This is the part you have to prepare for, because you’ve woken your body up a bit, and it needs replenishing and it may well start demanding the things it needs it quite quickly, in unexpected ways. It is important you start listening to your body while you do this, if you feel too full don’t eat. If you feel a bit sick at the thought of something, have something which will help you digest what you had. When your impulse is to make a roll up, or go have a fag because you just made the food and are usually not involved in the eating, now you have to transform that to an impulse to eat.
You will have to consider what you are doing, go shopping, and get ready to do this. You may have to pull off a minor financial miracle to be able to.
I had no desire for sweets or the high calorie foods I thought I would want, at this stage, and I think partly that is because this process is about your body relearning how it responds to food and high fat, processed, sugary foods have quite the effect when you are doing this and they don’t make you feel very nice
Step 2. Adding foods from the different food groups and building a diet that will keep you going, even if you only intend to do it for as long as you feel ill. I am not sure what kind of planning a nutritionist would expect you to do, but I know I am not particularly great at things like rotas and meal plans, and quite honestly the novelty of eating at all wasn’t something I wanted to interfere with. Its entirely patronising to expect that your entire life will bend to your new eating routine, am not daft, mine couldn’t, so it is important to use this time to see how you can fit food into your life.
It is particularly important that you start intaking protein at this point.
1. Keep Setting the Alarm
To remind you to obtain food at regular intervals, but make sure you start picking stuff from each food group and try to make eating a fairly constant but not overwhelming thing. Time each stop if you want, or just set the alarm for small meals, at desired interval and try to keep snacking in the interim, and make sure you have a supply of snacks that will help you feel quite solid.
The point of this process is for you to get used to eating, to introduce more and more foods to your diet, but in a way you can manage. A steady stream is about the way I find best to describe it. It doesnt have to be a meal every hour, a handful of nuts, a piece of fruit, a few mouthfuls of fish, a piece of chicken, some mashed potato, some porridge, a meal you have prepared, dinner with the kids…. don’t worry too much about routines, or stuff appearing as proper meals, just enjoy doing it and keep it coming.
2. Calorie Counting
Calories are energy. Your body requires a certain amount of energy to function each day. You require a certain amount of calories. Food has calories of varying kinds and in varying quantities.
It is worth beginning to be aware right now, of what your calorie intake should be eventually, and beginning to be aware of what you are taking in and that you should be aiming for there. It is a good idea to know how you are building up during the course of a day, so you can plan through the day, keep an eye on how you are doing, when you are likely to crash. To be honest, with any calorie counting I think there is a risk of getting weird about it, I don’t think you have know the exact calorie value of anything, but it is a very good idea to start learning about the relationship between what you put in your body and what you can then do with it.
There are excellent calorie counters all over the net, and tools which will help you calculate roughly how many calories you need and how many you are taking in. Livestrong have some great tools. You should be feeling much stronger and should have much more energy, and this helps with motivation a great deal. It is worth knowing which foods are the most calorie dense, learning which foods are good to have around as snacks, which will provide long term energy, when you need an energy boost.
3. Why you have to be prepared at this point.
You are not used to feeling hungry, your body is not used to having to respond to hunger and it can be very confusing, and you can crash. At this point you MUST have ample food available to meet those needs, with little interruption because you can crash quite quickly and end up on your arse. Make you sure you have a stock of nutrient and protein dense food. Nuts are a wonder food, they are calorie dense and can stop problems in their tracks. It is by listening to your body and responding to it that you will learn your new routines. Have something like mashed potato, ready brek, or porridge available to make sure you can at least keep going, keep food supplements on standby.
3.Food as fuel not reward
Food gives you energy to do stuff, when you do things you use energy whether you have given food to your body or not. Instead of using food as a reward or replacement, treat it as fuel. A bowl of porridge BEFORE you take the kids school to give you the energy you need to do it. A banana before you do the housework, breakfast before you set off to work, to give you energy to get there. You would not expect to run your car on fumes and just be able to top up when you remember.
3. More about chew, chew, swallow.
While I don’t think you should put pressure on yourself about calories, routines, or anything else just yet, the thing you need to do is learn to override those impulses to put that food down. Learn what they are. When they happen. Practice telling the kids they have to wait until you have eaten, practice telling yourself things can wait for the two minutes it will take you to sit and finish that food.
Nobody is going to die if you finish your soup before you go and sort out whatever it is. This the same change of attitude needed to assert your right to treat malnutrition. You need to stop putting your food down to go deal with stuff, you need to prioritise your need to eat. You have the right to prioritise food for yourself, the right to eat. Finish your food if you start it, you paid for it, you prepared it because you need it. And making sure you know eating is an important enough reason to stop what you are doing. You have to prioritise that time for yourself because nobody else will and you will need to defend it. Learn to ignore the impulse to give up after a few mouthfuls when it is dull.
When you feel yourself about to put that food down, you tell yourself to chew, chew, swallow. and repeat. Don’t push yourself if you feel sick, or physically too full, or make yourself uncomfortable, but for everything else you are teaching your body that it needs to eat, because it does.
4. Record it
At this point it might be worth keeping a record of what you eat, times, how you felt, anything you feel is significant. You may spot patterns over days which you can use. Your calorie intake, the cost of the food you have bought, alsorts of things could be important to you in your planning and may be worth recording.
5. Prepare for emergencies. You may experience worsening symptoms of malnutrition, and you body may feel like your body is demanding and using nutrients quicker than you can get them in, or you can experience different highs and lows associated with your new intake of food. This can be frightening. Make sure someone knows what you are doing, that you have seen your GP, and keep eating. It may be that you have to go right down to very protein and nutrient dense food, it does not matter if you like this food, you have to eat it and keep eating it until your symptoms have passed.
If you can have someone available, stay with someone, or have someone available to look after any dependents, this would be good. If you cannot do these things you have to make sure you have ample food available to respond to your body.