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A few medically oriented questions relating to anorexia...


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1. Can anyone inform me of any reasoning behind the sodium addiction that seems to be quite common whilst suffering and recovering from anorexia? Whilst in the depth of my disorder, I had the overwhelming impulse to salt everything of the little I actually ate...pickles, mustard, strawberries, et cetera. I hated the taste, the burning in my mouth, the ill-effects on my body...and yet I craved to pour salt over everything, almost as if I believed it was keeping me alive. Now that I'm recovering from anorexia and on a weight-gainers diet, this need for sodium has gone away and I use salt minimally as any other healthy person would. However, I was wondering what makes a malnourished body crave salt so needfully...I knew a few girls who have gone through extremely similar experiences, and I am curious for some answers.

2. After having a blood test done, I was diagnosed with anemia. I have little knowledge of iron deficiencies and never suspected to have one, as I haven't experienced any symptoms typical of anemia (lack of energy, dizziness, et cetera). However, I would like some suggestions on how to go about fixing this. I have been taking iron supplements for a few days now, which have not been agreeing with my stomach. What are some good sources of iron? I am vegetarian (since I was five years old, so please do not call out my being vegetarian for anorexic reasons, as it is offensive) and lactose-intolerant. Any recommendations?

3. What are the long term effects of not having a period? I've heard of osteoporosis in later years and infertility (though this doesn't concern me, I couldn't fathom ever even wanting a child), but other than that...how does being amenorrhoeic affect one's health?

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1. I never had anything akin to a sodium addiction. In fact, I despised salted foods and it was leading me towards a pretty critical iodine deficiency (table salt is iodised here). Sodium fears are actually also quite common in the midst of ED. I would speculate that sodium addiction could be a way that the body maximises the flavour content of whatever it was imbibing, though this doesn't seem feasible in your particular case as you state that you hated the taste. I doubt it would have been a genuine sodium requirement per se (unless you were exercising excessively and thereby causing electrolyte imbalances), because the body generally only needs about 500 milligrams of sodium daily.

2. There is haem iron and non-haem iron, the former pertaining to meat foods (and packing a substantially larger punch), and the latter to plant foods. Haem iron is more readily absorbed. Good vegetarian iron sources include whole grains, legumes, oatmeal, peas, broccoli, wheatgerm, leafy greens, nuts and dried fruit. Absorption is further bolstered when you consume these foods with something rich in vitamin C, e.g. prunes. At this site you can view a table containing iron rich sources for vegetarians:

http://www.vnv.org.au/site/index.php?option=c om_content&task=view&id=55&Itemid =66#Iron

3. Osteoarthritis is a MAJOR concern when one is suffering amenorrhoea. This is serious, resulting in severe bone loss. Not nice - not something you want, now or in later life. And the longer it continues, the worse it gets. You want to get your cycle back asap, believe me. I'm trying to get mine back...

When I was in inpatient we were rationed out salt, pepper and other condiments because otherwise some people tended to over-use them.

One of the staff told me that it was related to a need for intense flavours in the food eaten, to compensate for the small quantities of food consumed. Sort of like getting the most bang for your buck. She had a scientific explanation - which I forget, sorry - but that was the gist of it.

Salt is an electrolyte and very important in the body's ability to conduct electricity (which is what neurotransmission is all about and without neurotransmission nothing works).  Salt cravings can be a symptom of adrenal fatigue, which can be caused by starvation diets.  This link explains it in simple terms.http://www.mcvitamins.com/health%20opponents/ salt.htm
You could also be zinc deficient.
http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/content/abstract/ 104/9/1108
or hypokalemic (deficient in potassium)
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/767448- overview

Regarding the absence of periods, google "Hypothalamic amenorrhea due to anorexia"... and it'll give you a good idea what the consequences are.  One of the many consequences is osteopenia (bone loss) 
http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/abst ract/72/3/602 which even with weight recovery and hormonal rehabilitation is sometimes not reversible.  http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/49 758/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0  The extend to which you can make up for the damage is directly linked to how long you haven't had your periods.

So... sort it out while you still can.

hey love. As u may know i have a problem with fearing salt for goodness knows why(although ive improved on my fear) but a few years back like 2 years ago. while in the depths of my anorexia, i would salt everything! and over season things as well, with spices etc..pickles, mustard...u know. I think the main reason i did that, was bc obvi salt/condiments of that sort have 0 cals or very little/trace calories, so my ed deemed them safe. Also it made me feel too like i was eating, or properly giving myself something my body was craving, i think when starved to such a degree...we crave the oddest things. and our bodies are so deficient in minerals that we just crave things like salt, which is so vital in ones health(as i must learn, but i do know) Now i am grossed by the taste of salt, but i don't know if thats my ed (which probs it is.) but i have bad memories associated to condiment abuse. In IP i would hide salt packets in my room and bring them into meals as we were only allowed one at each meal, lunch and dinner, as well as black pepper packet. and I recall so many girls stealing them and using more at meals secretly, and then there where some girlss that feared those salt packs! ive known girls to over dose on sodium, too make it look like they have gained more while in IP.

as for anemia, high iron foods, i know Tahini and sesame seeds, have lots of iron, seeds of all sorts. lentils, pumpkin seeds, black strap molasses, beans, potato skin, oranges and cantaloupe, broccoli, tomato, white wine ;]  Dark leafy greens. Egg yolks(if u eat that) grains, have lots of iron. soy beans, artichokes. beet root juice or beets, brewers yeast, vitamin b's!! folate. vitamin c, aids as well...i guess all the vitamins tht would b in what u are taking? miso/tempeh and bean pastes aswell...

well as for a period, have u ever had it? u are 16? i didn't get mine back untill 2 months b4 my 19th birthday! i know it can do with fats in diet, body weight and family genetics etc...but it causes things as u said, osteoporosis in later years and infertility...i think as well it can make u shorter(well that comes with osteoporosis) and really bad hormones, i dont know, i guess if one never gets there period, it just isnt healthy in the long run..u know? i had zero hope i would ever get it...as i went from age 15-18/19 with out it..and now i am 16ish bmi and i now get my period.

Good luck lovie!

 

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