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I initially began my recovery from dieting using Diet Recovery, and then moved onto the MinnieMaud Guidelines at Your Eatopia. I have moved on from MM*, but, shortly before I left, there was a lot of confusion on the issue of tapering.
*I have progress updates on my About page.
When initially reading the original articles at Your Eatopia, many, including myself, understood Gwyneth to be assuring them that tapering would happen if they overshot their optimal, genetic weight, which is the weight we are healthiest at when not restricting. Gwyneth has stated that this isn’t the case (with regard to tapering), which has caused a lot of misunderstanding and confusion on the forums, leading Gwyneth to clarify herself on that point:
“It’s probably time to put up some really massive disclaimers and warnings on this site — some way to really hammer home the fact that any recovery process from a restrictive eating disorder, including the MM, is never rainbows, unicorns and absolutes.
It’s effing hard, hard, hard work. It is anger, and anguish, and tears, and feeling like your soul is being ripped out through your guts.
And the kicker? There is no end state folks. It’s a journey right up to your last breath.
You may get really, really fat. Obese. You may taper. You may not. Ever.
You may rue the day you ever set eyes on this site and thought “yeah, that sounds like a good idea”.
But if you stick with it, you won’t be hungry. You won’t be less. You won’t be good, and nice, and perfect, and ultimately unremarkable yet ever-so-acceptable.
The thought of spending a lifetime hungry makes me just weep. Perhaps this is why everyone else who chooses to try to help those with eating disorders has the condition as well– they get how hunger is a reasonable state, I guess. Truly I will never be able to leap the chasm in my own mind that being fat is worse than being hungry.
Because really, it’s not about the feet. It’s about one more pound and then relapse is in order. So it’s not the pain; it’s the fat.
And while I have no clue why hunger is preferable to just about any other facet of existence that life might throw us, I have come to the conclusion that it is the norm for this community and therefore it is I who must find a way to adjust the site to accommodate that reality. G.” – Gwyneth Olwyn
It is clear, as you can see below, how the confusion happened when you read what she originally said in her articles, “Bingeing is Not Bingeing” and “Phases of Recovery From A Restrictive Eating Disorder” :
“You may still be restoring weight and that will bother your eating disorder-generated anxiety. Your ingrained sense of an acceptable weight may not be your body’s optimal weight set point. Your body may additionally need to temporarily overshoot its optimal weight set point in this process in order to return to a correct fat mass to fat-free mass ratio. [A Dulloo et. al., 1996, 1999]” – Gwyneth Olwyn
“It is common for for those who have experienced several years of cycles of restriction/reactive eating and purging to initially overshoot their body’s optimal weight set point. I explain this concept in much more detail in the Bingeing is not bingeing blog post. The overshoot is temporary and as long as you do not revert to restriction, your body will naturally return to its optimal weight set point once the weight has stabilized. You have to be patient as it can take up to a year beyond weight stabilization for the body to return to its optimal set point.” – Gwyneth Olwyn
“Oh, the hand wringing of those in recovery who face the possibility that they may temporarily overshoot their optimal weight set point during recovery! As most of you know, all those subjects in the Minnesota Starvation Experiment temporarily overshot their pre-study weights and all returned to their pre-study weights in the 12-18 months following the end of the study [A. Keys et al., 1950]. For most subjects they initially gained about 10% above their pre-study weights in the re-feeding period.” – Gwyneth Olwyn
“The overshoot in weight during a re-feeding process is not present for all patients, but it is assuredly temporary for those who do experience it.” – Gwyneth Olwyn
The reality is, some individuals may settle at a weight that is different than they are/were expecting. This is important to understand when entering recovery/ending dieting, so that you go into it with a more realistic view of what may happen. Some gain weight, some don’t gain weight/lose weight; some gain a little weight, some gain a lot of weight; some settle at a weight they expected, some settle at a weight higher/lower than they expected. The point is, everyone is different, and how each person’s body responds to recovery/ending dieting will be different. Nobody can tell you what will happen to you, and where you will end up. Some may be able to accept this, some not, which is okay. Each of us has to make that decision for ourselves, and respect each person’s right to make that decision for themselves as well.
Updated on: 4/27/14