Answering Reader Questions

Remember my post about weight restoration a little over a week ago?

Well, I got all sorts of questions from readers and bloggers in the comment section that I thought I’d answer publicly today since I’m creatively constipated. And as far as I know, prunes don’t help much with that.


littlehealthjunkie asked

“I’m still trying to gain weight (story of my lifffe) but it seems like no matter WHAT I do I just can’t. :( any tips?!”

Funny you should ask because at my sickest, I used to get asked for dieting tips. Weird. Anyhow, I’m not a doctor or registered dietitian. More importantly, I’m not a licensed therapist which I think is what most people really need. But what I can say from my experience with weight gain is that its actually pretty simple. Eat more, move less. This is where the therapy part kicks in. This is often easier said than done when your used to exercising a lot and not eating a ton (and by a ton I don’t mean a ton of tofu or greens). Do you need to eat fast food to gain weight? No. But weight won’t come on as easily when you still drinking green monsters or making chia seed pumpkin protein brownies or whatever. In treatment, I ate salads and I ate oreos. That what I liked about my treatment center, they showed me I could eat array of “healthy” and hydrogenated foods and I’d still be fine. Bottom line: Eat more calorically dense foods, move less. Sounds lovely actually.

On to the next question…

Mindrunningwild wrote:

“The “aunt flow” part made me laugh; I’ve been waiting for it FOREVER. Do you really suggest stopping exercise? Won’t that just make weight gain come faster and not healthfully?”

Again, I’m not a doctor but with my experience, you need to be at a healthy weight for at least few months until the aunt flow will come back. You wanna hear something totally twisted? When aunt flow came, I was actually upset. I was like, “great, now I’m ‘heavy’ enough to get my period”. I know, thats CRAZY talk! Look, you want and NEED your cycle. Its a reflection of your health. No period means something’s up! And yes, Jenny Craig or Weigh Watchers might kill me, but if you are not getting you period I fully support ceasing exercise. And I don’t just mean the gym! Stop being as active as you are. Many people with activity issues simply can’t stop moving. You seriously need to detox off the excessive movement, at least for a little bit. In treatment, the most I was allowed to exercise was a 30 min walk, a 30 min circuit exercise (with weights) or gentle yoga lesson. And that was only AFTER a few weeks of doing NOTHING. But I needed to prove to myself that I could go without movement for a long time and that I wouldn’t become a whale. And something I can’t stress enough There is no such thing as a “healthier” way to loose weight! When your underweight its pretty simple, weight gain is weight gain and any is good! There is no difference! 1 pound is 1 pound and it doesn’t matter how you got it. Eating 5 big macs for a meal might help, as will eating 14 bowls of oatmeal. It won’t make a difference. Its all healthy weight when your underweight.

A reader who went by the name of “M.” wrote:

“I am experiencing the “pregnant belly” syndrome and had no idea this was normal!My doctor has retired (loved him) and the new one, well…when I first met him warned me not to over do it on the food so as not to end up at Weight Watchers later. Needless to say, I am hesitant to ask him these types of questions.
Anyways, all that rambling to say that I’m glad you’re discussing these issues!!
Most of all, how long did it take for your belly to go back to normal? Did anything help in the meantime? “

Heres the honest truth…I still have belly issues. It get better depending on when and what I eat but its still something I’m trying to work out with my doctor. Eating a meals that aren’t too rich in protein can help or at least not eating a lot all at once. I’ve tried to eat more smaller meals seven or so times a day which helps too (as opposed to few, large meals). Also, avoid vegetables. I know, I sound like a “health monster” saying that, but most vegetables work a number on your digestive system especially if it sort of been abused by you not feeding it properly. But this is still a work in progress for me. See, I still totally have issues.

Wow, I feel like I bored the five or so readers I get on Saturdays. Feel free to ask me anything about this. Fuck it, feel free to just say anything!


