Q&A: Weight Gain, Fear Foods and Calorie Counting

Are you gaining weight? How did you stop counting calories? How do you tackle fear foods? They were all questions which I answered in July’s monthly Q&A over on my Instagram stories.

I enjoy filming these Instagram story Q&A’s so much and they seem to have become a monthly tradition. I had a few requests that I write my answers up as a blog post too, so here it is!

You can watch and listen to me answering all of these questions over on my Instagram highlights as well.

Part 1

Life

Q1. What unis are you looking at?

At the moment my top cities are Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham and Leicester.

Q2. If you had to be an Olympic athlete of any sport, what would it be?

I’m not certain that’s even in the Olympics, but I would probably say netball. I’ve never been a sport person but it’s what I enjoyed most at school.

Q3. Favourite clothing stores to shop at?

Topshop, River Island and Asos.

Q4. Favourite Vegan Youtuber?

I don’t specifically watch Vegan youtubers, but I love Venetia Falconer. I love both her Youtube and Instagram accounts and her podcast, Talking Tastebuds, is one of my favourites.

Q5. What books do you recommend?

Gone Girl has got to be one of my favourites as it was so addictive! I also love The Miniaturist and two of my favourite authors are Jojo Moyes and John Green.

Q6. Can you post your skincare routine?

To be honest I don’t specifically have a routine – I wash my face, use a cleanser to remove my make up off and I use a toner some days, but that’s about as far as it goes for me.

Recovery

Q7. Does it get better? The struggle?

100%. I’ve been in situations, even a month or two ago when I had no hope for the future, I couldn’t see a way out and I didn’t think that things could ever get better. But perseverance is key. It’s incredible how much of a positive switch there can be in your mindset in such a short space of time, you just have to push through the tough times to get there.

Q8. How many calories are you eating a day?

Counting calories isn’t something that I focus on and I haven’t done for around 3 years. Day to day, it’s not something that’s important to me and when I’m cooking or creating my own recipes it’s not something that comes to mind. However I will say that they are something that I’m still aware of when I’m out and seeing them on packagin can sometimes influence my decisions.

Q9. How did you stop counting calories?

I stopped counting calories when I came out of hospital. During my stay I obviously wasn’t able to, which proved to me that I didn’t need to and I haven’t done ever since.

Q10. Are you weight restored?

No.

Q11. How underweight are you?

I don’t know my weight currently and I haven’t known it for 3 years – it’s not something that’s of importance to me. I would so much rather focus on getting my body to a point where’s it’s happiest and healthiest, rather than a number on the scales.

Q12. How come your weight is still so low? From your Instagram pictures you seem to eat a lot and big portions?

I 100% post everything that I eat, in fact most of the time it’s more than what’s shown in pictures, as I always add extra toppings etc post photo. The only explanation that I have for that is that for my body, it’s obviously still not enough.

Q13. I know you eat everything that you post, but do you post everything that you eat?

I definitely don’t post everything that I eat and I think that I would be quite concerned for myself if I did!

Q14. Do you plan to gain weight?

Yes! Whilst gaining weight isn’t the sole purpose of recovery in my eyes, weight restoration is essential.

Q15. Are you currently maintaining or gaining weight? How is it going for you?

I’m working with my dietitian under the principles of CBT-E. Although the initial stages aren’t focused solely on weight gain, it’s something that is definitely my goal in the long term.

When I first explained this treatment approach, I think that a lot of people misinterpreted it. It’s not that I’m avoiding weight gain. CBT-E is an individualized approach – first we focus on the rules, routines and behaviors whilst increasing both the amount of food and the frequency. These initial changes don’t necessarily result in weight gain – but they will help me to feel healthier, happier, more satisfied and stronger. I’ll be eating so much more but my weight won’t have changed – although my head will convince me otherwise. And this is the interesting part – you become so convinced that you have gained weight as a result of the increases, but you turn up to your appointment, step on the scales and you’ve either lost weight or maintained. It highlights just how distorted an eating disorder can cause your perception of your body to be and you start to build more trust with food before moving forwards to focus more directly on weight restoration.

I’m still in the very early stages. Although though the initial focus isn’t on weight gain specifically, it’s something that I am welcoming. If I gain weight, then I gain weight. Just because that isn’t the sole focus right now, it doesn’t meant that it’s wrong. I know that I need to. As hard as it is for the disordered part of my brain to accept, I know weight restoration is 100% necessary to fully recover.

In order to live the life that I want and achieve everything that I want to, I need to get to a healthy weight.

You can read more about CBT-E on the official website and find out why it’s so effective here.

Q16. Have you experienced extreme hunger?

