4

votes

gaining weight on Paleo- Help! (recovering anorexic/bulimic)

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 23, 2012 at 2:20 AM

I'm hoping someone can give me some input... A little background on me: I'm semi-recovering anorexic/bulimic (that hurts to say out loud). Before starting Paleo I had lost about 25-30lbs, admittedly not in the healthiest way, and then stumbled across Paleo and decided to give it a try. For the first few months I honestly thought I had gotten rid of my eating disorder forever. I felt amazing, I was eating more than I ever have and maintaining my exact weight (this was SHOCKING, let me tell you!), and I was trusting my body for once in my life. I got over my fear of fat and actually started to eat a good amount of it (healthy fat), which for me was unheard of. I thought I was free. Now, after continuing on this for a another few months I have gained about 10-12lbs. For someone with my mental health background that is horrifying! I know that I am not overweight, but it is more the sense of betrayal and loss of control over myself that is killing me right now... I trusted my body 100% and for the first time in a very long time I liked the way I felt and the way I looked...and it tricked me. I feel screwed over.

First of all, I do not understand how that weight gain happened in the first place, but now it seems that there is absolutely nothing that I can do to stop gaining weight or counteract it! I tried VLC, I tried going back to what I was doing pre-Paleo, I started working out, etc. IF is triggering for me, but I am considering trying it out just because I am so desperate right now to gain control over myself again. I feel like Paleo isn't working, but now that I am convinced of all the reasons why I shouldn't go back to eating grains, I don't know WHAT to eat! It seems like no matter what I do, my body is not responding.

Has anyone had a similar experience? I'm getting desperate and considering quitting Paleo, but I just don't know what the alternative would be... I feel like I'm in limbo!

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on June 16, 2012
at 04:56 AM

So you were had a eating disorder before that made you lose way too much weight. Now you are eating healthy and your body is finally gaining the weight it needs. Helloooooo?!?! Am I missing something? This is good! Your body is not supposed to look like a cadaver! You REALLY need to get some help.

31381cfeb5d6da6fc75f80ab68e041ea

(560)

on May 23, 2012
at 08:28 PM

i tracked my food recovering/still do, but losely and at the end of the day to check on myself. the BIGGEST thing to do is focus on working on your emotions, IMHO. fix food later.

31381cfeb5d6da6fc75f80ab68e041ea

(560)

on May 23, 2012
at 08:26 PM

word. i gained a lot of weight/binged after my bout of anorexia, but the body knows. it DOES (with emotional help/therapy) come back in balance. don't give up!!!

31381cfeb5d6da6fc75f80ab68e041ea

(560)

on May 23, 2012
at 08:23 PM

this is not wholly true. you certainly can gain weight eating too much of anything, these foods just fill you up quicker. but eating these to satisfaction will help her maintain a HEALTHY weight, regardless. being gentle is so key!!!

Fc64db6a555559762432d503a1dbad19

(1478)

on May 23, 2012
at 05:52 PM

Eating disorders especially anorexia are so much about control. Life is crazy and things happen we can not control, but for some people food is used as a way to feel Incontrol. I don't think it is any different with paleo. You are still trying to control your body. You said you feel betrayed and out of control. This is your ED talking. GET PROFESSIONAL HELP. You are not recovered. Same disorder different name.

B04787f664abf9bebc28f71bf7825a3c

(877)

on May 23, 2012
at 05:07 PM

Fabulous answer!

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 23, 2012
at 01:17 PM

Upvote x20. Very wise words, Evelyn.

24fcc21452ebe39c032be6801d6bbadd

(9812)

on May 23, 2012
at 11:44 AM

-1, sorry- this is peobably not good advice for an individual with ED.

7caec21ad66b572d9afcb1e24f7297aa

(257)

on May 23, 2012
at 11:38 AM

Yep - Kevin nailed it.

80890193d74240cab6dda920665bfb6c

(1528)

on May 23, 2012
at 04:51 AM

If you have a history of ED, how do you know your body isn't returning to a normal weight, a healthy weight? What's wrong with 10 if it's a good weight for you? But if you must lose it. . Why not just count calories? How many calories have you been eating?

