Before we get started, I wanted to call attention to the page at the top of my blog for my ED Story. On that page, I wrote out my journey that led me to my eating disorder. This post will continue on that topic, and if you have not read it yet, I recommend heading there first for a bit of context.
Today, I wanted to talk a bit about one of the reasons why I believe I am so far along in my recovery.
What Minnie Maud Is
Before we get into the meat of my personal experience, I think it is important to put it out there what exactly the guidelines specify for recovery.
For those who do not know what Minnie Maud is, all of the information can be found on the Your Eatopia website. They can explain the guidelines better than I ever could. So, before you read this, head over there!
To sum it up, it is a system of recovering in which the person eats at least 3,000 calories (some cases it is 2,500, and some it is 3,500, but for me, it was 3,000) and stay as sedentary as possible. This is all in an effort to restore one’s metabolism, while simultaneously expanding from the mental restriction of anorexia. There should be absolutely no food that is forbidden, and you are encouraged to branch out from your comfort zone. Labeling food as “good” or “bad” is to be refrained from, and all cravings should satisfied. The 3,000 calories required to eat during Minnie Maud are a minimum; one should never fall below, however, if one’s hunger is not satisfied at 3,000, then by all means they are encouraged to eat until satisfied. In fact, many people who begin Minnie Maud experience what is called extreme hunger and can eat upwards of 10,000 calories in order to provide a sufficient amount of energy for their body.
Minnie Maud is not specifically for those with anorexia, but works for those across the spectrum of eating disorders: orthorexia, bulimia, cycling of restrictive and reactive eating, etc. The main goal is to return as normal of a lifestyle that is not centered around calories, weight, exercising, or anything else that one has acquired with their eating disorder. Minnie Maud is named after the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, which is an intriguing source of information if you have never read it before. I was fascinated by the study conducted, and I encourage you to read through it if you are not easily triggered.
The creator of the website does not disclose her credentials, which causes some controversy. Some people have found that suspicious, however I stand by my decision in choosing to pursue recovery in the form of Minnie Maud. I take full responsibility of my decision, and I am grateful for Gwynth’s website as it gave me the kick in the butt I needed to truly choose recovery. I still think it would be wise of her to be more open with how she came to creating these guidelines, as that is vital information. But from my experience, it worked.
How I Chose To Begin
For approximately 2-3 months prior to beginning Minnie Maud, I spent every. waking. moment. researching ‘how to recover from an eating disorder.’ I found absolutely nothing that “spoke” to me. There were websites advocating eating 1,500 calories or 2,000 calories, or only doing strength training. I must have read thousands of articles from doctors saying to just eat an avocado and get some sleep. Boom. Bam. Done. The periods would come back. The mind would heal. Everyone would be happy. It was all so… fake. All of my free time was consumed with finding the magical formula, and I could not find it. It soon became an obsession that was added on to the other disordered behaviors I exhibited on a daily basis. From the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed, it was the only thing I could think about. I needed to find the answer for my recovery.
No matter how hard I searched, there was nothing out there that made me want to embark on my recovery. I was so frustrated. This alongside a couple of loving parents who were begging me, pleading me, screaming at me to eat more- I became increasingly more exhausted with each passing moment.
I remember one specific moment after an extremely difficult lunch with my mom where I fell down on the bathroom floor, clutching the bath mat, and cursing God to just hurry up and take my life. It was one of the darkest moments of my life. It hurts to even think about it now.
When I finally came across YourEatopia, I felt like God had answered my prayers. This could be the start of my second chance. I did not immediately choose to start though. I had so many reservations, and there were a lot of inner battles I had to overcome in order to finally make the jump. At that point, I was compulsively exercising, and even though I was not in control of my meals, my parents were only getting about 1,800 calories in per day.
Finally, my parents became so fed up with me. They threatened to take away college, and I could tell they were serious.
