Important Update: Calorie Count will be shutting down on March 15th. Please click here to read the announcement. Data export is available.
Health & Support
Moderators: tigermoth5, autopilotfrank193, nycgirl, bierorama, ksylvan, peaches0405

Anorexia Recovery - Weight Redistribution

Quote  |  Reply
Hello, I am new to posting here (but I have looked at some threads for a while). I signed up because I have a couple of questions I can‚??t seem to find the answer to.

First of all, I‚??ll give you a bit of background ‚?? I‚??m 18 years old, 5 ft. 8.5 in., and weigh 100 lbs (up from 96 lbs!). I am trying to gain back the weight I lost from my miserable anorexic days.

I find that quite a bit of the weight I am regaining is going straight to my stomach/middle section. Apparently this is not unheard of in recovering anorexics. Has anyone else here experienced this? Also, once you reached a stable weight, how long did it take for this weight to redistribute (so that you look like you used to when you were ‚??normal‚?Ě)? Did the weight fully redistribute, or did you always have a ‚??poochy‚?Ě stomach after anorexia recovery? How long did it take for you to achieve a stable weight? Is your body similar in shape to what it was before you had the ED?

I am worried that I won‚??t look like I used to prior to anorexia‚?¶ I actually used to like my stomach somewhat and I don‚??t want to have screwed this up with anorexia. Arg, I wish I had never become anorexic ‚?? it is torture! I still can‚??t stop obsessing about food/calories and all those things! I just want to be free of it‚?¶

At the same time, I am enjoying eating all the foods I used to stay away from. (I guess I just love to eat!) But I have found myself bingeing almost every day. So now I am worried about having a different ED‚?¶

Anways, I‚??ll stop my ranting. Thanks in advance for anyone who can help answer my questions.
51 Replies (last)
Anorexia is torture, and let me just say that I think it's great that you are taking recovery so seriously!

I am in the process of recovery myself, and I guess I can't really answer the majority of your questions because I still have a long way to go.  So far, I've gained 12 pounds (I'm 5'8'' and 97 lbs, up from 85 lbs) and initially, [I thought] I felt the weight on my stomach.  This is also heightened because during the refeeding stage, you might experience a lot of bloating and constipation, which will make your stomach appear to be larger.  The thing about physically recovering from Anorexia is that your body is going to store very little fat because it has to use the calories to rebuild the muscle and other tissue that it was living off of when you were starving.  So while you might store a little fat at first, the energy isn't going to be stored for very long because your body needs it to repair itself.

Part of it is psychological.  If you're used to thinking "eating food = getting fat," you might begin imagining that you are storing fat in certain places.  Since you've only gained 4 pounds, I'm pretty sure that's what you're going through.  4 pounds really won't make that much of a difference with your height.  What helps me, when I'm feeling like "food = fat," is looking at the numbers.  I got a scale that measures body fat and some skin calipers.  Man, was I shocked out of my mind when I found out how low my BF % was.  There is no denying the numbers, no matter what you feel like.

Another thing about the poochy stomach, it's a woman thing.  Part of the reason I wanted to stay so thin was so that I could keep my childlike body and avoid the "curves" of a woman.  Women store fat around the abdomen.  All women do.  It's part of the whole "just-in-case-you-have-a-child" system.

I can totally relate to the binging.  I probably would have gained very little weight if it hadn't been for the binging.  A lot of things are going on there.  First, it's a survival mechanism.  Your body was starved, and it's going to fight for food as best it can until it learns that you are not going to deprive it anymore.  Secondly, it's a psychological survival mechanism.  Being "allowed" to eat again is exciting, and at first you might go a little crazy because nothing's off-limits anymore.  Don't worry about becoming COE or BED.  The binging should stop once your body's healthy and you understand that you can have food.

Wishing you the best on your recovery!  Keep fighting!
Yay for recovery!! First let me start by saying NOTHING you're experiencing is out of the ordinary. It's uncomfortable but it's not uncommon by any means.

