Google search, “how to recover from anorexia,” and Minnie Maud will likely not show up on the first 10 pages. Truthfully, I don’t remember how I came across the YourEatopia website, but alas, in my desperate search for something to make sense to my disordered mind, I found it at long last.
For a brief background on Minnie Maud or if you are new here to the blog, here’s a quick overview: When I was in high school, I developed a serious eating disorder that completely debilitated my life. With threats of inpatient treatment looming over my head from two defeated, distraught parents, I took it upon myself to implement the Minnie Maud guidelines into my life, starting me off into a life-changing period of recovery.
My Minnie Maud Experience
The following are a few previous extensive posts I’ve written on Minnie Maud. For even more information, search through the recovery tag at the bottom of this post or on the top of my blog, I have a handy page of Recovery Resources. (Also, I realize a great number of backlinks on these post no longer exist as websites have been updated since I published them. I’m working on fixing this!)
Back in 2013, Minnie Maud was relatively unheard of. In fact, recovery blogs weren’t that much of a trend either. I feel fortunate to have played a part in so many people creating their own blogs as a safe space to document their recovery. I was one of the first to publicly document my Minnie Maud experience, and it blew up. In hindsight, I find this interesting because in my personal understanding, I’ve come to see inpatient treatment facilities to have similar structure as to Minnie Maud.
What is Minnie Maud?
I’ll direct you to the YourEatopia website itself, but essentially, it comes down to a few different elements. According to the founder of the guidelines, all of these must be met religiously, and for life. They include:
- Eat at least 2,500 calories if you are a 25+-year-old female. Eat at least 3,000 calories if you are a <25-year-old female. Eat at least 3,500 calories if you are a male. This is a minimum. If you are hungry for more than your minimum calories, you must give into your hunger and eat the food.
- Maintain a sedentary lifestyle. No exercise. No exceptions. I witnessed in the old forums people advising others to quit their waitressing jobs because it required too much time on their feet.
- Labeling food is forbidden. There is no such thing as “good” food. There is no such thing as “bad food.” Food is food.
- Weighing yourself is off-limits. You are to trust your body will find its natural set point without you stepping in and intervening based on what a scale says.
Because of how quickly my blog grew, I feel slightly responsible (not in an arrogant way at all, just a matter of fact) for the increased awareness for Minnie Maud. As a result of my recovery and my blog, I know there are some of you out there who have taken on Minnie Maud because you saw my success. I have always been a firm advocate in each person doing the research for themselves and choosing to recover for themselves.
That said, I have to recognize my influence as well. Whenever a reader reaches out to me about my experience, I start with a huge disclaimer. I am not a doctor. I am not a therapist. I am not a nutritionist or a dietician. My words and opinions should never act as a substitution or replacement for a treatment team. Everything I write comes purely from my own research and experience. Keep in mind that I am a 20-year-old college student working over 20 hours a week taking 20 units., all while attempting to keep up a social life. I have not dedicated my life to the study of nutrition and wellbeing as others have. I don’t know every piece of information about Minnie Maud. There is no degree backing my thoughts.
I’m just Julia, sharing her life story. Please remember that.
While I do believe there is validity to my experience, I encourage you to do what is right for you. Personally, after scouring the internet and researching for hours on end, Minnie Maud made the most sense for me. So I dove in.
Minnie Maud Criticism
In 2013, hardly any criticism or backlash existed against Minnie Maud. On the YourEatopia website, a free, public forum allowed those in recovery to build a community. Success stories filled the safe space. I found comfort there.
Over the years, with the rise of recovery blogs, people analyzing the process have taken a more in-depth look. People have spoken out about the side effects of Minnie Maud. People report they are obese because of Minnie Maud. It became blurry. Was Minnie Maud all it cracked up to be?
Thus began the anti-Minnie Maud accounts. They can be found on Instagram, Tumblr, blogs, and basically any other social media platform. While few in number and most now defunct, they’ve packed quite a punch in the recovery world. I actually didn’t know about them until more recently.
