The Truth about Bloating in Recovery

Alright, truth time.

There’s an elephant in the room, and it has to do with refeeding in recovery. And that, my friends, is bloating.

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This is an uncomfortable topic to talk about, because it has to do with body image. During recovery, we’re working on accepting our new body and learning to love it. We’re overcoming body dysmorphia, and #realtalk: we’re working on weight restoration.

Frankly, bloating makes progress in those departments rather difficult.

My biggest fear during weight restoration was that I was going to wake up one morning and just be massive. I was afraid that my body would just balloon out of control. There was so much anxiety about that allusive “weight range.”  I journaled about it a lot:

I am nervous and weary of how my body will be at the end of my stay [at inpatient]. I am scared that if it changes to a point beyond where I am comfortable, that when I get home I will be depressed and unhappy. Lord, please give me the strength, courage and endurance to get through today. I know You will protect me from anything that scares me.

So let’s have some #realtalk about bloating. Spoiler alert: it happens in recovery.

During your eating disorder, you’ve been in a state of starvation. Your body has been feeding off of its own muscles. That’s why you become skeletal: because your muscles are literally deteriorating in order to keep you alive. But here’s what we so often forget: your organs are muscles too. So they deteriorate and shut down too — all in an effort to keep you alive. That’s why your menstrual cycle stops – because your reproductive organs have failed. You’re cold all the time because your circulatory system is shutting down. You can’t sleep because the adrenal and hormonal levels are off, because they’re shutting down. Your digestive system and metabolism as slowed to a halt. Your organs are literally wasting away, day by day, to keep you alive. And that’s why girls die from anorexia: because your heart is a muscle too, and it shuts down. Let that sink in: 1 in 10 people die from eating disorders. It’s nothing to joke about.

But what does all this have to do with bloating?

Well, since your body has been in a state of starvation during your eating disorder, it doesn’t trust you to nourish it. So, when you finally do begin to feed it again, it still thinks you’re going to deprive it in the future. So it holds onto the nutrients. Just think of a cave man, or a prehistoric animal: they would stock up when they could, because they never knew when a famine would hit, or they’d have to hibernate for the winter. That’s what your body is doing. It just thinks that it’s a temporary “feast” period, and that it should hold on to all those nutrients because you’re heading into another famine.

So in an act of self-preservation, your body insulates the most vital organs first, again, in an effort to keep you alive. And where, might you ask, are those vital organs? Around the trunk of your body: your heart, your lungs, your liver, etc. So it initially stores the nutrients around your midsection.

Before you start panicking, “Oh goodness, it’s true. My worst fear is actually a reality. I’m going to get fat!”

PAUSE. Breathe.

NO. YOU’RE. NOT.

After a few weeks of getting consistent calories and adequate rest and restoration, your body will begin to trust you again to nourish it. Then, it will redistribute evenly. You will fill out beautifully, and in all the right places. I promise. 🙂

But here’s the kicker: In order to “beat the bloat,” you have to keep eating. You have to keep nourishing your body with adequate nutrients and sufficient calories consistently, or you body will stay in that starvation mode, and hold on to every nutrient that you consume.

This is very hard for a lot of girls in recovery, and is the moment where the “rubber meets the road,” and your recovery is tested. Your perseverance and will to fight are tested. Will you keep going or will you fall back into old ED habits because of poor body image? Will you continue to banish ED to the fires of hell, or will you let him creep into your mind because you are scared of a temporary bloating phase?

This is where the true warriors rise to the top.

This is where you become gold, refined by fire.

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Finally, I’ll leave you with a few tips that I found helpful dealing with my bloating during recovery.

  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing. This really goes without saying, but tight clothing is very triggering in recovery. Stick with clothes that give you room to breathe. Yoga pants, hoodies, t-shirts. The stretchier the better.
  • Avoid the mirrors. Again, this is something that is intuitive, but scrutinizing your body in the mirror is not going to make the process any easier. In fact, just the opposite. Your body is blooming into the woman you’re meant to be. Trust the process. Learn to love yourself.
  • Take a gentle walk. This can be tricky, as a lot of women and girls abuse exercise as a way to purge calories, but I’m not talking about a power walk here. I’m talking about a gentle stroll — Something that will help to take your mind off of a bloated and triggering tummy. Talk a walk in your backyard and take pictures of flowers. Take a stroll through the park and look up the different plants on your phone as you mosey along. Be outside. Surround yourself in the beauty that God created. Remember that you’re also His creation, and are covered in His fingerprints:)
  • Drink water! Another aspect of bloating is that your body is holding onto excess water, otherwise known as edema. It’s counterintuitive, but the more water you drink, the less your body will hold on to.
  • Be with supportive people. It is so important to surround yourself with supportive people. In your recovery, you need people by your side who lift you up and support you in your recovery, not bring you down. 
  • Dwell on the Truth. Lastly and most importantly, keep your mind focused on the Truth. Otherwise, ED will find a way back into your head, and this time he’ll bring 7 friends with him. So remain centered on the Truth. These were some thoughts I found to be helpful in recovery.

Hang in there, sweet girl. Bloating comes with the territory, and is only temporary. You’re doing the right thing: you’re sticking with recovery, nourishing your body, and learning to love yourself. The bloating will pass. Keep doing the right thing. One day at a time. One meal at a time.

I believe in you.

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562 thoughts on “The Truth about Bloating in Recovery

  1. As a paramedic, your posts help me to understand what is happening within the body. Better yet, it also helps me to know what to say and what not to say when I encounter someone with an ED. Keep up the good word.

  2. Great post – another tip might be “avoid fitspro posts and magazines” so you’re not being bombarded with unrealistic images of what the female body ‘should’ look like.