A87c5338a8bbf6c8e92eeb86984b7cc5

(30)

on May 23, 2012
at 03:10 AM

You seem to be doing quite well on Paleo, think about how you would be like on the standard diet ( without prof help). If Paleo sounds better ( given it's not triggering or making you lose weight) then stick with it for now.

0faecc3397025eab246241f4dcd81f5e

(2361)

on May 23, 2012
at 03:10 AM

I'd consider seeing paleo doctor or nutritionist to help sort out what is going on

0faecc3397025eab246241f4dcd81f5e

(2361)

on May 23, 2012
at 03:09 AM

Did you start eating a lot more fat after being on paleo for a while? You say you felt great and weight was stable for some months. Did you make any specific changes in your diet just before the weight gain?.

A87c5338a8bbf6c8e92eeb86984b7cc5

(30)

on May 23, 2012
at 03:07 AM

If i wasn't getting help right now. I would be on paleo. Because not only do/have I restrict(ed) I also emotional eat on sugary foods, which really makes my mood and energy levels be all over the place. Paleo encourages you to eat more ( appropriately) and gives you more health benefits which helps with being at one with yourself. Earlier I stupidly went on 40 g of carbs a day ( un-healthy fear), and my emotional state was out of wack too, especially getting angry. After adding in about 80-150g carbs, I felt much better. the amount of carbs really can affect my mood.

60ac606ad6f22caba80274c7f2902232

(30)

on May 23, 2012
at 03:01 AM

So would you recommend sticking with Paleo then? That's kind of the advice that I'm looking for... should I stick with it or find something else? And if so, what?? I feel like Paleo is the most balanced and healthy way, it's just my emotional state that is out of whack in response to the 'side-effects?' of Paleo I've been having, which is a different issue. It's not that I do not have the inability to maintain my weight right now or eat normally, I have been doing a balanced and healthy Paleo regime for a few months now, it's more the psychological aspect of my ED that is trying to come back

A87c5338a8bbf6c8e92eeb86984b7cc5

(30)

on May 23, 2012
at 02:52 AM

I'm struggling also with trying to block out Paleo ways ( which are correct) with the whole moderation grains type of thing. If you can't get help in the meantime, and if paleo gives you the most normal life you can get at the moment, then stick with it. Don't be alarmed at the weight gain, your metabolism and appetite will stabilize.

60ac606ad6f22caba80274c7f2902232

(30)

on May 23, 2012
at 02:47 AM

Thanks for the advice on getting professional help. This is not new to me, I have been in/out of treatment for my ED for years. I know what it is triggers it, etc etc, but like I said, I just feel like I had finally found recovery through Paleo... which I know is not the entire answer. However, seeing as I cannot afford treatment right now and since I pretty much know what they will all tell me anyway(eat a right balance of whole grains/carbs, protein, fat, etc), it seems pointless because that all just goes against Paleo rationale... hence my confusion.

60ac606ad6f22caba80274c7f2902232

(30)

on May 23, 2012
at 02:43 AM

Yes I try really hard to avoid that, it is very triggering for me...

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on May 23, 2012
at 02:41 AM

I would strongly, strongly recommend against tracking your food, it is way, way too triggering.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on May 23, 2012
at 02:38 AM

Agree completely.

  • 60ac606ad6f22caba80274c7f2902232

    asked by

    (30)
  • Views
    5.8K
  • Last Activity
    1427D AGO
Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

11 Answers

30
B9bac88958b7f106fe8e936e3a9c17ba

on May 23, 2012
at 02:36 AM

Seek qualified, professional help. While this forum can be helpful in grasping and implementing paleo concepts, an eating disorder is a serious medical condition and I doubt that anyone here is qualified to give you the help you need. Since you labeled yourself as "semi-recovered", I would tend to think that you may not be in the best position to look at what's going on with your body objectively.

Good luck and be well

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32564)

on May 23, 2012
at 02:38 AM

Agree completely.

7caec21ad66b572d9afcb1e24f7297aa

(257)

on May 23, 2012
at 11:38 AM

Yep - Kevin nailed it.

