Saturday, 6 April 2013

Hunger Hormones

I am not kidding when I say that I am nearly always full and never feel hungry. I literally never have the desire to eat; I never feel that I am in need of food ASAP. This seems strange to many people as they wonder how I can never have a desire to eat. Everyone gets hungry, they say. So, why do I not feel this way too? Does this have something to do with ED?

Well, research can help explain some of this. Evidence shows that patients with AN (anorexia nervosa) tend to have different leptin levels than the normal population. Leptin is a hormone that makes us feel full or tells our brains that we have had enough to eat and are satisified. It just so happens that people with AN have abnormally high leptin levels. So, what this means is that they literally DO feel full all the time, or get full very easily.  See for details.

So when I say that I am not hungry, it means that my brain and body actually do not feel hungry. My leptin levels are just too high, so my brain feels satisified. It does not feel that it needs food. Some people would think that this is great, as they say that this would help them lose weight and stop pvereating. But, for someone with ED, this is a problem. Eating is already hard, even without feeling full all the time. Now imagine forcing yourself to eat when you absolutely do not feel hungry. Full all the time. No hunger. It is not fun, nor is it easy.

But what I find interesting is that this helps me to learn more about my illness. I already KNOW that I am never hungry, but this helps others understand why eating is so hard for me. Not only am I fighting against ED, I am also kind of fighting agaisnt my messed-up hunger signals as well. It is a double battle, and it isn't easy. But I am doing it. I am eating, regardless of whether or not I am hungry. Because I know that this feeling of fullness, although very real and is occuring in my brain, is a result of my illness. My leptin levels, along with other things, have changed in response to the starvation period. So, when I was restricting before, my body raised leptin levels so that I would not feel hungry or tired. It was my body's way of protecting itself. But now these signals are still faulty, even when in recovery. That means that I am doing the right thing by eating by the clock. I clearly cannot depend on my hunger cues.

I am getting better at it, though. I am trying so hard to not complain when eating, to laugh, to keep myself busy, and to not focus on the food. I hate when food is always the centre of life - because for so long, I wanted to eat but could not. Now, I am eating, and I still do not want to. So, taking focus off the food makes life easier. Time to eat? Okay, grab my meal, sit and read or work, and life moves on. That is it. Five or six times a day, I grab something to eat. But life carries on. No fuss, no big deal. It is just food, and I am just human. Thankfully, I am able to do this. I never thoght that one day, I would get to the point where food would be a normal part of daily life.

So even though my leptin levels are off, this research gives me hope. It tells me that I am not crazy - I really DO feel full all the time. I know I am not faking this. But what makes it even more amazing is that despite this hurdle of having to eat even when full, I am doing it. It also helps others around me understand why eating is so difficult and 'hard work' for me.

It makes me feel strong to know that I'm eating, even when my body does not feel hungry. I am overcoming this. It is still hard, but it gets easier as time goes on. So, my hunger hormones are definitely messed up. But my eating is not. The food goes in. Life goes on.


  1. I know people who are normal and do not feel hungry but they do eat their meals as they recognize the importance of good nutrition to their life.


  2. If leptin is a hormone to turn off hunger cues.Can ED victim take antileptin and can obese take more leptin??
    Just a question.


    1. Jack, this sounds like a good idea. But if you think about it, it is not easy to simply 'make letpin and antipletin' and give it to people; also, it is not ethical; furthermore, giving someone with ED antipletin would be difficult (they would not want to get something that would them hungry if they are very sick and ED is in control); moreover, the body might reocgnize that the 'fake' letpin is not real and thus would stimulate a reaction against it. so, although it sounds like a great idea (i thought about it too!), it would not work well. there is hope though; research shows that as people with ED recover, their leptin levels may start to return to normal (but this can take years and years...the cure, in my opinion, is to just keep eating!). Good thoughts, Jack!