  3. So beautifully written! Although I do not share in this condition, through your writing I can relate. Thank you for sharing. May God bless you, and may you feel His presence throughout your recovery. Have faith!

  4. Thank you so much for your kind and relieving words! ♥ I’ve been abroad for a month during September to join an intensive recovery program, where I ate around 2200 kcals a day. Until just before I left I had a low and unhealthy intake, but still I didn’t gain a lot of weight (only one kilo in the entire month!) and I didn’t get too bloated though I always encounter (extreme) bloating when I start to eat more. But since last week (I’ve been home for twoo weeks now) my belly looks like it will explode; I’m constantly bloated from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep. I gained more weight since my return than during the entire month. I eat around 1800 kcals a day now but very healthy. This bloating makes me want to throw in the towel because I look twice my size now and I’m afraid to leave the house. How was this not happening last month when I actally ate more? Is this normal or did I get intolerant for certain foods? I’m sorry for al this nagging but I’m so desperate… 🙁 Again, thank you so much for your uplifting words and love, it helps a lot!!

    Hugs from the Netherlands!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by. Good for you for adopting recovery and going to an intensive program. That’s amazing! Bloating is a tough aspect of recovery. I’m sorry you’re experiencing this. But the important thing is to just keep nourishing your body and eating through it to “beat the bloat.” I think I would say to make sure you’re getting at least 2000 a day, and if that’s difficult from a volume standpoint, try more calorically dense food – nut butters, avocado, dairy. I know it’s hard when you’re bloated to want to keep eating, but it’s the consistent Intake of nutrition that will get you through it. I hope that helps. Keep fighting, warrior. I believe in you xx

  5. EXCELLENT article on the re-feeding process! I only touched briefly on this issue in “Redeemed from the Pit”, but it’s important and you did a superb job of explaining it medically AND how to renew one’s mind from the fear and anxiety a recovering anorexic or bulimic goes through. Mind if I re-post with a link?

  6. Great read, I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. I’ve often struggled with my weight thankfully I had supportive people around me helping me to accept my body. Keep up the great job and I’ll say an extra prayer for you. God Bless….

  7. Reblogged this on Prism Integrative Acupuncture and commented:
    A great article about recovering from eating disorders.
    Acupuncture can help get your digestion and other systems back on track again during recovery! Acupuncture helps to return your menstrual cycle, reduce bloating and edema, and restore muscle strength and organ function.

  8. Great post! I think it’s so awesome that you are sharing your experience with others. Thanks for following my blog. Although we are recovering from different diseases, I can relate to what you wrote. 🙂

  9. This is a very useful article on bloating, something I recently experienced and also had to overcome. My situation is a bit different but the bloating prevented me from eating enough and now that I am ok with the felt sense of a bloating stomach and understanding that my body needs the nourishment, all the anxiety about it has evaporated and I have more energy. I hope lots of people read this blog. Anna

    1. Hi love. Thank you for your question. Well, first I think you should talk to your doctor. Losing your period is one of the signs that the body is not receiving adequate nutrition and the hormone levels are off. Exercise plays a factor in this as well. I would just say to make sure you’re meeting your calorie needs sufficiently and being gentle with your body. But definitely talk to your doctor. Fertility is not something to mess around with:) thank you for reading and for asking this question! Sending lots of love and hugs. Stay strong, warrior xx

      1. The truth is I’m currently dealing with bulimia. I talked to a doctor, but he recommended me to take hormone pills and I didn’t. I’m scared of gaining weight and I don’t know. I just want my period back…

      2. I know, it can definitely be scary. But not all hormone pills cause you to gain weight. I’d talk to your doctor about your trepidations about that side effect and see if he has a particular pill or patch that doesn’t have that side effect. Hang in there love. You are strong. You are worth a life free from the bondage of bulimia. Love you Xoxox

  10. It’s so amazing what God has programmed into our body system. Your post allows one to appreciate HIM the more. I thank God who has given you the knowledge to do this great job. I’ve learned a lot. I want to thank you for liking my post, “It’s Christmas”. More grace to your elbows!

    1. Hi friend! You’re so right. Our bodies were designed to be well oiled machines! It’s so incredible to think about all the complex systems and make up of our bodies. God is good. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs!

  11. You liked my post today and I decided to check out your blog. I’ve been praying about how to deal with my 10-year battle with what I’ve finally decided was an eating disorder. Due to lots of health issues and huge amounts of water retention, I never have appeared super skinny/underweight. In fact, just the opposite. I’ve always been over my weight range even when I lived on less than 800 calories a day for years. Still, the struggles are there. Thanks. I needed this today.

    1. Hi friend, Thank you for this reflection. It definitely takes a lot of courage to really confront ourselves. I want to encourage you that there is freedom out there to be found. The body is a well oiled machine and needs adequate fuel to flourish. Eating issues are definitely hard, but the freedom of recovery is truly glorious. Feel free to email me if you want! But know that I am rooting for you. It is amazing how much food the body can process when it trusts itself to nourish it properly. Sending love and prayers your way❤️ thanks for stopping by xx

  12. So thankful for this! Yeah, I’m a guy, 32 years old, and has had an eating disorder as a result of a (too) successful weight loss from a low calorie diet in early 2014. I’m on a constant calorie deficit. 1500 calories and I work full time as a landscaper. My pulse clock showed that I burned over 4000 on a work day. My issused with bloating began when I reached 6.5% body fat. The bloating would come and go, but since November last year it has been constantly bloated. One problem that I’ve had ever since I started, was if I ate a normal size dinner portion, I would get bloated and constipated

    1. Hi Mats, thank you for sharing this. I’m sorry that this common link connects us. Yes, bloating is definitely a bane of existence in recovery, but eventually, it will pass with constant, adequate nourishment. Wishing you all the best on your recovery journey. You got this☺️ thanks for stopping by!

