It’s difficult understanding someone’s eating disorder if you’ve never experienced any similar feelings before. The number one thing to remember, is to acknowledge and appreciate the fact that they’ve told you. Although it may be putting a lot of pressure on you to understand, it’s tough enough for someone with an eating disorder to even admit it to themselves, never mind to anyone else! So really realise how trusted you must mean to this person, and treasure the fact that they’re reaching out for help.
So, although everyone’s different, here are some tips that helped me in my situation:
1. Don’t tell the person to stop worrying about calories, or to “give it a rest”.
Although it might seem simple to you to just forget about it and let your hair down for a night or two, it really isn’t that simple. An eating disorder isn’t just a concern of how much you weigh, it’s constant anxiety over the amount of calories that you’re consuming and how many you are burning. Of course, it’s difficult to imagine if you haven’t had the same problem before, so try comparing it to money (for instance). The reason I’m choosing money, is because money is a very important and a precious factor in our community (unfortunately); am I correct to say that you have the tendency to worry from day to day about how much you’re spending and how much money you have left in your wallet? Perhaps you’re worrying about whether you’ve spent too much and now you won’t be able to afford something that you’ve been specifically saving up for? Well, that’s pretty much the same with calories. You wouldn’t just splurge out and spend it all on cars and clothing for the sake of it, would you? So imagine what it’s like to have someone constantly telling you “Go on, give yourself a break. Eat this and that…etc.” Of course, I know that people mean no harm whatsoever when they say this, but please take it into consideration.
2. Don’t stress yourself out.
I understand how difficult it is to see a loved one in so much pain over something quite simple, but it’s no help by stressing yourself out over it. It really breaks my heart when I see my Mother upset because of my disorder. It discourages me from opening up to her, simply because I don’t want to, and really don’t mean to hurt her. Stressing yourself out really won’t help. It’s a complex situation as it is, and putting more pressure on it will only make things more difficult. You’ll need to accept what’s going on, for instance, accepting the calorie counting.
3. Do your research!
Educate yourself on eating disorders. When my Mother found out about my eating disorder, she went straight to the library, stocked up on books, made notes, did some research online - the whole lot! Of course, you may have too much on your plate to go as far as that, but there are plenty of websites with simple points and information on eating disorders, such as:
Educating yourself on eating disorders will make it so much easier to understand the person’s point of view. Not only that, but it’ll also show this person how much they really mean to you, and that’s pretty nice too.
4. Do talk.
As I’ve said before in some of my posts, at the majority of times, an eating disorder is triggered by something completely different in the person’s life. So, instead of asking questions about their eating disorder, ask them about their life at home, their life at school, their friends, their family…etc. Most of the time, the person won’t realise that a problem such as issues as home could be the cause to their disorder, so by opening up to someone about it, it could really help them acknowledge the root to their disorder. Plus it’ll be a wonderful chance to try out plenty of coffee shops to have your chats, which is always a bonus.
5. Do encourage.
Sometimes, a person can get over their disorder simply by opening up to a family member or a friend. Though, there will be occasions where they’ll need that extra helping hand. As you can imagine, it’s incredibly daunting and intimidating to even imagine going to a doctor or counsellor to talk about your disorder. If this person hasn’t improved within 6 months (for instance) from opening up to you about it, you should perhaps suggest other options with them. Ask them how they’re feeling, and if they feel any better since the very beginning. From then on, encourage them to seek help (if needed). Explain to them that it’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. After all, even Doctor’s are simple human beings like you and I.
I hope that these tips are somewhat helpful to you. Like I said, these were relevant to my situation, and of course, everyone is different.
I wish you the best of luck on your mission, and send my love to all of those who are battling with their disorder (and everyone else, of course).
Last night, I spent around about 20 minutes crying in my Mother’s arms. I was crying over the fact that I felt, and looked “fat”. It was then when she reminded me about my particular frame. She reminded me to really think about my body shape, and whether I’m really “fat”, or if it’s just my frame.
I’m sure I’m not the only one when I say that a big ‘side-effect’ of an eating disorder is that you become very paranoid of what everybody else is eating and how much exercise they’re doing. I often find myself sneaking a look at what other people are eating during lunch hours (even strangers!). Though, a couple of months ago, I went on holiday with a friend. Of course, this meant that we were doing more or less the same amount of exercise, and eating almost the same thing. Although I had a lot of fun on our trip, I found myself getting horridly stressed and frustrated. Over time, I’ve become very jealous of this friend, particularly because she’s so slim, and so spending this trip with her didn’t exactly do much good for me, mentally. I got so frustrated, that not only was I counting the calories that I ate, but I was also counting the calories that she ate. Looking back at it now, I feel so awful. I can’t believe that I allowed my anxiety and jealousy to get to me like that.
