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Eating Disorders

Weight management plan




I`m a 21 year old from Australia. I`m writing to gain advice that may help me with my weight loss.

From the age of 18-20 I severely restricted my calorie intake, at times fasting for a couple of days at a time, eating very little or skipping meals. My weight hovered between 51-54kg. I always did regular exercise, mostly walking (at my lowest weight) and began doing weight classes, from which my weight went up to about 55kg. To add to the years of dieting, I`ve also suffered bulimia and laxative abuse (from which I`m not certain of the damage it may have done to my BMR, or bodily functions)

However, with my boyfriend`s advice, I`ve since put myself on eating plans which incorporate breakfast!! and 4-5 other meals/snacks a day. The plan is low fat/high protein (app. 5000kj per day. I usually stick to the plan, however there are some days where I eat more than the required meals. To my dismay, despite my attempt to get healthy, I`ve gained approximately 10kg!! This really disheartens me, especially when I`m doing high intensity cardio and weights 5 times a week! My boyfriend assures me that it will only be temporary weight gain, and that in 2-3 months my metabolism would have speed up and I`ll be leaner than ever, but I can`t be too sure, especially when I just keep seeing the number on the scale going up. Have I done permanent damage to my body? Do I have to take a different approach than other people, considering I`m going from less calories --> more, instead of more -->less?? Please help, any advice or information would be greatly appreciated!

Kind regards


I can appreciate your concern. With years of dieting and dealing with an eating disorder, you most likely have slowed down your metabolism. If you have effectively treated and controlled your eating disorder, over time your body will readjust itself with improved eating and exercise habits. You will need to be very patient while this change back to "normal" takes place.

The best ways to help boost your metabolism are to build muscle through daily physical activity and to eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day (4 to 6 times a day is fine). As for the kj (kcalories) you consume, this should not go below 5024 kj (1200 kcals) per day, as you will not be able to consume a well-balanced diet that provides adequate nutrition on that low of an intake.

A more reasonable weight loss level for many women is approximately 6279 kj (1500 kcals) per day. To calculate the amount of kj (kcals) you need in a day for weight maintenance or weight loss, you can visit ChooseMyPlate.gov for help. This site will also show you how to choose foods from all food groups to build a well-balanced, healthy diet plan (no need to go high protein).

Also, with your history, I strongly recommend that you take the non-diet approach to achieving a better diet and health. A good book to read on this subject is "Intuitive Eating" by E. Tribole. Realize that the scale does not tell you the whole story. It is only ONE tool used to evaluate the body as a whole. This includes not only fat weight, but muscle and fluids too. Since you are working out, you may be gaining muscle while losing fat (therefore, the number on the scale may or may not change).

If you meet with a registered dietitian (Accredited Practicing Dietitian or APD in Australia; see www.daa.asn.au/dmsweb/frmfindapdsearch.aspx) or other health professional, they can help you evaluate your body composition (to see how much fat vs. muscle you have) and some can measure your metabolism (resting metabolic rate) using an easy-to-use, handheld device (such as the BodyGem or MedGem: www.microlifeusa.com/products_weightmanage.asp).

In addition, the RD or APD can help you establish a health weight goal for your body frame and size as well as plan a well-balanced eating program individualized just for you. So, remember to be very patient with yourself. Changing habits for a lifetime takes time. Focus on making positive changes toward good health rather than focusing on the weight on a scale alone. Good luck!

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Response by:

Jane   Korsberg, MS, RD, LD Jane Korsberg, MS, RD, LD
Senior Instructor of Nutrition
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University