  13. “Since your body has been in a state of starvation during your eating disorder, it doesn’t trust you to nourish it”. I think that is true of those of us who struggle with anything – from joy to happiness to self-confidence. When one gets used to living in poverty of spirit, it can feel quite unnatural to have joy be our regular rhythm. I know for me, I have to “feed” myself constantly. The goal is – when in the future I have an off day – it’s because I am missing the constance of joy and not the other way around. I will pray be praying for you as you journey toward nurturing yourself spiritually, mentally and PHYSICALLY. You are worth it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Oh thank you so much Andrea! What a beautiful perspective! I’ve never bought of that before. How incredible. You’re so right. Thank you so much for the prayers. They mean so much. You will definitely be in my heart and prayers as well:) thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love to you friend!

  14. This post was very helpful but very hard for me to read because I’ve been in recovery for a little over a year now eating completely unrestricted and the bloat and constipation is just as bad as day one. So to read that for most people it only lasts a few weeks is extremely discouraging 🙁

    1. Hi friend! Oh I’m so sorry to hear that you’re still experiencing bloating. Keep fighting the good fight. Nourishing yourself is so important. Proud of you:) thanks for reading!

  15. Wow as someone who has suffered with an Ed, thank you for opening up and sharing your story. Thank you for your tips and tricks. You’re a beautiful person. I love reading about your faith.

  16. Thanks for sharing your experience with others. Lots of food for thought. No doubt that one must start at the source of the problem. And that is your inner Self. And as long as you are feeding yourself, the proper nutrition/thoughts, it will begin to show on the outside as well. Unfortunately we must reflect on the innermost mirror, in order to change the image in the mirror on the wall. And you are doing a great job, keep up the good work.

    Love your dedication, firstly to yourself, and the sharing of the experience with others. Giving strength to the weary, restoration to the broken hearted. Returning to the former glory. It’s as a cup of cold water, too ease the flame within. And a cool breeze from the blazing heat of the Noon Day Sun.

    1. Hi Day Sun, thank you for this beautiful reflection. Learning to love myself — who I am inside — has really been the ticket to my recovery. I appreciate your response and for taking the time to read! Hugs to you xox

    1. Thanks for your response, friend! Oh gosh, I’m so sorry that you’re dealing with bloating. Just stick with your plan. It will eventually get better. Hang in there love, I believe in you! ❤️❤️❤️

  17. You have a gift when it comes to explaining the mental as well as the physical and how they intertwine. In my opinion, a brilliant post.

  18. What an amazing and honest read! It takes a lot for most people to get to place where they can love their bodies again and feel comfortable in their own skin. I hope they read your blog and get comfort in that fact that it is possible.

    1. Thank you so much. That really means a lot:) loving my body has definitely been a journey. And though I’m not completely 100% there yet, I am in a far far better place than before. Thanks for reading. Hugs xox

  19. Spot on truth! It’s also a great reminder of some scary statistics for those of us further along in recovery. My digestive system is still prone to days where it simply doesn’t want to work. reason #104 to keep up with recovery. Thank you!

    1. Hello again friend! Thanks for this reflection. You’re right-so so so many reasons to stick with recovery! I appreciate you taking the time to read my stuff this morning☺️☺️☺️sending hugs!

  20. You write a lot of sense, and that will carry you through anything. You’re not just sitting back feeling sorry for yourself — you’re finding out WHY and HOW, and that puts you back in control.

  21. Marvelous post, I’m dealing with a colestomy bag over the next 6 months until another abdominal surgery puts my intestines back together and the issue of body image is massive. My family who loves me find it difficult to help with my care because looking at my stoma is gross. And I have the hardest time myself. My body looks mutilated and there’s an overwhelming urge to withdraw frim the world and wallow in self pity. I know I shouldn’t and I’m working at not doing this but it ain’t easy. Your post really helps with its positive attitude towards this period in your life

    1. Hey friend, thank you so much for sharing this. I’m sorry you’re going through that–I will definitely keep you in my prayers for quick healing. So glad you stopped by. Sending you big big hugs.

  22. Reblogged this on JB Group Fitness Blog and commented:
    At JB Group Fitness we like to ENJOY getting in shape through fun exercises. Although exercise is important, proper nutrition is a vital part of the equation. The blog post shared here is a beautifully written piece that has an excellent explanation of what the body goes through when we do not get the nutrients our body needs, and the difficulties that our body (and emotions) go through to recover from these circumstances. In order to perform at its best, our bodies need nourishment. Only with proper nourishment and love, can we move forward and reach for new goals.

    1. Very interesting and true. Our body also seeks a homiostates level. “What it is use to” being aware is half the battle and leading to except and enjoy yourself is key to development.

  23. Hey thank for the informative article, it’s really reassuring since I’m about two months into recovery and bloating and elephantine looking body has been bothering me so so so much every single day, until a point I even wish I have not started with my recovery. I’ve always been a tiny person even before I got stupidly anorexic. This stage has been more difficult than ever. Would you mind if I ask whether you have any idea how long the bloating will last and how long does it take to completely go away. I have been eating pretty well constantly despite some regretful thoughts on starting the recovery process. Your reply and help will be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    1. Hi Serena! Thanks for reaching out. First of all, I’m so happy for you that you’ve embraced recovery. That’s amazing. This is YOUR life and I’m cheering for you that you’ve reclaimed it! You know, it’s hard to say how long the bloating will last. Every body is different. For me, I think it took about 3 months 😬 I’m sorry it that’s not what you want to hear :/ but hang in there. You’re doing the right thing. I believe in you love. You’re a warrior and I couldn’t be more proud of you. What you’re doing is hard. You’re a freaking rock star xox

      1. Hi, thankyou for your super nice write up about the truth about bloating, of course here I was at google experiencing the bloat, I am at those early stages of recovery, on my own this time with supportive people around me and in my life. Seems to be working, not always smooth sailing. I am learning to love my real beauty instead of idolizing those bones. Thank you for your website, I am yet to explore more of your advice and speck with you sometime. I am 32 female from Nelson, New Zealand. Currently live in Picton NZ. My name is Amy.

