By Anna McKenzie
How does your metabolism affect your physical and mental health? Your body is designed to convert food into energy so that it can perform physiological functions and give you fuel for activity. When you’re in recovery from an eating disorder, metabolic data can help you find out how much food and nutrition your body needs to function well.
Metabolic rates can vary by age, genetics, physical activity, and other biological factors. The metabolic cart we use at The Meadows Ranch helps inform your treatment plan by showing the specific way your body converts energy. It’s an incredibly useful tool — one of many we use at The Meadows Ranch that allows us to provide eye-opening information to our patients. In addition to providing insight as to how your body functions, it can give you a clearer understanding of your personal wellness and path to long-term recovery.
What Is Metabolism, and How Does It Work?
Metabolism is the process of turning food into actual energy that your body can use. But we don’t all process food into energy at the same rate. The following factors help determine your individual metabolism:
- Gender, hormone levels, and age
- Amount and frequency of eating
- Rate of physical activity
Your body’s job is to keep you alive and functioning. It doesn’t know when you will eat again and receive more energy. In the absence of food, your body takes certain actions to use up its stores of energy in order to maintain its normal operations, sometimes burning fat, other times burning muscle.
Chronic dieting, starving patterns, bingeing, and purging can send confusing signals to your body about when food will be available and what can be used for energy. So, when your eating patterns are unstable or disordered, your metabolic ratemay fluctuate, leading to unpredictable weight loss or gain.
People with anorexia nervosa often have considerable difficulty maintaining a healthy BMI (body mass index) even when they’re receiving “carefully calibrated nourishment” as part of their treatment plan, explains a 2020 study published through the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The metabolism disruptions may be the reason why.
To aid our patients in their recovery from eating disorders, we use a helpful tool called a metabolic cart to better understand and meet their nutritional and caloric needs.
How the Metabolic Cart at The Meadows Ranch is Used
A metabolic cart uses a process called “calorimetry” to measure the oxygen your body is consuming and the carbon dioxide you are expelling in order to calculate your body’s rate of energy use. It’s noninvasive. You wear a clear hood that contains and measures the air you’re inhaling and exhaling so that your metabolic rate can be determined.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) explains how the energy measurement process can give clinicians a clearer view of how a patient is responding to their current caloric intake. Essentially, this info then helps inform the specifics of your nutrition plan: the size and frequency of meals, and what they consist of.
Metabolic cart data can make nutrition and wellness planning more straightforward, and it allows you to feel more confident in your ability to recover as you follow the provided plan. You also get an opportunity to start “listening” to your body and recognizing what it needs. This can be a great step in both restoring your mind-body connection and ownership of self-care, components that are instrumental in long-term recovery and overall body satisfaction.
Getting the right nutrition doesn’t just help your body. It also improves your cognitive, mental, and emotional well-being. When your brain has the nutrients and energy it needs to function well, you can think more clearly, practice greater emotional regulation, and experience a positive outlook on life.
Resetting Your Metabolism
Understanding your metabolism is not a onetime practice. It may take some time and data to stabilize your metabolism so that you retain a healthy BMI. The great news is there are professionals who are ready to help and scientific innovations that make the process easier. Best of all, your body is designed to adapt, and your brain has a certain elasticity that allows you to heal and grow. This means you should never give up hope that you can recover.
You may be wondering if it’s possible to “fix” your metabolism if you’ve had unstable or disordered eating patterns. Patience and professional guidance are the first step. Don’t get discouraged if you struggle to maintain your weight, or feel yourself slipping back into negative thinking related to your body image. Sticking with a nutritional meal plan and getting support for your personal wellness are far better than making too many changes at once or going at it alone. As you heal, your metabolism will adjust as well.
Eating Disorder Treatment at The Meadows Ranch
If you or a loved one is dealing with an eating disorder, please get in touch with our team today. Our research-backed program is evidence-based and focused on helping individuals find the path to long-term healing. We have extensive expertise in the realm of eating disorder treatment and recovery. Call today to find out more about our eating disorder program and cutting-edge methods. We would love to help you take the next step toward healing!