How to stop obsessing about food after restricting?

Last year I developed an eating disorder, I began comfort eating for a few months while going through a tough time, gained a stone, this scared me so I tried to diet, really struggled as I had no clue about nutrition but then decided to cut out sugar and eat only whole foods, I quickly lost the weight but somewhere got a bit lost and began heavily restricting while over exercising. I ended up eating around 800 calories a day and running anywhere between 5-10 miles every morning. I naturally ended up binge eating at the weekends but I still lost weight and was borderline underweight within a few months. I slowly increased my calories to (a still unacceptable) 1200 a day by the beginning of this year and was doing less exercise. In the last 6 months I have mostly been eating 1400-1600 calories a day and doing a mixture of weight lifting and running around 5 miles a couple of times a week, much less exercise than last year. I do eat a bit more at the weekends when at social events and sometimes overeat which I hate but I find it hard to stop myself. I'm back to the weight I was before I started comfort eating last year, a healthy weight that I was for years before all of this, my clothes that I've owned for years fit perfectly again and because of the strength training I look better than I ever have!

However my brain is still totally messed up, I'm so obsessed with food, I can't stop thinking about it all the time, like what I should eat, what I shouldn't eat, when will I next eat, I find it hard to decide what to eat when out with do I be healthy/safe or will I be jealous of other peoples slightly more unhealthy choices, I tend to yoyo between eating really healthy and feeling really good then I just lose control and binge for a few days. I don't trust myself at social events where there's buffet style food because I end up stuffing my face. I end up so full it hurts but I still want to eat… I just want to know how I can get my brain back to how it was before last year, I want the relaxed healthy attitude I had with food again. Does anyone know how long I’ll feel like this? I thought it was supposed to return to normal after eating enough calories for a while but I still can’t stop thinking about food, it’s taking over my life and I’m miserable with it. I wish I could just not ever thinking about it apart from when I’m hungry.

Has anyone else been in a similar situation if so how did you stop thinking about food? How long did it take?


  • Stilllosing26
    Stilllosing26 Posts: 256 Member
    I know EXACTLY how you feel. My approach to this problem was somewhat strange, but it did work. I became a vegan after seeing a couple of films/ documentaries on how the animals are treated and pumped full of antibiotics and gmo,along with some videos about the health benefits of a plant based diet. I never needed to log again after going vegan because it is VERY difficult to gain weight on a vegan diet, and any vegan will tell you this. Now I know this may not be the solution for you, but seriously, delete the app, and just live your life.. It's what I did, and although I took a different approach, it worked. You shouldn't be scared to eat. You know when you are eating too much, and too little, so just follow that happy medium, and enjoy healthy, nutrient dense food, and you'll have NOTHING to worry about. You were blessed to lose weight, and I promise you it wont be hard to maintain you're weight. Go on and enjoy food, and your life! Hope this helps :)

    And try your best to just block food out of your mind. It's not a terrible thing to think about food every once in a while, in fact, it's good that you're so aware of what you are eating! And whenever you're at a buffet or out at dinner, just remember all of the hard work you have done, and try to let that be what keeps you from going overboard on food!
  • missylectro
    missylectro Posts: 448 Member
    I'm totally going through the same thing. I think I am more obsessed with food now that I am trying to lose weight.
  • tawny7
    tawny7 Posts: 276 Member
    I would think an eating disorder will not just go away based on the amount of calories you are eating. I've been seeing a therapist for a few months and this is helping me a lot. Have you considered finding a social worker who specializes in eating disorders? It might be helpful.
  • bangles501
    bangles501 Posts: 26 Member
    I think going vegan would be too restrictive and triggerring for me. Besides I can't eat too many beans as they give me tummy troubles and also I love meat and need it to fuel my weight lifting. I don't eat very much dairy through. My question isn't really about maintaining my weight, it is obviously a concern but I think once my mind is in check I will be able to maintain easily as I've always been quite health conscious and never had an issue mainaining my weight until I gained weight by comfort eating. I never counted calories I just made healthy decisions and didn't think about food until I was hungry.

    I'm seeing a therapist at the moment and it's helping a bit I geuss but not much :(
  • tumsbums
    tumsbums Posts: 32 Member
    I'm kind of in that situation at the moment, something I have found useful is the idea of finding something that fills me up WITHOUT food. Buy some games, or craft kits, or music activities, enter competitions, try writing? Just anything that you can do whenever the thought of food takes over. I found walking in pretty places really useful. Slowly and hopefully the food craving moments will become less as food becomes less predominant! :) xxx
  • Menix8
    Menix8 Posts: 210 Member
    I second the therapy suggestion, even if it's just for a few sessions. When you walk into therapy knowing exactly what you want to tackle, you don't need to go twice a week for a year. You can get a lot of work done in just a few months.

    I took about a month or two off from dieting/calorie/counting/caring about food after restricting for close to a year. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted. And yes, I gained almost 10 pounds in that time. I accepted that weight gain would happen, and that it was worth it on the road to recovery. But it did wonders for my state of mind regarding food. I know that for myself, I couldn't go from restricting to normal eating; there needed to be a period of over-eating and compensating for the restriction. There needed to be a time where I didn't stress about food. I just chose to put a time limit on it, and I knew that I wouldn't be able to go back to my formerly unhealthy attitude afterwards. I knew there was going to be a reconstruction period afterwards.

    So now I'm back to calorie counting to lose 15 pounds. The way I'm keeping myself sane this time is by making a list of healthy attitudes I want to have about food, and then making rules about them. I like strict diets. So I've made my desired flexible diet into rules. Not only do I have a maximum calorie goal, but I also have to maintain a minimum calorie goal, to prevent myself from restricting lower and lower and lower. I actively strive to fit "unhealthy" foods into my diet, so I don't get obsessed with "clean" eating again. I've forbidden myself from doing extra cardio to punish myself for over-eating. No more 24 hour fasts, no more eating foods I hate because they're good for weight loss.