    2. Thanks Marina
      I am very satisfied with your answer and explaination.So as you always say the main idea and best hint for cure is to ED victim recognize how harmful ED is and make the choice to regain the control and suppress ED if not able to kill him ,at least suppress and subdue him

      Good job Marina


  3. My best friend Marina
    I never understood how my daughter could not feel hungry or ask for food or dining out and I thought it was her choices to be a ballet dancer.
    This blog taught me that is her Ed is like diabetes ,certain hormones are messed up .In diabetes low insulin and in Ed high leptin block the hunger cues and falsely make the brain think you are full and you do not need food.
    Marina your early advise helped me to help my daughter at early stage.
    Slowly with your support she is much beeter.
    This blog makes me understand more that ED is a serious disease that mess up brain signals and hormones level and stomcah hunger cues .We all need to support ED victims and they (ED victims) if they are strong enough to avoid eating ,they are strong enough to eat despite leptin.
    Marina you are a pioneer and you know more than my doctor(trust me)

    Wonderful blog

    I do not know how to thank you enough

    A thankful mother(JP)

  4. Hi there.
    This makes lot of sense to me.
    Thanks for the excellent well searched knowledge


  5. You really have strong will and determination.Neither leptin or ED deception do have any control over your poswer.
    You are example of well power that can make the necssary change


  6. Makes sense ,if more leptin,no hunger.


  7. You are talking as if you are a medical doctor explaining the complicated hormones
    How knowledgible you are!!!


  8. You good will prevails.You are a prove that when you believe in any thing ,you can make it happen.
    You chose recoevry and you are tackling the challnges and no matter how much leptin you have ,you are still in control


  9. Hey Marina
    My history with ED is 20 years long.
    He tortured me and robbed me of every thing good in my life for 15 years.
    Thankfully I am beeter for 6 years now
    Even with 20 years experinces and in and out of programs ,I 've never known about leptin and how leptin can explain the severe loss of appetite till you eloquently explained it.
    This give me some closure to my pains as I was blaming myself for what happened to me for 15 years.
    Yes it is not my fault.
    Yes it is my will to crush ED from my life for ever.

    I am thankful to you also Marina

    Recovered ED victim

  10. I am writing to express my great admiration to your ability to fight the ED with his assocaites.ED is very strong and Ed can decieve ,masqurade ,sneak and cheet but you showed to all of us that you are able to defeat him and you are stronger than Ed and his liptin
    You choose to eat despite his liptin and you chose to survive despite his attacks.
    My respect


  11. Being sick is terrible .
    I heard about people suffering from several disease but seems like ED is very terrible disease.
    So Marina if you are able to stand up for yourself and fight this monster ,be rest assured that you are so strong and determind.
    Sometimes you do not know how strong you are till you come to a test.
    You passed the strenghth test.


  12. Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who comments and reads! It is my pleasure to have people like you here. I enjoy your thoughts, ideas, and comments. God bless you all! Keep me in your prayers and thoughts!

    1. You can not imagine how many are reading your blog and get hints,knowledges,encouragement from it.
      We all pray ,support and wish you all the best


  13. I support you in your fight against ED and you doing this and fulling all your commitment and obligations.
    I take off my hat to you


  14. It is helpful for those who have ED,their families and friends to know why ED victims have no appetite not just they refuse to nourish their bodies
    Excellent well searched blog Marina


  15. I am writing to thank you and pray for you and say that your efforts and hard work not in vain.I just spoken to a friend of mine who reads your blog and she told she finds your blog explains lots of issue she has been struggling with and she feels better by just following your advise at the end of each post.

    Keep up the excellent work


  16. I have to wait like 2 and half years to get inpatient treatment in Ontario. I don’t know what I am going to do. Do you think it is better if I get admitted to hospital for starvation first. I really don’t know what to do.


    1. Angela, I do not know how sick you are, but anyone with ED needs medical attention. One more DAY without ED is life-threatening. I'm not your doctor or nuse, but I am a survivor of ED and what I can say is that I suggest you go the doctor or hospital and get blood work, an ECG, and a thorough investigation. ED can do a lot of damage that we cannot see. I know this is scarey (I KNOW! I went through it), but it can save your life. Please please get to the hospital or doctor and get help. Starvation can kill at any time without any warning. And let me know how it goes for you, if possinle. My thoughts, wishes, and prayers are with you. Anyone fighting ED is a hero and warrior in my eyes. We are all here for you.

