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  • Writer's pictureCallie

Pursuing Weight Loss After an Eating Disorder

This may be a controversial topic for people, but it’s one that I think is important to talk about. 

If you or a loved one have ever been in eating disorder treatment, you likely have heard the term “set point” and “blind weights” a frustrating amount of times. Having been a dietitian in a PHP level of a treatment center, I have been the one explaining these concepts to clients, so I am extremely familiar with the purpose of this approach. 

This is something I have wrestled with a lot in my career due to my main two focus areas of nutrition being fitness/athletics as well as eating disorders. I had a really hard time talking with my clients about limiting activity in treatment, knowing I wouldn’t be the one working with them in the future when they could incorporate movement again. 

I even went through a similar process myself. Worrying that my own relationship with food/exercise wasn’t healthy, I took a break from the gym and really loosened up my diet. This was helpful for me in relating to my clients, as I don’t like to recommend something that I haven’t tried for myself, but what I found very difficult was the transition out of this break. I wasn’t sure how to approach healthy eating and fitness again, almost fearing it or feeling like it was disordered to exercise or want to eat more healthy for my body, especially as an eating disorder dietitian. 

To be completely transparent, I did not feel comfortable in my body at this time. It was my first break from exercise after playing sports my whole childhood and continuing to workout afterwards. I was also eating differently than my body knew as normal. In hindsight, this experience taught me that I could take a break from it, and allowed me to work on my body image and mental health. The problem was, I felt at a loss on where to go from there. Which left me concerned about how my previous clients were feeling in the same situation after leaving treatment, hoping they found a dietitian that was helping them navigate. 

Our society is very polarized right now between diet culture and all foods fit/ health at every size culture. Personally, I don’t think these concepts need to be mutually exclusive. It is your right, and highly beneficial, to take care of your body and health, but it also shouldn’t look like fad diets and shaming yourself for making a “bad food choice”. What we really need to pursue is balancing physical, mental, emotional, social, and financial health. 

Often with an eating disorder, we prioritize physical health so much that we sacrifice social and emotional health, and ultimately damage our physical health as a result of extreme behaviors. But it isn’t bad to want to be healthy, or even to want to lose weight or chase body recomposition. I do think it’s important to remember that you may be susceptible to falling back into old patterns, and for that reason it is important to make sure you’re working with someone through the process to help with accountability.

I believe that you can pursue health and change your body through diet and exercise after having an eating disorder, and I am passionate about helping people find balance in that journey. One of the biggest challenges is knowing your motivations and being cautious of slipping back into disordered patterns. This really should be the goal, to find truly balanced health in a way that adds to your life and feels good.


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