Coping With Body Image And Weight Gain In Eating Disorder Recovery

Eating disorders do not always cause weight gain, or weight loss. Though “eating disorders” is a general category, the various disorders are vastly different with different effects. For example, drastic weight loss is more common in anorexia nervosa than it is in bulimia nervosa, though, weight loss may not occur in anorexia, and it may occur in bulimia. Binge eating disorder typically result in drastic weight gain. Orthorexia nervosa typically involves weight loss as well. The importance of recognizing the role of weight gain or weight loss in eating disorders is due to the role of weight gain or weight loss in eating disorder recovery. For those who have lost weight due to their disordered eating behaviors, weight gain is common in recovery. Some have to gain weight in order to gain back their health and survive. Others who have gained weight as a result of their eating disorders might start to lose weight in eating disorder recovery as they learn to balance their diet and regularly exercise. Both weight loss and weight gain can be extremely triggering for people in eating disorder recovery. Body changes in weight, appearance, physical health, and more can be difficult to cope with, which could lead to the development of body dysmorphic issues. Body dysmorphic disorder is closely related to eating disorders. Disordered eating behaviors might be associated with body dysmorphic, but the disorder mostly involves an unhealthy mental focus and distortion regarding physical appearance.

Change is a natural part of life. Often, the hyperfocus someone with an eating disorder puts on their weight, their image, and their body, is an effort to prevent change from happening. The lack of change in their weight, body, and appearance is a way to cope with great changes which have happened or are happening in their lives. Eating disorders are commonly coping techniques for control over what is uncontrollable in life like trauma, co-occurring mental health symptoms, or abuse.

Coping With Body Changes

  • Utilize the recovery themes of acceptance and compassion. Everything changes. You can love yourself through the changes at every phase, accepting yourself for where you are.
  • Recognize the positive results other changes have brought into your life.
  • Work with your therapist or counselor to set goals for what changes in your life are  going to bring you, from physical changes to mental changes, to behavioral changes.
  • Know that recovery is a lifelong process through which there will be many changes. Right now, your body needs to be restored to an optimum level of health in order to prevent illnesses and disease which might prevent you from living life to the fullest.


You are not alone in your struggles with eating disorders. It takes time and a total lifestyle change to learn how to live a healthy and balanced life autonomously in eating disorder recovery. LEAD Recovery Center offers a multiphase transitional care program to men and women seeking long term support for their recovery. Call us today for more information, at 800-380-0012.