Several months ago I went through a very fast paced weight restoration in a residential treatment center and gained about 25 pounds over maybe 3 months. Much of this weigh did physically go to my stomach. And then to the other places where 'normal' people would acquire fat. Thighs, arms, my face, etc. However by the time I went home at the stabilized weight, my body had begun to redistribute the weight and within a month or so the weight was relatively evenly distributed.

Ah the binging. I went through this too. I felt like it was almost okay to eat whatever I wanted because I HAD to gain the weight anyway. However I think a good deal of the causes of the binging as to do with mere restriction. We deprive ourselves for so long that when we allow ourselves to finally eat these foods, that our bodies have craved for so long, we tend to binge on them. I think it's almost to be expected. I found that over time my desire for theses foods lessened and I no longer craved them to the degree I once had. That made it easier to, once I needed to, lower my calories to a maintaince level.

Take this day by day. Don't give up. Slips are bound to happen. It's all about picking yourself back up.
I am going/went though the same thing, I am male 5"8 and a large frame and was down to 123.  I am so glad to here other people experienced the binging as well, I personally could not get enough peanut butter sandwiches, this in the past 2 weeks has finally calmed down.  I am currently up to 143 and my body has seemed to kind of stabilize out at this weight.
Thanks sooo much everyone - your posts were very helpful and uplifting. You guys don't know how much it means to know that other people are experiencing the same things (like bingeing)!

I feel much better now that I know everything will be okay and that both my body and eating habits will return to normal. My therapist told me this too, but it is much more reassuring to hear it from people who have gone through anorexia... I feel so much more confident and willing to continue my recovery.

Well, I am going to get myself some ice cream! My mom got me a huge tub from Costco. She also got me a 2 kg jar of peanut butter! I'm actually enjoying this whole weight gain thing! But at the same time, I can't wait to be normal again and get on with my life.

Thanks again - I hope you guys find lots of joy in your life and that your anorexia becomes a thing of the past.
1) I experienced it a little bit. I didn't look out-of-proportion, but I normally have a low waist-to-hip ratio, and initially, mine was more average.

2) It took about a year, I guess, and that's not working with a dietician, so it might be a little faster if you are.

3) Yes, it fully redistributed - and then a little extra. My waist is smaller now, and my bust and hips are bigger - but it's not enough to really notice by looking; I just know by the tape measure. The difference is about an inch on each measurement.

I'm not exactly the same shape that I was before I had an ED, but sort of in the neighborhood. I'm a little bit curvier and a little more fit n the muscle/fat sense, with worse overall health. It's hard to tell how much of that is anorexia's effects and how much of it is natural aging, though.

Since I have a history of obesity, I was afraid that I'd be returning to it once my weight gain kicked in, but I didn't get up that high. Because I wasn't working with a dietician, I did end up gaining a little too much, but nowhere near the high weights that I experienced in college. And then the weight gain stopped and naturally reversed; I lost 15 pounds without even trying because my body was stabilizing.
i have and at first its terrible, but after some very ahrd work and a few setbacks you'll see that its the stomach existing, not getting bigger
I'm experiencing some of these symptoms, too!  About three years ago, I suffered with a bout of anorexia/bulemia, but luckily it was caught very early and I was able to get a hold of it before it got out of hand (5'5" and lowest I was 110).  For the past 3 years, however, I still don't believe I was eating nearly enough to support my activity level (daily exercise, yoga, weightlifting, etc).  I knew this because my menstrual cycle was completely messed up.  So, this summer, I decided I was sick of dieting, and wanted to live as a normal college student!  I began eating "normally,"...meaning, as a normal person would who is simply trying to maintain their weight, NOT lose.  I'm not eating consecutively 1800 calories every day, so I know I'm not eating to gain, but boy, does it feel like it!  I've experienced HORRIBLE bloating and growth in my hips, stomach and thighs, but I've been told this is mainly water retention and your body processing the extra calories (upping my intake probably from 1000-1200 per day).  Once the body realizes it's not in starvation mode, things will balance out, or so I'm told.  I remember back to when I first started dieting...I thought "Eating less will help me lose more," so I tried sticking to just fruits and salads...well, I came to realize this was only slowing my metabolism down, and when I began to eat these salads with lots of protein, dairy, and full calorie dressing, I began to lose more! that my metabolism is temporarily broken and weakened, I have to reteach it how to handle the extra food and calories.  It's an uphill struggle, but I know that I have to continue with it to finally get my body into a healthy mode to support it's functions.  Hang in there!  You're not alone!
Quote  |  Reply
hey! i've got just about the same stats as you, and know exactaly what you're going through! im 17 (female), 5'8.5'', and currently 102lbs (up from 95). its a rough cycle.. i know what you mean- i binge on cereal like eeevery night.

