Ensure Connoisseur

Part of my current recovery plan involves drinking an Ensure Plus every day. I hated this idea. I felt guilty that they were so expensive. I felt guilty for drinking them. And I didn't particularly like the taste. The vanilla flavor was cloyingly sweet, my lips puckering with distaste as I drank. However much those animated commercials have tried to normalize the idea of drinking Ensure, every bottle I opened made me feel like a medical patient, that I was freakish and abnormal.

Except that I am a medical patient. I'm at home, but I'm still recovering from an actual illness.

I've learned that the Ensure Plus isn't all that bad. It's not all that good, but it's not bad. I tried different flavors- the strawberry and butter pecan taste much better than the vanilla (which is still gross to me). I worked with my dietitian to shift around my meal plan so that I could have an extra fruit along with my afternoon Ensure Plus, which my mom blends into a smoothie that almost lets me forget I'm having a supplement.

Logically, I know I need the extra calories. I'm having hot flashes from hell (hats off to all you menopausal women out there- you have my sympathy) because my metabolism has started to remember that my body will be fed regularly. I also know that with the amount I need to eat, having a supplement is much easier than eating the equivalent amount of food. It's also more convenient, considering life has been chaotic around here, to put it mildly.

I doubt I'll continue drinking the supplements even after I'm finished with weight restoration, largely because there are far tastier things I can think of to eat. But they're not that bad. And I know they're necessary. I can deal with that. It won't last forever and soon I will move on to bigger and better (tasting) things.

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Sara said...

Hey Carrie,
I guess its time I reveal myself as an avid reader of your blog. I completely relate on the Ensure plus- I had one point after my first relapse in which my dietitian prescribed me three a day in addition to food which was...quite difficult as one can imagine.
Definitely like the fruit idea though...it is nicer to think of it as a nice smoothie cooler for those hot flashes rather than a supplement :)
Cheers :)

Anonymous said...

I remember being on Resource Plus and hating having to take them to uni. But at the same time, I preferred drinking the extra calories to regain the weight.

The smoothie idea sounds nice :)

chylo said...

It was amusing to me to wake up & read this post, as I was literally laying in bed debating getting one out of my fridge now. I bought a pack of the dark chocolate ones this week, haven't tried them yet though.

Between having somewhat slipped up this past term and having a naturally insanely fast metabolism [seriously-- every dietician is always like, oh, when you're done w/refeeding, you'll level off.... but even at my set point, I am on a meal plan that would normally include ensures] I'm always trying to find easy ways to get the extra calories in.

Maybe I'll try the strawberry ones w/fruit, that does sound better.

I don't know where you're at food wise/headwise, so I'm throwing in the disclaimer that what follows is food suggestions to meet your higher calorie MP. If that might be triggering, please disregard it/let me know?

The obvious one that I have a zilion times a day is carnation, which isn't up to the plus level but helps get extra calories in pretty simply.

I don't know where you live, but if you happen to have potbelly's near you, try their malts sometime! They're a thousand times tastier than ensure plus AND one of them counts as two ensue pluses.

Also, I think boost makes smoothies now? I'm not a huge fan of them, but I know some people like them.

I wish more of the premade smoothies weren't designed for dieters!!

My first introduction to ensure was when I did crew-- people would freeze them, then bring them to the docks so by the time we wee done w/practice, they'd be a nice icy cold/milkshake consistency.

Even then I thought they tasted weird.

I'm in med school now, and a few of my classmates drink ensure too-- it's like an, "Oh, look how busy & important I am! I have no time to eat!" sort of thing. I just wish we had a potbelly's on campus, hah.

and poptarts. They're totally my fave "supplement" hah. Way tastier.

* said...

Hey Carrie,

Totally sympathize with you on the hot flash front. That was rough for me too during the refeeding stage. Ensure isn't so bad. I thought after refeeding and leaving the hospital in March I wouldn't drink it anymore. But, four months later I have one every night before I go to bed. I sometimes pour it into a wine glass to make it "fancy" :) When I get bummed about drinking it, I try to focus on all of the nutrients I'm getting from drinking it and how they help my body heal, rather than focus on the extra calories aspect. Best of luck to you on your road to recovery. You're inspiring.

