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Need a little reassurance, please!

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Hi Everyone,

So, I've posted once or twice before. I've gone through a rough time, and have managed to become severely underweight from anorexia. My BMI is about 14.7, and I'm 18.

I'm working on recovery, but everything my nutritionist and doctor is telling me goes against what I read on this site. My nutritionist says 1800 calories should be more then enough for me to gain weight, and my doctor says around that, as well.
However, then I read that some people are able to maintain their weight on 2500 - 3000 calories after recovery, and that just sounds like complete bliss. I really want to know who I should be listening to - I could easily eat that much, but I'm restricting myself because of the advice of my 'team.' because I'm so nervous that I'll overshoot my weight goal. Although I did lose a pound so far...but they don't seem concerned about that. They said it's just a metabolic 'rev' that'll die down, and then I'll start to gain.

Also, since I started eating a bit more, my arms/legs are extremely puffy and swollen, and also very sore. I assume this is water retension/muscle repair trying to happen, right?

I just want to hear what other people have to say about this. My ideal life is one I don't have to count every thing that goes into my mouth, but maybe I'm not one of those people? I've only been anorexic for about a year and a that not long enough to need to eat so much? I'm extremely confused!

Thanks for everything,


16 Replies (last)

Hi Nella,

I'm sorry to hear you are having a tough time. I was wondering is your nutritionist qualified to help people with ED's? If not, I would ask to be referred to someone that is. 1800 is a weight loss amount, not a gaining amount. You should listen to what the people on here say and up your calories to 2500+ (if you can get up to 3000 that would be great!) If you don't eat that amount then you will be in quasi recovery which means that you will gain weight but not fully repair the damage caused by anorexia.

The fact that your arms/legs are puffy and swollen is probably just water retention. Your body won't be used to actually having food!

Here's some links to gwyneth olwyns (or hedgren as she is known on this site) articles:- -i-need-2500-calories.html

Hope I have helped

Gabs10d xx

My nutritionist mentioned that she battled an eating disorder before, but I don't think it was as severe as mine, nor the same type. I'm pretty sure she said binged a lot. I don't, however, think that she is actually qualified to deal with my situation - I believe she specializes in weight loss and overall nutrition. She's the nutritionist that was suggested for me by my doctor, though. My doctor did admit that she's only dealt with an anorexic patient once before.

I certainly do want to recover fully - this is a terrible part of my life. It's completely who I am, and I'm scared to shed that skin, but I can't keep living like this. It ISN'T living.

You think that article applies to me? I'm never sure..I've never had a very good metabolism, I'm small boned, and I've only been suffering for a year and a half, so I don't know how severe my case really is..Maybe it isn't as bad as I think. Although, you pretty much can see every single bone in my body, my hair has gotten a lot thinner, my fingers/toes are kind of blue, my legs/arms are always 'tingling' and I've passed out a few times (Once in the shower..I really hurt my head that time!) Sorry, that's probably too much information.

As far as the puffy body parts..I'm relieved that it's just water. I think I remember reading that water retension DOES go away..right? I hope so!

Thanks again,


yes, the article applies to you. it applies to everyone with an ED who is trying to recover. sure you might gain on 1800 because of your slow metabolism. i know i did. i started eating around that much and i gained 10 pounds, but i wasnt healed. my hair was still thin and i was weak, and i still had to count, and even restrict a lot. plus, you are super underweight. it doesnt matter how long youve been suffering, but the point is that you are suffering greatly, and you have all the symptoms(hair loss, turning blue, etc).

my therapist, although she says shes qualified to work with ED, im not sure if she really is. she told me not to listen to stuff on this site, she told me to just eat intuitively. heres the thing, a person with an ED doesnt KNOW how to eat intuitively. we have to learn how to eat all over again. so please start eating AT LEAST 2500, its the only way to actually recover, and for your interal organs to repair themselves. you dont just need to gain, but you need to fix your internal organs as well, ans thats something 1800 calories just cannot do. listen to the people on this site, a lot of them eat 2500 because of advice from nutritionists who actually understand ED's and know that you need to eat at least that much. I stopped listening to my therapist, and instead to the advice on this site, and im slowly starting to feel better. please trust in yourself, if your team doesnt know what their blabbing about, find a better one. try to get a referral to a nutritionist who helps with gaining and healing, not just one who had an ED once upon a time but doesnt understand how to get better for real. hope you all the best :D

Original Post by gabs10d:

...You should listen to what the people on here say and up your calories to 2500+ (if you can get up to 3000 that would be great!) If you don't eat that amount then you will be in quasi recovery which means that you will gain weight but not fully repair the damage caused by anorexia.

