Weight Gain in Eating Disorder Recovery
By Megan Samuels, EDC Intern and Social Work Graduate Student
Eating disorder recovery may come with weight changes. It can be scary and overwhelming. It is important to understand that your body is just trying to get you to your set point range. I like to remind clients that your body is on your side, even when it might not feel like it. In the depths of restricting and bingeing, your body is still working to return to its set point because it wants you to live. Your body is constantly trying to keep you alive.
Your set point weight range is where your body is working the most efficiently. Your body is always working to get you back to that range to keep you alive and functioning well (Baum, 2019). In an article about set point theory, the author writes that “just as we cannot determine our height, gender, race, hair color, eye color, etc., we cannot determine or force our bodies to be a weight that it does not want to be at” (Baum, 2019).
When struggling with disordered eating, I can imagine that it is very distressing to hear that our weight is pretty much out of our control. What’s coming up for you right now as you read this? Maybe you are feeling relief because you can finally stop trying to control your weight. Maybe you are angry because you do believe that you can change your weight. Whatever you are feeling, be there with the feeling and honor it. Bring this blog post and your thoughts and feelings to your therapist or recovery coach to further process what is going on for you.
Weight gain may come with negative body image thoughts and a recurrence of eating disorder thoughts. How can you challenge those thoughts? Can you allow the thought to just drift away like a cloud in the sky? A difficult part of weight gain during eating disorder recovery can also be the physical and emotional changes that may occur. You may experience headaches, dizziness, bloating, and/or fatigue as a result of your body trying to figure everything out. It is always advised to gain weight in eating disorder recovery under the supervision of a treatment team who is knowledgeable in the treatment of eating disorders. This will often include a doctor, a therapist, and a registered dietitian.
If you are experiencing any symptoms that are concerning, it is important to check-in with your doctor and your treatment team. You do not need to go through this process alone.
Note: I want to note that I am writing this acknowledging my privilege of living in a smaller body. Weight gain may be more difficult for people in larger bodies because of shame and stigma surrounding certain body types.
Healing Statements for Weight Gain:
Baum, Emily (2019, Oct. 9). Body Set Point Theory Explained. Eating Disorder Solutions. https://eatingdisordersolutions.com/body-set-point-theory-explained/
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***Disclaimer: Please note that this blog post is for informational and educational purposes only and is not psychological, therapeutic, or medical advice.
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The Eating Disorder Center
We are a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center in Rockville, Maryland.