I counsel clients individually to help them determine the best course of action to achieve a successful recovery from their eating disorder. Often times the subject of whether or not the client should weigh themselves comes up.
Choosing whether or not to self-weigh while you are in recovery, or working towards recovery from your eating disorder, is a very personal decision. As a dietitian, I weigh almost all of my clients as it provides anthropometric data for my ongoing nutritional interventions. This weigh-in is done blind; meaning I see the weight but my client does not. Most people – when they are being really honest – find it is best not to self-weigh. I, as a dietitian, like to support the case here for getting rid of that eating disorder tool: your scale.
Eating disorder recovery from a physical and psychological perspective can feel like an immeasurable process at times. Progress is not always linear, and can involve subjective benchmarks such as being able to engage in dinner conversation while eating, or eating appropriately at Thanksgiving dinner, which may have been intolerable in the past.
Many of my clients are looking for some evidence of progress, wanting to understand where they are in the process. Thy are looking for something to grasp onto – something finite, something certain! Eating disorders tend to love certainty, and for some people the purpose of eating disorder behaviors is actually creating an illusion of certainty and control.
Weighing yourself on a scale produces a number – what could be more “exact” than that? It answers, “How am I doing?” and for many may reinforce the old voices of their eating disorder. In reality, weight fluctuates greatly on a daily basis. Our bodies are made up of 60% water so it makes sense fluid shifts would cause a change on the scale. Our eating disorders will see this as “up one day, “down the next day” and we may have a response on what we should be eating to “control” that number.
Knowing your weight can also be an emotional trigger as it may remind you of past experiences in your eating disorder – times of relapse, a traumatic experience, etc. The message is usually the same though; lower equals better. Most of us can logically realize that our eating disorders never find the number to be low enough, and never feel satisfied. In the recovery process, it is difficult enough follow a meal plan, while rejecting old thoughts and behaviors – so why create more challenges for yourself?
Weight is central in eating disorder recovery, and by eating normally over time your body reaches a biologically appropriate weight, NOT the other way around. Attempting to control weight is often one the beginning stages of an eating disorder. Support yourself by having a trusted medical professional weigh you in recovery, and continue to work towards trusting your body – it won’t let you down!