Soylent for Anorexia?


#1

I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on Soylent as part of a treatment regimen for folks afflicted with anorexia?

I’m no expert, but the few anorexics I have known are obsessive about food, and not in a good way–food is the enemy. I guess I see Soylent as a possible way of “sneaking” nutrition in under the radar of the anorexic’s worldview. Meaning, it reduces the whole unpleasant experience of dealing with food to as quick and neutral an experience as possible. Also, it packs a lot of balanced nutrition into a small serving, so if all you can handle or allow yourself is a few gulps, you’ll probably get more and better calories in a glug of soylent than half a tortilla chip or a stalk of celery or whatever. It may be sneaky at giving you more food than you think you’re getting, which is exactly the point when you’re trying to circumvent the haywire calorie patrolman that anorexics impose on themselves.

Another strategy might be to try to frame Soylent as a punishment. Anorexics like to punish themselves with food, in my experience. In fact, anorexics are more demanding of and harder on themselves than about anybody I’ve known–so anything that looks like Spartan self-denial and self-discipline appeals. Soylent has some Spartan aspects, for sure. It’s certainly not cake. If one could just somehow get anorexics to think of Soylent like rice cakes–which have almost no calories or nutritional value, and taste like cardboard–then one might gain some acceptance. One possibility would be to re-brand it and advertise that is has half or a third the calories that it actually does. And make it taste a lot worse. Hard to keep the secret, I suppose.


#2

This topic is already being discussed.


#3

I think “I’m no expert” is your key phrase. Soylent isn’t going to “sneak” anything past someone with an eating disorder; people with an eating disorder will quickly familiarize themselves with every iota of information about it, just like anything else they do or don’t eat. It could even play into the recently coined orthorexia, for some people; in fact, just going over some topics here, ceding the diagnosis of orthorexia, it’d be hard to argue it hasn’t.


#4

OK, yeah, I get it. Point taken. I guess I’m just seeing some sort of parallel between those who find eating to be a chore because they’re lazy, like me, vs. those who find it to be something more akin to a horror, because it’s tied for whatever reason(s) to trauma or other sources of obsessiveness.

Nice thing about Soylent is that it seems to work for both types–those with eating disorders or orthorexia who need to devote hundreds/thousands of hours to analyzing and angsting about nutritional minutiae, as well as cheeto-eaters who like it because it’s near zero work and has got to be better for them than, well, cheetos.


#5

Asked one of my psychology professors – she agrees with you @pschwiesow, so I’d say it’s worth looking into how anorexics react to Soylent. Not a project I’ll be taking on anytime soon though.


#6

In the other topic linked to above, a recovering anorexic says she finds Soylent helpful, but only after having already gone through recovery, in the lifelong, difficult discipline of maintaining healthy eating with a condition that will never entirely lose its grip.

Just, not by “fooling” herself, and not as punishment, just as a simpler way to know she’s doing the healthy thing despite any anorexic impulses.


#8

Wow–doing some research and getting some input, here, and I had no idea there were so many variants of anorexia. I’m intrigued by the mental vs. physical aspects of not eating: aversion to specific foods, aberrations of the sense of satiation in vagus nerves(?), paranoia, depression…

I don’t think I fit any profiles I know of or am reading about regarding anorexia (I’m 5’10’’, 175, so slightly overweight), but I confess to very often not feeling hungry. At one time I could skip breakfast and lunch, and still not feel any hunger pangs, even when I was on the point of passing out due to low blood sugar. Still have this basic issue–I have disciplined myself to eat breakfast for a few years now (which is now, of course, Soylent), but I can still easily go to 4 or 5 pm before I start feeling woozy. And “woozy” really isn’t hungry. Once I start eating, I soon find I’m ravenous, and eat fairly huge amounts at one sitting.

Don’t know why or when it stole up on me, but I basically never feel hungry when not actually eating. I have to time meals by the clock, not by when I want to eat. Read a book a few years ago (Potatoes, not Prozac) that convinced me many small meals is better than one big one (I used to eat once a day–huge late lunch, followed by a food coma). Not sure the book’s theory on “sugar sensitivity” makes sense, but my main takeaway was that, if your sense of hunger is screwed up, you can go into, um, I guess it’s a hypoglycemic state, without even knowing why. Then when you eat, you eat too much, because when your hunger sense finally kicks in, it takes awhile for your blood sugar to come back up and get into your cells while you’re chowing away because hey, wow, you were evidently starving. Then your blood sugar swings too high, and you produce too much insulin in response, and the seesawing continues, wreaking havoc on health and mental state in roughly equal measure.

All of this just to say that, when your problem is that you’re never hungry so you forget to, or can’t be bothered to, eat, then setting a little alarm saying “drink a cup of Soylent, dummy” seems a good solution.