How Long Does It Take to Gain Weight After Anorexia?

Anorexia nervosa is a truly debilitating condition. Without treatment, people with anorexia nervosa – an eating disorder characterized by an extreme fear of gaining weight and denial of weight loss – typically experience intense pressure to lose weight, even if they are already sitting at a dangerously low body weight.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most common ways people gain weight while recovering from anorexia and break down exactly why former anorexics can find weight gain so difficult.

Tips For Gaining Weight After Anorexia

Start small: Amateur runners don’t start with a marathon (or at least they shouldn't). If you’re trying to gain weight after anorexia, it’s important to start small when it comes to increasing the amount of food you’re eating.

Confront the voice in your head: When you’re trying to gain weight after anorexia, you’ll probably encounter a voice in your head telling you that you need to lose weight and that any excess calories will make you fat. If you hear this voice, try confronting it with the following mantra: “Eating this food and gaining this weight will make me a healthier person.”

What Makes Weight Gain So Difficult?

Long-term food deprivation makes the process of gaining weight extremely taxing on your body and mind. In addition to the immense psychological difficulties associated with eating to gain weight, a person recovering from anorexia will also find it physically exhausting to chew, swallow, and digest normal amounts of food.

What is Refeeding Syndrome?

In serious cases of food deprivation and malnutrition, people recovering from anorexia may be at risk of refeeding syndrome, a condition caused by the abrupt reintroduction of nutrients to malnourished or emaciated individuals.

Put simply, refeeding syndrome occurs when there is a sudden influx of nutrients in the body. The body’s standard response to a rapid change in nutrient levels is to increase the cellular production of glycogen, protein, and fat. However, the subsequent synthesis of these molecules can lead to a life-threatening drop in the concentration of key electrolytes – namely, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus – in the bloodstream.

To minimize the chance of experiencing refeeding syndrome, people gaining weight after an eating disorder should employ the following precautions during refeeding:

If an individual is severely malnourished, refeeding must be conducted and monitored in the safety of a hospital. The reintroduction of nutrients and electrolytes should begin with a light broth or salted soup. And, the reintroduction of solid foods should be accompanied by thiamine, multivitamin, and vitamin B complex supplementation.

Sources: Eating Disorder Hope, Mirror Mirror, Healthline

Photo: Pexels

More Articles

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

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

A dedicated fitness routine is a great way to stay healthy and fit, but as with everything else in life, people can take things too far. For some...

If you suspect your child has an eating disorder, you may feel overwhelmed. There are a few things you should know upfront.

First and...

Hypoglycemia is a medical term that refers to low blood sugar levels. Usually, this condition is considered a complication of type 1 diabetes. It...

More Articles

More Articles

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

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

A dedicated fitness routine is a great way to stay healthy and fit, but as with everything else in life, people can take things too far. For some...

If you suspect your child has an eating disorder, you may feel overwhelmed. There are a few things you should know upfront.

First and...

Hypoglycemia is a medical term that refers to low blood sugar levels. Usually, this condition is considered a complication of type 1 diabetes. It...

Diuretics are a class of drugs that promote diuresis, a process that increases the production and output of urine. The two most common ways to...

Anorexia, the shorthand name for anorexia nervosa, is an eating disorder that affects millions of people around the world. Even though anorexia is...

Anorexia is a mental and emotional condition, but it can have devastating effects on the body. Health care professionals estimate that only about...

Every year, thousands of amateur and professional athletes struggle with anorexia athletica, a lesser-known eating disorder, and variation of...

The reason eating disorders are so hard to treat is that they are such complex conditions. It is usually a combination of factors that lead up to...

When it comes to the discussion of eating disorders, night eating syndrome is a rarely recognized and often poorly understood condition. Night...

Most descriptions and media representations of bulimia nervosa fixate on binge eating and purging, usually via self-induced vomiting. Although...

New research shows a link between people with cathartic colon disease and the eating disorder bulimia. Cathartic colon is a dangerous condition...

Energy is not just something we need to keep our computers and smartphones charged. If an electronic device can fail to function without...

From puberty to menopause, females are expected to menstruate unless they are pregnant or nursing. If a young woman age 16 or older misses three...