National Eating Disorders Association

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Messed Up Metabolism

Hi, there. I am a 19 year old girl and have been anorexic for 5 or 6 years. I reached my lowest point last year, which was when I decided I had had enough and wanted to recover.
My dietician started off on a meal plan of with a certain amount of calories, because I had been eating so little for so long. At first, I gained weight on that amount.
Since then, my meal plan has increased, along with my weight. I have put on a lot and am now almost at a healthy BMI. BUT meal meal plan has not increased by that much. I am now eating more calories a day than my initial meal plan, and am still gaining weight.
I am really scared that my metabolism is messed up from years of restriction. I have read online that the only way to speed up my metabolism is to eat at least double the amount of calories my dietician had started me off with. Is that true? I am petrified that if I do that I will just end up gaining a huge amount.

Incidentally, I have had my

Incidentally, I have had my "Thyroid Stimulating Hormone" levels checked many times as part of other routine blood tests and it has always been well within the normal range. Your thyroid has something to do with metabolism, right?

Set point

First of all, do you have a nutritionist you're working with? That is extremely beneficial when it comes to recovery, especially when you're working on things like this. They can help you get what you need in the amounts that you need it. One that specializes in eating disorders is ideal because they understand what a big deal things are to you and can work with that as well.
As far as eating goes, have you ever heard of set point theory? It means that everyone's body has their own unique set weight at which you are performing optimally. No matter how much nutrition you are getting, it will fight to get and keep you there. That's part of the function of the metabolism. It may slow down, but once you reach that set point, it will speed up again and try to keep you there. Try not to worry too much about what you're eating, as long as you are getting enough nutrition. If you have questions concerning that, I would definitely recommend talking to a doctor or nutritionist. And congratulations on your amazing recovery! You have truly worked hard and come a long way. I am so happy for you, and you should be proud!
Stay strong!


Hi there. Thank you very much for your reply.

Yes, I do have a dietician and I have asked her about this, but she couldn’t tell me whether eating more would speed my metabolism up more. That’s why I came here.

I’ve gained a certain amount of weight so far and have only a bit more to go before I reach the bmi which my dietician has recommended for me. That’s why I am getting so worried because I don’t think that I WILL stop gaining when I get there.

I have heard of set point theory. It’s hard to tell what my set point is now, because I got ill in my early teenage years and have obviously grown since then. But, from looking at growth charts, if I had continued to track along the same percentiles as before I got sick, I would now be about heavier than I am more than I am now - so, she recommended a certain amount of more weight more than the weight my dietician says is “weight restored” for me. However, it is hard to believe in set point. I have trouble believing that I will stop gaining when I get to some magic number. It feels as though I will carry on gaining forever.

Also, my dietician told me that most people end up eating more than the daily recommended amount of calories a day to reach a healthy weight. This makes me feel like a special snowflake in the worst possible way. I keep having panic attacks because I don’t think I will ever be able to maintain a healthy weight on a normal amount. But, I don’t want to restrict again. Actually, I’m not sure if I even have what it takes to start restricting again. I feel like I am just too greedy and self indlgent now.

I feel like there is no way out. I can’t live a life of restriction and I can’t live with myself being fat. I have been seriously contemplating suicide for the first time in my life.

re: Thanks

Hey--just creepin by to tell you that in my experience, set point is very real! I promise you will not just keep gaining and gaining if you're following a meal plan and working with a dietician (even without those two things it's pretty hard to just gain weight without end--I remember a great point my therapist made once, which was that if you can't lose all the weight overnight, you're not going to gain it overnight, either. I found this strangely comforting).

I gained what I considered to be a significant amount of weight my first year or two in recovery, but once my body re-adjusted to eating normally and getting the right nutrients, my set point leveled out again. Trust me, I know how hard it is to accept weight gain as part of the recovery process, but only when I let go of that fear is when I was able to fully embrace recovery.

Hey Aprilpearl.

Hey Aprilpearl.
I'm sorry to hear that you're having such a rough time of it. EDs certainly aren't easy to deal with. A lot of the time they run a little deeper than they seem at first. The same goes for things like depression and anxiety. In that vein some people try to do it on their own - try to heal all by themselves and that can be really hard. A lot of recovered people say that its not even feasible to do it on your own.

So I think it speaks a lot to your character that you've gone to see a dietician and that you're here reaching out for support. A lot of people here on the forums will swear by their support team/network of friends, family, and health professionals. I think julesthefox is right. You're on the right path, the road to recovery as they say. It may be rough, it may have its ups and downs but I'm reminded of that old adage: nothing worth having in life comes easy.

As far as the last part of your most recent post is concerned, I just wanted to leave you this link just in case:
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

As someone who's been there, and as cliche as it sounds, I'll simply say that time affords new perspectives and new opportunities.
We're here for you April.

- Adage


Thank you for your kind words. I agree, I don’t think it would have been possible to get this far on my own. I have a therapist who I have seen throughout the proces, and continue to meet with. She definitely helped a lot at first. But now... I just feel as though no one can help me.

I DON’T mean to sound self pitying and depresing. But, all I want to do is curl up in a corner somewhere and give up. I don’t enjoy life anymore because I feel so empty and numb most of the time - unless I am having a panic attack, in which case I feel like everything is just rushing in on me and I can’t get away.

I am pushing friends and family away even more now than when I was at my sickest, because I find being around people upsetting. It’s like, what right have they to be so happy?! And I don’t have the energy to fake being happy anymore.

The last part of your post

The last part of your post really resonated with me. At the lowest part during my depression I felt the same way about almost everyone. Just walking down the street I would become disgusted by happy couples going about their business like nothing in the world was wrong, when I felt so much was. It was like, 'why do they deserve to feel so much better than I do?'

But I eventually got tired of that. I came to appreciate that everyone is living their own life with their own origins, their own ups, and their own downs. That happy couple may be composed of a man who's recently lost his job and a woman who's struggling with fitting in at her dream college program.

The pain you feel and the struggle you experience are real and legitimate. No one can tell you that your experience isn't it. But its exactly that, your experience. If you keep working at it, with the help of a support network and a lot of elbow grease on your part change is possible. After all, can you really have monumental change without shifting a few mountains? You might be surprised at the power you can tap into when you realize there's no place else to go but up.

- Adage

Thank you so much. It does

Thank you so much. It does give me hope to hear that there is light “on the other side”. I guess I just feel cheated. I thought (haha) that by choosing recovery suddenly, magically, all my problems would be solved! Silly, I know.

I remember before anoreixa, I had serious problems with anxiety, particularly social anxiety, and depression. One time, I was too scared to leave the house for 2 months and just cowered inside with the cutains shut. I thought I was so fat and ugly that if I went out people in the street would be thinking horrible things. When I developed my ed, it helped me deal with that anxiety. I guess I used it as a crutch. I would think “at least I’m not fat!”. Now, I can feel the social anxiety creeping back.

You’re right about other people. I do need to remember that I don’t know what is going on in their lives. I do try to remind myself periodically that many many people have it so much worse than me. But, that kind of logical thought is hard to hang onto when I see the scale or think about the future... Or even just see myself in the mirror. I am just hit by an instant feeling of utter despair. That sounds dramatic but it’s true.


I'm sorry you are having a hard time with this. I hope you will be ok. Hugs