B04787f664abf9bebc28f71bf7825a3c

(877)

on May 23, 2012
at 05:07 PM

Fabulous answer!

11
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on May 23, 2012
at 02:38 AM

"Semi-recovering anorexic/bulimic". It sounds like you haven't recovered, and until you do, it will be hard to have a positive relationship with your body and your food that is sustainable. This is obviously causing a lot of distress for you mentally, and your body is probably having a hard time after the long, hard, metabolic strain that eating disorders put on it.

If you are not getting help with a medical professional already, I would not recommend practicing any kind of self-directed restrictive eating- get some real, qualified help. Eating disorders can't be fixed just by eating "right"- they need to be dealt with, through lots of support. Look for an eating disorder therapy group in your area, if you haven't told your GP or nurse practitioner or whatever yet let them know right away and discuss other options with them.

5
24df4e0d0e7ce98963d4641fae1a60e5

on May 23, 2012
at 10:55 AM

"I got over my fear of fat and actually started to eat a good amount of it (healthy fat), which for me was unheard of. I thought I was free. Now, after continuing on this for a another few months I have gained about 10-12lbs. For someone with my mental health background that is horrifying! I know that I am not overweight, but it is more the sense of betrayal and loss of control over myself that is killing me right now"

As someone who struggled with your issues for many years, this part stuck out at me. As others have pointed out, this indicates you have not recovered. Also as others have said, I would encourage you to seek professional help with this. You have gotten over your fear of dietary fat, but not, apparently your fear of what is likely normal body fat.

The paleo -- real whole foods -- approach can be hugely helpful in normalizing body weight and nourishing a healthy body. But it cannot fix the brain farkle that is the disconnect between how your body appears to others vs. how it appears to you in the mirror. If, as you say, you are not overweight, then there should be no need to feel any sort of betrayal for regaining weight back from a too-low weight. So I hope and encourage you to find help dealing with this.

Fd70d71f4f8195c3a098eda4fc817d4f

(8014)

on May 23, 2012
at 01:17 PM

Upvote x20. Very wise words, Evelyn.

4
Ae3b7ea9f3755af32287825db8d98796

on May 23, 2012
at 11:50 AM

I think coming to a site like this one can sometimes do more harm than good, especially if you get caught up in reading about counting, tracking, etc. I agree with the others who said to get professional help, but since you said you aren't able to do that right now, I'd just tell you to be careful of coming to PH, or at least be careful of spending too much time surfing around these posts. I recently found a website called, www.paleopepper.com. It's very positive and if I'm not mistaken, written by a woman who is recovered/recovering from an ED. She has another site I really love called, www.paleoforwomen.com. I've found that I feel really good after going to those sites. They're empowering.

Also, I read above that you asked, what would you eat if paleo doesn't work out....I would eat a real, whole foods diet. Nothing processed. Some resources if you're ever interested...www.100daysofrealfood.com. Also, The Weston A. Price Foundation.

Good luck to you!

3
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on May 23, 2012
at 12:20 PM

First, I commend you for the gumption it must have taken to admit there's a problem. As everyone says, that is the first step to recovery. Also, if you have not yet gotten progressional help, I would say that is absolutely imperative if you would really like to get on with your life.

Without actually knowing what your set point is, I will tell you this- you lost weight quickly and dramatically so your body perceived there was a famine. when you started eating again it began hoarding calories, in case another famine should strike. However, if you keep feeding it regularly, it will eventual realize that food is plentiful, and if you are over your set point, your weight will decrease, if you are under your set point, you will gain weight, and if you are at your set point, your body composition will improve. That is how it works.

Unconventionally, I think that your feelings towards food dictate your body composition as well. I believe that fearing food (orthorexia, and this is the site for it) triggers the same reaction in your body, and it is not until you recognize that food is nourishment (yes, even carbs are nourishing) that your body will stop hoarding calories and allow you to achieve your ideal body composition.

