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Eating Disorders

Diet and nutrition

06/20/2006

Question:

Hi, I am currently recovering from an eating disorder and as part of my recovery, I am trying to increase my caloric intake. If for example, my body requires 1500 calories a day to perform properly without weight gain and I was previously eating about 700 calories a day, will I suddenly gain weight if I consume 1400 calories? Although I am not exceeding my optimal caloric limit, and actually eating less than required, I will be doubled the amount of calories that I was previously eating. Thank you.

Answer:

First off, I commend you for making an effort to resume a healthy eating pattern.  Increasing your caloric intake can be anxiety-provoking, but it is an essential part of recovery. 

As you begin to increase calories, you may experience some bloating and water retention as your digestive system readjusts.  Unfortunately, people can misinterpret these symptoms as weight gain, and this can lead to relapse.  If you experience these symptoms, you may want to increase your caloric intake by 250 calories or so a day rather than doubling overnight.  Many people are happily surprised to see that they do not gain weight as they resume eating normally, and their bodies transition out of "starvation mode". 

If you are especially concerned and want to learn how to achieve a healthy diet, you may want to consult a dietitian with experience working with eating disorders.

For more information:

Go to the Eating Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Leslie J Heinberg, PhD Leslie J Heinberg, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University