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Healthy Weight Center

Safely Regaining Weight

08/28/2009

Question:

I am recovering from anorexia without the help of a physician. I decided to take the matter into my own hands. I want to return to a healthy weight. I was wondering if you could give me advice or suggestions on how to gain the weight back slowly and safely. I am afraid that my metabolism has lowered to the point that I will become obese if I eat normally. I have gained a little back, but it is returning in the form of flab (I experienced significant muscle atrophy while anorexic). Is there any way to keep my body toned as I increase my weight?

Answer:

It is great that you are determined to reach a healthy weight; however, if you feel that you need help with your eating habits, please do not hesitate to make an appointment with a registered dietitian in your local area. Eating disorders are best treated by a team of health professionals including a doctor, psychologist, nurse, occupational therapist, and dietitian.

Gaining weight slowly is a good idea so that your body can adjust appropriately. To gain weight in a healthy way, you must (1) train physically and (2) increase caloric intake. Use strength training (weight lifting) that will build your muscles and keep your body toned as you increase your weight. Here are some tips for increasing your caloric intake:
 
  • Select a variety of calorie-dense foods from the food groups (fruit, vegetables, dairy products, meat, fish, poultry, breads, cereals, other grains).
  • Eat three meals per day plus extra snacks and beverages. Snacking on dried fruit, nuts, seeds, beverages (such as juice and milk), and other calorie dense foods will increase caloric intake.
     
  • Eat larger portions; use larger glasses, bowls, and plates.
     
  • Learn to eat more food within the first 20 minutes of the meal.
     
  • Eat the main course first and leave the soup or salad until later.
     
  • You can also drink concentrated liquid supplements that are high in protein and calories.
  • Take a multiple vitamin/mineral supplement to restore nutrient losses from past dieting. Only weigh yourself once a week, and be proud of any weight gain that you achieve.

    Best of luck.
  • For more information:

    Go to the Healthy Weight Center health topic, where you can:

    Response by:

    Bonnie J Brehm, PhD, RD Bonnie J Brehm, PhD, RD
    Professor of Nursing
    College of Nursing
    University of Cincinnati