My Thoughts on Minnie Maud

Minnie Maud.

OK. I’d like to first, get this out of the way, right now. I’m sorry, but when I hear “Minnie Maud,” all I can think about is this:

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🙂

But seriously, Minnie Maud is a new treatment “trend?” for restrictive eating disorders. The name comes from the sources of its evidence-based approach: the Minnesota ((Minnie)) Starvation Experiment, and the Family Based Treatment — aka MAUDsley Protocol. 

All of the information on Minnie Maud is outlined on the website YourEatopia.com. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time perusing the website, because I frankly find it fascinating. Basically, the long and short of the guidelines can be summed up in this: It’s an outpatient treatment plan where you eat a minimum of 3,000 calories per day, (you’re encouraged to eat more, and give your body what it craves, even if it means eating 10,000 calories due to extreme hunger), no food is off limits, no restricting, no weighing yourself, and absolutely no exercise.

From what I have read, and from the rabid, cult-like following on Instagram and the blogosphere, people have had great results from adhering to the program. And that is awesome — Truly incredible that an at-home program is saving so many lives. Kudos.

My personal thoughts: it would not have worked for me.

Let me back up.

When I entered “forced recovery” in 2007, Minnie Maud just wasn’t around. The website didn’t come on the scene until 2011, so this approach simply wasn’t an option. So there’s that.

But, Minnie Maud wouldn’t have worked for me, because I did not initially want recovery. I was admitted to an inpatient treatment center for three months by my parents. I was so entrenched in my disorder that I did not want to get better. I wanted to stay in my safe little ED bubble. But it was literally “do or die.” I was 78 pounds. My parents knew that if I didn’t get admitted NOW, that there was a very real possibility that I would die within the week. It was a breaking point, and I had no choice in the matter.

So my weight restoration was regulated by the treatment team at the inpatient center. I chose not to have the NG feeding tube, so I drank my Ensure supplements to put on weight. But the meals at the inpatient center were planned out for us. We were allowed to choose from two options. And the foods, although they did challenge some “fear foods,” they did not in any way, shape, or form, make me find joy in eating again. In fact, they frankly weren’t very good. Eating at inpatient was more of a “Dear-Lord,- please-let-me-get-through-this-nightmare” kind of experience, rather than a “food-is-meant-to-be-enjoyed-and-not-feared” kind of experience.

That’s one aspect of Minnie Maud that I really do like: that you eat what you feel like and crave. This could lead to falling in love with food again.

And I know that sounds silly — fall in love with food? But here’s my new take on food: it is a way that God shows us that He loves us.

Because face it: God could have made all food taste the same. I mean, think about it: If the sole purpose of food was to simply provide adequate nutrients and energy needed for survival, God could have just made some sort of sludge or pill, even, to get the job done. But no. He created all different types of foods with different tastes, flavors, and textures to be enjoyed and savored. I mean, heck! Look at the human tongue — there are taste buds in five different areas — salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami — You look at that and tell me that God didn’t want us to enjoy food!

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So anyway, that’s a definite plus of Minnie Maud: that you actually enjoy the weight restoration process. (That’s where the coveted “Pint Party” hashtag comes from on Instagram: it’s the Minnie Maud Army enjoying a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.)

But let me be completely honest here for a minute: that wouldn’t have worked for me. Given my mental state during my “forced recovery,” I would not have adhered to the 3,000 calorie rule. I would have found a way out of it, or found a way to manipulate my way to keep my eating disorder. I would have sneaked exercise. I would have thrown away food whenever possible. I would have made a case that I was actually “craving” carrot sticks. That I was finding “freedom” in plain oatmeal. I would not have been able to eat with reckless abandon, as is the goal of Minnie Maud. I would not have been able to adhere to that highly caloric intake on my own. I just was not at that mental state.

I needed an inpatient treatment center. I needed to be monitored. And frankly, I was so severely malnourished and on the brink of death that I needed the intense medical supervision I received at R. They took my vitals 3 times a day. I slept at the nurses’ station for the entire first month so they could monitor me while I slept. That’s how severe my anorexia was.

