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Anorexia/Eating Disorders/Delayed puberty and weight gain



Around the time I regained my period after losing at age 14 with anorexia I gained a large amount of weight (30 lbs in 6 months) with no change to diet or exercise. It also seemed no matter how much I cut my food or increased exercise the weight gain didn't stop. It did stop eventually however after going on for 6 months. I recently read that anorexia can cause delayed puberty and also I know that it is normal for females to gain weight during puberty. I just wondered if it is possible for me getting my period back to have triggered something like puberty weight gain.. I haven't been able to find another explanation for my weight gain as my weight had been completely stable up until that point.

Thank you,


ANSWER: Hi Erin,

Your weight gain is likely a combination of your hormonal changes (higher levels of estrogen caused by menarche encourage your body to put on weight) as well as your metabolism trying to recover from the anorexia. When you calorie restrict (as in anorexia), your metabolism can slow by up to 45%. It takes it awhile to get back to normal. Until your metabolism levels off, it will seem like you are putting on weight at a faster rate than you should be.

It sounds like you are healthy now and in a good place. Congratulations!

I hope that answered your question. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do.

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

QUESTION: My weight was very stable for a year prior to this. I had increased my calories from 800 to 1500 and it had been stable untill that point. I was gaining 2/3 lbs eating 1200 calories. I have since lost my period and now worried to get it back if it is going to cause a massive weight gain again. How do I stop the hormonal weight gain?

Hi Erin,

Your poor body! What's your current weight and height? How many calories are you eating per day? The more you lower your calories, the worse your weight will bounce back when you increase your calories. Are you comfortable with a 100 calorie increase per day per week? So for example, if you are currently eating 1200 calories per day, could you up it to 1300 calories per day for a week and then 1400, etc. until you are back up to a healthy caloric intake and get your period back? This slow approach should help prevent hormonal weight gain.

The other thing you can do is watch what you eat. A lot of the initial weight gain is bloat - water retention, not real weight. Eating whole, unprocessed foods (apples, quinoa, chicken) will be less likely to bloat you than cereal and pop tarts.

I hope that helps!

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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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