Once I arrived home, I was in the same position as I was in last night; crying in my mother’s arms. I explained to her why I felt the way I did “we ate and exercised the same, so why do I look fatter than her?” I’d sob. My Mother reminded me that, although my friend and I were more or less the same height, we have completely different frames. Her frame is incredibly narrow; Narrow shoulders, narrow hips, and slim legs. My frame, on the other hand, is a lot broader; broad shoulders, broad hips, and more ‘shapely’ legs. So, to conclude, even if I ate the exact same as her, and exercised exactly the same as her, I’d never look like her!
I think that a lot of people tend to forget this huge factor of body frames. If you’re depressed about the fact that you don’t have Cara Delevingne’s super-slim legs, or Kate Moss’ slim waist, then just remind yourself about what you’d look like; just imagine how skinny legs would look on a woman with broad hips and broad shoulders - completely out of proportion!
Quit comparing yourself to others and start concentrating on what you have.
If (like me) you have a broad frame, then just think about everything that you have going for you! Honestly, I’m rather proud to have wide hips, and you should be too.
Do what’s best for your frame. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.
As a celebration of the Easter holidays, this Saturday, I decided to cut loose and just eat what I wanted. It was only at about 8pm that I had realised I had consumed 2143 calories. “It’s okay, it’s a one off” I’d tell myself, though as soon as I looked at the size of my stomach in the mirror, I felt sick. Devastated. Panic. What did I do? I did a high intensity workout for an hour, burnt 430 calories, before throwing up - because of the pressure I had put on my body, of course,
So, is exercise always a good idea?
Exercise is wonderful, of course. It has it’s many health benefits, such as:
Though, as wonderful as it all is, you need to make sure that you’re exercising properly. And when I say properly, I mean get the correct nutrition.
I go running for 30-40 minutes, 3-5 times a week. One of my biggest concerns at the early stage of my eating disorder was passing out. I would usually go in the morning, on an empty stomach, or I’d go in the evening, after a long day of eating little to nothing. I often felt very weak, fatigue, and light headed whilst running, though I tried to pull through to get myself to the other side. Thinking back now; I’m so lucky that I hadn’t passed out whilst running. I’m sure it’s happened to many others before, and I can imagine the dangers of it, for instance; who’d be around to help you? Would anyone help you? And what if you were to hit your head and really cause damage to your skull? This is why it is so important to make sure that you’ve consumed enough calories before exercise - especially if you’re out on the streets alone.
It is believed that in order to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you eat. This may only be my stupidity, but I found this incredibly misleading. What people often forget is that you burn calories during the day anyway, by just living! In order to know how many you burn, click here. So really, there is no need to panic about somehow burning 1500 or so calories. This also links with “overeating” - you need to remember that you burn calories throughout the day without even realising.
Now, as I said before; there’s no problem with exercise. Exercise is good! But another thing that you should work on is your priorities for exercise. Notice that I didn’t note ‘weight loss’ in my list of benefits? When you’re exercising, don’t think about how many calories or how much fat you’re burning. Think about what else it’s doing for you, for instance, for your heart and your mind. When I started running, all I’d think about was how many calories I was burning, and if I was working hard enough, which stressed me out and discouraged me from enjoying my workout. Now, I actually love to run; not because of the amount of calories that I burn, but because I find it as a therapeutic session to think (non-calorie related) things through, for instance, I think about my day. And best of all, I actually feel proud of my run afterwards, rather than beating up myself for “not running enough”.
I think that pretty much everyone has felt guilt, or something similar at some point after overeating. Though, the usual ‘guilt’ would be for making yourself feel sick. On the other hand, there’s the guilt of “eating too much”.