Plus, I would have never been able to challenge myself to “fear foods” had I not been at an inpatient treatment center, where there was just no other option. Your meals were planned out and made for you. That’s the beauty of inpatient — they make you completely relinquish control. Your meals are monitored. Your free time is monitored so you don’t exercise. The bathrooms are monitored. They even flush the toilets for you! Had I been at home trying to do the Minnie Maud method, I would have just been eating oatmeal and celery. I needed someone to take the control away from me. I needed someone to say, “You’re eating the cheeseburger. End of story.”

But here’s the main reason why Minnie Maud wouldn’t have worked for me: I wasn’t ready to truly recover. Sure, I put on the weight at inpatient, but that was only so I could get the hell out of there and get back to my eating disorder. I relapsed as soon as I got to college and got away from my parents. I was not ready to give up my anorexia yet.

But…

I do think Minnie Maud would have worked once I genuinely accepted recovery.

Post-relapse, I had to take a semester off from college and live at home with my parents. At this time, I had gotten almost as low as my pre-inpatient weight, so I had some serious weight restoration to do. I finally adopted recovery because of three things: 1) I had no other options (college was taken away), 2) I embraced God’s love, and 3) I fell in love with food again.

In this second “go-around” of weight restoration, I didn’t go to inpatient. Mainly because it was $160,000 and it didn’t really get to the root of the issue the first time. Yes I put on *most* of the weight at R, but I didn’t truly recover. SO after my relapse, I did it from home with the help of my parents. My dad primarily helped with the physical healing and my mom primarily helped with the spiritual healing. And both of these were key to my true recovery.

But back to Minnie Maud: The way I tackled weight restoration after my relapse went along with the Minnie Maud guidelines to a degree. My dad’s a brilliant man. And even though MM wasn’t around, he intuitively knew the guidelines, even though they weren’t formally spelled out on a website.

My dad knew I had to fall in love with food again. He knew I had to break out the regimen of egg whites, oatmeal, and canned tuna. He knew I had to learn to embrace food. So during that six month period, we went all over the city, eating at restaurant after restaurant, buffet after buffet, learning to love food. Not only did it allow me to see the pleasure in food again, but it also relinquished my control in preparing the food, which was a big thing for me. If left to my own devices, I would have never been able to add the butter, add the cream, add the oil. I just couldn’t do it. But at a restaurant, I had no other option. I was at the mercy of the chef. Looking back, my dad was doing the Minnie Maud method before it was even a recovery “trend.” I don’t know what I would have done without his help through that difficult period. He was so patient and loving and supportive. He’s earned his place in Heaven, I’ll say that.

So in short, there are a lot of aspects of Minnie Maud that are really terrific and could be a great approach to recovery, but only if you have truly adopted recovery, and are committed to actually consuming a minimum of 3,000 calories a day.

However, there is one aspect of Minnie Maud that I see as problematic. And that is that it does not take your spiritual healing into account. Yes, you learn to embrace food and eat what your body craves. Yes, you tackle fear foods and allow your body to rest and restore.

But what about your mind? What about your soul? I did not find one thing on the MM website that addressed those things.

And I’ve got to be 100% honest here: Jesus was central to my recovery. 

Nay. Let me rephrase that: Christ was my recovery.

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Putting on weight for me was absolutely terrifying. And literally, the only way I was able to do it was through the strength that God gave me. Had I not have been completely focused on Christ’s love and forgiveness, had I not meditated on Jesus’s comfort during my suffering, had I not accepted that my worth and dignity came from simply being a daughter of God, I would not have been able to recover. Every. single. day of my recovery, I would focus on different bible verses and quotes that kept me thinking about His love and comfort, rather than negative body thoughts, self-hatred, and feelings of unworthiness, which all came from ED. In fact, to this day, I still have to completely fill my mind and heart with His Truth, otherwise the damn voice of ED will find a way to taunt me and shake me up. So I constantly listen to Christian radio, Christian podcasts, and books — I keep myself focused on His love, which fills me up so that ED can’t bring me down.

But that’s what’s missing from Minnie Maud. MM is great, yes – it tackles the weight restoration aspect of anorexia and eating disorder recovery, but that’s it. And frankly, that’s only 10% of the battle — mental healing is far greater and much more difficult to overcome. And for me, mental health and wellbeing stems from one place: God.