      2. Hi Amy! Thank you so much for this response. I’m so glad you’ve embraced the freedom of recovery! So awesome. You’re a freakin warrior and deserve it☺️ yeah, the bloating phase is a thorn in your side during the recovery process but hang in there. It gets better! Sending so much love and hugs and prayers! Xoxooxx

  24. hank for the informative article, it’s really reassuring since I’m about two months into recovery and bloating and elephantine looking body has been bothering me so so so much every single day, until a point I even wish I have not started with my recovery. I’ve always been a tiny person even before I got stupidly anorexic. This stage has been more difficult than ever. Would you mind if I ask whether you have any idea how long the bloating will last and how long does it take to completely go away. I have been eating pretty well constantly despite some regretful thoughts on starting the recovery process. Your reply and help will be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

    1. Hi Serena! I’m sorry to just now be getting back to you! For whatever reason, WP filtered this into my spam folder!! But I’m so sorry you’re experiencing bloating. Hang in there. For me the bloating lasted several weeks. But with consistent and adequate caloric intake, the bloating does get better. I’m so proud of you for taking the steps to freedom. You’re a warrior and i believe in you. hugs and love xox

  25. Hi Amy, I just wanted to respond to your post. As a dietitian working with clients with disordered eating, I agree that bloating is really common. The bloating is caused by gas production by the bacteria in the colon (large intestine). When you have been severely restricting what you eat for a prolonged period of time, it affects the balance of the bacteria. When you start nourishing your body there are more gas producing bacteria which feed off some foods, causing the excess gas. There are a number of particular foods that can make the bloating worse. It is possible to reduce bloating by choosing particular foods, but obviously this needs to be done very carefully and cautiously with anyone in recovery. Sarah X

    1. Thanks for this insight Sarah! I appreciate you taking the time to respond 🙂 sending love and hugs! ((And my name is not actually Amy…😬😬 I’m staying anonymous, at least for now ☺️☺️☺️)) have w great day!! Xoxo

    2. Hi Sarah,

      I’m just recently into recovery again but the bloating is worse than ever. Do you have some suggestions of food to avoid or to eat more of to help? I know I shouldn’t “avoid” any certain foods, but just during the bloating phase?

      Thanks!

      Meghan

  26. Thanks for sharing. Very informative article, and it explainns where I almost found myself when I was losing weight because of anemia as a result of heavy menstruation. I started to recover with iron supplements and a diet to gain weight.

  27. Reblogged this on healthtidbits and commented:
    Although I have never had an eating disorder, I have however had bad body image before, and thought I was fat. So often we can become obsessive to the point of becoming ill. For those who are recovering, I found this piece incredibly beautiful in that it encourages people to love themselves and their bodies, and it gives valuable advise to those who were ill and are going through the recovery phase.

  28. This is a beautiful article. I want to encourage people to be as healthy as they can be and to love themselves. I have reblogged it on my blog as it not only helps those in recovery, but reminds all of us to love our bodies. I hope you don’t mind. Thank you for writing this 🙂

  29. This the truth. After years of on again off again recovery I still get bloated after a large meal but I know that tomorrow morning I’ll wake up and look like I did earlier today because you CANT get fat overnight. And besids your nutritionists pick a weight range so it is physically IMPOSSIBLE for you to get fat. Just keep on fighting.

  30. I’m thankful for the reminder that there are people out there with problems I’ve never even thought about. I have problems, but so do others. In my case, it’s depression. And to what is depression often linked? Self image. So, here’s what I’ve learned by reading your post: We all have problems, and they may all be different, but we are not THAT different. God bless you as you continue on the journey to full recovery.

    1. Hey Anthony! Thank you so much. You’re so right. We’re all in this together. No matter what our “thing” is, we all need encouragement and hope. Hugs and love xox

    1. Hi friend. Oh my gosh I’m so glad. It seriously brings my heart so much joy to know that this resonated with you and was a little bit of help. Stay strong warrior. Know that I believe in you and your strength and courage. And know that you’re in my thoughts and prayers. You can do this. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  31. I’ve been in recovery for bulimia and anorexia for 2 months now, and perhaps this article is the ONLY thing that reassured me that I am still normal, that all this bloating, indigestion and gas is normal and temporary. This is a beautiful article and I truly appreciate you writing it. You have no idea how much it means to us in recovery. I do however have some concerns if you don’t mind. Is bloating still normal even though I’ve been eating consistently for 2 months? Also, is it normal to ALWAYS be bloated, as in even when I first wake up in the morning? The bloat is just always there. I’ve not had a flat stomach for 2 months now which makes me go into a frenzy that it will constantly be there. I just want it to go away.

  32. I am enjoying reading your posts. Very commendable how you have explained the fears and how the body responds to being nurtured once again. You are a great example to others to follow and you were supported by God. God helps all to restore their lives. Blessings to you and all you help along the way.

  33. This is an excellent post. It so important for people to talk about their fears without feeling judged. You are helping a lot of people! Keep it up. And thank you for liking my post “Could it be Me?” I am new out at blogging so i appreciate the support. xoxo

  34. As one who has never had a problem with self-image*, I can still very much relate to this. It should be read by all, those afflicted and caregivers, and innocent bystanders.

