National Eating Disorders Association

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Recovery - gastroparesis

ere, my name is Ellen and I am 20 years old. I had an eating disorder for a year whereby I was restricting and then decided to get help June 2019. I luckily had no mental issues with being a healthy weight, I was just stuck in a habit of not eating. Therefore, it was easier for me to go on a surplus and start eating again! Therefore, my increase in intake started and I was on a surplus everyday, making sure I got more than enough in even if I wasn’t hungry. Everything was going well and I was gaining weight without any issue or real severe symptoms that are worth noting. However it got to the end of October 2019. (I thought I had a lucky and easy escape) Then I started to experience a wide range of symptoms like acid reflux and have recently been told I have gastroparesis after a meal study. Which is probably due to having had an eating disorder. I couldn’t understand how my body escaped these symptoms when I was gaining weight and getting better In recovery over the 5 month period and then all of a sudden just came on me. Don’t get me wrong it was still hard, I still got slightly bloated and felt full regardless but nothing crazily severe like now! The fullness is literally like I am about to burst! I was able to eat a surplus without any real digestive issues for the first 5 months in recovery! These symptoms have caused my intake to decrease and I’m nervous as we speak because I’m not at a healthy weight anymore. I want to, but can barely eat. I genuinely am trying so so hard. I am constantly full, even with water my belly explodes and I have constant reflux. It is so easy for food and water to just come straight back up. I have never experienced such a horrible thing in my life I am always in pain and find it hard to do normal things. (The hardest part was trying to let my family know that this wasn’t me making this happen to myself and it wasn’t me choosing to have this - that something inside me just wasn’t right which thankfully has been diagnosed and I wasn’t brushed off by a doctor saying “it’s just her head, she has had a history of an eating disorder”) I’m just so nervous about my future and really hope that these symptoms because of my eating disorder don’t last forever and that I’m not always bursting full after a few spoonfuls of cereal???????? And as a result I get severe reflux because my stomach can’t cope with the capacity! I am only 20 and I am finding it so very tough. I just hope I’ll be able to go out to a restaurant one day with my friends again and choose whatever I want or have a pizza night. I can only pray this happens! I have read that achieving a healthy weight can resolve the gastric emptying but I’m confused how I was fine for 5 months in recovery? If you have any advice or any guidance please let me know I would be forever grateful!! Thank you so much because I am finding it hard to see light at the end of the tunnel with these physical complications further making it harder for me.


Hi! Okay, your post was a godsend to me... this could've been me writing it! I used to be very active on this forum but now only check from time to time. I posted asking if anyone had experience with gastroparesis like a month ago, and no one had personal experience. I am 23 and went to treatment last year from January-April. The first six weeks I was enjoying food (even though it did scare me), gaining weight healthily, and was finally excited about recovery. However, at six weeks I started getting insanely full very quickly and feeling extremely nauseous all the time. By April I started throwing up after meals. I went to a GI doctor and he brushed me off, knowing my history of an eating disorder. I knew about gastroparesis as I have some family members who have it so convinced him to get me tested, but the test came back negative! So I basically went through my life taking so many supplements and enduring the pain, afraid to complain because I didn't want anyone to think I was trying to go back to my eating disorder ways. But the pain and nausea was terrible and I finally got a GI doctor this past January who was experienced with eating disorders. He did an endoscopy and found the half-cup glass of water in my stomach that I had drank 6 hours before the procedure! He said that was a sure sign of gastroparesis and sometimes the barium tests aren't accurate the first time. Finally, I have some answers! But it is terrible. I want to enjoy food again, so bad. And I'm also so so sad that the eating disorder likely caused this... (I feel like it's my fault!) I've always had a slow gut and acid, but this is unlike anything I've experienced before. I don't know how much advice I have as I am in the same position... I want to be at a healthy weight again. I want to enjoy food again. My mind is in such a better place than it was before going to treatment but my body is revolting! I felt like recovery promised me so many things that it hasn't been able to fulfill because eating is painful and uncomfortable, and it's hard to keep food down :( I'm on a medicine to help my stomach empty faster which I think helps some, but not a lot. My GI doctor said the next step is to look into getting a gastric stimulator. I"m having a hard time finding the light at the end of the tunnel too... Maybe we can share with each other our wins and tips for making it through while we maneuver through this together! I'm so sorry you are dealing with this... it is so awful :( Prayers for you.

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