Yes – it’s something that I’ve been dealing with for the past 8 months or so/ It’s not a pleasant experience and sometimes it’s to the point where it’s physically painful. But it’s something that I’m working with my dietitian to overcome.

Q17. How did you set up your recovery journal?

Starting a journal has helped me so much more than I thought it would. I’ve written a blog post with all of the details along with a video on my IGTV too.

Food

Q18. What is the best Vegan ice cream brand you’ve eaten?

I love the MiiRo salted caramel ice creams and the chocolate fudge brownie Ben & Jerry’s is delicious.

Q19. Raw nuts or nut butter?

Nut butter.

Q20. What are your favourite types of nut butter?

Mani Life is undoubtedly the best peanut butter – both their deep roast and original crunchy peanut butters are insane! But I also love cashew butter and the Pip & Nut cherry bakewell almond butter is one of my more recent favourites.

Part 2

Life

Q21. Boy and girl dog names?

I have a female dog and she’s called Maisie, so that’s about as far as it goes for girls names. But I love the name Monty for a boy.

Q22. Do you exercise?

I practice Yoga and walk Maisie every day.

Q23. Where did you get this outfit from?

  • Top – Pretty Little Thing
  • Jacket – Missguided
  • Jeans – Topshop
  • Trainers – Khaki suede New Balance
  • Necklace – Asos

Q24. Tips for learning to love your body?

It’s definitely still something that I’m in the process of, but I have a whole blog post dedicated to how I deal with bad body image.

Q25. How did you manage to kickstart your food blog and get followers and sponsors?

I even question how it happened myself! If you’re getting started then my top tips would be consistency and authenticity. As for working with brands, it’s something that comes with time.

Q26. Would you be able to do giveaways to other countries?

I have done a couple of international giveaways before and I’ll hopefully be able to do more in the future. Unfortunately it’s not always down to me as the brand specifies whether the giveaway is UK or Worldwide based, due to the shipping costs.

Q27. Tips for bloating and stomach pain?

I’ve definitely been dealing with bloating recently. It’s common in recovery and you just have to keep eating and push through regardless. It’s definitely an uncomfortable feeling and can be hard to deal with mentally if your body image is already low, but don’t use it as an excuse to restrict.

Recovery

Q28. Are you following a meal plan?

I’m not following a meal plan – it’s something that I would be reluctant to do as I don’t want to lose my freedom or choices around food.

Q29. How many meals do you eat in a day?

3 main meals along with snacks.

Q30. Do you still have fear foods?

There are definitely still foods that I’m not 100% comfortable with. Carbs has always been a big one for me – there was a point when if you’d asked me to eat a grape that I would have refused and bananas were always a no go. I’m a lot more comfortable with them than I was but they definitely still need some work.

Q31. How do you tackle fear foods? Do you have any tips?

The only way to overcome the fear is to tackle them head on and eat them. The more often that you include them in your diet, the more that you’ll be able to normalise them and realise that nothing bad happens when you do eat them.

Q32. Do you struggle with exercise? How do you cope with it if you do?

I didn’t realise how much of a problem obsessive, compulsive exercise had become for me until a couple of months ago. Since then I’ve completely stopped working out, cut down on Yoga, cut Maisie’s dog walk in half and I’m having more rest days.

Q33. Ever experienced extreme hunger?

I was asked this in part 1 but was reluctant to go in to much detail because I don’t want to trigger anyone (please skip ahead if you think that might be the case), but it’s something that I’m definitely struggling with at the moment so want to address.

It’s definitely not pleasant – the only word that I can use to describe it is violent. It’s hunger to the point where it’s physically painful – it consumes all of my thoughts and leaves me feeling as if I can’t function. It’s accompanied with headaches, chest pains and it’s definitely having an impact on my sleep too – I struggle to fall asleep and when I do, I wake in the night because of it.

I’m constantly clock watching, on countdown to the next meal or snack. It leaves me irritable and moody. I’ve spent so long being scared to feel full or satisfied – Anorexia tricked me in to thinking that my whole life’s purpose was to starve myself, but I’m so done with being hungry all of the time. I’ve restricted and starved myself for long enough. I want to feel satisfied so that I can function normally and be more productive.

It’s something that I’ve discussed with my dietitian already and plan on bringing up again in our next session. I think one of the reasons why I’ve been reluctant to talk about it is because I worried that people would comment simply telling me to ‘eat more’ – and whilst that’s one thing that definitely needs to happen anyway, it’s not fun when you eat nearly a whole share bag of nachos loaded with chilli, queso and guac, followed by dessert and a bowl of cereal, yet feel like you haven’t eaten in years!

Q34. What are some of the challenges your dietitian has come up with?

So far we’ve added in milky coffees, supper, increased my breakfast and worked on eating faster.