Kim said...

I actually started to take a liking to Ensure Plus, but I guess I'm a little weird :) I've had those hot flashes with gaining weight... I just love soaked sheets in the morning! Hang in there!

Cammy said...

Oooh the hot flashes. Mine lasted for a weight-span of about 8 pounds, although I'm sure that time plays in with that too. It is SO wonderful to hear you are working on things and moving forward. I have tons of respect for you, and you're in my thoughts, as always.

Harriet said...

I drank part of one once, in solidarity with my daughter. They're not great, it's true. But if you pinch your nose and down it, you can get it over with in about 5 seconds. :)

Hang in there, Carrie! You're going to get through this.

Elizabeth said...

I know you have a lot of avid readers, so I'm curious to see how many of them experience hot flashes. I've been fully recovered from anorexia for about eight years now, but to this day, I still go through periods of really severe menopausal-like night sweats. I often wonder whether this is a remnant of my eating disorder, because my therapist once mentioned a study she read suggesting that, compared to controls, the recovered eating disorder patients had unusual nocturnal spikes in body temperatures. Have you ever come across this research?

Carrie Arnold said...

Thanks for all the high calorie suggestions! I go to Coldstone Creamery and a local ice cream place regularly. And I've found any number of foods taste good with a packet of the Instant Breakfast, including oatmeal (made with whole milk, peanut butter, raisins, and a packet of chocolate CIB). Kind of like a warm peanut butter cup.


To be honest, I have no idea. I know that recovering ANs tend to have a higher metabolism long after weight restoration and recovery, so I'm guessing there's something to do with that. You probably have had your thyroid and other hormone levels checked, which would be my next guess. Have you had a TB test? It's probably just my paranoia coupled with the time I spent working in the TB control department, but night sweats are one of the signs of TB. That's probably not what's going on, but it might be something to rule out.

Anonymous said...

Hi, there. I'm in e.d. recovery as well, though not Maudsley. I've just started following your blog.

I must say, I'm drinking 1/2 of a coffee latte ensure mixed with 1/2 of a chocolate ensure and . . . Well. It's still ensure! But, it's not bad!

You're right, though. "Normal" people don't drink ensure. The only people that I know who drink it are e.d. people who are using them as supplements. I just tell myself that if this is manageable way for me to get calories and nutrients in my body, I will do it, and when I'm ready, my dietitian will help me get off of them.

Angela Lackey said...

I hated the hot flashes; it finally leveled off about a month ago.

I wasn't too keen on the Ensure Plus either, although the dark chocolate ones aren't too bad. I need to get back to one a day, since I have relapsed a bit (lost five pounds).

I know you can do it! Take care.

Elizabeth said...

Yep...been checked for TB...and thyroid hormones are normal.

Lisa said...

The only thing worse than Ensure is generic Ensure. You look like you're drinking carnation evaporated milk.

I used to blend mine up with frozen fruit. I realize now it was sort of ritualized, but hey, it got me through the day.

It is not forever.

Anonymous said...

I love that someone else uses poptarts for ensure plus! Carrie, your oatmeal recipe sounds delicious - I'm going to try that tomorrow. :)

Hot flashes do go away, but in my experience, the more often I relapse, the longer it takes for the hot flashes to go away.

midoriliem said...

Have you tried the "Coffee Latte" Ensure?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story. A very dear friend who rarely eats and has been way too thin for many months, called me this morning to admit she is anorexic. Her family and close friends have suspected such for several months, but praise God that she has finally realized it too. Now, the long road to recovery on all levels begin. She said she doesn't feel like eating and I recommended she start drinking Ensure. I was doubting what I told her so I came on a found your blog. So glad I gave her that advice and she has already taken the first step to purchase it this morning. Hopefully, she will drink 1 or 2 today as the first steps to her recovery. Ladies -- you are all so strong and I commend you for your strength first in admitting you had an illness and now accepting it and battling it every day. I know it's not easy and there will be days you may stumble and it will be difficult -- but you are strong and you will get up just as Jesus did as he was carrying his cross. Know that you are never alone in your journey.
"I can do all things through Christ whom strengthens me." Phillipians 4:13

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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