Eating disorders help and support thread

I just really wanted to thank @KlemenSj for starting this thread. I think that eating disorders are far more prevalent, especially in the endurance sports community, than anybody likes to admit. I have also struggled with anorexia nervosa/orthorexia nervosa, and it helps me to just to hear that other people have had similar struggles. I am in a much better place now, physically and mentally, than I was when I was at my worst, but I still doubt that my eating and relationship with food will ever be “normal.” However, I think that the vast majority of people have a complicated relationship with food, weight, shape and size and almost everyone could benefit from talking to a professional about it. Eating disorders are messy, complicated and extremely painful diseases, and I’m so sorry for anyone that is going through this.

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Definitely nervous fear. Fear because I’m not in control. Fear of eating something I did not mark safe, I don’t know how many calories it has, fear of gaining weight. I would feel bad for days if I ate something “unhealthy” and would restrict my calories until I’d feel like I made up for it.

Exactly this. I believe eating disorders are more common than we think, but people (including me) hide it because they fear the stigma. Even if two teammates had the same problems, none would be willing to speak openly about them and share the support, because they would be afraid of being laughed at, isolated or stigmatized.
That’s why I think internet might actually be good, because the anonymity weirdly gives us more courage to speak openly and share our stories. Like I, @sloanekathryn, @preferuphill, @MK_2 and @Jridesbikes did. Thank you all for sharing! I wish you all the best in 2021. Whatever problems we might have, we will eventually overcome them!

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I think I have come across wrongly. I was trying to share. I focused on comorbidity because I have a concern that there are some people stuck in an eating disorder and have a common comorbidity, which, if recognized and treated would help them recover.
For me, OCD sometimes focuses on food.
This used to lead me to obsessive thinking, restrictions, bingeing, fear of specific foods…
For me though, the focus of obsession has changed over the years. In the past it used to be just as debilitating as my previous eating disorder. I spent many years in therapy, some of which was productive and some of which wasn’t, because of the complexity of comorbidity.
I have got better and better at spotting a growing obsession and can more frequently resist getting sucked into and overwhelmed. This means that I sometimes just have the feeling of obsession and anxiety with no focus. It passes faster if I don’t feed it. It often comes after a hard training session and I think it’s my reaction to stress - my mind/ body’s way of using old patterns of protection.
My best way to neutralize this feeling (that I’m feeling now as I write this) is kindness; and the hope that anyone reading this may feel that towards themselves.

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Hey, all! We discuss healthy weight loss and maintaining fitness through weight loss on the podcast this morning. Enjoy!

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Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy listening to Nate on the podcast, but I find sometimes he does focus too much on w/kg, which in some ways unintentionally encourages this kind of behavior. Nice to see the discussion today from the team, in addition to the posts recently put out showing power is king.

A year ago, I weighed a lot less. Was as low as 64kg (at 180cm), and my ftp was stalled around 310-315. I focused way too much on restricting calories. I got disheartened at regularly getting dropped despite training hard. I’m now closer to 70kg, fuel a lot more and ftp around 350 which is really due to eating a lot more. Quite shocking how fast power can go up when you get nutrition right. My climbing isn’t really that much better than it was, but I no longer get destroyed on the flats, crosswinds etc.

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Hi all. Thanks @KlemenSj for being brave enough to start this thread, it’s an important one. There is so much good information here (the line from @KatuskaMTB talking about riding fasted and then being starving had me wondering if he was spying on me about 10 years ago). I’ve been playing this game for a long time and I hope some of my experiences/realizations can help.

I think I could sit here and type for two hours and not even scratch the surface. I’m going to try not to do that.

A little background. I’ll be 44 in a few months, and looking back now I can point to the summer after freshman year of HS as the start of my orthorexia (I’m not even sure that term existed then). That was summer of 1992. I certainly had a lot of hard times in HS, and my mother dragged my to shrink after shrink trying to ‘fix’ me. First they said anorexia, then OCD, then this then that. The culmination of that was her finally finding a ‘pill pusher’ (her words) who would prescribe me anti-depressants, which would ‘help’ me.

I bring this up because I really understand when others on this thread talk about being different, their need to be normal, to be ‘fixed’, about hiding themselves from others, etc, etc. I did a lot of that, and as we all know, it can be difficult and exhausting (especially for a nerdy high school kid). At the beginning it was all about calories for me. No calorie was a good calorie. I’ve got a lot of foods on my do not eat list, headlined by butter and mayo (butter is okay for baking, mayo is suitable for nothing).

I get past most of my anxieties by eating the same thing everyday, probably 350 days a year (very minor variations, for example grape nuts one day, cheerios the next). I only eat out during breaks after big events/end of season (I’m in such a break now; my wife and I both agree that if I make it through with only one freak out that’ll be a win). I’ve been doing this for about 20 year (note, the ‘same thing’ that I eat every day has evolved over those 20 years, so my daily intake this year was different than in 2005). At this point I eat very very well (healthy fats have only recently made their appearance on my list).

