After I started writing about my battle with hypothalamic amenorrhea, some of you have asked me on Instagram or via email what I eat on a typical day. In this post, you'll find my daily eats + pictures from one pretty typical day of eating.
Food can be a really difficult obstacle to overcome when trying to recover from hypothalamic amenorrhea. Many of us may have restricted our food intake for a long time, and it's hard to let that control go.
Years ago, I used to have crazy rules around food. I used to avoid certain, “fattening” foods and I was really careful when eating out, because I couldn't control what was in it.
The craziest years of behavior like this were around 2007-2012, when I had zero flexibility when it came to eating. Everything was measured and calculated and I rarely let myself to cross those unreasonable borders I had set for myself.
Except for… when I was bingeing. Then I'd allow myself to eat absolutely everything. Actually, it wasn't that I was “allowing” myself to eat. When those binge episodes happened 3-4 times a month, I just couldn't stop. I'd eat all I had and even go out at crazy hours to go get more chocolate or candy.
Today, I have absolutely no doubt that the reasons why I binged, were these:
- I was undernourished, especially compared to my activity levels
- I used to label foods as “good” and “bad”, and I never had anything from the “bad” category (except when I was bingeing)
- I had “black and white” mentality: Once I started eating “bad” stuff, I ate it all (=binge). There was no “just enough” button, there were only “all” or “nothing” buttons.
Key to Normal Eating: Relax and Trust Yourself
The other day, I was thinking back to my bingeing years. Today, it's difficult to imagine myself in this situation again. I remember how it felt, but I honestly can't see that happening to me again.
It is possible to get over binge eating. The most important things are to try to chill a bit and understand that no food will make you gain weight if you have it once in a while.
Relax and understand that no food will make you gain weight if you have it once in a while.Click to tweet
Not trying to control everything and anything that I ate did wonders to my mind and body. Eating got more intuitive. Portion sizes got normal. Cravings no longer showed up out of nowhere only to occupy my mind for the rest of the week.
Earlier, when I used fight that craving for something, I ended up constantly thinking about this food. Now as my eating is actually intuitive, I feel so much better. I eat what I want. Also “unhealthy”, or what I used to see as “bad” things, but in moderation.
I rarely need to finish the whole chocolate bar anymore. I don't remember doing it in a looong time. But I do have days when I leave a restaurant feeling a bit too full. Sometimes when I eat ice cream, I go back for seconds. It's normal to eat a bit more on some days and less on others. But it's not normal to deprive and then binge.
It’s normal to eat also “unhealthy” foods. But it’s not normal to deprive and binge!Click to tweet
What Foods to Focus on When Recovering from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea
I'm at a “healthy” weight range and my BMI is 22.1. While most women experiencing hypothalamic amenorrhea have BMI-s below or even way below that.
Bur there are some of us whose bodies still need a bit higher weight / fat percentage numbers and it seems that I am one of those women. Those eating habits I described above, together with exercising, are probably to blame for why I have hypothalamic amenorrhea.
For most of us suffering from hypothalamic amenorrhea, the recommendation is to eat more. There has to be enough fuel to wake up our hypothalamus so that it can start communicating with our ovaries again. You may have heard that the body wants to feel “safe”. To make it feel that there's nothing to be afraid of, we need to give our bodies enough food.
When it comes to macronutrients, fats and carbs are proven to be really important in recovering from hypothalamic amenorrhea. If you've ever been, or currently are, on a low-carb diet, increasing the carbs may do wonders to your cycle.
If you're afraid of fats and avoid them, theres basically no way you can get your period back without breaking this silly (sorry! but it's true) rule. I'm saying silly because I did it too. I avoided fats a lot, with the goal in mind to be skinny (sigh!).
Together with my cycle, I lost my sharp thinking and ability to focus, but also sex drive and boobs… I was miserable. So make sure to eat enough fat, and make smart choices.
Of course, protein is important too. Leaving any macronutrients out from our diet isn't going to do us any service. They all exist for a reason. But when recovering from hypothalamic amenorrhea, fats and carbs should always be on our plates.
My Day of Eating
Before we get to what I eat on a typical day, I want you to know that I don't think this day of eating is ideal. I don't even know what “ideal” looks like, but I think it can be different for all of us. I have something sweet almost every day, and I like having wine 2-3 nights a week. These things, often seen as “unhealthy”, work for me.
So please don't take this as an example of how you should eat. This is just one example of my typical day of eats, where I try to get in all three macronutrients, keep my portions big enough so I feel satisfied, and eat intuitively (that means eating what I like and in amounts that feel right for me).
- Two scrambled eggs with wilted arugula, using about 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 sausage link, cut in half (I like Aidells sausages)
- 1/2 avocado
- small handful grape tomatoes
- scallions for garnish
- 1/2 cup ice cream
I felt a little snacky about 2 hours later, so I had a small bowl–maybe 1/2 cup–Trader Joe's Golden Caramel Swirl ice cream that I topped with some almonds and chocolate chips. To be honest, I'm not a fan of this flavor because I generally don't like chocolate ice cream, but that's all we had in the fridge. It did the trick satisfying my sweet tooth though.
- 1/2 white onion and some liver sautéed in about 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 pre-cooked sweet potato
- 2 cups kale salad, tossed with some olive oil
- few cherry tomatoes
I know it's really hard for some people to eat organ meats like liver, but I like it. Growing up, I used to eat liver quite often. Liver is full of nutrients like vitamin A and B12, and it's a real superfood. If you can't eat it straight, try adding some to your meatloaf–just mince it and mix it with the rest of the meatloaf ingredients.
- Bowl of homemade chili
- about 2 tbsp cheese
- 1/2 avocado
I made this really yummy chili in my Instant Pot that I swear by. I made it a bit different by adding some veggies to my chili, like carrots and butternut squash, and omitting beans. I love avocado and sometimes eat it three times a day… which, I'm sure isn't going to hurt!
- 2 squares Trader Joe's Swiss Dark Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts
If you haven't had this chocolate yet, you absolutely have to! It's so smooth and delicious, and I really love the crunchy hazelnuts.
I think my meals looked pretty good on that day otherwise, but there weren't a lot of carbs in breakfast. I actually could have had a bit more of them with my dinner as well by adding some rice of quinoa to that meal. But my fat and protein intake was pretty nice.
It may seem like a lot of food, but to me, it's quite normal. I'm not stuffing myself, but I don't leave the table being hungry either. It took me a long time to realize that by eating enough, I just feel so much better and I don't have to think about food all the time.
Would you like to see more of my daily eats posts? Let me know if you have any questions!