NO, NO, NO... Are you kidding me?  You should NOT listen to anyone on CC over the advice of your doctor.  Think of the years of study and experience that your doctor has (and for you, two doctors).  I would never say that a blogger who only has their personal experience should be listened to over an expert.

My hunch is that your doctor(s) have set your goal at a seemingly low amount for one of two reasons: #1 - You are especially petite; or #2 - They want you to gain slowly and are setting a realistic goal for you.

My opinion is that if you are shooting for 3000+/- calories a day you will gain weight, but you will not gain health because you'll resort to eating unhealthy foods just to meet your calorie quota.  That's just anorexia in reverse, and you won't be fixing your food issues.

Best of luck to you! 

Yikes, now I'm confused. I see both sides of the fence...and I'm not sure which side I should be on.

I really do want to make a full recovery, but now I'm worried I'll be overeating if I eat as much as some people suggest. I'm not sure how my doctor and nutritionist came up with that number..I don't think I'm EXTREMELY petite..I do admit my bones are fairly tiny, but that might be exaggerated because of my weight. I'm about 5" 3.5, so I'm not incredibly short, either..Still. I'm not sure.


All I want, more then anything in the world, is to be healthy and happy again. I haven't really smiled since this whole thing started. I've lost myself. I hurt my family. I feel weak and frail. I have no life..I literally count calories all day long. My life is CONSUMED with food. I really only think of what I will eat today, what I'm not allowed to have, what I'm afraid to eat..I have a VERY long 'fear food' list. I have hysterical crying fits daily..I'm so stressed out. I just want to be FREE.


I used to love so much about life, and now I just don't feel like I have any zest or desire to live it anymore.  :(

I have a question, as well. I used to be about 155 pounds (a bit on the heavy side..)  at 13..I lost weight to 135, and maintained that [unhappily] until this whole disorder started. Does that mean my happy weight is one of those numbers? I don't want to end up that heavy again..I just wasn't comfortable in my skin.

Thanks everyone,


Again, I think those are all questions you need to ask your doctors.  You need to be open with them regarding your concerns, obsessions, fears, goals, etc.  Also, you might want to consider speaking with a counselor/psychologist to work out some of the emotional issues - absolutely no shame in that.

I will be praying for you, Nella.  I know you have a long road ahead of you.


I have brought up my concerns and fears with my doctors, but they weren't very helpful. Both seem reluctant to answer any of my questions, as if they're worried I have some warped motive for asking.

Thank you for your support.


P.S - How is one supposed to decide when one should eat? I can't decide if I'm actually hungry, or if I'm just obsessing over food and wanting to eat..I feel totally out of sorts. If I'm only allowed 1800 calories, then I can't afford to eat just 'whenever.'

Well the people on here are the actual ones suffering with EDs and their doctors who actually understand EDs gave them the amount of 2500. If your doctors dont specialize in ED they know that you will gain at 1800, but dont realize you need to actually repair your vital organs, which as i stated above, is not enough to repair them. You are on quasi recovery, you might gain to a healthy weight, but your maintence level will be very low. So you should eat at least 2500 to be able to maintain on a good amount, and fix the damage that you did to your body. Face it, your doctors didnt specialize in eating disorders. Just as my doctor just told me to eat 2000, without telling me why. Turns out they were wrong. You need to see a real specialist in eating disorders, not someone who only knows the very basics of it. How is 2500 overeating? Several people here do it and end it up with beautifully healthy bodies. There are tons of people here who ate 1800 to recover and they arent recovered, their metabolisms are still suppressed. A normal person cam easily lose on 1800, why should you have to eat a weight loss amount for the rest of your life? You wont become fat at 2500 calories, only gain slowly and steadily. Please take my words in consideration. Good luck!!!

