Ideal Body Weight and Anorexia Recovery: What Does Research Show?

Anorexia can cause heart problems

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Many factors contribute to the healing process from anorexia, as this mental illness takes a toll on the body in multiple ways. Weight is often a marker that treatment providers will look at to discern how a person is recovering and if physical health and wellness is progressing.

While weight restoration is often a significant component to treatment and recovery for many individuals suffering with anorexia, it is important to know that weight is not the only factor that a treatment team will use to analyze physical health.

Medical Stabilization Is Typically the First Step

For people who has experienced any amount of weight loss due to anorexia, treatment and recovery will often focus on medical stabilization and nutritional rehabilitation, which often leads to restoration of a healthy weight range. Ideal body weight is used as a guide to discern what weight range is appropriate for a person to be within, particularly when weight has been severely distorted due to anorexia.

Ideal body weight is simply a guide that practitioners will use to estimate a healthy weight range for a person based on their height, but this is by no means the only factor that health professionals use for determining weight.

Understanding What a Healthy Weight Looks Like

Understanding what may be a healthy weight for you is based on a variety of factors, including weight and growth history, family history, physical wellness and more. When in recovery from anorexia, it is more important to look at the overall health of an individual rather than simply focus on the weight.

Methods-of-detoxFor example, many physical indicators will reflect whether or not a person is at a sufficient weight for their body type, such as normal menstruation in women, adequate temperature regulation, normalization of energy levels, regular sleeping/eating patterns, etc.

A Guiding Tool for Treatment

Once these various areas begin to stabilize in a person with anorexia, this may indicate that the individual is approaching a healthy weight range for their body. This may be somewhat more or less around their calculated ideal body weight.

Ideal body weight is a guiding tool for many practitioners treating a person with anorexia. If you are struggling with anorexia and unsure about your weight or another symptoms you may be experiencing, be sure to work with a treatment team who can guide you through the recovery process.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What has been your experience with the process of weight restoration in anorexia recovery? What other aspects did your treatment team look at to ensure your health and recovery from anorexia?

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 22nd, 2015
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