Do you think all weight loss is good and all weight gain is bad? Are you afraid of your body changing in treatment? How can you let go of these limiting beliefs that are holding you back from fully letting go of your ED and recovering? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about whether the fear of weight gain is keeping you from seeking treatment with Natalie Rose.


Natalie Rose is a Registered Psychotherapist, based in Toronto, Canada, who specializes in the treatment of disordered eating and eating disorders. She works primarily with adults using a biopsychosocial approach to address emotion regulation, disordered eating, chronic dieting, negative body image, self-esteem, and eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and orthorexia.

Visit Natalie's website and connect on Instagram and TikTok.

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  • Fearing weight gain impacts treatment
  • How to educate clients - and yourself
  • Address black-and-white thinking
  • Being okay with not knowing

Fearing weight gain impacts treatment

People who struggle with eating disorders can develop it from a wide range of triggers; past trauma, using it as a coping mechanism, getting sucked into diet culture, and many others. What is a commonality amongst these groups is a general fear of weight-gain, and a fear of the body changing. So, if your objective is to try to be thinner - no matter what, and for whatever reason - going through treatment where weight gain is a sign of progress (and recovery) can seem like the very last option. However, it often is the only and best way to recover and completely get rid of ED.
It’s really tough because we’re conditioned to fear weight gain, right? Even growing up I would hear messages like, “You don’t want to eat that. You don’t want to get fat” … Not to mention TV and movies, so it makes sense why people are afraid of weight gain … [So] it’s really important to start educating clients on where those fears come from. (Natalie Rose)
These societal fears are just that - societal. They are not inherently good just because everyone believes them. This is one of the challenges in overcoming an eating disorder, which is to address harmful beliefs that you have picked up from a society that is stuck in destructive cycles.

How to educate clients - and yourself

One of the first things that a person who fears weight gain needs to learn is that diet culture exists and that it is because of the diet culture industry, which is worth billions of dollars. The industry functions on breaking down your self-esteem and confidence so that you will be more susceptible to buying their products, services, medications, and so forth. It makes you think that you are never enough so you will always purchase from them. In essence, they manufacture a problem so that they can then sell you the solution.
It profits off of creating this fear and shame in us … If they can convince us that there’s something wrong with our weight, or that there is something to be feared and that we need to protect ourselves from by going on a diet or buying supplements … Then they’re making money and we’re losing, and because dieting never works in the long-term, ultimately we regain the weight and that has been proven. (Natalie Rose)
Additionally, you have to understand that diets are proven to fail in the long run. They give you quick results so that you believe it is “working” but it doesn’t last for long, and the weight you lost returns. So, you try a new diet, and the cycle repeats itself, and it sets you up for a vicious cycle where your health diminishes and they get richer.

Address black-and-white thinking

If you are stuck believing the blanket statement that “weight gain is bad” and “weight loss is good”, you have black-and-white thinking, and it’s going to keep you stuck for the rest of your life if you don’t change it. When you think and act in absolutes, you end up struggling a lot more, since you don’t allow yourself any nuance, compassion, or leeway for change. Either you win or you fail, and that stance is not always helpful.
Has [that weight loss] always been good? Because I know that I’ve lost weight from grief, illness … I’ve been at my lowest weight when I was suffering from severe depression. Just like the way that not all weight loss is good, not all weight gain is bad. (Natalie Rose)
Where is the gray area that you can find? Sometimes we need to gain weight to restore our period, to support our muscle growth, or to help our body recover from ED.

Being okay with not knowing

Another reason why some people may be afraid of going into treatment or of their body changing is because they feel fear of the unknown. Your eating disorder has given you a false sense of control over your body and reality, but you have never actually or fully been in control. Life happens, and that is okay. It is okay to be afraid of the unknown, and therefore change, but that is the way forward. You will be much better off by letting yourself meet the future with compassion and bravery instead of fear and nervousness. Build coping mechanisms that you can lean on that support you in positive ways, and a community to be part of. Remember that you can always choose your response to life, even when the circumstances are outside of your control.
With the fear of weight gain comes uncertainty, and not knowing is scary enough to keep them stuck in the same patterns, the same cycles … Know that you don’t have to have all the answers, and it will be okay. (Natalie Rose)



  I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "Hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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