IF-ing for me triggers the some of the same feelings that anorexia did, so I do not do it (even at a calorie maintenance). Also, VLC makes me perform and look and feel worse, so I don't do it. What I have found works now is eating 90/10- 90% paleo (meat, fish, produce) 100% of the time, and leaving 10% of indulgences (for me it's often sushi or whipped cream or something like that). If I were active recovery, I would move this to 80/20 and in that 20% include whole foods like oatmeal, sprouted grain bread, and rice. Just some thoughts.

I was very anorexic as a boy (12-15yrs old) and have been since more or less happily recovered for the past 7 years. During my recovery I ate A LOT of potatoes, meat, and fish and fruit. It was uncomfortable but this is what you have to do- you HAVE to make yourself uncomfortable in order to recover. With time and practice the discomfort will subside. You doctors may not let you do 100% paleo and that's fine, but you can certainly do 80% paleo in most good clinics- I could in mine (both of them).

I would make this more in depth and helpful if I could but I gotta jet. I would also add that orthorexic sites like these are not the best place to be when recovering, as they can make things worse if you aren't yet comfortable with where you are at physically and with your relationship with food. I wish you the best on your recovery. Take small steps everyday, don't give up, and you'll get to a better place, I promise. OH, you have to want it too.

These are all things you would probably hear from going to a clinic (if you haven't done that yet) and getting help and talking with your peers. That is the best option.

31381cfeb5d6da6fc75f80ab68e041ea

(560)

on May 23, 2012
at 08:26 PM

word. i gained a lot of weight/binged after my bout of anorexia, but the body knows. it DOES (with emotional help/therapy) come back in balance. don't give up!!!

3
43f469552cfd3be73fc88a9821b14986

on May 23, 2012
at 05:54 AM

N.M Thank you for the bravery you showed in publicly admitting you have a problem. That is the first and most important step in solving the issue.

I echo the sentiments of others here to get help from doctors, therapists, nutritionists etc. But also remember there are other sources of support, inspiration to guide you through this period of "perspiration". Here are a few suggestions you may want to consider to get support from within and without.

Support from "without":

Have you looked into support groups where you can make friends, get sponsors and be part of something bigger than you. Often helping others with their "stuff" is the best way to help yourself.

I know helping people with nutrition has been key for me to stay on track. And I say this regretting the an empty M&M's wrapper laying in front of me. I feel what you are going through and have similar issues myself.

Being an emotional eater, I understand how stress and anxiety connects with our nutrition. And know logical info on what to eat may not be as helpful in the middle of dealing with the broken record in our heads, learning how to stay present and accept what is happening around us and in our minds, rather than "treating it" with food is a very powerful tool. One that is of course more easily said than done.

Support from within:

In addition to knowing what to do, logically, meditation can help you learn how to plant your emotional roots firmly and deeply so the tree that is you can stay strong even there are incredible storms and winds around you trying to push you off balance.

Have you ever done meditation? I went on a 10 day "vipassana" insight meditation retreat, and it was the hardest thing I have ever done but one of the best things as well. I am very secular but enjoy learning about different cultures so going to a Buddhist meditation retreat was a helpful thing for me. But clearly if this is not a tradition or wavelength that speaks to you, get what you are looking for elsewhere. If you are interested let me know and I can send you a link to free insight meditation retreat I went to. They have them all over.

I recommend finding more meditation classes or books that are separated from the spiritual stuff. Perhaps Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction psychotherapists? Cognitive Behavioral is also very good. There are also iphone apps that can help you with breathing techniques that give you similar benefit. All I can say is that the techniques they taught me often helps me avoid the trap of emotional eating and body image issues. Not a magic fix, a but a useful roadmap to getting better. The most important thing is find what works for you, in the language that speaks to you.

There is an Iroquois proverb that says you cannot change the direction of the wind, but you can adjust your sails. I wish you smoother sailing N.M.

It gets better.

2
F5a0ddffcf9ef5beca864050f090a790

(15515)

on May 23, 2012
at 05:25 AM

First of all, thank you for admitting this - even though I realize how hard it must be for you! My best friend is anorexic/bulimic and she is living in denial, being afraid of admitting it even to herself...