I’ve been doing cycling/triathlon seriously for about 20 years now, and I’ve had more rules than I can list here. No calories on any ride under three hours. No calories while running. No calories in the first hour of a ride. I’ve done a lot of ironman races and I used the say that if there was a competition for fastest finisher with the least amount of calories, I would win hands down (sadly that’s not a real event. :frowning: ).

It’s only relatively recently that I’ve gotten to a better place with eating/food/fueling. One thing that has helped with that is concentrating on fueling. I am eating this to get better on the bike/run/swim/etc. It’s taken a long time but that has helped, and I’ve really made progress (I don’t follow any of those fake rules listed above anymore, although I still have to stop myself from falling into old habits). For example, in winter/spring of 2017 I trained for a half IM, and then in winter/spring 2019 I trained for an ironman. I estimate that I consumed more on-bike calories per week during my ironman prep than I did in my ENTIRE 16 week half ironman prep in 2017 (note the rule about no calories on rides under three hours).

The other thing (other than fueling) that has helped me is finally accepting myself. I no longer believe that I need to be fixed. I don’t think I am missing out on anything. I’m realized that some people have food as a hobby. I don’t have that hobby, and that’s okay. People say ‘how can you live like that, weighing your food? It must be so terrible.’ But I could say the same thing about them not training hard, having a goal, pushing through a barrier. You think it’s sad that I don’t want to go to dim sum with you? I think it’s sad that you’re not training for a fast 10k.

But the real, big, major thing I realized is that if people truly care about you, then they don’t care what you eat (as long as you are healthy, of course). I spent years either begging off of meals out or making some lame excuse about it. Lots of hiding myself, only revealing my crazy to a few close friends. Now I don’t. If friends/family are going out to eat or to a bar, I go along. I just don’t order anything. This used to give me lots of anxiety, until I realized: people don’t care. A real friend does not care if you eat pizza with him. A real friend does not care if you drink a beer with her. I can sit and have real quality time with a friend while he eats pizza and I drink water or eat a salad that I brought from home. What I eat isn’t interesting, if you want to make our whole relationship about what I don’t eat, then it’s going to be a short relationship. I can write down a long list of people who weren’t okay with how I eat. But really they weren’t okay with me. That’s okay, I hope they’re doing well.

Oof, this has indeed gotten long. Thanks all for providing this safe space to talk about such issues. I look forward to the discussion.

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This was really meaningful to me, thanks so much for having the courage and grace to share it. Thank you.

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Reading this made me go through so much emotions. Eating the same thing every day, having 1000 rules, no calories on rides under three hours … pretty much like you were speaking of me.
Thank you so much for sharing your story, I wish you all the best :hugs:

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I’d suggest adding in non-processed foods like whole grains (rolled oats, quinoa, barley, farro, brown rice, etc) to your diet (great for all 3 meals and snacks). I’ve listened to th TR podcast a lot, and other than Nate’s cereal carb-loading obsession, he emphasizes eating whole foods (I feel like anytime I make a salad with quinoa or sweet potato I think of him lol!). Matt Fitzgerald also emphasizes this in his book. You can google the health benefits of whole foods vs processed food and your body responds to then, but carbs are vital for endurance athletes and it’s hard to gain weight with these types of foods because unlike bread or pasta, it’s a lot harder to over eat because they are more satiating (from protein and fiber content).

I’d add that dairy, meat, and cooking oils are low-nutrient, calorie-dense (so easier to gain weight), and have a place for endurance athletes but that’s not going to fuel your workouts (including recovery to prepare for the next one). You want to focus on nutrient-dense foods, like your fruits and veg, but also whole grains, plus nuts and seeds (smaller portions but they also add a lot of important nutrients).

Cooking oil is low nutrient/high calorie, but dairy and meat are insanely good sources of nutrients.

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Was thinking the exact same thing. Can’t imagine putting milk, yogurt, etc into a “low nutrient” category.

I don’t think this thread is the place for sharing weight loss tips. There are plenty of other threads for that.

It seems you may have misunderstood the point of what KlemenSj is sharing, and more broadly, what the point of this whole discussion is.

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You completely missed the point of this thread.
I, and I am sure that many others who suffer like me, am very aware of healthy nutrition choices and foods to incorporate. If I had to characterize myself, I’d say that I’m a strict whole-food-plant-based diet follower and incorporate many grains to my diet.

I really don’t understand what you meant by this, this is completely wrong.
To end, this thread wasn’t meant to be a lose/gain weight thread. I believe you didn’t read the posts above very well or didn’t quite understand them.

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I posted this a few weeks ago in the weight loss thread

I am going to put this out here in the hope that someone has similar experiences and can offer advice or that it helps someone else.

