Eating disorders are slowly becoming one of the most prevalent health problems in the U.S. today. In fact, the National Eating Disorders Association estimated that roughly 20 million American women and 10 million American men suffer from an eating disorder. And many others are more than likely experiencing borderline-disorder eating patterns. We live in a society that equates being thin with being beautiful; a harmful mindset that, no doubt, drives a major portion of the totaled 30 million cases of eating disorders. But what happens when you’ve conquered an eating disorder and still want to manage a healthy weight?
Tracking your in-and-out calories is one way to manage weight. However, this method can become risky for people who have recently recovered from eating disorders. A major part of many eating disorders, like anorexia, is tirelessly keeping track of what you put into your body versus what you burn off. So, returning to a state of negative energy balance— burning more calories than what you’re consuming— could potentially trigger old unhealthy patterns or even the disorder.
The good news is, there are other ways of maintaining a healthy weight that doesn’t involve calorie counting. Here are some examples.
Cutting out processed sugars and saturated fats from your diet are some of the easiest ways to maintain a healthy weight. These are easy to break down and store in your body, which is what causes weight gain. So, you could swap out some of those sugars and fats for protein and good carbs instead. Such examples include lean meats, poultry, green vegetables, and beans. Fruits are also good, nutrient-packed foods. Most fruits are low in calorie and rich in vitamins, minerals and contain natural, unprocessed sugars.
Exercise is good for you even if you didn’t want to lose weight. For the people recovering from an eating disorder, building an exercise regimen is always the best option to not only maintain a healthy weight but to maintain a healthy mindset. Fasting or restricting food can easily lead to binging. This, in turn, can lead to the development or redevelopment of an eating disorder.
Some of the best forms of exercise to practice regularly for healthy, natural weight management includes hiking, cardio workouts, and resistance training. For the people who have an injury that prevents them from comfortably performing high-intensity exercise, things like yoga and swimming are also effective. Remember, changing up your routine and doing something different each workout will keep you motivated and also keep you from hitting a plateau in your weight management goals.
Having support will help your motivation to meet your weight management goal. After all, the same thing happened when you conquered your eating disorder: you had support. Ask someone you trust to support you as you try to establish a healthy lifestyle and let him or her know about any difficulties you think you might have. It may be beneficial to have a workout partner or someone to cook meals with. Maybe join forces with a friend who is also trying to maintain a healthier lifestyle.
When it comes to successful weight management after an eating disorder, though, you have to be careful. Ask your friend to keep you in check and inform you if he or she notices any odd behaviors or changes in you. One of the most common causes for an eating disorder relapse is making the transition back to normal eating habits after a weight loss goal has been met. So, be sure to stay in touch with your designated support person. Doing this will make the transition back into healthy eating habits easier. It may also benefit you to keep in touch with an eating disorder support group and a reputable nutritionist.
You don’t have to resort to unhealthy methods or put yourself in danger of redeveloping an eating disorder to maintain a healthy weight. There are many safe, effective ways to do so. At Willow Place, we want our patients to look, feel and be the absolute best they can without compromising their health. If you or someone you know is currently suffering from an eating disorder, please call us at 1-888-651-4212.