Gaining Weight After Anorexia and Bulimia: How Long Does It Take?

Extreme weight loss is a common symptom of several different eating disorders, especially more severe conditions like bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Because of how taxing eating disorders can be on the body, the process of gaining weight and reintroducing calories is often equal parts frustrating and time-consuming. In this article, we’ll explore how long it typically takes for people recovering from eating disorders to gain weight.

What Type of Eating Disorder Are You Recovering From?

The average amount of time a person with an eating disorder spends regaining weight will vary considerably depending on the type of eating disorder they are recovering from. Below, we’ve listed some of the most common factors affecting weight gain in people with binge eating disorder, pica, and avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID).

Binge eating disorder: When it comes to gaining weight, the main barrier experienced by people with binge eating disorder is breaking their eating habits. In some cases, gaining weight may not even be necessary for treating binge eating disorder. In fact, a high percentage of people recovering from binge eating disorder end up needing to lose rather than gain weight.

Pica: If left untreated, pica, a condition that causes people to eat non-food items, can lead to minor food deprivation and malnourishment. Following physical or psychological treatment and the return of a healthy diet, people with pica will usually gain weight at a normal week-to-week rate.

ARFID: People with ARFID experience disinterest and negative sensory responses to food and scheduled eating, sometimes leading to malnourishment and/or dangerous levels of weight loss. In most cases, the rate of weight gain for people with ARFID will depend on their body’s reaction to specialized dietary planning. Once a person with ARFID customizes their diet to stop triggering ARFID symptoms, weight gain will typically progress at a rate proportional to their caloric intake.

Weight Gain for People with Anorexia or Bulimia Nervosa

Two of the most dangerous types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Both of these conditions can cause extremely serious health problems, including restrictive eating, purging, and over-exercising.

In severe cases, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa can leave people in a state of critical malnourishment and borderline starvation. As a result, the process of weight restoration in anorexics or bulimics may take several months. If people with anorexia or bulimia try to reintroduce food or gain weight too quickly, they could experience refeeding syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition caused by sudden shifts in the body’s metabolic system and electrolyte levels.

Sources: Emily Program, Psychology Today, Mirror Mirror

Photo: Pixabay

More Articles

Anorexia nervosa is a dangerous type of eating disorder characterized by an intense fear of weight gain, extremely restrictive eating habits, and...

The first rule of eating disorders is not to talk about eating disorders—at least, that's what your eating disorder will tell you.

Many...

It may sound unbelievable, but people can suffer from a severe eating disorder and not even know it. You would think just looking in a mirror...

As the discussion around eating disorders becomes less and less taboo, a growing number of high-profile celebrities have begun to talk about their...

It is hard for someone without an eating disorder to understand why someone suffering from anorexia nervosa would go without food. Most people...

More Articles

More Articles

Anorexia nervosa is a dangerous type of eating disorder characterized by an intense fear of weight gain, extremely restrictive eating habits, and...

The first rule of eating disorders is not to talk about eating disorders—at least, that's what your eating disorder will tell you.

Many...

It may sound unbelievable, but people can suffer from a severe eating disorder and not even know it. You would think just looking in a mirror...

As the discussion around eating disorders becomes less and less taboo, a growing number of high-profile celebrities have begun to talk about their...

It is hard for someone without an eating disorder to understand why someone suffering from anorexia nervosa would go without food. Most people...

What causes someone to develop an eating disorder? Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to answer this question. Stress, emotional trauma, cultural...

Bulimia nervosa is a type of eating disorder characterized by recurrent binging and purging, a destructive cycle that often leaves bulimic...

Laxative abuse is a common practice among people struggling with eating disorders that involve purging, such as bulimia nervosa or anorexia...

Most people find holidays stressful, but the thought of facing holidays can be overwhelming for a person with an eating disorder. If a special day...

Even though most people have some awareness of bulimia, it’s important to remember that the signs and symptoms will often manifest themselves...

Susan Dey first rose to fame in her role as a charming, innocent looking girl named Laurie Partridge on ‘The Partridge Family’, a television...

Eating disorders often do more than just affect a person’s body weight. In extreme cases, disordered eating habits can cause severe malnutrition,...

Your metabolism is the many different chemical reactions that your body undergoes to sustain your life. One of the main functions of the...

When you start treatment for an eating disorder, one of the essential goals is to learn how to make good food choices. There are two common...

Eating disorders are the most deadly of all psychological disorders. Ginging, purging, and starving oneself can have multiple effects on the body...