15, 2011 7:05 pm

    oh yes, i can totally back you up on so many of those. and i think the same goes for cutting out certain food groups (i’m talking about carbssss hollaaa – though i guess different things work for different people). but for me personally, if i dont eat something before i go to bed, i seriously cannot fall asleep because my stomach will be rumbling. for me, getting enough complex carbs is also important because it really stabilizes my mood and hunger. i need to eat some with everyyy meal. and yeah, i think if people want to exercise/workout, they have to remember that FOOD is necessary to do that! this is a great post, people need to reeeead it =)

  8. May 15, 2011 7:44 pm

    Yes, yes, YES!! If it weren’t for me having suffered from an eating disorder and I was feeling cranky or slow, I would never have realised that it was probably something to do with hunger. There are so many signs of hunger that I’m aware of now that I never was before. If you had told me that crankiness was a sign of hunger I never would’ve believed you. Now when I’m uber cranky, I have a little snack-a-roo and low and behold I’m back to my old fun self again!!


  9. May 15, 2011 7:52 pm

    Omg u better have had lots of frosting for me!!!!!! U can have the cake part, give me all the frosting!! Ha! Love u!!

    I am SO with you on everything here, but especially the eating before bed, I always eat before bed unless I happen ton have dinner late and then pass out, haha, but always a snack before bed!! I can not sleep with a empty tummy!!

    Love u! Happy almost Monday!! Xoxo

  10. Stefanie permalink
    May 15, 2011 8:06 pm

    These past two posts really hit home for me! Different calorie-intake calculators & magazines feed me a million different numbers of what I should be consuming with my weight & activity level & I end up getting so confused! I remind me self now to just be “intuitive” & if im the slightest bit hungry, I eat.

  11. May 15, 2011 8:08 pm

    Wow, I love this post. Thanks so much!

  12. Stefanie permalink
    May 15, 2011 8:13 pm

    Oh I forgot to mention, my roommate BARELY eats! She is trying to lose weight, and her weight has always gone up and down throughout the year for as long as she can remember. She works out 5 days a week or more, and she limits her intake soo much! I have told her how bad it is for your metabolism to skip meals, and that eating more often will help her in the long run, but apparently she doesnt believe me! I used to wonder why I ate so much more than her but maintained my weight, and I would even sometimes feel guilty around her when I would go grab another snack! I never let myself feel ashamed anymore because I realize that I NEED to eat more for my activity level & my own body type! Phew! 🙂

    • May 18, 2011 9:25 am

      I am in a weird boat right now … i have had an ED for over 7 years… i am HAPPY right now… dancing, and getting a lot more “workouts” in that i have in the past.. (not intentionally, but really for the love of it)… my eating is still…. less.. I dont know HOW many calories I am eating.. but I dont eat a lot in the day, but will eat a bigger snack at night.
      (weird, how ed patterns change, and thoughts & “rules” change for differant people)
      I am gaining weight right now… and am so confused and upset.. I am not activly trying to lose.. but I want to know WHY i am gaining on so little? or what I used to eat.. but now I am more active.. 😦 ?
      Can any one help?

  13. May 15, 2011 8:21 pm

    1) I don’t exercise. I can’t do a thing (and I used to be a competitive runner. You can only mess around so long…and years later it will catch up to you. Now all I do is sit or sleep. And sadly…I’m not joking. And boy, do I wish I were.

    2) I struggle with how people say they will eat more to help their activity….um, I don’t do any activity. Showering is a big big event for me. So, its hard…

    3)interesting what you say about NOT feeling physical hungry…but mentally focusing on it…sounds right.

    4) carbs and sweets. I eat these things and feel extreme guilt to a huge degree. If I exercised, maybe I’d feel differently…
    Not sure what you mean by “pH”, but would be interested to know if you’d like to expand.

    u r a beautiful champ.

  14. squigglefloey permalink
    May 15, 2011 8:41 pm

    Umm, this was probably one of THE BEST posts I’ve read in quite a long time. YES, I can relate to everything you said! haha. You are amazing girl!
    Everything rang true to me.
    I’m trying to gain weight right now — but either way, I’ve always been a night time snacker.
    I cannot sleep unless I feel full, it’s like my lullaby 😛

  15. May 15, 2011 8:56 pm

    i mean LITERALLY feel like i could have written these previous 2 posts!!! NO JOKE!!!! freakin amen to everything you said! I am soo irritable, lethargic, mean, cranky, tired, etc etc when i dont fuel. and i HAVE to eat before bed!!!