    * I believe there’s only one opinion of me that matters … and that’s my own. (As defined by me, on my own terms, against my own standards. Think it’s easy? Take a look at my Gravatar—that’s actually an old passport photo …)

  35. I’m not exaggerating, I’ve been bloated for a over a week now and feeling pretty upset about it. In one of my psychology courses, my professor had said that when you’re stressed, your body thinks its in danger, so it holds on to all the calories it gets. She talked about how it was an evolutionary process that was meant to help us survive (so the purpose of anxiety was to save us in life/death situations, unfortunately that is not the case with most of us) and that meant that anything we ate would make us instantly fatter! That truth frightened me, but reading this article made me feel at such ease. Thank you thank you! It’s so nice to know that the way to get rid of me growing is to continue to eat well and healthy.
    Much love for this blog.

    1. Hi Fatimah, thank you so much for sharing this. I’m sorry that you’re experiencing bloating. I know how discouraging that can be. But you’re wh absolutely right-hang in there. Continuing to nourish yourself is the key to get through it. I believe in you love xox

  36. I started recovery5 months ago with my pcp he put me on a diet of5 small meals a day breakfast strawberry pop tartYes he let me keep the pop tart snack 3pieces of dried fruit lunch a big size dish of yogartfresh vanilla fresh fruit and granola snack fiber one 90calorie bar supper smaller portion of family dinner snack 12 plain almonds and 3pieces dried fruit then I do 25po laps I have gained 25 pounds all over but a large fat jelly belly I am 55 I was always 99pounds but pcp and me have agreed on 105,why am I gaining so much weight still I am desparate and did not want to relapse and even had desparate moments where I just want to cut it off HELP!!

    1. Hi Rebecca. Thank you for sharing this. I just want to encourage you to keep going. I know it is scary to get to the target range but there really is so much freedom and life to be had in recovery. I know the temptation to deviate from your dietitian’s meal plan, but just keep doing the next right thing. One meal at a time. You CAN do this. You CAN reclaim your life. You are worth it. I believe in you. Hugs and love xox

  37. Very good blog! I must say, I greatly appreciate coming on here and seeing what you have to say… as someone who has come through an eating disorder as well I must say: you are very insightful <3

  38. Hi, God bless you for your good works. I just wanted to know if it is normal to still have digestive problems 2 years into recovery. Thanks.

  39. You have such courage to have faced your affliction and worked your way through recovery. Keep it up! I recently read a wonderful book by shame researcher Brene Brown called “I Thought It Was Just Me” about women’s shame issues, a prominent one being body image. Her goal is to teach women (and men) to develop resilience to shame by having the courage to tell their story, having compassion for themselves, and connecting to empathetic listeners and friends. An excellent read that you might enjoy. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you so much for this encouraging note. I so appreciate your support and kindness. That sounds like an incredible book. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for passing it along. Hugs and love xox

  40. Great article – and so true! Having just finished a 21-day water fast a week ago, I’m going through that period of feeling bloated right now. Believe me, I don’t feel like eating because of the feeling of internal bloating – but I know I have to. One thing I’ve found which can help is to do gentle aerobic exercise like a little running. Physically it doesn’t feel particularly good, but it does help the nutrients to get out from the core of the body to nourish the muscles as well.

  41. Also check for food allergies that cause bloating!! This was the case with my sister-in-law who has recovered from an eating disorder.

  42. I’m starting to think that I might be in recovery too, although it’s not so easy to tell, because I was never anorexic or bulimic. But after my weight loss in 2009, I stopped mensurating, I’m always cold, and even though I eat almost everything I want, it’s been a slow process, but i still feel so guilty after words. Mentality, I haven’t fully recovered. I’m not exactly sure what I should do now. But I’m glad I came across this post and your blog!

    1. Hi Rafia, thank you for sharing this. Yes, there are so many different faces of ED that don’t necessarily fit into a definite category. I’m glad you’re journeying towards full recovery. Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to email me too:) Hugs and love xox

  43. Hi, Just a quick thank you as a regular reader of my postings

    Came across a quote (By Ralph Noyes) the other day that reminded me of you in particular, but also of all we other mortals who each have his/her own battles (perhaps wrong word?) to challenge them. Here it is: ‘ We are a haunted species. The spectres are among us. They continue to come. They rattle their chains. Yet it is ourselves who have chained them’.

    A good deal of truth in that quote.

    Keep on fighting! Break the chain. You are actually much stronger than you perhaps consider yourself to be.

    Warmest regards
    John

  44. Almost every night, especially in summer, I have this debate with myself before enjoying ice cream. Will it make my stomach stick out too much? Do I care? Will a prospective partner care? Should I care if she cares? Do I care if she’s plump? Do I need the fat in my body for health and maybe psychological reasons (dairy products are chemically calming)? And so it goes… 🙂

    1. Those are all viable questions. Being in dialogue is healthy. Hope you enjoyed that ice cream 🙂 and very interesting about the calming properties! Thanks for stopping by this morning and for your comments! Xx

  45. I think it’s wonderful that you’ve opened up a place to talk about body body image feelings. I don’t know why I didn’t stop by earlier. 🎆🌷

  46. Your posts really hit home with me. I was an anorexic long before I ever heard of Ed. When my middle child was 20 she also suffered with it. Even when I told her what she was doing to her body she ignored me. It took her collapsing at work and becoming unconsciense to realize she needed to do something. Just like a recovering alcoholic someone who has had an eating disorder will from time to time wonder “why did I eat that? ” I guess it comes with the territory but over time it will become less of a worry. I have found out for myself that I just try to eat healthy and avoid foods that make me bloat which a usually some of my favorite veggies. I stil eat them occazsionaly. I live in sweat pants and elastic but then I am 58 years old Keep doing what you are doing and I will keep reading.