36 thoughts on “Answering Reader Questions

  1. When my sister was pregnant her doctor told her to gain weight by eating a lot of ice cream. She was surprised that a doctor would recommend such an “unhealthy” way to gain weight, but your point was her doctor’s point too, I think- when you’re underweight, any weight is good weight. It’s hard to turn off the societal voice of “artery clogging” and “heart disease” and all of that stuff though, but I bet it doesn’t matter. At least that’s what I tell myself haha

    • True, but guess what! But her doctor actually has a point! The fat from milk used in ice cream actually helps infertility and birth defects! I know this because I am a former nutrition detective.

  2. Hi Eden,

    Since we have an open invitation to say anything, I want to write that the post on your mother made me tear up (yes, I realize I’m a bit behind, but I’ve had an unusual week). It looks like you have very similar facial structure, esp. in the Bat Mitzvah photo.

    On an unrelated note, I think some jdate horror stories would be really funny, but I understand if you don’t want to share….yes, I realize this comment is not so related to the above…humm…I’ve had period problems before and after having destructive habits and it occasionally worries me that I might have fertility problems down the line, but it’s pretty low on my list of things of concerns right (I have no interest in having children at this time)

  3. I know exactly what you mean about being angry that your “aunt flow” came back…but you’re so right, its natural and and is an indication that you’re healthy. One question for you: were you ever afraid that once you started the weight gaining process, you wouldn’t be able to stop? I’m just so scared that I won’t have enough control to stay at a healthy weight, that I’m going to have to be at either extreme end.

  4. My suggestion is to eat a lot of fat. it can be GOOD fat – like peanut butter or almond butter or any kind of nut butter…and eat it in large quantities. It’s a healthy way to get enough calories and it tastes delicious. My favorite thing to do was to douse a really large New York bagel with it. Plus, a lot of the reason why you don’t get your period is due to being underweight but also due to a lack of fat in the diet…so eating all the nut butters will help with that as well. Avocadoes are also excellent. And ice cream. i wholeheartedly support an ice cream diet. Plus you’re getting calcium which is good for your bones, ESPECIALLY if you’re not getting your period which means your estrogen isn’t high enough and you are LOSING calcium.

  5. thanks for posting my question!! It really helped and I’m going to have to keep talking myself out of needing to exercise daily. Your blog is funny and lighthearted and I really appreciate that : )

  6. I was upset when Aunt Flow came back, too. I still get upset when I look at myself and see something other than skin and bones. Pathetic, I know. But in my distorted mind I still see myself as prettier that way.

    Also, as for weight gain in those who struggle to gain weight, my nutrition teacher recommended making a milkshake with (now I might get some of this wrong, but you’ll get the gist of it) 3 scoops ice cream, 1 packet Carnation Instant Breakfast, and 1 cup milk. But be sure to drink that in addition to what you normally eat.

  7. The comment above touches on something very important in the weight gain arena–add things IN ADDITION to what you normally eat, not INSTEAD of. Yes, I still have a shitload of weight to gain, but I also have a lot of experience in this area, so zip it 😉

    The most common thing is to think, “But I had pizza and ice cream and blah blah blah” but if you “saved up” calories for that “treat” or felt you had to exercise first/after, then it really does no good. Yes, you might have had pizza, ice cream, etc. but your calories will come out the same. The trick is adding in those things without taking out something else–it’s not either/or but rather “and.” That can be hard to deal with.

    Like it was said, fat is a huge help. I eat whole avocado sandwiches, nut butters, butter, etc. because it’s an easy way to get a lot without feeling like a lot. If you insist on veggies up the ying-yang, cover them in butter or cheese. Help yourself out 😉

    • yep, always “in addition”. But everyone one has what works for them. I personally hate shakes cause I rather chew my calories but I also have no problem eating more, but many people I know get too full and prefer the calories come quick and easy like from a shake. I’m just hoping its not some “green monster” shake.

  8. I love that you pointed out that we shouldn’t be so caught up in gaining weight the “healthy way”. Maybe I was a weird anorexic, but even at very low points I still ate junk food, it was more about fitting it into a calorie budget than analyzing the healthfulness of it in terms of vitamins, protein, fiber, etc. I was starving and I wanted glucose, so I damn well had a Reese’s cup as part of my tightly allocated food allotment.

