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Anorexia/Eating Disorders/Unexplained weight gain after annorexia


QUESTION: I've been in recovery for anorexia for 2 years now and for a long time I kept my weight at 48kg for about year. I was eating 1500 calories a day and this maintained my weight at this level. Since May this year I struggled with Chewing and spitting out food i.e. cake chocolate etc.. and that might of caused the initial weight gain. However, even after stopping c/s my weight has continued to increase. During May my periods returned as well. I also went through a stage of only eating a small amount of junk food then not eating for the rest of the day. I was then told that this may have been the reason for me putting on weight. I've now returned to a balanced diet of around 1500 calories a day and I've stilled continued to put on weight. I've put on 12kg since May and I'm really worried that it won't stop. Could you tell me why I may still be putting weight as I want to be able to at least maintain if not lose a little bit.

ANSWER: Hi Erin,

I am so sorry you are going through this. I know you must be frustrated. I need a few things clarified before we can move forward:

1) Are you still having your periods regularly?
2) How long were you chewing and spitting? During that time were you eating regularly or just chewing and spitting? (What was your caloric intake during that time - 1500 or fewer calories)
3) How long were you eating junk food and then starving yourself for the rest of the day? What was your caloric intake during that time?
4) How long have you been back on 1500 balanced calories a day? What does that mean to you? What does a typical day look like?

The behaviors you've been engaging in off and on since May may have messed up your metabolism and/or your hormones. Once I have more information from you, I can give you a better idea of when this will stop.

Hang in there!

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In answer to your first question I am having periods regularly however, they sometimes can be early or slightly late. I was chewing and spitting for a couple months and during this time I was eating around 1500 a day. I was eating junk food only for around a month and I would then maybe eat a little fruit in the evening. I have been back on a proper diet for around 3 weeks. I'd normally gain around 3lbs a week or so before. First week of eating properly I only gained a pound and the next week I lost 1/2lb and then I hadn't weighed myself for 2 weeks and today I'd gained 4lbs in 2 weeks. A typical day would be a homemade smoothie and some dried fruit and nuts, soup for lunch and fruit, quorn stir fry for dinner and snack on fruit and nuts. I have also been exercising quite a bit (around 4 times a week for around a week i.e. walking, running, cycling and swimming) hoping it would stop my weight gain.

ANSWER: Hi Erin,

I have two ideas for what might be going on.

1) The years of eating disorder symptomology combined with your recent bout with C/S and binge/starve messed up your metabolism. It will reset itself over time, but may take as long to reset as it took to mess it up (so 1 to 2 more months).
2) It may be hormonal. Your periods are relatively regular, which is a good thing, but have you had your estrogen levels checked recently? If your estrogen and progesterone are out of balance (which can happen when you are not nourishing your body properly), you may put on weight for no reason. I encourage you to get a complete physical and have them order blood work to test: estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormone levels.

The last thing you might want to consider is whether 1500 calories is enough (don't panic!). When we don't eat enough calories, ironically, it encourages our bodies to put on weight - especially around the middle. You didn't give me your current weight and height, but it you would like, I can calculate your base caloric needs if you give me that information.

I hope that helps! I know it wasn't the quick and easy answer you were likely hoping for.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thank you for your answer. I am going to the doctors in the next week and will ask them for the blood test. In regards to my weight and height I'm 133 pounds and 5 ft. 3 inches.

Thanks :)

Hi Erin,

At your weight and height with your activity level, you actually need 2200 calories to maintain your current weight. If you want to lose weight, 2000 would be more appropriate. I realize you may not want to increase your calorie count until you get your hormones tested and figure out what is really going on. Let me know when you get your results.

Good luck!

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Mary Pritchard


I can answer questions about the psychology of eating, disordered eating attitudes and behaviors such as drive for thinness, drive for muscularity, binge eating, body dysmorphia, dieting, excessive/obsessive exercise, and body dissatisfaction. I can also answer questions about anorexia and bulimia.


I have a PhD in Psychology and teach courses in the Psychology of Health and the Psychology of Eating. I have been conducting research on disordered eating and exercise behaviors for 15 years.

Midwestern psychological association, rocky mountain psychological association

Over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles in journals such as Eating Behaviors, Eating Disorders, and Eating and Weight Disorders

PhD in Psychology from the University of Denver

Awards and Honors
30 teaching awards, have received funding to conduct my research from academic institutions and state and local government

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