I have a serious problem with binge eating and I don’t really know what to do.
At the start of 2015 I weighed close to 18 stone, today having weighed myself I am 12 stone 11.
This goes up and down throughout the year and the average is probably 12 stone 6.

My problem is that its very black and white, I am either eating quality food and nourishing my body or there is no control. Yesterday we had staff training, loads of people had bought cake and I sampled each one, because it had already been a bad day I had a KFC for tea and then went on to have some more cake and halloween sweets later, I dread to think the number of calories it was but what is worst is that I just feel physically bad because of it.

No matter how many good days/ weeks I have I always return to these binges especially in the evening and I really don’t know what to do about it. Not sure what I expect from this but I have never really voiced my issues with disorded eating and I couldn’t imagine actually telling people I knew.

Its certainly not been a good time of it when it comes to my binge eating, if it wasn’t for training I know that my weight would be out of control. at the minute I am doing well again because I have goals in mind but at some point it will rear its head. I feel almost like an alcoholic (which seems ridiciulous to voice) because every morning I have hangover like symptoms from just eating rubbish but I still do it to myself. These last few day’s I have slept better and felt more refeshed when waking but I still would quite happily destroy the big packet of christmas biscuits tonight and feel very contempt while I do it.

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I’m reading the stories and I’m starting thinking that maybe I was on the same boat as you guys. At least pretty close to the boat :slight_smile: Most of my races/events are in the mountains. So w/kg is everything and I gain weight pretty easy. So calories restrictions, safe foods, (too) much training volume is sth I’m familiar with. But I made 2 important decisions that changed my life.

1. I went to nutritionist.

The reason was not to be healthy but to loose some weight after my crash and recovery period (I gained like 5kgs). But the guy opened my eyes. He incorporated so many “unhealthy” (at least according to the old me) food into my diet, the diet is flexible, taste great. He showed me that in some cases/period I can eat unhealthy food (during holidays, off season, after big days in the saddle etc.) and the most important he showed me how much should I eat to stay in a top shape and gain some watts. In the recipes there is no kcals and grams, there are spoons, handfuls etc. I know what type of ingredients I can swap between. I don’t even think about my weight right now but I’m super lean (according to my standards: 177cm, 65kg, ~10%BF). I understand more right now: how to eat, what is good for me, how should I feel. I understood one junky meal or even a week on holidays doesn’t change much, you just have to be consistent 80% of the time. And I know that even if I give myself too much space for eating during off season my nutritionist will help me to be in the shape before my main races. And you know, you don’t want jump from one bad habit to another, from restricted food and kcals to overeating and junk food. It’s not good for you either. So, find a good nutritionist, build good relationship with him, trust in his knowledge and when you see results after couple of weeks you will change your habits. Step by step. But in a few month you will be in a different place.

2. Hire a coach.

The first thing he did - cut my volume and intensity. He helped me understand that I can’t progress all the time. He explained what given training phase goals are, how should I feel during the base training, what is the training for. He taught me that I ruin my performance using HV plan and the goal is to be stronger not to feel tired all the time. He showed me that only a few workouts should be feel as tough and most of the training can be enjoyable and I got remember why I start training and riding a bike for the first place. Good coach knows who needs extra motivation and who needs to be stopped from overdoing things. And again, if you find a good coach and you see results you will change your attitude.

Take care guys. Find your own way, be happy, stay healthy and enjoy your ride(life) :slight_smile:

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So many different types and combinations of eating disorders. All unhealthy and difficult to live with. IMO none come from a lack of education about what is a healthy way to eat.
I understand your feeling of addiction, because when I was carrying out eating disordered behaviour, I felt addicted to the actions around both restriction and excess. I’m guessing there is a physiological basis for this.

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Encouraging the eating of carbs is not a weight loss tip. My point is white bread and whole grains are not equal, even if they are both carbs, so if you’re going to pick one you’re better off add whole grains to an otherwise fruit and veggies diet.

You mentioned eating habits, and said you mainly eat fruit and veggies, and low calorie foods. Those are great for a myriad of health reasons but not enough to fuel endurance athletes (before and during workouts or for recovery), hence my comments about whole grains as a way to add good carbs to your safe list. That’s great to hear you eat a lot of whole foods, including grains (you didn’t mention that).

Sure. Dairy is fortified with micronutrients, but also high in saturated fat. Not really a health food for athletes that’s going to get you that PR.

I read this a week ago, and it broke my heart and I keep thinking about it.

As we start this new year, I really wish you health and healing. I hope you can find some love for the sport and your body. My god, I think you could be a pro if you fueled yourself. I don’t mean to judge or make light. It takes so much self awareness to recognize our own issues and so much courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable.

To everyone struggling, please be safe. And know that you are absolutely not alone. Happy New Year. :heart:

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