The reason why you are gaining weight on Paleo is because your body wants you to recover. It wants you to do well and to be healthy. Your normal weight that is.

I agree with everybody who told you to seek professional help. However, in the mean time, before you go to the doctor, there is something you can do that is healthy and helpful at the same time.

Please continue to eat as many vegetables as possible - lots of kale, cabbage, green leafy, onions, rainbow vegetables and mushrooms. YOU WILL NOT GAIN ANY WEIGHT by eating those.

Please eat bone broth, meat and fish. Again, it won't cause any gain weight no matter how much you consume.

I would only eat berries for fruits since they are more nutrient dense.

If you continue to eat like that - believe me, you will not have any problems with your weight, other than being in the best optimal weight you are in.

Do not worry - you will get through this. And being nice to your body and gentle on yourself is the first step.

Good luck and thank you for this question.

31381cfeb5d6da6fc75f80ab68e041ea

(560)

on May 23, 2012
at 08:23 PM

this is not wholly true. you certainly can gain weight eating too much of anything, these foods just fill you up quicker. but eating these to satisfaction will help her maintain a HEALTHY weight, regardless. being gentle is so key!!!

2
A87c5338a8bbf6c8e92eeb86984b7cc5

on May 23, 2012
at 02:40 AM

Have you gotten professional help for your eating disorder?

I started getting professional help and they won't let me stay on paleo ( not saying its a bad way of eating, it's the BEST way of eating, but unfortunately I can't do it anymore, I don't have an aversion of food in the same way as other paleo people, and I quit certain foods for the wrong reasons).

I dropped about 7 kg's ( ended up being like, 3 kg underweight) quite fast and then gained it back with paleo after being questioned by doctors. But I got out of my little delusion that I didn't have a problem. Now I visit a psychologist once a week and I am overcoming it.

The way in which you are freaking out isn't exactly normal, and i know it isn't quite right because it sounds like me. I can only guess a normal person would be somewhat concerned, but not panic like this.

Fixing diet doesn't necessarily fix the mind. A certain diet may mask the symptoms, but it doesn't fix anything. You do these things for a reason, the main reason often being to cope with stresses. It's normal for a person with an eating disorder to start to change to different diets. ( not saying everyone here has this issue! )

Often after comming out of being underweight, depending on how long, your matabolissm, TEMPORARILY slows down, you may reach higher than your ideal, but you will sink back down again.

Seriously concider getting some help if you haven't already. Go to a GP and get a referral. Please, do it for you.

60ac606ad6f22caba80274c7f2902232

(30)

on May 23, 2012
at 02:47 AM

Thanks for the advice on getting professional help. This is not new to me, I have been in/out of treatment for my ED for years. I know what it is triggers it, etc etc, but like I said, I just feel like I had finally found recovery through Paleo... which I know is not the entire answer. However, seeing as I cannot afford treatment right now and since I pretty much know what they will all tell me anyway(eat a right balance of whole grains/carbs, protein, fat, etc), it seems pointless because that all just goes against Paleo rationale... hence my confusion.

A87c5338a8bbf6c8e92eeb86984b7cc5

(30)

on May 23, 2012
at 03:10 AM

You seem to be doing quite well on Paleo, think about how you would be like on the standard diet ( without prof help). If Paleo sounds better ( given it's not triggering or making you lose weight) then stick with it for now.

60ac606ad6f22caba80274c7f2902232

(30)

on May 23, 2012
at 03:01 AM

So would you recommend sticking with Paleo then? That's kind of the advice that I'm looking for... should I stick with it or find something else? And if so, what?? I feel like Paleo is the most balanced and healthy way, it's just my emotional state that is out of whack in response to the 'side-effects?' of Paleo I've been having, which is a different issue. It's not that I do not have the inability to maintain my weight right now or eat normally, I have been doing a balanced and healthy Paleo regime for a few months now, it's more the psychological aspect of my ED that is trying to come back

A87c5338a8bbf6c8e92eeb86984b7cc5

(30)

on May 23, 2012
at 02:52 AM

I'm struggling also with trying to block out Paleo ways ( which are correct) with the whole moderation grains type of thing. If you can't get help in the meantime, and if paleo gives you the most normal life you can get at the moment, then stick with it. Don't be alarmed at the weight gain, your metabolism and appetite will stabilize.

