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  • Writer's picturelindecatherine

Dealing with weight-gain

Most of the times gaining weight is a necessary process of recovery from an eating disorder. Undoubtedly one of the hardest to cope with.

Diet culture constantly classifies weight as something bad. This statement has impacted the wellbeing of many people. Our perception of “weight gain = bad” has resulted in feeling of self-unworthiness and misery. However, this view is completely idiotic and unsubstantial. We need to change our way of thinking and stop criticizing ourselves for not having the “perfect” body we are presented on social media.

Weight gain is not a bad thing. Not only does it bring health to many people, but also happy memories and wellbeing. Think about what weight-gain brought you. Think about the happy moments you were able to participate in because you finally started to socialize more, the wonderful memories that have been made not only around food, but also in other circumstances.

Weight is not the most important thing that you’ve gained in recovery, life is.

When you’re comparing yourself to the “old” you - consider the lifestyle you had. Was it healthy? Was it sustainable? We’re you truly happy?

If the answer is ‘no’ to at least a single of these questions, then the weight gain was 100% worth it.

Acceptance comes with time and most likely a lengthy period of time. You will feel uncomfortable and distressed, but eventually you will get used to it. Yes, gaining weight is not easy, but it is necessary in many situations.

People who truly love you will continue loving you. Their view of you won’t change if you gained some weight. You are valued not for your body, but your personality

Here are some tips on coping with weight gain:

- Focus on how you feel, not how you look

Focus on your emotional levels and physical energy. They are much more important. Life is about the experiences you were able to participate in and emotions you were able to feel. When you are in your 70’s you would want to remember the wild adventures you had, not the stress you felt when presented with certain food.

Additionally, weight gain most likely increased your mood overall (I am not talking about the bad body-image days). This is because you no longer fixated on food. Your brain had the capacity to participate in other activities and experience happiness.

During the beginning of my recovery, I led an emotion tracking journal where I had to daily rate the emotions I’ve experienced. On average my happiness levels never exceeded a 2 (on a scale out of 10), but anger and sadness were constantly over 7.

Once I started to eat more, I started to feel happier and fulfilled. Life brought me daily moments of positiveness. My positive emotions significantly outweighed the negative ones.

Thank your body for the strength it gave you.

- Remind yourself your reasons to recovery

Why are you doing it? What motivates? What is your drive for change? Think about that and achieve it!

- At the same time remind yourself how miserable you were in the state of food-consciousness

Do you really want to return to the previous self that was at a lower weight but very unhappy? Don’t fool yourself into believing that that time was okay.

- Stop weighting yourself

This tip was actually suggested to me by my friend when she saw that I was writing this article. I think it is a very useful advice.

If you start your day with a number, you will see food as a number for the rest of the day which will ruin your mood. 

Life becomes so much easier and more enjoyable after your discount all the unnecessary worries and concerns.

If weighing yourself makes you unhappy then stop doing it! It is challenging to break out of the habit, but it is much more beneficial for your wellbeing. If it is really necessary for you to be weighed then ask someone else to look at the number for you, but not say it aloud.

Another reason to stop weighing yourself is normalizing your hunger cues and returning the ability to understand your body’s needs and appetite. This applies more to binge eating. Once you stop weighing yourself you will become more attentive to your hunger signals and will lose the desire to eat something you don’t actually crave. This is because you will no longer have the subconscious thought of contributing to the eating disorder.

- If you are looking for a way to cope with a bad body image day read my article "Dealing with bad days + bad body image"

If you are reading this article to understand how a person struggling with weight gain might feel, here are some warnings for you.

Things not to tell someone who has gained weight in recovery/during eating disorder:

1. “You started eating more”

This is not seen as a compliment. A person might not even have realized himself/herself yet that their eating pattern has changed. This comment might only encourage them to restrict and stop listening to their hunger.

2. “You look so much healthier now”

This is a hard one to understand but to a person with an eating disorder “looking healthier” almost equates to “looking fatter”. Consequently, hearing this comment might significantly impact them and might cause serious emotional distress.

3. “Oh, you finally gained weight”

RED FLAG, DO NOT SAY THAT. This is not a thing that you should comment on. It is already hard to come to terms with weight gain themselves, but hearing other’s pointing it out is so much worse. It is much better for the person’s wellbeing if you don’t point it out.

Overall, I advise staying away from appearance and weight comments. People in recovery are very impressionable and can be easily offended.

“Your body isn't meant to be at a weight that it can only sustain through restriction”(@chr1styharrison).
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