1. Learn How to Eat Again
Start eating again. Work with a nutritionist, doctor or counselor to develop a plan for putting weight back on. The process may be rocky at first, but you and your health care professional can develop a plan for healthy eating for the rest of your life. While some people recover quickly, many patients take years to relearn how to eat and take care of their bodies. Be patient.
2. Get the Emotional Support You Need
Work with a counselor to treat emotional, social and cultural factors that contribute to poor body image. Expect to visit your counselor as many as three times a week during the initial treatment stage. Join a support group and talk to other anorexic patients about what side effects to expect during the recovery process.
Treat emotional factors such as depression and anxiety with medication. Medication is not for everyone, but for some patients selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may help in recovery. Anti-anxiety medications may provide some short-term relief from feelings of panic, especially during the initial weight-gaining phase. Patients who purge should be closely monitored for up to 2 hours after they eat so that medications are not diluted or expelled from the body.
3. Replace Vital Fluids
Replace lost electrolytes. Anorexic patients deplete calcium, potassium and magnesium levels when they starve themselves. Some sports drinks may provide healthy electrolytes, but it’s important to read the label. Stay away from sugary drinks and caffeinated drinks because they may spike blood sugar levels and produce unwanted anxiety. Severely dehydrated patients may need medical attention to replenish vital fluids.
4. Get Your Appetite Back
Address loss of appetite by adding a daily dose of zinc and vitamin B1 to the diet. Extreme dieting leads to a depletion of these elements, which are not produced naturally by the body. Depleted stores of B1 and zinc reduce the appetite and make it difficult for a person to discern different tastes. Adding zinc and B1 may increase appetite and enhance weight-gaining efforts. If you’re taking zinc for an extended period of time, speak with your doctor about copper deficiency, which may be a side effect of zinc intake.