A87c5338a8bbf6c8e92eeb86984b7cc5

(30)

on May 23, 2012
at 03:07 AM

If i wasn't getting help right now. I would be on paleo. Because not only do/have I restrict(ed) I also emotional eat on sugary foods, which really makes my mood and energy levels be all over the place. Paleo encourages you to eat more ( appropriately) and gives you more health benefits which helps with being at one with yourself. Earlier I stupidly went on 40 g of carbs a day ( un-healthy fear), and my emotional state was out of wack too, especially getting angry. After adding in about 80-150g carbs, I felt much better. the amount of carbs really can affect my mood.

1
70db40f7c0315207106077de574a6276

on June 16, 2012
at 04:47 AM

I have had the same experience- I also have an eating disorder. With people like us, diets really are unfavorable... they are just another way for us to be IN CONTROL, of our bodies/weight/size, etc..because we are afraid. What I had to do was overcome my FEAR of the foods I would avoid, for example going paleo & developing a fear of grain & wheat. When I would "relapse" on "NON-paleo" I was overcome with guilt and shame, and thus, a vicious cycle... I have spent too long trying to be in control of what I look like... I needed to give my body a chance to normalize. Something I had not allowed for YEARS. Always SOMETHING, whether it be restricting, over-eating, only eating certain things(diets), over excerscising, etc. you get the point. I was done having such an F***ed up relationship with food..and I had to make the decision that I would be willing to love my body no matter what, and that if I ever wanted to be happy, having the "PERFECT" body may be impossible, plus even when I WAS thin & cut it was NEVER good enough, I was chasing something that I could never actually achieve. I had to overcome my fear by eating what I desired...eating the foods I feared would make me fat-but mindfully and slowly, and until I was comfortably full, NOT totally STUFFED. learning how to be an intuitive eater, and listen to my body. It is smart and can handle more that you think, it is very intuitive if you allow it to be- and we aren't meant to be overweight, its all the weird shit we do with our bodies that throw it out of wack- give it some time with mindful eating, and normal foods- and see what happens. Here is the website that has begun to change my life...I learned everything from this girl Carolines experience.... <3 good luck and know that it will be brighter on the other side, but you have to face the darkness first.. it's essential.

http://www.treatyourselfwell-online.com/?p=640

http://gallery.mailchimp.com/15b48bd6afa424bb2dd4253b5/files/TFID_Badass_Eating.pdf

0
31381cfeb5d6da6fc75f80ab68e041ea

(560)

on May 23, 2012
at 08:28 PM

i tracked my food recovering/still do, but losely and at the end of the day to check on myself. the BIGGEST thing to do is focus on working on your emotions, IMHO. fix food later.

-3
C5b9b5552ada7a322d39effdc968ed62

on May 23, 2012
at 02:40 AM

dont quit getting healthier. if u still look good on the mirror why bother the amount of wheighy? if u are working out that add can be muscular tissue 2. if none of these seem to fit do this: track all ur food input for one week, check the total amount on kcalls Protein Fat and HC levels. post it here. found where u are not doing it right, change ir, problem solved

60ac606ad6f22caba80274c7f2902232

(30)

on May 23, 2012
at 02:43 AM

Yes I try really hard to avoid that, it is very triggering for me...

24fcc21452ebe39c032be6801d6bbadd

(9812)

on May 23, 2012
at 11:44 AM

-1, sorry- this is peobably not good advice for an individual with ED.

518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on May 23, 2012
at 02:41 AM

I would strongly, strongly recommend against tracking your food, it is way, way too triggering.

31381cfeb5d6da6fc75f80ab68e041ea

(560)

on May 23, 2012
at 08:28 PM

i tracked my food recovering/still do, but losely and at the end of the day to check on myself. the BIGGEST thing to do is focus on working on your emotions, IMHO. fix food later.

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!