That number is part of why I have a hard time accepting that's all I need. 1800 IS a diet amount..I admit, I was eating under 400 calories for a few months there, but before this whole disorder I absolutely exceeded 1800, and maintained. Unfortunately, like I mentioned, the weight I maintained was higher then I wish to be.

If I go back to 2500 calories, how much weight do you think I'll gain before it evens off? I know it's hard to predict, but I would love even a faint idea..I have about 25 pounds to gain, roughly.

Thank you so much for your advice/help. I really appreciate it.


Edit; Also, I know it's silly..or, I think it is..but I have this totally irrational fear that all my weight will come flying back JUST to my stomach area, because this has always been the area I carry weight..(Even now, my stomach isn't totally flat..the only area!) Can anyone offer my some insight on weight gain?

Ive heard that when people start off eating 2500 calories they gain a few pounds right away that is mainly only water retention because your body is learning how to digest a large amount of food again, and their cells are holding water to repair themselves. Im not sure exactly how much you'd initially gain, but it doesnt matter, in a couple of weeks the water weight will dissapear and you can easily gain around a pound a week, nice and slow.

1,800 calories is WAY too low. You are not only quite under weight, but you are definitely no where near healthy. I'm not even under weight (BMI of 19) and I'm still suggested to eat at least 2,200 calories to repair my organs and metabolism, and possibly higher if my period doesn't come back soon. Yet, I don't need to gain any weight. I would highly recommend finding an ED specialist, and slowly increase your calorie intake to around 3,000.

As far as the weight being added back to only your stomach, it may feel like that, and you're going to feel bloated pretty much all day, but the good news is, this goes away! And the weight you gain WILL re-distribute to the rest of your body.

Of course, it will take time, but it will happen.

And I'd just like to say congrats on recovery! It's a big step to make, but it's the right one!

Good luck on your road to a new, happy and healthy you! :)

I already think I've got a good amount of water weight - I certainly feel like it. I've removed the scale from my house, so I can't weigh myself at the moment. It's just too triggering. I'm really glad to know it doesn't last, though. It's SO uncomfortable!

I'm glad another person agrees the amount seems low. Unfortunately, I'm one of those people who always assumes something like 'eat 2500 calories' doesn't apply to me, because I've always had a pitiful metabolism and a tendency to gain weight incredibly easy. However, I did read the articles on the 'why' and it DOES make sense. I want my body to be healthy - 100%, not some half-recovery.

I've heard the weight does redistribute after a while - I'm not sure I understand how that happens, but it does sound nice, so I'll be optimistic. :) Haha. What I would REALLY love is to get some 'womanly' parts back. I have literally NO chest/rear..A lot of bone showing in the chest area, infact. I also need some arm fat. Badly. I can't even look at my arms - they're too disgusting. I'm also on the quest for my period..It vanished RIGHT away with anorexia, which makes me nervous regarding my 'happy weight' where my gaining will stall..but I'm just really, really hopeful I won't go that high again. Funny how the thing I used to dread and curse so badly every month I now WANT! :P

Thank you so much,


Wait... You heard of people maintaining on 3000 calories? Is this true?

Nella -- I'm gonna chime in with the 1800 is way too low. 

Yes, you most definitely WILL gain weight on 1800, but you will not be recovered.  If you gain your weight on 3000+ you will also gain weight, and you will recover and then you'll be able to maintain on 2000-2500.

go check out Gwenyth's blog -- she's trained in eating disorders and was on this site for a long time.

If your doctor is not an eating disorder specialist, then he is going on conventional wisdom, which states that if you have been under-eating, then eating more will add weight.

I don't recommend you jump to 3000 immediately, if you have been eating more than 1200 calories per day -- increase it by 200-300 calories every other day.

You will gain weight in the middle, as someone said -- it's water weight.  regardless, you need it to go to your abdomen, as that is where the bulk of your organs are -- and most of your early calories will go to repairing the damage you have done over the years.

it won't be easy -- probably ever -- but it is doable.  You have to have the drive and determination -- and you have to be able to express your thoughts and fears to your therapist, so you can learn behaviors to overcome these thoughts and fears.