.. sorry i g2g right now, but i'll post back later! send me a messege if you want to chat!!
It is so awesome that you have such a positive outlook on recovery! I personally, have been struggling with Anorexia for over 2 years. I started recovery about a year ago. It has and CONTINUES to be a rocky journey. At the beginning, I was positive and happy to get healthy. But as time went on the voices of my eating disorder morphed into louder, stronger voices.

Currently, I would say that I am just in a recovery limbo. I still continue to act on behaviors and I have even adapted to new ones. It is a cruel and messed up cycle as you probably know!

As far as weight distrubution goes, I feel your anxiety! I had the same questions when I first started to recover. I noticed that my stomach and my butt where bigger and bloated all the time. I hated it. Over a few months, the weight SLOWLY distributed all throughout my body. However, a majority of where the weight is distributed is based on genetics. So it may be different for you.  I was lucky enough to have a nutritionist who did 'blind- weigh-in's' to keep things in check. (And to have helpful support to help with the emotional aspect recovery).  Dealing with an eating disorder takes a major toll on your physical health but also on your mental health. So make sure you are staying sane through this.

I'm so happy for you. Keep the positive attitude going! :)
I'm a recovering anorexic of more then 13years.  I was hospitalized on numerous occasions and was faced with the humility and shame of gainig weight too..the good thing was that I was in an environment where there were others who were struggling right along with me.  We all asked why we gain it first in the midsection.  The doctors told us that at first this was common and very typical.  When your body starts refeeding itself, it is some how more prone to putting it around your stomach..don't know why, but the doc's said this is normal.  Over some time with the proper strenght training, refeeding diet and light exercise and rest, the weight will redistribute...Took me about 4 months after I gained back weight to shift everything around. Depends on the person, however. Hope this helps
My Experience:  Yeap I definetly did gain the 10 pounds straight to the stomache.  But on the other hand it's only been a year, So maybe it didn't distribute evenly yet.  Just eat enough to make your body function because I haven't had my period in 7 months but yesterday I did because I ate more FATS this passed week and it seriously helped.  After the little eating disorder I had when I gained 10 pounds (Although I wasn't THAT low in weigt, 98 pounds) Now I look and feel a lot more weak than I used to, My arms are the thinnest they have ever been, Im tired, I have acne.  hmmm what else?  It blows and Im glad you got some sense in your head good job  =)  I wish you luck.  seriously.

*Eat a lot of avocados  ;)
thebledx3 - Eating fats gets your period back, eh?  *runs from avocados*  Were you happy to get it back?  I haven't had mine in almost a year and I'm seriously afraid of it.  I'm having a hard time accepting that I'm going to be a woman and there's nothing I can do about it.  Oh well.  Keep up the great work!

*roots for every EDer*
i defentily have expereicned the stomach bloat/weight gain from recovery from an ED.  I was wondering how long until the uncomfortable bloat in the stomach goes away?? Or is their anything to get rid/lessen the bloat? Even eatting just an apple will cause my stomach to bloat uncomfortably (one of the symptoms as we know of recoverying ED).  How long until this goes away?

It seems like forever and will not go away.  I just to go back to normal eat and feel comfortable after eatting but not like I am pregnant and bloated.  Would some kind of medication that helps with bloating be helpfull?

Or just stick it out? How long!!!

