Fear of Gaining Too Much Weight While Recovering from Anorexia

By December 5, 2012

I am 20 yrs old and I decided 3 months ago to recover from anorexia. I was down to ** pounds and I’m about 5’ tall. I thought 10 to 15 pounds would be good to gain but it seems like I keep gaining more. It’s very frustrating. I eat normally and work out but I keep gaining. Everyone tells me I’m at a good weight but if I keep gaining I’ll be overweight. Please help. – anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

First of all, I want to congratulate you for taking decisive action to be healthier after recognizing that you had become very underweight. It’s also great that you have people around who care about you and are trying to encourage you.

I’m not sure I have enough information to answer your question completely, but if I understand correctly, you gained 15 pounds—which was your maximum goal—but have still put on more. Although I don’t have the benefit of doing a full assessment on you, judging from your history and what your friends are saying, the extra weight you have gained is likely not an unhealthy amount. What you are dealing with now is a fear of gaining too much weight, which is a common reaction in recovery from anorexia. It will take a while before you learn to trust yourself to listen to your body—eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full, as well as exercise in reasonable amounts. I get the sense that you are doing well, but you need reassurance. So I think it would be best if you could see a nutritionist for a full evaluation, to assess your eating and exercise levels, as well as determine a healthy weight range for your body type. She could help allay your fears of gaining too much weight and guide you as you strive to live healthfully—without obsession. See “Finding a Nutritionist” to help you locate a professional near you.

In the meantime, I invite you to peruse articles in the “Eat Well, Live Well” section of this site. Also read: “Heaviness and Weight Gain – Explained…” You have made wonderful progress, but will benefit from a bit more information and guidance.

You don’t mention in your letter if you’ve ever talked to a professional counselor to understand the root issues that led to restricting your eating. If you haven’t done so, that would also be tremendously helpful in building your confidence.

Let us know if you have more questions. We wish you the best!