I also recommend you throwaway your scales, and pull out some larger sized clothing -- this will help you not freak out at the water retention weight and/or bloating

That's exactly what I feared. I want to be RECOVERED, and healthy..a person again. Not this emotional disaster that anorexia has turned me into. I want to gain my weight, get to a good place, eventually take up running again, finally have the energy to work toward my goals, and just smile. I want to smile and mean it so badly.

I won't lie that it's a huge struggle - my eating disorder has a VERY strong voice, and it is constantly telling me that I don't need something, that I'm overdoing it, that my body is fat, that no one will ever love me if I gain weight, and that I'll never reach my goals if I'm not a stick. Logically, I know that I'm not likely to find a boyfriend that'll put up with me as I AM. I don't know about boys (giant mystery, if you ask me..) but I know I'd rather date someone a bit heavier and happy/healthy then a weepy, hysterical, walking time bomb.

I want to be able to go out to eat and not order a salad, no dressing/cheese/nuts/etc..Or to have a late night watching movies and actually have a snack..To just LIVE, instead of being consumed. I know that all seems trivial, and I admit I'm rambling here, but I'm tired of this whole thing. I really believe it's come to the point that it's "fix it or die." which sounds dramatic, but it isn't. I might not die this second, but it WILL kill me. I already know I've done a lot of heart damage - my doctor told me.

I think I'll give that blog a really, really good read. I know I'm in for agony..seeing my body change, feeling the excess weight from water/food/restoration, as well as the emotional turmoil..but I need this. I need to stop caring what others think of me, and only worry what I think of myself. Yikes, that's complicated.

Well, it'll suck to get bigger..but I think I'll have some relief at being able to shop in an adult store again. Wearing a kids size 10 is NOT attractive..ever. Nothing fits properly. A 19 inch waist is least, I'm going to start telling myself that.

Now I just have to worry about the weigh-in that my doctor and nutritionist make me do..Unfortunately, I find it very triggering to even THINK that they'll see the number on the scale go up, even if I ask them not to tell me about it.

Thank you again,


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I was thinking about your situation (I posted in the other thread), and I had an idea that part of the difficulty might be the taking the food in your mouth and chewing movement, psychologically. Thus, I was thinking why not try to drink most of your calories? Whole fat milk or even partly reduced (try for organic). One cup has literally 150 calories. If you're able to drink 6-7 cups a day there's half your calories so you won't have to sit and think and ponder about your foods. On top of that, why not powders? Powders are foods too, they have calories and they're a lot easy for you to just digest and eat if you throw a cup of weight gainer powder in your milk (this is only if you want to take it up to the 3k mark, which is totally applicable for you right now). I'm not sure how much your doctors have talked to you about your diet, but you CAN gain at 1800, it just depends on the foods you're eating. If you're eating a lot of complex carbs (pastas, potatoes, etc.) you'll put on weight fairly quickly, especially if you eat them at night so your body can slowly digest them (also try to eat about 100gs of protein as well so your body can build the muscles thoroughly).

Again, your disorder is caused by being ANXIOUS, so you have to not worry about the timetable and expect results immediately. You overcome it by being PATIENT. Your weight will come and it will evenly distribute. The reason your stomach was big before was because you were consuming a lot of saturated fats and probably not exercising properly. If you eat right and get to a decent weight between 105-115 for your height then I'm sure that will be perfectly easy for you to maintain without worry (135 wasn't normal for you imo, that seems a little on the heavy side for a woman wanted a petite body). Remember, don't worry about consuming too much, your body won't drastically change without you noticing haha, right now the food will distribute itself evenly and once you get up to a healthy weight like aforementioned, who cares because you'll be able to exercise and HEALTHILY control that weight.

Lastly, if the anxiety continues to get the best of you, you ALWAYS have one other option you can do and that is just to take medication!! It's not that bad, there are anti-anxiety meds out there which will HELP you cope with this stuff, these troubling thoughts about eating, and TRUST me they will work! Just ask your doctor, I'm surprised he hasn't prescribed any already..

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