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I’ll leave you with this final thought: just like everyone’s eating disorder is different, so is everyone’s recovery. No two recovery journeys look the same. And that’s okay. So long as you get to the destination, it doesn’t matter if you follow Minnie Maud, if you go to inpatient, if you are tube fed, if you drink supplements, if you eat Ben & Jerry’s or go to Chinese buffets every day. Recovery is your journey. If the Minnie Maud approach sounds like something you could really get behind, then more power to ya!

Recovery is hard, no matter what way you go. It will be the fight of your life. It was a fight, that to be honest, I would not have been able to win had it not been for Jesus. He was my strength, and He can be yours too. He wants to be. He longs to be. Because He loves you so incredibly much, and wants to take your suffering away from you — you just have to let him.

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beautybeyondbones

BBB: Because we're all recovering from something. // For speaking/business inquiries: beautybeyondbones@yahoo.com

75 thoughts on “My Thoughts on Minnie Maud

  1. Kevintangodance says minnie, pluto… All we need now is daffy! Interesting to read the testimony of someone who had very different problems to me but who like me found the grace of Jesus can change your life. God Bless you. >°

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  2. I found myself being drawn into your post even though I have never had a problem with eating…unless you count the day I cried when Blue Bell had to shut down. You hit the nail on the head by telling people that Jesus is the only way to battle any type of addictive behavior.

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  3. I see that someone above commented that he was “drawn in” to reading this post. I understand perfectly well. As an overweight person I believed I would gain nothing except maybe some understanding of the anorexic but this was so much more than that. It is so much about being able to be a victor over any issue if one looks to and depends upon Jesus. A great theme well written. I’m so glad you liked my “Pete and Amy” story and made contact with me. I will be watching for more from you.

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  4. Very interesting read. I’ve always been a decent weight. A few years I got into a near fatal car crash. I’m a personal trainer and live on the second floor of my house. I was put on so many meds at first I was functional. Then I couldn’t hold anything down for a few days then I was so weak I couldn’t leave my room to go ten feet to replenish my water bottle. This was only about 8-9 days of this. A friend of mine had seen me right before and the tenth day. She is normally very slow. Said she would be over in 30 minutes. I went down the stairs starting an hour out and resting in between and it’s only 9 steps. She was there in 45 I was crawling to the door. She was like omg what happened to you in a week and a half. Brought me to the hospital I lost almost 35 pounds in a week and a half. I was so malnourished she went to the food store for me. Got me a mini fridge stocked it I had a mini microwave and I ate 5-8000 calories a day and it took 3 weeks to get back to normal. The one dr didn’t pay attention to what I was already taking. I had an attorney go after him and he said his system was down. My legs are normally 23″ they were 16″ I lost size everywhere oddly enough except my stomach. It was horrible

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  5. You are drawing a very diverse crowd, which is testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit working through you. I am drawn and held captive by your reliance upon God, but I am also simply fascinated with your story and an ardent admirer of your writing style.

    I know you are having a tremendous impact. Praise God! Keep it up.

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  6. Your post shows so much courage. I’m GLAD you find strength and worth in God. And I understand disorders: I was married for 38 years to a man with Reactive Attachment Disorder, and though he “did a number” on our marriage, I absolutely will not blame him for a condition he didn’t ask to have. Jesus thinks you’re AWESOME!

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  7. So glad you stopped by my blog so I was directed to yours. Your recovery is similar to that of my husband’s with alcoholism. How fortunate that you found a higher power. guided by loving parents at an early age. so you didn’t have to continue to suffer. Your blog will be so helpful to others who haven’t found their way back to health or who need the support during their recovery. Good for you!

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  8. Love this. I admire your honesty in sharing your journey – but more so I admire that you point to the glory of the One who truly saved you. Definitely a blog that is refreshing and needed in our society today. Keep on your mission :).

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  9. Reading this, I am honored that you liked one of my posts! You write with both honesty and craft, and that is a beautiful thing. May our Lord use you mightily in tearing down the works of the enemy, and not just in the area of ED.

