Huel weight gain (female) and a thank you

First of all, I want to thank Huel for essentially saving my life.

In September, somebody put a date rape drug in my drink. I guess the brain is a funny old thing - nothing dramatic happened to me on that night, but something really disturbing happened to me psychologically: I developed a fear of swallowing. Sounds absolutely mental, I know, but it makes sense in the context. Prior to this, I absolutely loved my food. After this, the tiniest mouthful of food triggered a reaction in me - it was like mt body was resisting my mind. My throat was closing up and refusing to swallow normally. It sometimes took me an hour to eat a simple meal where once upon a time I would have wolfed it down in 5 minutes. Some times were particularly bad and I had to spit out the food. My brain panicked every time my mouth was full. I became convinced that if I tried to swallow, my throat wouldn’t listen and I would choke.

To make matters worse, I have always been naturally very thin. Although I’m 5’9’’, the very heaviest I’ve ever been, in a period when I was chowing down on takeaways, huge carby meals, junk food and hitting the pub daily, I weighed 63kg.

With this swallowing problem (its called phagophobia, I’m writing it here in case anyone runs a search), the weight started dropping off, and for the first time in my life, I became terrified. Being thin anyway meant I was very quickly becoming extremely skinny but it was outside of my control. I dropped down to 52kg, the lowest I’ve ever weighed.

Enter Huel. Thanks to Huel I was able to stop losing the weight.

The good news is through mindfulness, meditation and buddhist techniques, in December my fear dissipated. Its been about 6 weeks now and thanks to Huel and proper eating, I’ve put on 3kg so I now weigh 55kg. My goal is to hit 63kg (I’ve started lifting weights too).

So thank you, Huel.

And if any women are interested in gaining weight and lifting weights, I’ll post on here semi regularly with updates.


Congrats Hayley on your recovery and weight gain!
So sorry to hear of your terrible experience - and no it doesn’t sound ‘mental’ at all. It’s really very normal to experience symptoms like this after a trauma. ‘Nothing happened’ isn’t a true thing to say - someone intentionally spiked your drink with a drug that can cause horrendous psychological and physical effects, not just for a day but for weeks afterwards. You ingested this drug unknowingly and hence the effects of the drug would have been all the more terrifying. This in itself feels violating and traumatic, and then there’s the knowing what ‘could’ have happened…
I’m not suprised you’ve been affected badly by this.
Really happy to know you’ve found ways of recovering however, and I hope you continue making really good progress.
Feel free to DM me if you want signposting to organisations that can provide support around what you’ve experienced: if you feel you need it and haven’t already been given this info X


So sorry to hear of your terrifying experience HDoyle. I too was spiked way back in Uni but thankfully my friends got me home. I still have no memory of that night or the following two days. Not even a flashback in the past 20 years.
I too have problems swallowing food - I have eosinophilic esophagitis which means that certain foods make my esophagus swell and leave me unable to swallow. It was undiagnosed for years and I lost so much weight people were worried about me. Since diagnosis I’ve had to cut out a lot of foods which makes finding foods I can eat really difficult. I also find some foods near impossible to swallow despite being them not being trigger foods. I get a lot of anxiety around eating in case I choke or get food stuck. I find Huel great at helping me keep adequately fed but also to take the thinking away in terms of planning what I can eat. The only downside is it does give me IBS symptoms if I have more than 2 servings a day but at least it’s got me covered for 2/3 meals!

I’m so glad Huel exists I suppose and it’s great to see it helping others with similar problems in this way. I’m confident you will make your target weight gains and are able to maintain this. In terms of your swallowing issue, have you asked your doctor to investigate? You can get physio for swallowing problems - you basically relearn to use the swallowing muscles again. I know it won’t improve the psychological trauma but it can really help with the physiological manifestation.


I have foods I can’t eat anymore too! Well actually only one, and that’s bread. For some reason thats the one food that still raises my anxiety levels, I think it’s something to do with the way it thickens and swells in the mouth.
Strangely I started talking to ky family about this phenomenon and my gran said she gets this! All those years we thought she suffered from heartburn, but the reality was she was embarrassed to admit she had anxiety sometimes around swallowing. Her blacklist food is rice, something to do with the graininess of it. I wonder if yours is also a carb?

My gran said she actually met a businessman who admitted he had this sometimes too. It makes me think it might be more common than we think, but because eating is such a basic thing and it sounds so odd, people dont talk about it.

But when you think of cartoons, they always depict stress with lip licking, a lump in the throat, etc. A dry mouth and tight throat is a totally normal sign of stress.

One practical thing (other than counting my breathing etc) that helped me at my worst was always to have a bowl of soup with my meal - a clear, broth like soup. It helps you get stuff down.

I’m not totally out of the woods yet but its improved drastically. At my very worst, even a thick soup made me “stall” and panic. I still eat much more slowly than I used to, but in many ways thats not such a bad thing - I used to be a wolfer.

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Thank you Christina, you’re lovely :hibiscus:


This is awful, I’m so sorry you had to go through this, your reaction doesn’t sound mental at all. Reactions like this are the body’s natural defense mechanisms kicking in to stop the same thing happening again.


Hdoyle, yes I don’t enjoy eating bread (the gluten free stuff which is even dryer than regular bread). Rice is also bad for little granules getting stuck in my throat. Fruit is actually the worst - I can only eat those processed fruit bars or baby puree. Meat is bad also - may as well be totally vegan. I manage by drinking a lot of diet lemonade drinks - the bubbles help push the food down. I totally panic if I need to eat and I don’t have any. You can see how the liquid Huel helps in this regard! I really like the Huel bars too but can only eat slowly with a cup of tea.

If your swallowing issue persists I would definitely get seen by a doctor and ask for a referral to an enterologist. My swallowing problem, eosinophillic esophagitis is an auto immune disorder. I didn’t have it until after I had a bad bout of depression in my early 20’s and then all doctors told me it was anxiety for years and years. I believed them until it got to the point I could only eat baby food and then I went to a private doctor who did a biopsy. Auto immune disorders can be triggered by stress / trauma so maybe this is something to look out for? I had totally never heard of it but then mentioned to a colleague at work who also had it! I have to take steroids on and off and also cut out wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts, soy and fish as these were all triggers for me. Again, good old Huel has none of these!