    1. Hey again friend. I’m so sorry that Ed is the common denominator of our pasts, but I’m so glad that we’re both living in freedom now. You’re right-we’ve gotta just keep on keepin on ❤️ sending the biggest hugs xox

  47. Thank you for sharing this information with us in such an honest way!

    It’s been close to 30 years since I went into self recovery! (I was twenty pounds under weight.) I turned my inner self talk life around before I became pregnant and now my daughter is 29!

    I haven’t owned a scale in all those years! I still avoid owning one! That was the one thing which I obsessed over: the numbers, my weight!

    I learned to focus on healthy habits! I still try to keep that as my primary goal!

    Sending love out to everyone who is struggling! You are worthy! You are stronger than you know! You deserve to be healthy!

    Peace, Tamara

  48. You have a great blog. Thank you for writing it. I can see that it’s helpful for many people. I believe it comes down to loving your body. It’s too fat, it’s too thin, it’s not attractive enough, it doesn’t work right, etc. Will it serve you better if you reject it? Love God and love your body.

  49. Great post, my friend, Remember …
    “And the Lord shall guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and make fat your bones: and you shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” – Isaiah 58:11

    “The light of the eyes rejoices the heart: and a good report makes the bones fat.”
    – Proverbs 15:30

    Your friend,
    Prince Handley
    http://www.realmiracles.org
    Twitter/princehandley
    http://www.hmpodcast.wordpress.com

  50. Thank you for liking my post and thank you for being so courageous and sharing these awesome posts, we all need to lift the mask on the reality of what we feel and experience so that people know they are not alone.You are awesome 🙂

  51. Encouraging post, I pray it helps those who struggle with an eating disorder, I can’t imagine what they go through. It’s awesome to see your testimony on this.

  52. Thanks so much for this- i am currently struggling so so badly with my bulimia bloat and feel like a fat whale. I am hating that it makes me feel so fat and uncomfortable and this really helps <3

    1. Hi Emily, I’m sorry you’re dealing with that right now. Know that I am cheering for you in your recovery. It is so worth it. Hang in there, beautiful. It gets better! Hugs and love xox

  53. Thanks for liking my blog post. Our daughter had an eating disorder in 8th grade. She’s doing fine now, helping other people as a nurse at a major hospital. You’ll do fine, too!

  54. I never had an ED, however, I have dealt with issues from PTSD/abuse issues. The darkest before it’s light is consistent with what I went through too. The closest I’ve ever come to losing the fight against all the behaviors/patterns came at the very end. The defenses, my old “truth” was what I knew and had protected me lo these many years. And they were screaming at me not to hold onto the change, it was harmful. That was possibly the toughest piece of my fight, because it would have been really easy to just let go of the new truth. Great post, thanks for writing it!!!

    1. I have dealt with chronic PTSD and there was a time when I was in the skin and bones category. Not because of ED, but usually it was a reflection of what I was battling with deep down inside. I can totally understand what you are saying. I love how you use the term “old truth”!

  55. Thank you so much for writing this. Your supportive words and even your experiences and tips are so helpful. I am finally facing my Bulimia head on and entering recovery for the first time. I can’t afford treatment so am doing this on my own and of course freaked out when I started bloating when not engaging in my usual ED behaviours. I’m so glad that I found this, and I’m so glad that it’s so normal. Thank you again for having the bravery to be so open with your story, it will help so many and makes me feel not so alone through this hard journey.

    1. Thank you for this kind note. I’m so glad this resonated with you. Know that I’m cheering you on as your journey towards full recovery! So happy and excited for you that you chose freedom! Woo! Rock on Amy! You got this! Xoxo

  56. This is a really good post, thanks. I take aloe vera gel to reduce bloating and it really helps my other digestive and anxiety issues too. I’ve got a couple of customers who have found it really helps them get through their ED recovery stage, and have heard some amazing success. Would be nice to know if others have found the same with drinking aloe vera gel too.

    1. Thank you for this question. I am not afraid of either, per se. The bloating is just troublesome to people with body dysmorphia, trying to recover from a life threatening eating disorder. It makes the recovery process difficult from a mental standpoint:)

  57. It’s really reassuring to read this and know that other people experience and have experienced it. Because of my body being in starvation mode for 6 years during my teens and the way my treatment worked, my digestive system is taking literally years to recover. Despite generally eating well for the past 4 years I still suffer a lot with bloating and abdominal distension. It is a total nightmare in terms of body dysmorphia as it just confirms everything I fear, but knowing other people also experience it makes me feel less alone. Thank you for writing this – I wish someone had written those coping strategies when I first started experiencing it!!
    Often people forget that some of the really tough times come when recovering from any illness, EDs included, and I think the way the body can respond to refeeding is a perfect example of this. If you are someone who is supporting someone trying to recover from an ED, don’t forget that although things may seem to be improving on the outside and that is great, the person may be struggling with less obvious aspects of recovery like bloating and the conflict between ED urges and the healthy steps to take. Recovery is complex but worth the effort. I am now in a long-term relationship and I’m independent, and I would never have been able to be when I was in the throes of my anorexia.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m so glad that you’ve found the freedom of recovery. You’re so so right-recovery IS worth it. Know that I’m cheering for you. Sending massive hugs xox

  58. continue the connection to your soul – it is far more than skin and bones. In my youth I was thin, but had an emotionally abusive husband and needed to be perfect. As I have aged, time caught up with all the eating issues and I am now a normal older woman (pudgy for me lol) but I know it is right. Keep up the positive!

  59. Honestly I really needed to read this! I’m 14 and In my second week of recovery and eating full meals- and my stomach is the size of a whale! I really hope it goes away and I can focus more on this recovery. (It definetly is temporary isn’t it..? Xx)

    1. Thanks Holly. So glad it resonated with you. Definitely temporary! I’m cheering you on in your recovery! You picked life and freedom and that’s so awesome:) stay strong, warrior ❤️ big hugs xox

  60. This is quite beautiful, like its author. You are certainly recovering substantially. Impressive. Thank you for sharing so much.