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  10. Inspiring! Is it okay that I downloaded a couple graphics you made just for my own use to maybe use as a wallpaper? I was bulimic/anorexic in my late teens/early 20s (I went back and forth) and dieting reeked havoc with me a lot after that as well. God has helped me to stop worshipping my body and start worshipping Him! He is so amazing and the love that pours from Him give me the strength to be healthy and trust Him for my appetite control and what food to eat. Thanks for sharing and visiting!

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  11. P.S. I quit being anorexic without treatment (I did see a psychologist but they never got to the bottom of my problems: only tuning into God showed me why I was acting that way). Secondly, quit alcohol and pot suddenly and at God’s strengthening me to: no AA, no program, just “done.” He will do this for you if you surrender and He was even doing it before I completely surrendered. Like Moses, I can see God’s back in so many places of my life, where He was saving me for the big day when I totally turned to Him and then (now) am doing my best to STAY turned to Him and IN Christ. Yahoooo!!!!!!

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  12. Your ability to describe your journey is a true gift which has to be a blessing to other sufferers, and those who love them. Transparency, not hidden-ness, is God’s way. Bless you, and thanks for stopping by and liking my recent post. I appreciate it.

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  13. I’ve never taken the time to count but i’m almost certain I take in between 600-900 calories daily and work like a beast……..this one got me thinking/ thanks kindly!

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  14. That is a beautiful thing to add to my day about God’s abundant love for us. He loves us so much that he has gifted us with something we take for granted, FLAVOR! Think of all the cuisines and how they enable people to express their creativity, another reflection of God in the world – creativity! His love for us has no boundaries, he gives and gives and gives on so many levels!

    I’ve experienced ED issues in my past but thankfully never so severe. It still creeps around me when I’m under stress and I have to remind myself that *I* am really not the one in control. When I try to take control and clamp down on myself, it is a disordered way of living and I really want to live along the right and righteous path. I want a surrendered life to Christ not one where I think I have to do it all myself. The abundant life is a gift for all of us.

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  15. What an amazing journey to wholeness! Thank you for being candid and for sharing this with us. Like the others, I found your blog, because you found me first. Thank you for liking my post.I don’t have ED or maybe I do,because stress can make me forget about food…Not all people will admit the BIG role Christ has in our lives– in all seasons. Again, thank you for your courage and God bless you and your family more! Hugs!

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  16. Love your path to healing. Its great that God is now in the center of your life.
    I see this woman in the gym and she is – I know has eating issues. She is so so bony and she is in the gym 24 -7. I don’t think her daughters are not taking it seriously.
    But anyway..you will help others. You have a story. God gets the praise. I can’t imagine life without my faith. God is my strength, my GPS, my wisdom.

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    1. Thank you so much Lola. I really appreciate your kind words! I love that imagery – of God as a GPS. That’s so perfect. I just hope He doesn’t have a computerized women’s British voice! 🙂 hehe thanks for stopping by!

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  17. Yikes, if I ate 3,000 kcal/day I would be morbidly obese. One size does NOT fit all! And of course, during initial refeeding, you just can’t jump into something like this. As you know.

    I have seen restrictive anorexia convert to bulimia when a girl “fell in love with food” too early in recovery.

    I don’t even SAY the word “weight,” as in, “your healthy weight,” when working with young women with ED. It’s too triggering. In fact, my mentor, Dr. Richard Kreipe at the University of Rochester, taught me to get rid of the scales on the inpatient unit. The scales were locked in the med room. The patients were weighed on admission, and only after they had started eating solid foods did they get weighed daily, and backwards so they couldn’t read the beam.

    Although all anorexics know the calorie count of every single thing in the world (ask me, I’ll tell you the caloric value of every size of egg), I think putting a target number in front of someone, whether it be weight or calories, might well put them into a state of panic. Especially once they’ve got enough Ensure down the hatch that they can actually THINK.

    So I’m wondering if this program might be working for people who are not so far down the road that their pulse, weight (in kilograms, multiply by 2.2 for pounds) and temperature are all 30 (Centigrade; Fahrenheit, about 90)….this is what we called a “reptilian” state, because the body was shut down in order to conserve energy.