A quick google search will bring up a lost of various threads, but here are four I found thorough and resourceful:
The authors of these sites clearly put significant time and effort into their posts, so rather than regurgitating their words onto here, I urge you to read their articles if this is a topic that interests you.
Research. Research. Research. Take ownership of your recovery. I cannot stress this enough.
Would I Go Back and Do Something Different?
The only difference I would make in my recovery is that I probably should have gone to inpatient treatment. I should have established a treatment team. If you are reading this and you are deciding between the two, I urge to heavily consider going with a treatment team. They are professionals who can take the responsibility of those initial steps when recovery seems like an impossible feat.
Minnie Maud helped me immensely. It taught me to eat again. I taught me to eat enough. Minnie Maud allowed me food freedom; the guidelines gave me permission when I wasn’t strong enough to give it to myself. Minnie Maud forced me to break my exercise addiction. Mine Maud helped me sever my relationship with the scale.
Minnie Maud gave me my first glimpse at a life without recovery.
Do I still follow Minnie Maud?
In short, no. Here’s why.
For me, eating 3,000 calories a day is a chore, sometimes. I can say this only now because I have 3 years of recovery behind me. I have a firm grasp on knowing when I have or have not eaten enough that day. Do I still eat 3,000 calories some days? Most definitely. But I’d be lying if I said that was that was the norm.
Additionally, I like to move my body. Running feels good, it alleviates my depression, allows me to clear my head. Giving up exercise for 10 months was huge and vital for my recovery, but I don’t follow the logic that a completely sedentary life is healthy.
I figure: as longs I menstruate, maintain a healthy weight, and eat well, Minnie Maud is not necessary. Right now, I meet all of those criteria. I don’t see the need in forcing myself to stay in a constant state of active recovery. I think that harms ultimate recovery more than it helps it.
The true Minnie Maud guidelines state they are for life. I do not agree with this.
Is Minnie Maud the Only Way to Recover?
No. A resounding no.
I think Minnie Maud was the only way for me to recover, apart from entering a formal inpatient treatment.
Given my addictive personality and tendency to think in black and white, any of the other “at-home” methods, if you will, would have led to my demise. What I mean by this, and I say this with hesitance, but I don’t buy into the the whole IIFYM or vegan trends with recovery. I don’t think you should conform to a plant-based lifestyle or begin to count macros as a means to jumpstart your recovery.
If veganism is something that was already a part of your life, then I think recovery should encompass that. This is not me saying I think a vegan has to give up their decision, nor do I think that someone who has already suffered from an eating disorder should never transition into a vegan lifestyle. They just should not happen simultaneously. Recovery needs to come first.
But, at the same time, just as everything else written here, this is my opinion. I am positive there are people who are truly free from their eating disorders as a result of becoming vegan. That could just not have been true for me. I think I might want to elaborate more on my thoughts on veganism at a later date because it’s been a topic of interest for me as of late.
Minnie Maud Saved My Life, Faults and All
Yes, there are valid criticisms against Minnie Maud. I recognize them fully.
Minnie Maud saved my life. I don’t want to get away from this point. I would not be alive today without Minnie Maud. I would not be this far along in recovery. I would not be this happy. I don’t think it’s perfect, but I cannot deny the impact it has had on my quality of life.
Minnie Maud saved my life, therefore it is the only method of recovery I can personally recommend. Because of its aid in my life, I am inclined to speak highly of it, even with the credible criticism against. That is why I encourage each and every one of you out there who is interested in following the Minnie Maud guidelines to read through the posts, the dissenting opinions, the rave reviews- read through it all. Then come to your own consensus on whether Minnie Maud is the right path for your own growth.
If you have any specific questions on Minnie Maud that I’ve yet to answer in any of my previous posts or this one, feel free to ask in the comment section below!