Liam Frumkin is quickly becoming known as a cherished entrepreneur with an inspirational story to tell. Having suffering an eating disorder in his early teens, the student from Winston Salem, NC, found his life spiraling out of control until he finally sought help and made lifechanging progress. Now, Frumkin is not simply defined by the brave way that he raises awareness of anorexia in men; he’s also the brains behind AHAV’s edible cookie dough products.
M&F sat down with Frumkin, still only 19 years of age, to track his hopeful journey, and those attractive looking macros.
Anorexia nervosa is understood to be a serious mental disorder that will lead an individual to restrict their food intake, resulting in significant weight loss. Sufferers may skip meals, obsessively count calories, and engage in excessive exercise. For Liam Frumkin, all of those symptoms became part of an entrenched and dangerous lifestyle. “I would say that things started to become a problem in my freshman year of high school, when I was 13. This was in 2016,” shares Frumkin. The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) reports that around one in three people suffering with an eating disorder are male. For Frumkin, terrified of gaining body fat, his days would revolve around a lack of self-esteem in relation to his body image. He’d wake up, skip breakfast, and head straight to the gym. Sometimes those gym sessions would last six hours, only ending when, according to Frumkin, he would have black spots floating around in his vision.
Mercifully, in 2019, Frumkin came to the realization that something had to change. “I remember this moment so distinctly,” he says. “At the beginning of the summer, I was sitting down at the family dinner table and my parents asked me if I wanted a bite of an Oreo, my favorite candy when I was younger. Of course, I said no but I remember thinking: ‘When am I ever going to allow myself to have even a bite of food that I am actually craving?’ That night, I came to the conclusion that the only way I would give myself permission for that, is if I plan one day in which I would throw all of my food fears aside and just eat whatever I wanted. I decided that my first such day would be my birthday. The week leading up to my birthday, I reduced my daily calorie intake to 300 calories and then the day before my birthday, I ate absolutely nothing. I remember not being able to get any sleep that week because my stomach was in so much pain from not eating. Finally, the ‘cheat’ day came and I went absolutely nuts. I ate everything that I had been craving for the past three years. I honestly think I ate over 10,000 calories that day! But, that night, my body was clearly not prepared for the insane influx of calories it was forced to digest and so I spent the entire night throwing up all the food that I had just shoved inside my body. It was so incredibly miserable. After that night, I woke up, went downstairs, and asked my parents for help.”
Liam Frumkin is learning to cope with his anorexia nervosa diagnosis.
Diagnosed with anorexia nervosa, Frumkin came to learn that there is hope for those that battle negative thoughts each time they think about eating. “One of the most important things I have learned is that this fight is so much easier to win together than it is alone,” he says. “During my senior year of high school, when I was just starting to get medical help, I decided to do this thing called the ‘Student Speaker Series,’ where a student can apply to make a speech about any topic that they want, in front of the entire school. On top of that, the student body has no idea who is going to speak and what they are going to talk about until the person selected walks out onto the stage. Without thinking about it too much, I decided to apply with a speech about my eating disorder journey. I got selected to speak. I’m confident in saying that this speech was the bravest thing that I have ever done in my life. After speaking about my journey, dozens of people that I had never spoken to before came up to me, gave me a hug, and told me that they were going through the same thing. The rest of the year, we all became close and helped one another get through each other’s daily struggles. That was the moment when I decided that I was going to find a way to spread eating disorder awareness and do do my part in making the world a better place.”
Liam Frumkin’s Fit Cookie Dough Is Made with ‘Love’
As the mastermind behind the AHAV (in Hebrew, means “to love”) brand, Frumkin who now lives in Washington, DC, saw a need to develop healthier treats. “Whenever I would go to the grocery store, I was honestly so overwhelmed by how many of these ‘healthy’ snacks contained crazy ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce,” he says. “So, during junior year of high school, I did a lot of cooking myself with simple, real ingredients. After months of truly just eating chicken, broccoli, and rice, I started to experiment with treats that I had been craving. One of my biggest cravings was edible cookie dough. So, I began just throwing a couple healthy ingredients together in a blender, trying to make something that resembled the taste of cookie dough. This took a while. At first, I was using chickpeas so it just tasted like dessert hummus. Eventually, I came up with a great recipe that had a base of oats and used only 5 healthy ingredients. For a year, the cookie dough was my dessert and something that I would eat to satisfy my own cravings. It wasn’t until the summer after senior year that I started to distribute and sell it.”
In fact, AHAV Edible Cookie Dough Bites are high in protein, and vegan. They are lower, at 260 calories for 60 grams, than many of the leading ‘health bars’ and with less sugar too. “I continue to be shocked by the fact that many of the perceived leading healthy snack brands have just as much sugar in them as candy bars!” says Frumkin.
AHAV cookie dough, since it is based from oats and is low in sugar, is a great low carb option for athletes or anyone who is keen to track their macros. Not surprisingly then, these edible cookie bites are starting to take off. Not only does Frumkin have his treats in stores, but since they have also caught fire on social media with food critic influencers such as TikTok’s Keith Lee, he’s gone from being a one-man band to the manager of a growing team. A portion of the proceeds are also donated to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).
There is hope for those suffering with eating disorders
“NEDA definitely helped me throughout my journey,” reflects Frumkin. “I found that the most helpful thing was reading the testaments of others who had battled an eating disorder, and realizing that I am far from alone! I get messages almost every day from others who have suffered with eating disorders. It is quite honestly the most rewarding part of the business. No matter how busy my day is, I always make time to personally respond to every single email. It’s mind blowing how many meaningful conversations I have been able to have just because of a connection through a healthy snack!”