  16. May 15, 2011 10:55 pm

    Regardign the cognitive thing… Your brain runs on like 80% glucose apparently so not having enough to eat can SERIOUSLY impact the whole “thinking clearly” bit! All of this si so true.

    And I eat right before bed as well because otherwise I WILL wake up in the middle of the night, starving. Which is just no fun. I do kind of want to curb the AMOUNT I eat at night (it winds up being multiple snacks that would probably be better to eat during the day) but it’s whatever.

    I’d take a cupcake to all of these suggestions, though 😉


  17. May 16, 2011 2:01 am

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you. Seriously, another AMAZING post Amanda! I could not have said this better myself. It definitely takes some time to mentally warm up to the idea of eating more, especially after only knowing restriction for a long time, but in the end it’s what’s best. And ok WHO made up the no eating at night rule? I would seriously be so hungry I would never sleep!!

  18. May 16, 2011 3:29 am

    I LOVE YOUR POSTS!!!!!!!

  19. May 16, 2011 4:19 am

    Your posts are so inspiring. Seriously, they come at just the right time.
    & even though it’s not a big change, I’m upping my intake by 50 calories today & I’m hoping to work upwards from there as time goes on.
    It’s hard to admit to myself, but I know that I’m still not eating as much as I should be. It’s really tough to admit that.
    I love your positivity & your attitude! 🙂

  20. Hedda permalink
    May 16, 2011 5:10 am

    This is a really great post, Amanda. I know a lot of people ( me included ) will find this very motivational and helpful.
    The downsides of not eating enough is so many, a clear proof that a human being is borned to EAT. We need food to sustain our precious lives, to be the one we are and to make a difference in this world.

    I love that you mentioned mental hunger because it is such an important aspect of recovery. To realize that you need food even though your body doesn’t grumble-bumble, because your brain needs frequent nourishment to keep up a healthy and rational mentality. Snacking is my protection against disorded thoughts and urges, because when my body recieves fuel in- between meals its ability to fight ED increases.

    So, if I should add one thing to your list it would be the fundamental truth : Without food you die. Simple, raw and crucial as that.

  21. May 16, 2011 6:51 am

    I used to try to get by on running as low calories as I could without feeling “hungry”, now I’ve upped the calories quite a bit and what happened? I went from 10:30 mile paces to 9 mile paces.
    It works. everything you said is correct 🙂

  22. czechvegan permalink
    May 16, 2011 6:55 am

    This is an amazing, important and excellent post on an extremely important topic! There is so much talk about weight issues, about diets and lowering calorie intake, but no one ever speaks up about the opposite side of that. I agree with every single point you have posted, you are a clever head:)

  23. May 16, 2011 7:00 am

    Great post! I can completely agree with the mental part. Whenever I start to obsessively think about food and nothing else I usually know it’s time to go and eat something!

  24. May 16, 2011 8:11 am

    I agree, especially the part about the person who said not to eat after 7… crazy

  25. May 16, 2011 8:57 am

    Love this post!
    So true! I have to listen more to my body!
    Thanks for reminding me of these simple rules…

  26. May 16, 2011 9:25 am

    So true! Especially the constant obsession with food- I remember it getting so distracting that I literally could not have the physical or mental energy to do anything besides lie in bed looking at recipes/food porn/plan out my next meals. There are also of course the other side effects of malnourishment/not eating enough- really dull skin, thinning/falling out hair, soft nails, etc…not pretty

  27. May 16, 2011 10:27 am

    so so so true! when i was restricting heavily, I was so unproductive at work, from lack of energy and sleep and, ya know, starving myself. All of the areas you pinpointed happened to me. Now that I eat (and eat and eat!), my quality life is a 180 degree shift. Which is a very good thing.

  28. May 16, 2011 11:29 am

    I just wanted to pop by and say great post and I agree with it 100%.

    Love the blog and happy you started blogging again!

  29. May 16, 2011 11:38 am

    I completely agree with this list. I never succeed when I use restrict diets. The pictures you included here are killing me. I’m rummaging through the cupboards as I write!