    In regards to how long it's taking, I'm getting better. I restricted from July 2013 through May 2014. It's now August, and I'm starting to feel more normal about food. Not where I'd like to be ultimately, but much, much better. I can eat peanut butter now without binging. I can eat Subway for lunch when I feel like it. I'm eating tons of fruit again because I want to, and I'm trying new recipes that sound good. No more eating "healthy" foods because I feel like I have to. I still have some habits to break, but I'm getting there. It takes time, dedication, and being able to forgive yourself when you mess up. You're going to "fail". And that's okay. It's not really a failure, it's just part of the process.
  • SharonCMach
    SharonCMach Posts: 305 Member
    I'm totally going through the same thing. I think I am more obsessed with food now that I am trying to lose weight.

  • Adc7225
    Adc7225 Posts: 1,319 Member
    I have the same issue, it is not as bad as it was in the past but it is still something that I am working on.

    I would suggest that you try different things to trick your mind, what works for me may not work for you. Here are some of the ways I combat my food obsession.

    Looking at food - I call it looking at foodporn, I spend way too much time on Yelp and other websites looking at food, I usually get overwhelmed and lose interest.

    I will log something prior to eating or even thinking of eating something, this usually offers a real clear picture of not just the calories but how the rest of my day may suffer from just that impulse to eat.

    If I have something that I am on the fence about I will set a time to eat it - I usually forget about it or I just don't want it as much as I thought I did. At times when I decide I will eat something I tell myself I am going to do some small task before I eat it and most times I realize I really don't want it.

    These are all mind games that help me to think more about what I am eating and how I can go without it. Right now I have overdone eating sweets and I know I need to wean myself back down to a manageable amount of sweets.

    If you are having issues with what you are eating or missing out on eating, maybe this means your diet is too restrictive, think about why you restricted those items. If you are obsessing over them, then maybe you need them in your life - just in moderation. I know I need chocolate and ice cream.
  • riadhdeb
    riadhdeb Posts: 212 Member
    Ea the things you crave but less portion to fit you macros
  • catshrimp
    catshrimp Posts: 2 Member
    I'm in a similar place, after restricting on and off for more than 10 years. I'm trying to focus on fitness now (instead of thinness), weight and circuit training, and use MFP mostly to make sure I'm eating enough protein to fuel my workouts and keep my body from eating itself.

    For me, a big part of moving forward was accepting that I'll always be a little bit weird about food. I know that sounds depressing, but eating disorders are like a one-way switch: once it's been flipped, it's almost impossible to turn off. But once I had acknowledged to myself that I was going to just sometimes be obsessive about this, I did find myself worrying about it less; it was like the pressure not to freak out about food was a big part of why I kept freaking out about it, and once that was gone, I could relax a bit.

    Here's what I've also found helpful: calorie guidelines, both minimum and maximum, and aiming to follow them 90-95% of the time. You can't undo your progress eating "unhealthily" every 10-15 days, and it gives you about 30 days per year to eat as carelessly as you want. Also, a normal maintenance diet ideally should not make you feel deprived. You should feel like you're getting enough to eat, and you should be eating something you genuinely enjoy at least once every day. I make sure to change things up within the parameters of my diet if I'm starting to get bored -- I'll blow my entire breakfast allotment on a protein milkshake with actual ice cream, budget for a bacon cheeseburger for dinner, etc.
  • mposa
    mposa Posts: 4
    I hope some of the advice that you have already received has helped. I will venture to add my two cents.

    You mention that you were going through a tough time. I wonder if that tough situation has been completely resolved. If past issues or even new issues exist in your life that are causing you to be unhappy or stressed then your energy is being zapped such that you probably don't have the energy to focus on making healthy eating choices day in and day out. Eating healthy, and living a healthy lifestyle takes mental energy for most people and I believe that for the personality type that fights routine and habit it is a monumental undertaking.

    It often takes years of training/programming/practice/conditioning to reprogram the brain to form new patterns. Just think about musicians and athletes. It sounds like you did not need to focus on exercise and eating routines in your life before. It sounds like healthy eating and living were kind of second nature to you. Now, you're trying to program your mind into using new methods, and you're beating yourself up because the "new ways" are not sticking after only a year or so. Give yourself as much time to reprogram as is necessary for your brain while carving out time and space to assess and reevaluate occasionally.

    Have you given yourself the opportunity to get away and do some quiet, focused thinking about the bigger picture of your life? How many masters like Beethoven, The Beetles, and Babe Ruth can we count? These individuals may have been considered naturally talented, but they still put in years of practice and work! Think of how many musicians and athletes need to adjust their expectations about themselves and their lives when they realize that they're just not as good as their idols in spite of their own years of practice? It is important for everyone to take some serious inventory of their dreams and look deeply at the numerous other gifts that they possess and for which they can be thankful. Think about the things that you're doing great in your life! Try to seriously focus on those attributes; they're worthwhile, too! I am certain there are plenty! It may be things like being there for other people, excelling in your job, bringing peace or enjoyment to others or setting a good example in some way, or being creative or artistic. Remember, that your current obsession about food does not define your personality and it does not define the gift that you are to your family and friends, no more than music was the only thing that defined Beethoven or the Beetles or that baseball was the only thing that defined Babe Ruth.

    You sound like a person who can enjoy the down-to-earth gifts of other people without expecting them to be perfect. Allow yourself the same appreciation.

    Lastly, try and believe that time is your friend, not your enemy.

    Best wishes!
  • hearthwood
    hearthwood Posts: 794 Member
    Find an enjoyable hobby that keeps your brain and hands busy that has nothing to do with food.