National Eating Disorders Association

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Refeeding process

I've been able to eat all of my meals today, according to my meal plan, and I'm starting to freak out. I'm feeling bloated, and my entire midsection just feels very uncomfortable, in general. I've been trying to tell myself, it's just the refeeding process. It's just the refeeding process. Over and over again, like a mantra, trying to convince my brain, so I won't freak out. I know it logically, and it's still so scary, regardless. I've been restricting so much recently, so I know my stomach is just saying, "hey, I have no idea if she's going to feed me tomorrow, or ever again, so I'm hanging onto this food she gave me, as long as possible!" I KNOW it; I just don't FEEL like I believe it. Oh, why do mental disorders have to be so complicated??


Hi there. Yes, it is painful and difficult and it may take time for your body to adjust. Remember if you keep putting it off it will only get worse and more painful. More time will be taken away from you and your body may not bounce back as it did when you were younger. I am fifty-two and I know you aren't as old as me :))) but our bodies can only take so much.

I pray that you are able to go through this discomfort knowing that eventually your body will, I repeat, your body will adjust. Just when I can not say. Trust the process. I know. I know. It is very difficult and scary. Think about the benefits of what you are doing. The long term benefits and victories you will attain from going through the pain. Scripture says that we will walk through the water but not drown, I will be with you, we will go through fire but not burn...Isaiah 43:2. When we stay close to our Heavenly Father He will help us get to where we need to be.

With love,



Hi. I am just wondering how you are feeling since you last posted?

With love and care,

Your friend


Each day is a struggle. I keep restricting, and I don't like how it feels when I eat. I don't like feeling hungry, but I hate how it feels having food in my stomach even more. I've been having "conversations" with my stomach, per my therapist's suggestion, because I'm actually a very silly person at heart, and I love to do voices and make up things. (I used to work with kids.) "We've" discovered we don't like each other very well, and I'm not exactly sure why. I'm struggling with breakfast today and eating much at all. I just don't like how it feels. I wish I understood it better, and I don't, yet. Grr!!

I love your chatting to tummy thing!

It’s such a great tool! I’ve got so much sympathy for you right now. I spent at least 50% of recovery on the toilet, and a lot of the remainder eating. I know it’s a huge cliche, but have you tried some breathing exercises, hands resting on tummy? Find a mantra to send it some love, maybe talk to it like the children you used to work with eg “I know this is tough for you, but it will get easier, and only by eating more food.”
I’m sure your ED hates your stomach- mine has a picture of it on his wall to throw darts at- but is there a time you can think back to when it was just a stomach? Or even just remember how much work your digestive system does for you: squeezing it into the stomach, producing enzymes, producing acid, absorbing the products, churning the muscle walls etc. Kind of gross, I know, but functional!
And If your stomach doesn’t like you, I hazard a guess it’s because you haven’t been feeding it properly! It’s out of practice and has limited energy resources for digestion. It’s like a tired kid throwing a tantrum because you’ve given it a spelling test for words it hasn’t seen in ages! But give it the same list of words every day for a while and it’ll soon nail them all! Tummies are fast learners, but you’ve got to give them the food, repeatedly.
Lots of people struggle with vegetables etc. at first because of the high fibre. Are stereotypically easily digestible foods easier than some others? But like I said it is mostly practice...
I think you’ve been trying for a few days now: well done! Keep going: you don’t want to throw the bathroom-towel in now when it might only take a few days for your digestive system to improve dramatically! I’ll be thinking of you, and hoping you can find the strength I know you have...x

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