  30. May 16, 2011 11:54 am

    And yet again you blow me away with such an amazing post. You never fail to do so 🙂
    I agree with everything you say 100% because sadly I have experienced all of these too. I’d also say that your personality changes. My parents and friends say how I seemed like a different person when I was restricting myself. I became sad, nothing made me enthusiastic, I lost my sense of humor, I wanted to be alone, I had no energy to want to do anything fun except focus on food and everything around it – and how to avoid it in situations like going out with other people for meals. Now I’m happy, full of energy, talkative, I’m funny and witty, I want to be with people and do things all the time!
    Food is an amazing thing…and not only do we need it for FUEL, but it is also meant to be enjoyable and TASTY!

  31. May 16, 2011 12:12 pm

    Great reminder! Just what i needed to read as I go grab a snack. 🙂
    I have most definatley experienced all the unpleasant symptoms of undereating,& enough is enough. Eat More Food!

  32. May 16, 2011 12:12 pm

    AWESOME POST!!! Seriously you are just AMAZING!! Everything you said is SO TRUE I love it!!! You are so right girl I HAVE to fuel myself for all those reasons and its only when you start fuelling yourself properly that you truly see the difference it makes! Love you you awesome girl!! 😀

  33. May 16, 2011 1:03 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. I love your blog- your outlook on life and healthy eating is amazing. I’m struggling with eating enough in my recovery but what you said is just true. When I don’t eat enough, I want to run but I just don’t have the energy to do it. I noticed the last time I ran after eating enough that it felt good and I felt great refueling afterwards. besides, isn’t eating the food much more amazing than just thinking about it?? 🙂

  34. May 16, 2011 3:03 pm

    Just found your blog & I love it!!

  35. May 16, 2011 3:40 pm

    Thanks for following me on my blog. I’m really new to it all (and there’s not many guys that blog about running/food) so it’s cool to meet some new people. Another excellent post by you. A few years ago I struggled with eating enough (I still go through my phases) and can really relate to the sleeping problems, crankiness, and obsess over food part. I still think that I do obsess over food, but I’m working on it. The hardest part for me with food is knowing how much I need in a day/how much I need on a rest day/restricting on days I’m not active. I love your pictures, overnight oats, and that breakfast!

  36. May 16, 2011 3:59 pm

    Thumbs up for eating more! I have experienced all of the negatives you mentioned and I don’t even want to start thinking about the rest of them like falling hair, breaking nails and all the other consequences of not eating enough that make one uglier instead of more beautiful. The one I hated the most was not being able to think about anything else but food. I was trying to concentrate on my studies but the lower number on the scale seemed more important. When I watched movies, I couldn’t remember almost anything after that because I was too busy planning my meals for the whole next week. To be honest, I don’t want to feel this way ever again and I will eat a double-sized breakfast if I have to.

  37. May 16, 2011 4:46 pm

    Awesome post!!!! 😀 I’m dealing with overcoming and eating disorder right now, and this reminded me how much better I’ll feel once I’m healed!!!

  38. May 16, 2011 5:08 pm

    I love this post! It’s so true, if I don’t eat enough (which is a lot) then I will be so cranky, and irritable. The trickiest part is listening to my body to know when I need more!

  39. May 16, 2011 5:22 pm

    Such a great post – and can I just say I misseeedddd you!!!! Honestly. I just freaked out a little bit.

  40. Jenna's Journey permalink
    May 16, 2011 8:13 pm

    great post! it is SO TRUE…eat more 🙂

  41. May 16, 2011 10:40 pm

    Too true! I used to think about food way too much. Now I enjoy my (bigger) meals so much more and feel so much better and more balanced!

  42. May 16, 2011 11:36 pm

    I am so glad to have found your blog, especially this post! You have your head on so straight when it comes to food and I love that!

  43. May 18, 2011 9:28 am

    I love this post and your blog!

    I am in a weird boat right now … i have had an ED for over 7 years… i am HAPPY right now… dancing, and getting a lot more “workouts” in that i have in the past.. (not intentionally, but really for the love of it)… my eating is still…. less.. I dont know HOW many calories I am eating.. but I dont eat a lot in the day, but will eat a bigger snack at night.
    (weird, how ed patterns change, and thoughts & “rules” change for differant people)
    I am gaining weight right now… and am so confused and upset.. I am not activly trying to lose.. but I want to know WHY i am gaining on so little? or what I used to eat.. but now I am more active.. ?
    Can any one help?

  44. May 20, 2011 8:39 pm

    so so true! ED’s and hunger make us cranky, upset, and just plain old not so good! Eating is SO much better 🙂

    I am loving reading your posts again!


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