    The Belly Issue has been my LEAST favorite part of the weight restoration process, but I have just kept telling myself that the only way out is through. At some point my boobs, hips, etc will fill out and the belly won’t be as prominent in comparison…and I think we notice it on ourselves WAY WAY more than other people notice it on us. I have to admit does definitely affect how I eat leading up to dates or visits with my boyfriend, not necessarily in terms of restriction of calories but in watching of salt (I’m a sodium fiend, crave it) and high bulk items like veggies, etc.

    I was catching up on a ton of posts at once the other day and missed commenting on the post about your mother. They don’t make words that are adequate for situations like that, but know that you’re in my thoughts.

    • you arent werid. Its just easier sometimes to do it with candy cause unlike say, apples, you dont have to eat a many. And after meagerly eating, your stomach is just not used to you regularly feeding it. Its like breaking into a pair of jeans. Give it time.

  9. I just read your original post, and I really appreciate your honesty. I can so relate to the points you raised: I have the belly and the bad cowlicks, and I’m still waiting on my period (and desperately, desperately anxious for it to arrive).

    So many people think that this illness is about vanity, but my appearance has taken a huge hit over the past year and a half. Being emaciated is not attractive, of course, but now I’m heavier than I was before I got sick. Still I have to wear glasses (malnutrition wrecked my eyes to the point that I can’t wear contacts), my hair’s so thin you can see my scalp through it, all my muscle tone is gone, and I have this obvious, ugly belly that I never had before. Ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh, ugh.

    But the only way out is through (or at least that’s what I tell myself).

    • ^Just reread this comment and wanted to clarify. I meant that I should look better because I’m heavier, not that being heavier is another disadvantage.

  10. Pregnant belly syndrome! Haha! Yep I get that sometimes. But everybody does. It’s common knowledge that after eating a big meal you will probably have a “food baby” 🙂

    I still don’t have my period, and I barely exercise at all! Like maybe twice a week for 30 minutes. I have an active job, but I don’t think that really hinders me. It’s really hard to see others around me that are obviously skinnier, but I know that (or I’m pretty sure that) they have a period. It’s frustrating!

    • Yea, I remember Jennifer Aniston going on Oprah and talking about a photo of her in people with a “belly” and Oprah asked her if she’s pregnant and she said “Yes, with a sandwich”.

  11. Hey. I don’t have a history of AN, but I did lose my period for about a year not long ago (s’back now –woo!). I was a healthy weight the entire time, was eating well, and was marathon training and doing weights a few days a week. I knew I was very active, but I always gave myself time to recover, fuelled well, etc. So when I was told that the exercise was probably at least contributing to the loss of my period, I was surprised. I don’t think people realise how sensitive our hormone cycles and stuff are to prolonged periods of physical stress and strain.

    I guess what I’m saying is that people often underestimate what overdoing it looks like. And that’s without throwing an ED into the mix…

    • I just want to butt in here and say that in high school I weighed 50 lbs more than I do now and didn’t have an eating disorder of any type. However, I was a competitive swimmer and rarely got my period during training (8 months of the year.) I had to go on birth control to regulate things, so you don’t have to be underweight to have weirdness with it 😉 TMI, but whatever.

  12. ahh wow I was totally not expecting to see my comment in this! haha thanks:) I guess! But thanks for the tips anyway, I eat a lot of fats and high cal foods, I think my problem truly is that I just can’t stop moving…such a terrible problem to have right?! hah but I’m workin’ on it; thanks again!

    • I hope you weren’t offended by my reply. I just reread it and it sounds kinda harsh and almost like im screaming.But my point is, that very few people are too thin just because. There is usually a reason and its not always food. I know its hard to let go of over activity when you are used to it. But if you are serious about weight gain, you gotta learn to let go.

  13. okay these were GREAT answers! i love your honesty and approach to answering them 🙂 so perfect coming from your experience and knowledge! love you mama!