Thanks every one :)
- Eating fats gets your period back, eh?  *runs from avocados*  Were you happy to get it back?  I haven't had mine in almost a year and I'm seriously afraid of it.  I'm having a hard time accepting that I'm going to be a woman and there's nothing I can do about it

 That is one of the hardest parts for me to deal with now that i'm having to regain weight - I don't want to get my period even though I'm ganing  weight in order to get it! All so mixed up-
I have actually been on birth control pills for about a month now (ever since beginning to eat more calories), and this may be attributing to the bloating and weight gain...but I need to do this in order to make my body feel normal again.  You can ask yourself two questions:  would I rather be thin and unhealthy?  Or perhaps 5 pounds heavier, but healthy and with the ability to have children? 

I've been reading that taking a B6 or B vitamin helps with the bloating.  I've also found these tiny little capsules at Wegman's that you let dissolve in your mouth, and they're supposed to help combat bloating in the abdomen.  Not entirely sure if this works yet (I still have my days where I feel pregnant because of the bloating!), but I don't really have any other choice.  When I think about how I could go back to restricting while exercising like a nut, I just can't do it.  I'm enjoying life and food too much right now to ever go back to that lifestyle.  It's so nice to not have to plan out your day around food...remember eating so little during the morning and afternoon in case you were going to a party that night?  Now, I just listen to my stomach and eat intuitively.  If someone has a piece of cake and I'm hungry enough to eat it, I allow myself to indulge in one slice.  No foods are forbidden...I just choose to eat them in moderation.  I used to eat 3 donuts for breakfast (before I gained a lot of weight).  Now, one will suffice.

So, are there any trigger foods for people that make them bloat?  I've personally been trying to stay away from pop (although I love it!), but I can't seem to pinpoint any trigger foods that cause my own personal bloating.  Thanks for everyone's posts so far!
Thank you so much for this post... I am in recovery and I have put weight back on... now I am working on the psychological aspects of this tourture.  I don't feel so alone now.  The only people I seem to meet are either still severely underweight or undereating, or trying to loose weight.  All I want is to be normal again.    I think that everything you are going through is somwhat normal for this type of recovery.  I so get the wishing you never started the anorexic path... keep posting we can work together!
I think one of the biggest things you can admit to yourself is that being thin isn't the most important thing in life.  If you think about all of the summer activities effected by EDs (picnics, bonfires, parties, eating popcorn at the drive-in, having brunch on your porch), you realize how dumb it is to really obsess about calories in vs. calories out when you're missing out on all of the fun.  You're missing out on your life.  The second admission you need to make is that you don't need to exercise everyday of your life...or follow a strict routine.  Today, for example...I woke up really not wanting to go to the gym for a strenuous instead I'm going to take a peaceful walk later on in the day...I just can't stick to a "routine"'s tiring me out!

Anyways, I had a big day of bloating yesterday...and got really frustrated, knowing in my head that I hadn't eaten nearly enough calories to do any harm, but feeling about 10 pounds heavier.  I've recently started taking B Complex supplements to try to combat the water retention, so we'll see if that has any effect!

This is my first time posting, and I just felt I had too. I feel the same as alot of people here, I am 5'5 and weight 110 (up from 105) I am in recovery now. It really sucks, I want to eat "normal" meals and not feel full. Everytime I eat I am SO bloated, and it seems like all the weight I am gaining is going to my stomach! When I sit I have rolls, is this normal? From what I read it is, but it just seems like the only place I have gained is on my stomach! it just is a hard concept to grasp! esp since I have many friends who are suffereing from an ED, and are not recieving help!
Just my limited experience, but I have gained 5 very nice lbs by exercising a lot with hand weights and doing stretching/toning exercise while eating enough to still gain rapidly.  I  don't know how it will all look longterm, but curretnly my shape is as nice as it's been.
From all your posts, it seems that most of you are gaining weight at a fast pace which is probably why the weight seems to accumulate in certain areas right? (think beer bellys on men!)... but is this something that must be done quickly? or can i gain slowly by gradually increasing my calories like 100 a week or so?
51 Replies (last)