Can Physical Effects of Eating Disorders Be Reversed in Long Term Recovery?

Woman thinking about anorexia treatment

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Director of Content and Social Media at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

The abnormal eating behaviors characteristic of an eating disorder, whether anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder, all take a damaging toll on the body. Even if engaging in an eating disorder for a short period of time, the body is at serious risk for physical consequences.

While these consequences can vary depending on the actual eating disorder and encompass different degrees of acuity, the best approach towards healing is choosing professional treatment and recovery.

Understanding Physical Effects on the Body

Physical effects that result from an eating disorder result from irregular and atypical eating behaviors. This might include restricting, chronic dieting, cutting out food groups, limiting caloric intake, and long periods of fasting.

Other dangerous eating behaviors and patterns include eating large quantities of food over a short period of time, attempting to compensate for eating through self-induced vomiting, laxative or diuretic use, excessive exercise and more.

Some of the possible physical side effects that can result from eating disorders include gastrointestinal distress, cardiovascular complications, dehydration, malnutrition, altered mental state and cognition, weakness, bone loss and more. If left untreated, many of these health consequences can potentially lead to multiple system failure in the body and can potentially be fatal.

How Treatment Can Help Reverse Side Effects

The good news is that many of these health consequences can be reversed with adequate care and treatment. Treatment often assists a person in ceasing from the abnormal eating behaviors that wreck physical havoc on the body.

Mother daughter encouraging each otherWith proper nutrition and medical interventions, a person struggling with an eating disorder can begin to physically heal.

The longer a person remains actively engaging in an eating disorder, the more difficult it will be for the body to heal and for health to be restored.

One of the health consequences of eating disorders can be bone loss, and it is important to know that this cannot necessarily be completely reversed.

A professional specialist must analyze this, and the cessation of eating disorder behaviors is a critical step to rebuilding bone density.

If you are concerned about the physical effects that you may be dealing with as a result of an eating disorder, be sure to be appropriately assessed by a health care specialist to determine what treatment plans might be most effective for your recovery.

Community Discussion – Share your Thoughts here!

If you are in recovery from an eating disorder, what physical side effects did you see heal as a result of treatment?

Crystal Karges photo

About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating.

Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 25, 2016
Published on