  14. Wonderful! I have a question to add…what was it like to buy new clothes for a restored weight body? When/how did you know when would be a good time to buy? Sometimes I’m reluctant to spend money on new clothes because I think that I won’t be able to wear it soon, because I’ll have gained weight, but at the same time, all of my current clothes are too baggy. I feel like when I start feeling that my clothes are tight, I’ll feel bad and uncomfortable…even though I need/want to gain. I know that is contradictory, but it’s what I would anticipate I’d feel. A lot of this restoration business seems contradictory actually. Many of us seem to want it, but to not. Want it in theory but not when/as its actually happening? Thoughts? You also forgot to mention that all of us should get med mj cards and have a nice little pre-snack smoke up to enhance appetite 🙂

  15. I definitely agree with this post, I feel that sometimes people don’t take responsibility and believe that they just “can’t” gain weight or lose it. That’s such crap, if you eat below maintenance you’ll lose weight, if you eat more you’ll gain, simple as that. Definitely not science unless of course there’s an underlying medical condition. It’s very easy to pack on the pounds but some people subconsciously don’t want to. I told myself that I wanted to gain weight but when I did, it kinda freaked me out. It just takes time to get use to. When ppl say you are too skinny, it’s hard to see it when there are so many more skinnier people

  16. Hey there. Very occasional lurker. The blog world overwhelms me. Headed here from your guest post on Janetha’s site tonight.
    Wow we have a lot in common.
    How long have you been “recovered”?

    I still don’t have a period. Guarantee it’s due to lack of rest. See: lots of intense exercise.

    Thanks for sharing your story.


    • First off, I love your blog title 😉 second, I don’t consider myself “recovered”. Not sure I ever will be and I don’t even know what a “recovered” Eden looks like. Am I still underweight? no. I’m for sure not overweight, but my weight is within a healthy range for my body type. Am I still exercising 3 plus hours a day? Hell to the no! Am I eating regularly? yes. BUT….I still totally have body image issues, I still get worried on days I don’t exercise, I still worry if I eat too much, in short, I still give a shit about what I eat. Im not as anal about it, but its there. It takes time. Time is really the greatest healer. Well, that and patience. thanks for delurking! you made my day!

      • I guess I should clarify…by using quotations around recovered, I meant “recovered”. Ha. That’s clear, right?? Um…

        I don’t believe we are ever fully without our disorders. BUT! Instead of living, breathing, being, identifying ourselves by our disorders, we learn to deal with triggers and struggles. Sure, we have good days and bad days, ups and downs, but in the grand scheme of things, are “normal” as normal can be…especially for a former sufferer.

        So, I guess my real question then, is how long ago were you in treatment?


      • very wise words you said. Well, i was in therapy since I was thirteen so obviously, I don’t consider that “treatment”. I went to an inpatient program for about three and a half months and did out-patient for six months after that. Then I continued to see a dietitian once a week and a therapist once a week.

  17. I am no where near recovered, but I am at a healthy weight for me. I never went through the pregnant belly, but I know many people that did. It was a very difficult time for those that struggled with weight gain in that area, but it eventually dispersed, but it DOES take time. Like Eden said, you didnt lose the weight over night your arent going to go back to being “healthy” overnight. I am glad that I am in maintenance now, but I still have a LONG way to go to be fully recovered!
    Thanks eden for being so darn honest and straight forward! 🙂

  18. My biggest issue with reintroducing food (stupid phrase it’s not like I didn’t know what it was I just didn’t want it) is that it hurts my stomach literally wants to jump out of my body and punch me

  19. Eden, I truly enjoy your site.
    I feel like I could comment on so much above…honestly…I wish I could sit down with you over a funny movie and snacks and talk and talk about it all.
    I’m scared…because I have major digestion issues, needing to gain, but unable to exercise…like even people inpatient exercise.
    My job is 24-7 I’m very sedentary. And one short walk a day? God, its overwhelming at times. Plus , i have major, major digestion issues that are making all of this 10x harder.
    So, its like I feel I need to give my poor, poor body a “break” from forcing the food day in and out…but I also don’t want to reduce cals…but then that is not natural.
    How on earth do people just “gain naturally”…it seems so wonderful to do that.
    I’m sick of making myself eat…I feel all messed up. sorry…just a good post indeed.

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