    2. I have been diagnosed with anorexia for 6 months now.

      I see a psychiatrist and take Zoloft right now. I am on the waiting list for treatment at credit valley and Homewood. I passed out once at work and was taken for IV fluids and dextrose and then discharged.

      I also struggle with self harm.

      I am very depressed my psychiatrist says eating more will help. I eat about 500 calories a day. I feel that is enough, but I know I am wrong . the number 500 just seems like a lot. I am 5’7 and weigh 105. I know I am skinny and don’t need to get thinner. I am just afraid of being fatter

  17. Even when you reply to your reader ,You are very professional and responsible.
    I also take my hat off for you


    1. I found your blog because I was searching for information about being Middle Eastern and having an eating disorder. I am half-Iranian. My father and my Iranian family just think I am selfish and stupid. They think I just want attention. I do not know if ED exists in Iran, my aunt said no Iranian girl is so stupid.
      They say I would not have ED if I were not half-white. If that is the case, I really wish I were not half white

    2. Angela you are very ill. I'm sorry to say this but it's true. You are not stupid for having ED. It is not our fault. But you need help now. 500 calories is starvation to the maximum. You can die anytime. Please go to credit valley or any emergency room. You need it sweetheart. It's scary I know. But you don't want to die! I was scared too but I went and now I'm recovering very well! I used to starve myself like you and I nearly died. Now I'm eating. I gained weight but am healthy - not fat. It is possible! Please go Angela. I am praying for you. I know it isn't easy but you can fall anytime and then you will be in hospital anyways - if you make it there alive. I don't want to be hard on you but you need this. Your family isn't trying to be mean they are just scared and don't know what to do. Please save yourself. Your family will soon know that you aren't trying to starve yourself - that you are just ill. ED is an illness. If it helps tell them to come read my blog. Please Angela. Get to the emergency room. Any time you wait longer is taking away your body, organs, and life. God is with you. I am too. But I cannot sit here and know that you are slowly dying without treatment. Please go.

    3. I am actually the worst and most disgusting individual on the planet and I’m so ashamed of my behavior and how out of control it is. I wish I was anybody but me.


  18. people trust you because you bring all credible and well searched info.


  19. Angela is right,
    The waiting list for eating disorder treatment is long in Ontario. I went to the Renfrew Center in Pennsylvania and my parents had to pay. The provenience is not great about funding ED treatment because it is not really proven to work.

    My parents spent a lot and I relapsed 2 years later. I am on the waiting list for all of the centers in Ontario. That is usually how it works; you get on the waiting list for all the centers.

    Anorexia is the most deadly psychiatric condition. I really want to recover and will continue to fight I don’t know why I have this terrible disease

  20. Let me greet and give credit ,not only to Marina but today also for Angela and Tricia.Guys Ed is a silent killer ,now you are opening up .

    This is the begining of recoevry.
    Please Angela and Tricia get help immediately ,read Marina'S blog from A to Z and follow her path and make use of all the hints she mentioned.
    Marina is an example of self treating when resources in On are very sparce.
    It is not your fault to be ill ,but your choice to make the change as Mraina did .
    You need support (you can not do it alone ,please get it and all of us supporting you.
    You alone can do it ,please choose recovery over death.
    Please choose happiness over saddness.
    Please choose to be in control and not a slave to ED demands.

    McMaster student

    1. You are right
      We do encourage all ED victims to get rid of this monster and We are hoping both Angela and Tricia to get help ASAP.
      The least they both can do is to follow Marina feetsteps ,see a dietitian and eat by the hour ,get more nutrition,save their brain.Several studies showed how just lack of nutrion ,not only starving can cause severe brain damage.

      I am a medical student but I admit Marina's knowledge is up to date and really well searched

      Medical student

  21. Even though all of us very busy this months with preparing for last push to pass ,still I take time to follow your blog.You know every day I see it is making a difference
    Thanks Marina


  22. It would really help me if you posted intakes. Like you could have another tab on your blog with intakes and pictures. I used to read another pro recovery blog that posted intakes and photos and it really helped me. But the girl took it down


  23. hey marina,
    i meant pictures of meals. But i understand why you don’t.
    I had 1 cup of vanilla ice cream today. So i did well. I think i am going to start eating ice cream once a week.


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