A psychologist for gaining weight?

Is there such a thing as someone who would help you with the psychological aspects of gaining weight or other things related to food? I don't have an eating disorder but I do get very bad anxiety at times and trying to regain weight back to a healthy level (lost after a lot of stressors I couldn't cope with, losing both parents in 7 months, food sensitivities, etc) is actually very difficult. There's also not a lot of support groups for that kind of thing.

For example, many foods were just making me ill before. Now, even if I eat something and don't feel ill after a few hours I'm nervous until at least 12 hours have gone by. I have to try very hard to reach enough calories. I'm slowly regaining an appetite but I have to track everything and basically cook/prep food all day to achieve this. I wish I had someone I could talk to specifically about this. It feels pretty lonely. I found one or 2 groups about needing to gain weight but even there it is not very active. (Though it was comforting to read similar experiences with feeling like 2000+ calories is beyond what you desire to eat).

I could see a regular psychologist but don't know if they would get bored hearing about my diet. A nutritionist would be great but they don't really need or have time to focus on psychology. I mean that is not their job. And I don't have an eating disorder.

I'm okay with it if nothing else is going on but as soon as there's any additional stressor I feel like I might start losing weight again. I also have quite bad PTSD from life events.


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    edited November 2020

    Well, I'm going through some stressful times that are totally out of my control. Plus, PTSD since military in the 70s. I'm eating more, not logging, not exercising, eating more junk. I've gained three pounds in three weeks, all fat.

    If I can't control events, what can I control? Myself? Yep, I can control myself: what I eat, exercise, think, do; I can control the outcome of my feelings.

    I bought a bunch of gym equipment and set up a mini-gym in the spare bedroom where my motorcycle used to live. It moved to my shop downtown; no worries, it'll be fine.

    I logged my first full day in weeks and rode 20 miles in two days on my bicycle. Worked out yesterday taking it easy because its been months.

    In other words, it's all on me to take care of me.

    Hey, thanks for posting that. I came on to look for that very topic.

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    Hi Older,
    You are right about the fact that we can take control of the things to do with our own selves. Your post is very inspiring and helpful. Well done on the 20 miles and gym work! Glad your motorcycle is doing well also. c: It seems like you've got a lot to cope with and more stressors added on can feel so exhausting, but you make me see that we just keep plugging away at the things that will make us stronger. It is down to us to take care of ourselves, no matter what. I agree. Okay if we slide a bit at times but to keep plowing on, try our hardest is all we can do. The rest is up to the heavens. (That's my new philosophy anyway.)

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    Kudos for you for asking this question! I actually do work in the field of eating disorders so am very familiar with the role psychologists can play in helping re-establish a healthy relationship with food.

    Depending where you are located, you may want to search for a psychologist specialized in: a) health anxiety (related to your feelings over overwhelm) or b) atypical eating disorders.

    While I'm not qualified to provide an eating disorder diagnosis, it's possible that you may be struggling with ARFID (avoidant restrictive food intake disorder). This often manifests as difficulty with food intake secondary to another condition (that causes food related anxiety).

    I'd also consider working with a dietitian, alongside the psychologist, who could help create a meal plan that improves your intake while managing the side effects.

    It's also very common to experience symptoms of early fullness, bloating, and lower GI discomfort as you increase your food intake. Peppermint tea and a hot water bottle on the stomach could help with this.

    Best of luck!

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

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    edited December 2020

    Hi @Susan_RD_101 Thanks so much for all that info! I had never considered I could have a different kind of disorder related to food but I’ll definitely look into those conditions you listed. It all started with stress (and bullying) in the first place. I was always pretty relaxed before. Also having the terminology you’ve listed will be very helpful if I want to find someone who would have understanding about food related anxiety.

    Having someone understanding more specifically about food and physical health is a possibility too. Though I feel I’ve become pretty educated about it myself! 😌 Cronometer is my go to place for logging and keeping track. I love it. 💕💖

    Still having someone who understands food/nutrition that I could work with, brainstorm with and who won’t roll their eyes at me every time I mention butternut squash, calorie intake, selenium, etc, etc, would be refreshing. (I’ve mostly stopped talking about it to people around me but it adds to feeling isolated). It could give me new ideas and structure. It might even help me relax more about it just because of people being supportive, encouraging, and informative. I would prefer this part of my life become a more matter of fact, less emotional thing.

    Thanks so much! I’ll definitely consider these ideas.

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    @butterfly You are insightful and have received some perceptive advice. You have experienced some difficult challenges, so just a reminder to treat yourself with kindness and surround yourself with supportive people. Wishing you all the best, knowing that you are strong and capable of overcoming this temporary challenge.

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    @UnaAnderson Thanks so much! I'll check that out today. I'm still on my journey and appreciate your sharing your thoughts, experience and the link for the paper. I'm super happy you found something that worked for you, including this site. I'm realizing having support is key, in addition to knowledge. I'll definitely look at that paper~thanks again so much!
    Wishing you all the best. Hugs! <3

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