Getting people with anorexia to gain weight and eat more is the number one thing in helping them get better. Increasing weight for anorexics improves their health and helps them think clearly. There is a strong connection in anorexia between weight and thoughts: the lower the weight goes their thoughts get vaguer about their body image and the whole of reality.
Many sufferers can't actually accept that they are ill until they put on a certain amount of weight; this extra weight gives their brain the ability to think more rationally.
So, how do we go about putting weight on anorexics?
For dangerously underweight people if you start to give them lots of food it can make them extremely sick. The risk is especially enhanced if the anorexic has been fed through a feeding tube.
This problem can be treated with injections of minerals and other substances they need for basic survival. This can be done in a hospital but is only recommended in extreme weight loss cases.
In the cases where a feeding tube is not been involved it is recommended to increase the amount of food the anorexic eats slowly, over time. It would increase something like from 100 to 300 grams of food a day (depends on the tolerance of the person).
It can be hard for people who have been starving themselves to just start eating again. That's why anorexics will need home counseling and support at the same time they start to change and all the time they are gaining weight.
It is recommended to gain between 0.5 and 1.0 kg (1 or 2 pounds) a week until the person's body mass index (BMI) returns to 18.5-19.
To gain this amount of weight, they will need to eat between 2,200 and 2,500 calories every day. That's not a lot of food. It's only about what a healthy adult eats every day, on average. But anorexics may start eating much less than this and slowly work up the amount until they feel comfortable with it.
Taking multivitamins and minerals is a great help in maintaining body biochemistry balance throughout all recovery stages.
In the early stages of gaining weight sufferers do need close monitoring of their weight to avoid significant weight fluctuations which can be dangerous for the heart and brain function that is why a home treatment method is essential.
After the body mass index (BMI) stabilizes and remains constant for a few months, monitoring is unnecessary and the person has been taught to live without focusing on counting calories and looking at the labels on the back of packages.
To conclude, gaining weight for the anorexic sufferer is a mandatory step to their recovery. It has to be done in a gentle non-forceful way, with lots of family support and help.
This also means that family education about the problem is as important as the education of a person suffering from anorexia especially in the early stages.
Dr Irina Webster MD is the Director of Women Health Issues Program which covers different areas of Women Health. She is a recognised athority in the eating disorders area. She is an author of many books and a public speaker. learn more about eating disorders at www.mom-please-help.com