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Recovering From an Eating Disorder Without Gaining Weight

Having an eating disorder is quite a grave psychiatric condition. Only those who have it will know how frightening the idea of gaining weight is. Everyone is questioning on how to recover from an eating disorder without gaining weight.

The idea of not achieving the ideal body image can be terrifying. This often is the roadblock stopping the recovery from this potentially devastating condition. So, here are some ways to recover from an eating disorder without gaining weight.

Table of Content

Eating Disorders

In common terms, an eating disorder is a mental illness where the patient has an unnatural eating disorder. This unnatural feeding pattern is harmful to the body. The person affected usually has compulsive thoughts about food and their body image.

The most affected group of this disorder includes young women and even teenagers. This disease is so wide-spread that in the United States, around ten million men and twenty million women suffer from it at any point in their lives.

Eating Disorder

This unusual eating disorder generally stems from the desire to get the desired body image. In the current age of Instagram and ‘ideal, skinny, perfect-looking’ models, it is quite easy to feel inadequate.

So, this low self-esteem is what triggers the occurrence of this disorder. Thus, weight gaining is a fundamental hindrance when it comes to the treatment of these disorders.

Types of Eating Disorders

There are various types of eating disorders. The most common are:

Anorexia Nervosa (AN):

In anorexia nervosa, the patient severely restricts calories resulting in an unhealthy body mass and severe malnutrition.

Bulimia Nervosa (BN):

In Bulimia Nervosa disorder, the affected people binge a lot of food at a time. Then, to rid themselves of the food, they engage in harmful behaviors to compensate by purging, laxative, or excessive exercise.

Binging Disorder:

Here, the person affected shows an impulsive eating habit with bouts of recurring binge eating. There is guilt involved, however, the body weight is normal, or even above average.

Harmful Effects of Being Under-Nourished

We know being slim makes you more ‘Instagram-able’ and ‘attractive’. However, that is no excuse to take it too far and being undernourished. Being too skinny can have severe health implications. Some of them are given below:

It Can Mess Up Your Electrolytes

The internal organs of our body require very stringent conditions to survive. This means that the levels of various components, especially the various ions have to be tightly maintained.

If you don’t take enough food, then it becomes difficult for the body to replace the electrolytes which are lost naturally. This can lead to organ problems, mainly in the heart in the form of an arrhythmia where the patient dies suddenly.

Digestive Problems

Our digestive tracts are meant to digest and assimilate food. If you don’t eat food at proper time intervals, it can have negative impacts on your digestive tract. Chronic gastroesophageal acid reflux is a common disease that occurs if the stomach remains empty for prolonged periods of time.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Your body needs carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Among these, carbs, proteins, and fats are required in larger quantities.

If you don’t take these in the minimum required quantities, you risk developing protein-energy malnutrition disorders. Not taking vitamins and minerals can lead to a plethora of deficiency disorders like anemia, scurvy, skin disease, night blindness, etc.

Dental cavities and erosion of the surface of your teeth from frequent vomiting (bulimia)

It Can Make Your Bones Brittle

Your bone density decreases due to calcium and vitamin D deficiency. Thus, you’re more prone to fractures. Other diseases, like arthritis, osteoporosis too can occur early in life.

It Can Slow Your Growth

Deficiency of essential nutrients can stunt growth and cause shortness of stature.

Menstruation Problems

Ladies, undernutrition can mess up your monthly cycle. It can cause amenorrhea or even menorrhagia.

Mental illness

Depriving the brain of healthy nutrients may cause depression, anxiety, tiredness, somnolence, etc. Various neurodegenerative diseases also have an early onset in these cases.


Proteins give you immunity. So, not eating enough proteins can lower your level of immunity. This means that you’ll be more prone to infection. Also, various deadly diseases occur in immunocompromised individuals.

How to Recover From an Eating Disorder Without Gaining Weight?

If you’re suffering from an eating disorder and you want to be rid of it without gaining weight, there are some things you need to understand. First of all, it’s not healthy to be too skinny or slim.

You need to be at ideal body weight. If that means gaining a few extra pounds, then that’s something you have to sacrifice. Because the problems associated with anorexia nervosa stems from a lack of calories.

The Ideal Body Weight:

If you’re suffering from an eating disorder and you want to be rid of it without gaining weight, there are some things you need to understand. First of all, it’s not healthy to be too skinny or slim.

