How to Gain Weight After Anorexia

Hey Georgie,  I’m recovering from anorexia and trying very hard to gain weight. Should I be eating more of everything or be eating things that have better quality? What I am trying to ask is, should I be eating quality or quantity to gain weight faster?  Thanks for your help! – S

To gain weight, what your body needs is enough calories. Yes, you need certain amounts of protein and fats, but eating enough calories will pretty much take care of those. To get enough calories, you can choose do it through eating more of everything, or only of foods you are most comfortable with – the big picture for weight restoration is to get them any way possible. Many patients I have worked with found it easy to use liquid supplements like Ensure, or just make milkshakes at home to help boost calorie intake without getting uncomfortably full.

So initially, just focus on meeting the calorie needs set out for you by your dietitian or treatment team. I know this can cause a lot of anxiety and stress, without reintroducing tons of new “forbidden” foods. One step at a time.

But there is a larger hidden issue here as well, I hope you don’t mind me touching on. Weight restoration is only part of the battle. There is also a road ahead that involves healing your mind to know that it’s okay to eat food that isn’t “the healthiest”. Trust me, I don’t follow or advocate a diet of junk food – but every now and then it’s normal to enjoy a piece of chocolate, a dessert or something that your disorder wants to say is “off limits”. That’s a sign of real recovery to me.

But once you’re doing well with getting your bodyweight back into a healthy range, I do recommend trying to expand the food options you can enjoy. This doesn’t have to be an overnight thing – but can take months or years. I’m still gradually including more foods into my diet, and my recovery has been more than a 10 year process so far. And including them in a recovered sense isn’t just being able to eat them, but to eat a food, enjoy it, savor it, and feel not a shred of guilt.

Hope this helps!  I’m behind you all the way in your journey :)

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  • Chuck February 3, 2011, 11:59 pm

    Great answer Georgie. It sounds easy… but its so hard. I’m glad I have people like you in my life to help get through my battles!

    S- I wish you all the best in your recovery and have faith you will do great!

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