Persistent brain changes seen in former anorexics

It continues to distress me that people think the brain doesn't need food, or a minimal amount will do, or that you can just opt out of certain foods or nutrient groups and your brain will make do.

It doesn't.

It is still unclear how much of an eating disorder precedes and how much is the result of restrictive eating, but this is clear: the brain is horribly damaged by malnutrition and erratic nutrition. Purging and restricting and bingeing do damage to the function and learning and structure of the brain. And you don't have to be "underweight" on some chart or visibly unwell. Anyone who is working to stay at or avoid a level of nutrition that the body resists is at risk.

Brain damage is invisible, but: persistent brain changes seen in former anorexics IS visible in behaviors and thoughts that perpetuate the illness and make for a miserable life. We should have a zero tolerance attitude about malnutrition.


  1. And that's why I find the carrot cupcakes so timely and sincerely in need of passing around the table! Lots of leftovers in case anyone is interested :)

    Hola Laura-- missed you and hope you and the family had a wonderful summer! Hopefully will be getting back into the swing of things as the school term starts.

    Luv- Tracey

  2. Tracey,

    Welcome back to the blogosphere!

  3. I devour your blog(and Harriet's). Is there anything you have written that talks about how anorexia is not some whim or a random choice?
    I'm anorexic and I've upped my calorie intake from 50 calories to 1200 calories. My weight had plummeted to 31 kg, but is up to 45kg now( I'm 5.7). I still get tired rather easily, so i can only work in areas close to home. Which has been disastrous for my employment prospects. My parents yell at me to increase my intake to 1800 and how it's in my hands. How do I explain to them that it isnt?

  4. Not to be self-promoting, but I think my book represents my answer to your first question. That plus all the research of the past 5 years among scientists really examining this illness.

    I am SO VERY GLAD you are pursuing recovery. It isn't something one should do alone - and family support is critical. I would be glad to talk/correspond with your parents. Most families really WANT to help, but they've been told they cannot or should not. I can help!!

    The number of calories you need is a medical decision - not yours or your parents'. You need competent ED clinicians to help you with that, and to help your loved ones help YOU.

  5. Interesting. Wonder what my brain is looking like these days.


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