That same day, I was in a severe car accident by myself an hour away from my home. The other driver was driving without a license because his had been suspended the previous week for a DUI! On top of that, he hardly spoke any English. You could not write a more horrible story. Sobbing uncontrollably the entire day, it was day I knew my life would forever be changed. I knew that this was it. I needed to put some serious effort into recovery if I was ever going to get my life back. Even after this day, it still took a few weeks before fully committing to the Minnie Maud guidelines, but finally, around December of 2013, I completely gave in.
I embarked on the journey that has given me my life back.
It was not an easy thing to start. I have a serious amount of respect for anyone who commits to Minnie Maud and can stick it through. I have definitely had my ups and downs with it.
When I finally decided to reach 3,000 calories, it was an exhilarating feeling. I still remember the goosebumps all over my body from that first day. I didn’t know how I would feel the following morning, but I went to bed feeling like I was the queen of the world.
Initially, I did not know how I would continually fit in that amount of calories consistently! (which is funny now because it has become a natural occurrence) It can seem like a hefty amount if one is not used to it, but I found a method in which it worked for me.
My mom required me to have two “protein milks” a day to get in a decent amount of fats (which are essential when recovering from anorexia). Each “protein milk” consisted of 2-2.5 cups (unmeasured) of whole milk with a heaping scoop of protein powder. The protein milks ended up being about 450-600 calories each (depending on how heaping the scoop was)! With these, it was very easy to reach and exceed 3,000 calories. A lot of people find it hard to reach such a large intake, and therefore I always recommend liquid calories. It is also a nice challenge, as a lot of people recovering from eating disorder tend to fear liquid calories. Challenge those fears!
In regards to other food, Minnie Maud gave me the courage to branch out of my safe foods which were basically apples, oatmeal, and coffee. Yeah- that’s not a very extensive list. Thankfully, with the support of my family, I began to see that there was a world outside of those irrational fears! I learned that I love caesar salad topped with lots of cheese. I learned that no one should ever deprive themselves of ice cream. Ever. I learned that I really do like meat after a year of convincing myself that I enjoyed being a vegetarian. I learned food is much more than calories, and it is something to be cherished with friends and family.
I talked a lot about the importance of challenging fear foods in-depth HERE.
I began to not just inch out of my comfort zone, but I even began to make gigantic leaps! Pints of ice cream, gollups of peanut butter, bowls of creamy pasta, and platters of pancakes! They are all now consumed by me on a regular basis, and for the most part, without a single thought. I even had regular soda! Grilled cheeses are probably one of my favorite meals, yet during my eating disorder, I would have never even glanced the way of something that had butter in it.
It didn’t necessarily start out easy AT ALL. In fact, I cried a lot. But with time and diligence to my recovery, the fears dissipated. Some still creep up, but I find they are much easier to conquer if I challenge them immediately, and not let them aggregate into something larger.
Minnie Maud helped me immensely decrease the amount of fear I had surrounding foods, and I can now say that food is something I look forward to in each meal. All of the food-related anxiety that is within my mind has not completely disappeared, but I can honestly say that it has diminished greatly.
In theory, yes, one could reach 3,000 calories on safe food, but where is the appeal in that? It takes A LOT of oatmeal and apples to reach 3,000 calories. It is much much much easier to reach the minimums by including calorie dense food like peanut butter and olive oil. Plus, peanut butter is just delicious.
As I stated earlier, mental recovery is huge for me. If I had just eaten 3,000 calories of safe food, I would be physically weight restored, sure. But no way would I be even close to as far into recovery as I am now.
There is so much to be said about my experience with Minnie Maud, and I am going to split it up into different posts. That way this doesn’t drag on forever. Stay tuned for part 2 in which I discuss the effects Minnie Maud had on my body and mind.
No questions today, but I would love to hear your thoughts.
Disclaimer: Please remember that everyone’s body and everyone’s recovery are wonderfully unique. Thank you for reading my blog and allowing me to share my personal experience with you. I am not a doctor, and I never intend to be a substitute for a medical professional, whether it be a doctor, a therapist, a nutrition, or anyone else that should be sought to for treatment. This is my personal experience only.
As always, thank you Amanda!