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    1. Hi Laura! Thank you so much for sharing your awesome insight and perspective. You bring up so many great points. When I was at inpatient we did blind and backwards weigh ins as well- and no mirrors either. It was definitely an environment conducive to recovery. But you’re so right… I chuckled when you mentioned the eggs because I’m right there too–I can still remember the differences between jumbo medium large—forever singed in my memory. Really, the patient has to WANT recovery, even knowing the calories and numbers and what not. Because with true recovery will come an acceptance and actual embrace of those things. Because they mean life. But right at the beginning of recovery, especially at impatient, censoring those things is imo the best. Minnie maud–for me the jury’s out. I know personally I wouldn’t have been able to recover this way. But I know others have had wild success so more power to ‘Em. At the end of the day, it’s getting your body back to a safe and healthy state, and also, just as importantly, rescuing the mind from the grips and influence of ED. Again, thank you for reading and taking the time to respond. How awesome to hear the insight of a doctor on these issues! I’m honored that you read my site! Have a wonderful evening. Hugs xx

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      1. Thank you! Your site, your writings, the comments here, all bring up so much for me. Because I was the pediatrics/adolescent medicine resident who was a (not too successful) recovering ana, Dr. Kreipe adopted me as his liaison. It’s true: I could sit and chat with the girls (and the occasional boy) about anything at all, and I could tell them my story, and they either would or would not believe it. Somehow that bone that stuck out on me for them to admire, on them that same bone was a “blob of fat” that they were trying to get rid of….as in, a knee bone, or a bone in your thigh that is normally seen only in skeleton models, that sort of thing. On me it was a bone, on them it was fat. One girl I actually took to a mirror and we compared our same bones. Nope, hers was definitely fat! Must get rid of. Fixed delusion: definition of psychosis. Vicious circle, brain not operating. Never argue with a crazy person, someone said. I’m crazy, so I can say that.

        Dr. Kreipe taught me that ED girls are always a symptom of family dysfunction. Even if the precipitating factor did not seem so, if you looked at the family interacting in the conference room when they thought you weren’t there, within a couple of meetings it began to emerge. The ED child was the canary in the mine.

        I’ve always wanted to do a book on this, and am searching for a collaborator. Think about it?

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      2. How very interesting! It sounds like you have a powerful outreach and connection with the patients. That’s so awesome. Hmm. That book sounds like an interesting idea! I’ll definitely think about it! Something right up my alley! ❤️❤️❤️

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      3. I’m not currently working, but I think it would be interesting to look at case histories, interviews, and mine our collective and personal experiences with ED to create a book that is non-judgmental and friendly for ED sufferers, while providing tools that last to insight. I believe that insight is the opening that allows people who suffer from illnesses such as ED to turn their perceived weaknesses into strengths. The immense self control that it takes to systematically starve to death can be channeled into productive, rather than destructive, patterns of behavior. This, to me, is the key to giving people with ED hope.

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  18. There is only one thing wrong with this post. One thing, that’s it, the rest is pure awesome. The only thing wrong is a mere factual error: the tongue is able to perceive all tastes in all areas, there are not specific “zones” for “sweet” or “bitter”.

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  19. As I’ve said elsewhere, your spiritual component, although necessary for you, would have been a deal breaker for me. I was brainwashed into thinking that I was inherently “damned,” that is, unlovable to God by my abuser. If religion had been part of the program where I got “scared straight” and started to turn my life around, it would not have worked at all. I was playing at being religious at the time and thought I was. Then I realized it was yet another way that I had set myself up: I would never be good enough for God either (because of the brainwashing).

    Bravo to your parents for actually doing the work of parents!!! Kudos!!! I was hospitalized, I admitted myself, and my Dad visited every day and paid the bill. That was it. The idea that he might do more or should was completely out of the question.

    I’m so glad you recovered and are willing to talk about the up and down struggle which is healing.

    Best —
    teacup

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    1. Thanks again Teacup. Yeah I’m very grateful for my parents. They really helped and supported me through that difficult journey. Thanks again for sharing your heart and your story. In sorry that that message was communicated to you. You are not unloveable at all. You are a gift. And I hope that you can claim that truth. Because it’s true. Even just in talking with you these couple times, you have enriched my life and are a gift to me:) big big hugs my friend xox

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I praise God for your parents, and for you to choose Him. 🙂 The strength He gives us is so intimate, there’s a reason why everyone has their own testimony. For those hard moments. ❤

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