Q35. How do you stay positive after knock backs?

It’s something that I’m still trying to teach myself but one thing that I find really helps is remembering why I stared in the first place. I like to weigh up the negatives against the positives and make a list of motivating factors which really helps me to put everything in to perspective.

Q36. How and when did you start having struggles around food?

I was bullied about my weight since Primary school, so I was always aware of and self conscious about my body. My diet growing up wasn’t particularly healthy, but I never really cared. But then I reached the last year of high school, with my prom and my first holiday abroad coming up, I had more motivation that ever to lose weight. I was socially isolated and became more focused on food and exercise and things went downhill from there.

Q27. How are you doing? Like how are you actually, honestly doing?

I actually feel as if I’m in a pretty good place at the moment and I’ve felt genuine happiness for the first time in forever.

I feel so much more positive, motivated and determined to beat this. I don’t know what switched in my head over the past couple of months, but something definitely did and I’m so happy about it.

I’m so pleased with my treatment team, the approach to recovery and the progress that I’ve made so far. I actually feel excited and hopeful about the future.

Whilst my body changing and gaining weight is still of course a scary concept to an extent, I look in the mirror and part of me is actually OK with it. I (partly) genuinely don’t care anymore – I know that it’s for the best and is what will give me my life back.

Q38. Any tips on how not to be bothered by calorie numbers on packets?

As hard as it is, try to stop yourself from looking at them as much as possibly. I know that it’s hard when they’re so blatantly plastered across the front of some packets, but if it can be avoided then don’t go searching for it.

It’s also helpful to remember that food is about so much more than numbers – the taste and enjoyment are both so much more important. Plus the number doesn’t necessarily dictate it’s nutritional value either.

Q39. When you say that you’re aiming for weight restoration, is it a healthy BMI or your set point?

As we’re using the CBT-E approach, it’s not something that we’ve discussed specifically in much detail. I would probably lean more towards set point rather than the BMI scale. My therapist has mentioned BMI, whereas me and my dietitian had a conversation about set points in our last session. But either way, my goal is to be healthy and happy.

Q40. In terms of recovery, are you struggling more with Anorexia or Orthorexia?

Anorexia. I have a blog post dedicated to my experience of Orthorexia and the steps that I’ve taken to help overcome it.

Q41. Do you think your Veganism and wellness is disordered?

As I talk about in my Orthorexia post, I definitely went through a stage when my obsession with wellness was fueled by my eating disorder. Thankfully, I’m not at that point anymore and I’m a lot more relaxed about my food and lifestyle choices, all of which was kick started by the reintroduction of gluten.

Q42. How do you know how much to eat to make progress?

My dietitian is helping me to manage my food intake and increases.

Q43. Have you thought anymore about being Vegan after your dietitian asked you to?

It’s something that is of course on my mind and she continues to bring up in our sessions, but I’m still undecided about. I’m not ruling anything out at the moment as I know that I need to do what’s best for my mental and physical health, but I think that I will always remain plant based.

Q44. How did you start recovery? Did something inspire you?

Returning to treatment over the past couple of months was definitely kick started by the fact that after 4 years, I realised that I’d given up too much of my life to this illness. Anorexia has taken far too much from me and provided me with nothing in return and it’s time to get my life back.

I’d relapsed and I was at one of my lowest points ever but it was the wake up call that I needed. I realised that I was sat around waiting for a reason to recover – for a passion and a purpose but I realised that the only way to achieve any of those is through recovery. You can read more about it in this post.

Q45. I love how passionate you are about your approach to recovery. Whilst the evidence doesn’t support it, I truly wish you the best. Maybe you’re on to something.

There is actually a lot of supporting evidence for CBT-E. Whilst there’s no one size fits all approach and it might not have worked for you, I feel as if this is the best fit for me right now and I’m so happy with the progress that I’ve made in such a short space of time.

Food

Q46. What is a typical day of eating for you?

Right now it consists of breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, dessert and supper too.

Q47. Do you eat junk food everyday?

It depends what you define as ‘junk’ food. Whilst I don’t agree with using those terms around food, I definitely always include something more indulgent or a sweet treat throughout the day.

Q48. How to branch out?

In terms of food choices, I would say get some inspiration from recipe books and Pinterest is a really great resource too. Look for and try new products in the supermarkets and revisit old favourites too.

Keep up to date with my Instagram stories so that you know when I’m doing my next Q&A or leave any questions that you want answered in the comments below.

You can watch my previous Q&A’s here:

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Hi, I'm Yasmin! Plant based recipe developer and certified health and wellness influencer. I share simple, nourishing plant based recipes along with tips on healthy living, mental health and well being, in the hope that I can inspire others to be the healthiest and happiest versions of themselves.

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