Could Recent Weight Gain and Lack of Food Variety Be Related?

By February 1, 2013

I have two questions and wonder if they may be interrelated. First, I have struggled with anorexia and disordered eating for over 13 years and have been at a stable weight for sometime now. However, over the past couple of months, I have gained about 10 pounds without making any changes to my diet. Could there be any medical explanation for the weight gain? Second, I am very rigid in the way I eat, (i.e., I eat the same breakfasts, lunches, suppers). I have three meals I interchange and snacks, too. I do desire to have more variety, but from a physical standpoint, is the lack of variety harmful to may body? Could the weight gain and lack of variety be related in any way? Any suggestions you would have about slowly adding variety and handling the mental aspect of these issues would also be much appreciated. Thank you so much! – Jenny J.

Dear Jenny,

We appreciate your question and your desire to understand what’s going on with your body. Without the benefit of doing a full nutritional assessment, however, I really can’t answer you specifically, but I will try to provide some general information and direction.

It is not clear from your letter if your current “stable” weight is a healthy one.  Have you been continually restricting calories in order to stay at a lower than natural weight? If so, then your metabolism may have slowed down because the body tries to conserve energy to protect against starvation when it isn’t getting enough fuel. Also, since your weight gain has happened rather recently without changes to your eating (and I assume activity level), you should talk to your doctor about the possibility of a thyroid issue.

Regarding lack of variety with food choices, you definitely could be deprived of essential nutrients. Although this is not a likely explanation for your weight gain, your overall health could be compromised, including protection against chronic diseases. There are a couple of articles on our site to help you learn about balanced eating: “Eleven Keys to a Healthy Lifestyle” and “A Healthy Diet for a Healthy Weight.” Ideally, however, a consultation with a registered dietitian would give you the specific, individualized guidance you need and are seeking. See “Finding a Nutritionist” for help.

There are many video clips available in the “Mental and Emotional Health” section, including the issues of control, fear and anxiety—all of which could be at the root of your regimented style of eating. I would encourage you to look through the titles and watch the ones that relate to how you are feeling and thinking right now.

I hope and pray you will take the necessary steps to move towards greater variety and enjoyment of food. A freer life is ahead of you!


Ann Capper, RD, CDN