    1. Hi Micki! Oh no! I’m sorry you’re bloated right now. That’s the worst. But hang in there. It does get better!! Cheering you on in your recovery! Woo!! Hugs and love xox

  61. Hi – I saw you liked something I wrote and it led me to your site. This will probably sound random (and I’ve read some of your more recent work) but my favorite part about this piece your wrote on bloating in recovery is when you call your audience “sweet girl.” I like to collect kind terms to call people, things that try to pack in as much love as they can, and that read like one of the kindest terms I’ve ever heard for people in pain. I love it!

    1. Thank you so much! Yeah I remember I was called sweet girl by my older brother. He is one of my best friends and I had that same reaction to it. So loving and full of compassion and care. Glad you liked it too. Hugs and love xox

  62. Bloating is such an emotional thing especially with dysmorphia. It tricks your mind into thinking, “Oh my heck, I am legitimately fat. It’s never going to go away.” What’s going on inside your body and how you’re feeling in the stomach/intestine region has the power to completely change what you see visibly–even more difficult is bloating often does show outwardly so you now have that reinforcement of the “I feel fat” thought. So hard to realize you have to ride the wave and that it will go down.

    1. Thank you for this Kristina. You’re so right-it presents so many mental obstacles. It’s so important to separate the truth from the lies the dysmorphic brain tries to make us believe. Big hugs to you friend xox

  63. First, thanks for liking my posts!
    It really gives me the encouragement to keep writing, since I am just getting started.
    This post was very eye opening, and I learned a great deal from it. I will be sending warm wishes your way, and cheering you on! Stay on track, keep working your plan…you are very dear to me. – Cat

  64. it was great reading your straight-forward and honest assessment of the “bloating”, as you call, in ED recovery. I’ve seen the bloating pull some of my friends back into an abyss. but I think if we’re prepared for it and are expecting it, it’s a little easier to handle.

    thanks for a great post.

      1. Hello, could you please let me know if this is the case for men also? I have been gaining weight slowly, I was 46kg in December 2015 and am only around 52kg at this current time.

        My stomach area seems to swell up or bloat as you’ve put and I was wondering if it will fill out as you’ve mentioned in this post. I haven’t been to any doctors or hospitals, my recovery has been provided by my self and I feel it’s working out alright.

        Though I’m not sure if my progress is too slow or if my body will recover the same way as women do based on the information you provided here.

        Sorry for the long post and thank you : )

      2. Hi James, I’m sorry you’re also going through this. Yes, I do believe this is the same for men too. Hang in there. Cheering for you in your recovery 🙂 big hugs xox

      3. Wanted to reply to your Like. Thank you. Forgive me if I cannot fully understand everything you write about, I can appreciate almost all suffering but I have so much trouble understanding eating disorder. I can see why…well you know, I think. Of course, I spent the last twenty years trying to kill myself as slowly as possible and then tried a little harder. Thank you for what you are doing and all who can see that, yes in fact, there is a door leading out of this and believe it or not, it’s not locked. Thank you, daniel.

        On Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 7:46 AM, BeautyBeyondBones wrote:

        > beautybeyondbones commented: “Hi James, I’m sorry you’re also going > through this. Yes, I do believe this is the same for men too. Hang in > there. Cheering for you in your recovery 🙂 big hugs xox ” >

  65. It’s crazy to me that doctors and “experts” never tell us that eating too little can lead to weight gain and bloating. My MIL had gut issues and couldn’t eat much, yet she struggled with keeping a healthy weight. She wasn’t underweight as many would think she should be, she was quite the opposite. She went to several doctors and only one told her “eat more, your body is fighting starvation by holding on to all the fat you eat.” She got her gut fixed (gall bladder), started eating normal quantities, and her weight stabilized.

    1. wow, that’s pretty incredible. I’m glad your MIL is doing better now! Yeah, the body’s relationship with food is pretty finicky when we venture into the too-much or too-little categories! thanks for stopping by! hugs xox

  66. This made me want to cry with hope while reading this. I am struggling with intensive bloating at the moment and hanging on by a hair to keep going. Thank you for the bit of hope.

  67. Have you ever seen the bloated bellies of starving children in Africa? Starvation does bad things to your body. That is why it eventually leads to death. If you become addicted to thinness you will keep “using” more and more thinness until it kills you. This is a strange addiction as the pleasure does not come from taking a substance into your body but rather by keeping a substance (food) out of your body. This addiction to thinness and to control is as difficult to overcome and as deadly as heroin addiction. But if you put every bit of yourself into the fight, if you choose life over death, if you climb this mountain, then the view from the top will be beautiful. Use every tool you can lay your mind on to fight this. Prayer, spiritual growth, physicians, medications, support groups, friends, loved ones all can contribute to your recovery. Do not hesitate to use them all. You are literally fighting for your life. Perhaps you may one day find that God does not care if you are thin or not. He cares about you, not how you look and it is much more important to please God than man. He wants you to be healthy. Jesus is often called “the Great Physician” because He heals body, mind and soul. Grab the hem of His robe and hold on. He will love you through this. He will help you ignore the voice of Satan that tells you you are fat, you are not pretty, you are not good enough, you are out of control. Listen to the voice of Jesus when He tells you that He, the God of the universe, loves you. That love is more important than any reward you can ever find in the mirror or from man.

    1. This is so true and so beautiful. God knows how much we suffer with EDs. When we can no longer carry our cross, he will give us the strength to let it go and heal us forever. xxxxxx

  68. This was reeeaaallly helpful! thank you for your transparency and your willingness to share details such as these!

  69. What you are doing is both courageous and inspiring. I don’t believe in coincidences. God knows exactly what you need and when you need it. I have been in recovery for decades but, I still struggle with body image. Lately more than usual. It is my thorn in the flesh. I have to choose not to give into those hurtful thoughts and keep pressing forward and become all that God planned me to be. I look forward to reading your posts and joining you in you journey.