You need to be at ideal body weight. If that means gaining a few extra pounds, then that’s something you have to sacrifice. Because the problems associated with anorexia nervosa stems from a lack of calories.

There’s no definitive way of knowing if someone is in the ideal body weight or not. However, based on statistical data, we can make estimates. Scientists have devised various indices to measure where a person falls when it comes to body weight, age, and height.

 Ideal Body Weight

Up to date, the most accurate index is the BMI or body mass index. It’s very simple to calculate. All you need to do is, take your height in centimeters and multiply it by itself or ‘square’ it. Then, divide your weight in kilograms by that value. The number you’ll get is your BMI. An ideal BMI is anywhere between 18.5 and 24.9.

Now, if you’re suffering from an eating disorder and your BMI is less than 18, then it’s an indicator that you should gain weight, whether it makes you look better or not. Because it’s a sign that you’re undernourished. As described above, too low of body weight can be detrimental. So, you have to gain the least bit of weight to stay healthy.

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But, it’s not all bad news. That doesn’t mean that you have to get fat though. As long as you reach a normal healthy BMI, you don’t have to gain any more weight if you are suffering from anorexia. So, that being said, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can recover from an eating disorder without gaining weight:

Seek Professional Help

A trained professional is the first course of action when treating an eating disorder. If you’re suffering from a mental disorder, it is very difficult to treat on your own. Because you need a lot more help and attention than you think you need.

Being under a professional healthcare team can go a long way in organizing a treatment protocol for you and coordinate all the various aspects of care. You should let your doctors know that you wanna be slim while recovering from the eating disorder. They’ll definitely take that into consideration while treating you.

Psychiatric Therapy:

A professional psychiatrist provides the best chance at success in treating an eating disorder without gaining weight. He’ll help diagnose your thought process regarding food, body image, weight, etc.

Then, he can focus on correcting your thought process while keeping your weight at the minimum healthy level.

Nutritional Therapy:

This is arguably the most important target if you don’t want to gain weight while recovering from an eating disorder. You have to consume enough food to regain your lost weight.

However, once you’ve gained a healthy BMI, you can work to maintain it through the following:

Avoiding Refined Sugar

Soft drinks and desserts have a huge amount of refined sugar which doesn’t contribute to your health. Rather, they’re converted into fat if not utilized. So, best to avoid them as much as possible. Or try to control your sugar levels.

Avoiding Junk Food

Junk food contains saturated and trans fatty acids. These compounds too contribute little to the body while causing weight gain.

Eating Proteins

You shouldn’t be scared to eat proteins. Because proteins help in bodybuilding and providing immunity. Also, the protein will never deposit as fat. So, you should calculate how much protein you need a day and make sure to eat that amount.


Dietary fibers are magic food when it comes to recovering from anorexia without gaining weight. They can help in your mental disorder of eating less.

At the same time, they don’t have any effect on your weight because they can’t be digested properly. So, green leafy vegetables and fruits should be your go-to diet when it comes to recovering from an eating disorder without gaining weight.


Moderate amounts of exercise can help you to lose the extra pounds in case you do gain weight while treating an eating disorder. You can try various cardio exercises as well as yoga to help you. But make sure to not overdo it!

Medical Treatment:

If you’re suffering from an eating disorder, you should regularly be in touch with a hospital and even more so if you don’t wanna gain weight.

Because a prolonged period of undernutrition can have insidious health effects that don’t manifest readily. So, you should be under regular health checkup.

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Recovering from an eating disorder without gaining weight can be quite difficult as these are mutually opposing.

However with professional help, planned treatment protocol, and mental fortitude, it is possible to treat the disorder without gaining too much weight.

So now you know how to recover from an eating disorder without gaining weight. We hope this helps you or your loved ones.


  1. If I’m trying to recover from anorexia, will I gain weight?

You will gain some weight in the process of recovering from anorexia, but, only until you gain a healthy BMI.

  1. Can you be a normal weight and have anorexia?

It is unlikely to have a normal weight with anorexia, however, it is possible.

  1. Can I recover from anorexia without gaining weight?

It depends on your BMI. If it is less than 18, it isn’t advisable to stay that low. However, once you gain a BMI above that, it is possible to treat anorexia without gaining further weight.

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