National Eating Disorders Association

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Worse Before Better

Is it really normal to feel a lot worse physically in the early stages of recovery? I’m going all-in and have stopped every single behavior and made huge changes to my daily activity level and lifestyle (practically bedrest now!) and I actually have felt worse physically. I’m way more exhausted and in more pain now that I’m doing the good work I need to do.

It isn’t making me want to go back to my ED. I don’t. I just want to know if it’s normal to feel worse in the first few weeks as you stop using behaviors and begin to take care of yourself and really pursue recovery in earnest.

Did anyone else feel a lot worse in the first few weeks?

Yes it is

Your body is adjusting to eating more. It can be excruciatingly painful. Your stomach shrunk. That's why recovery should be done in a hospital or residential treatment center as you're going through the refeeding syndrome. Ot could take a few minutes to get used to normalized eating again. It's exhausting because you're fighting this disease hard mentally and physically.

Thanks for replying — really.

Thanks for replying — really.

It’s not really my stomach though? It mostly feels like I’ve got a really bad case of the flu. No GI problems but lots of fatigue and body pain and stuff…

Physical Signs To Look Out For

Hi! Just wanted to follow up on this post as you mentioned experiencing some fatigue and pain. We’d like for you to review this list. If they’re experiencing any, please make sure to get medical help as soon as possible – making sure to mention all symptoms you experience in addition to your eating concerns so you can be treated accurately. The following are just some of the signs of a serious problem that demands immediate medical attention:

  • accidentally or deliberately caused themselves a physical injury
  • become suicidal
  • confused thinking and is not making any sense
  • delusions (false beliefs) or hallucinations (experiencing things that aren’t there)
  • disoriented; doesn’t know what day it is, where they are or who they are
  • vomiting several times a day or has uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea
  • experiencing dizziness or fainting spells
  • too weak to walk or collapses
  • painful muscle spasms
  • experience pain in the lower legs
  • complaining of chest pain or having trouble breathing
  • blood in their bowel movements, urine or vomit
  • a body mass index (BMI) of less than 16
  • an irregular heartbeat, and fast heartbeat, or very low heart beat (less than 50 beats per minute)
  • cold or clammy skin indicating a low body temperature or has a body temperature of less than 35 degrees Celsius/95 degrees Fahrenheit
  • experience dizziness, nausea, fever
  • wounds/cuts heal slowly
  • feel tingling in the hands or feet
  • blurred vision

If they experience anything above, we highly recommend seeking help from a medical professional as soon as possible. Seek medical help soon on an outpatient basis if they experience:

  • have significant heartburn and/or a burning sensation after eating
  • have other gastrointestinal concerns
  • have high blood pressure
  • struggle with significant joint or muscle pain
  • have difficulty sleeping (falling and/or remaining asleep)
  • struggle with fatigue, sudden weight gain, and/or hair loss
  • have frequent urination or unquenchable thirst
  • have gained and lost significant weight repeatedly
  • have gained significant weight in a short period of time
  • struggle with chronic diarrhea or constipation

 If you’re looking for resources, please feel free to contact the confidential Helpline at (800) 931-2237. Phones are open Monday-Thursday 11AM-9PM EST and Friday 11 AM-5PM EST. Our Click to Chat is open Monday-Thursday 9AM-9PM EST and Friday 9AM-5PM EST. You can click the chat now option at the top right hand corner! Please continue posting.

It could be

Exhaustion from everything. But I would highly suggest seeing your primary care provider for an expert, medical diagnosis. I am not really qualified in diagnosing you.

Of course. Definitely not

Of course. Definitely not trying to put you or anyone in that position. Just kind of hoping people can say they initially felt worse and that it’s normal to feel bad the first few weeks.