  70. What an incredibly sane column on such an insane disease. Eating disorders are something I have never had a particular reference to until I quit drinking. At the point I was in my alcoholism, I was eating maybe, 4-5 meals a week and surviving most on the calories of booze while defeating hunger with cigarettes. Shortly before entering treatment, I quit smoking. A year or so after my last drink, I began eating, not a lot, but all the wrong things. Then I started gaining weight. THEN I started freaking out. Now, I am trying to be as rational and proactive as I can. See a doctor, watch what I’m doing, hang with supportive people (you’d be surprised, tho probably not, by the number of well meaning people who just can’t help themselves when it comes to pointing out the issues another may be suffering), set goals, routines, celebrate little victories, and so on. Still. I have a new respect for anyone who was suffering but is now taking back theirselves. Thanks.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing part of your story. Oh gosh, I feel you there with the well meaning people. Me too. Reclaiming ones life is deserving of a victory dance! Thanks for stopping by and for your encouragement. Hugs and love xox

  71. Check out my latest Blog ‘No Mirrors at 55″…I think you’ll find it refreshing that I came to terms with physicality…the space that I take up with this body of mine…..Thanks for sharing.

  72. You have found your inner strength. That loving core of self. As T.S. Eliot once wrote: “We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” So stay the coarse, it is guiding you on to an amazing path.
    Namaste.
    Lynn

    1. oh gosh, thank you so much Lynn. I am so grateful your encouragement. You’re right – gotta just stay the course and trust and have patience:) Thanks for stopping by! hugs xox

      1. Food. It does a body good. If I can be of any assistance on your wellness journey, don’t hesitate to reach out.

  73. Hello I am 15 years old in recovery I been eating more and going to therapy but I been so bloated even after eating a small meal when will it go away ? I just want to be a normal teen

    1. Hi Emily, oh gosh sweet girl, I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. Hang in there. You’ve chosen freedom and chosen recovery and that is something to be celebrated! You’re on your way! I know this time is rough when your body is readjusting, but keepdoing the next right thing and nourishing with constant goodness. Everything is going to even out beautifully and in all the right places 🙂 in the meantime, just embrace life and all the “normalness” it has to offer. You’re a warrior. And your courage is inspiring! Love you! Xox

  74. I really appreciate this post. During my recovery (last two years), I managed to gain 10kg and size out of all the trousers in my closet. This was quite a dramatic increase in my weight and all throughout my recovery I was worried about how I looked and that I was getting fat. It really was my body readjusting from underweight to normal weight when I started eating healthily, but it is difficult to accept the weight gain. I am now finally starting to accept my new look as the healthy me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Hi friend, thank you for sharing your journey. yeah, that aspect of recovery is hard…really hard, not going to sugar coat it. But slowly, like you’re seeing now, you will come to realize just how truly sick – as in ill – we looked in our disease, and how beautiful a healthy body is. For me, it really helped to realize that when i was in my disease, my appearance actually repelled people and pushed them away — because it was scary. And it made people uncomfortable. Becoming healthy and at a healthy weight, i realized that people became at ease around me, and the more I got my life back and was focusing on goals and school and friends and being social, those lingering things became less and less. i had to look at myself as a whole person — spiritually, socially, mentally, and yes-physically — but the more i viewed myself as more than just my reflection, the easier it got. but you’re so right, that transition phase is hard. and my biggest piece of advice…those old trousers that (are tiny and not meant to be worn by a thriving, gorgeous and healthy woman) **throw them away!** Because if I saw them, i would honestly long to be that size and get in an unhealthy mind set. So my advice, is to get that shiz outta here! 🙂 Shopping was hard for a while, but find a supportive friend or your mom – someone who makes you feel like a rockstar – and go, and just remember that you’re healthy and gorgeous and that there is no “right or wrong” size of pants. 🙂 Sorry to be rambly, i hope this wasn’t too much. but i just feel for you. what oyu’re going through is really hard, and i just want to cheer you on because you’ve chosen life and you’re embracing recovery and that is just so freaking awesome! you’re a rockstar in my book!! 😉 big hugs to you xoxo

  75. This is so helpful. I didn’t get any professional advice about this for years, and I thought it was ‘just me’. Just like every other body-dysmorphic lie: ‘you are uniquely burdened by shame’. Thank you for this space for lots of people to take heart for the journey. God bless. x

  76. Thank you for sharing about this. So much of this is just unknown to the public and advocates like you are so important. I’ve struggled with addiction and I know the awfulness of it all. Being vulnerable makes you such a role model.

  77. Great post. although I don’t have an ED I have a few other mental health disorders( BP1 & PTSD) this helped me to understand what the body does for some of my friends who do suffer with the illness. Hang in there it seems u are on the right track.

  78. I feel like these tips are true for being pregnancy too! 🙂 I am just now in my second trimester. I have not ready gained much weight at all but my abdominal area looks different like everything is a bit moved up and out. I am definitely wearing loose clothing. 🙂

    1. haha oh my gosh that’s funny! and wow congratulations! that’s so exciting 🙂 🙂 Hang in there! Exciting things are about to happen 🙂 big hugs xox

  79. Thanks for your article. It’s a great stand of faith on your part to give God the Glory in all things, even restoration after a hospital stay. I’m not a young girl. I’m a fat old bald white guy from Minnesota with serious heart problems, so I too had to recover from a recent hospital stay. It’s a tough thing to have ‘episodes’ where one might not trust the outcome, but I’m here to praise our Lord and give Him the Glory.