National Eating Disorders Association

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Years into recovery...always full

Hi there! I've been in recovery for about 3 years. Was able to increase my BMI during that time. My therapist said I didn't need to keep coming to her as I've made such progress, and in fact most days I feel much better. I am still struggling, however, with this whole intuitive eating thing. On the one hand, I have zero hunger cues. My stomach always feels full and tight, and I am never hungry. In fact I only know I should eat when I start getting shaky or lightheaded. When I start eating, however, I can't stop! At this point I know I don't have extreme hunger, and I know I don't need so many calories as I did in the beginning. I find myself relapsing to my old ways, i.e. thinking about food constantly and mentally counting calories, simply because I feel I am doing something wrong. Everyone else around me is able to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are not. In everyone's experience, how long does it take to feel normal hunger cues again? I really thought it would stop by now, and most articles I read only talk about the beginning stages of recovery. Thanks for your help.

Post Edited

Hi Laura_ashley88, welcome to the forums and thank you for sharing! I just wanted to let you know that your post had been edited to remove any weight-related numbers as they might be triggering to other forum members. You can find our forum guidelines here: Please keep posting!


Hello, welcome to the forums! I'm happy you found us. First of all, I want to congratulate you on 3 years of recovery - that's AMAZING. You should be SO proud of yourself for getting to this point. Before you beat yourself up for not being where you'd like to be in terms of hunger cues, take a moment to appreciate how far you've come, and how strong you are, and know that with time and patience, it will get there. I totally know what you mean about having difficulty with intuitive eating.

Personally, I struggled with anorexia and even with my initial weight gain to a healthier weight, I still wasn't mentally recovered. I still didn't "have" hunger cues. But looking back, I think the real problem was that I wasn't ready to listen to listen to these cues yet. I was still too focused on the calories, instead of what my body needs and wants. Do you think this may be something you're doing? I think the first time I began to notice and listen to hunger cues is when I finally stopped worrying about calories in what i was eating altogether, and focused on what sounds good to me right now instead. That's often the most difficult hurdle to get over, as we don't want to feel "out of control," but honestly, I found that focusing on how i feel instead of numbers put me at ease. Our bodies are amazing and know exactly what we need when we're patient with them and give them enough nourishment. It may not happen right away, but it will happen. Do not compare your journey to others', or your eating habits to theirs. "Comparison is the thief of joy" and your experience is unique to you and you only. In time, when both are ready, your body and mind will adjust to normal hunger cues again. :) Keep up the awesome recovery, we're here for you <3