Earlier this evening, I went out for a family meal. I’d been telling myself all day “you’re going to be healthy tonight. You must go for the salad and no dessert!” Once the menu was passed over to me, I spotted my choice; the mixed leaf salad with grilled chicken. Though, sat deviously next to it, was the beer battered cod, chips, and mushy peas. It had been a while since I had last pigged out on such a meal. I could imagine the texture of the fat, greasy, yet satisfactory chips, and the crisp batter like a blanket around the cod. I tried my best not to tease myself so much, though, the mixed leaf salad seemed far less appealing than it had done before. But I fought through it. I chose the salad. But of course, it’s never that easy. “Oh, come on, treat yourself, have something a bit more exciting!” The nagging would go on and on, until I eventually give in, and go for the good old fashioned cod and chips with mushy peas.
As per usual, once I start on the unhealthy foods, there’s no turning back. I had already ordered the Salted Caramel Profiteroles before even allowing my stomach to digest the meal that I had feasted upon. The Salted Caramel Profiteroles? Divine. I was happy and satisfied.
Once the evening was over, and I arrived back home, sat on my bed with a cup of tea in my hands, I couldn’t help but think back to this evening, and think “Goddammit. I shouldn’t have done that. I promised myself I wouldn’t.” Although I know it’s stupid, (as it was a treat after all) I still can’t get the thought out of my head. I had promised myself that I’d stay healthy. I’d been thinking about it all day, almost pepping myself up for it.
Although the pain of the guilt truly kills me (and quite frankly, I could just cry about it for hours and hours), I’ll always have that friendly reminder;
"Never regret anything that once made you smile."
I can’t imagine how miserable I would’ve felt sat at that dinner table munching on my mixed leaf salad whilst everyone else was treating themselves on a special occasion.
So, when you feel guilty about treating yourself, just remind yourself how you would’ve felt if you had missed out, and also what those around you would’ve thought, for instance, family and friends. They’re bound to notice if something isn’t right. After all; special occasions like meals out aren’t only about the food (although, the food is probably the best part), they’re also about spending time with your loved ones, and enjoying yourself, completely worry free. Remember; it’s normal to enjoy yourself. It’s normal to treat yourself. Think about how hard you work every day, even without realising. You could sit around all day doing absolutely nothing, and your body would still be working as hard as it can to keep you as healthy as you can be. Learn to love yourself and treat yourself.
Oh, and remember;
"Never regret anything that once made you smile".
I’m sure this title has already irritated you. I see it everywhere too, and honestly, I’m even annoying myself with it, but you must admit it - it’s true!
“Your body is the house you grew up in.How dare you try to burn it to the ground.”
I’ve seen this quote so many times on tumblr, and it still manages to have a strong impact on me each time I read it. Though of course, I forget all about it 5 minutes later, and start with the harsh comments on my body again.
It seems that a lot of us don’t realise what we have; you are one in 7 billion humans, sharing your home with another 8.7 million species, yet, you are completely different to pretty much everyone. It has been said before that we (humans) have about 3 or 4 “clones” across planet earth, though even so, an apparent “clone” wouldn’t even come close to being you. You are you, and that’s that.
Think about life if you weren’t who you were now; you could’ve been some rat scattering through the cold streets at night, or the simple goldfish, swimming around and around in its tank. Do you realise how fortunate you really are to be here, as a homo sapien? We are quite the advanced species, after all, just look around you; technology, relationships, creativity, academics…etc. So, why do you hate the way you look?
As I was saying before, we’re all completely different. Look at yourself in the mirror. Look at the tone of your skin - no one else on this entire planet has that exact colour skin! Look at your eyes, and the colours going through your hair. Although, scientifically speaking, we’re all the same, you are you, and no one else but you. Feel blessed to walk in your skin; the armour that you’ve been blessed with that’s been passed down in your family for generations. Feel proud that you’re carrying it today. Do you think your ancestors were looking at themselves in the mirror, asking themselves “Why am I so fat?” So why should you or anyone else? Why would you question what you’ve been blessed with?
Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Be kind to yourself.
you’re allowed to like the way you look. you’re allowed to think that you’re pretty. you’re allowed to like the way you do things. you’re allowed to like your quirks.you’re allowed to do what you want to do. you’re allowed to like your music taste. you’re allowed to like a certain movie. you’re allowed to like your clothing taste. you’re allowed to be yourself. you’re allowed to love yourself. it’s ok. you’re beautiful and don’t let anyone tell you wrong.
Sunday morning. Praise the dawning. Sunday is that morning that gets my stomach churning with anxiety. It’s the morning after a long week of battling with my cravings, when I finally step onto the scales. It also ruins the rest of my Sunday.
Whenever I get cravings during the week, I often find myself reminding myself “Don’t do it. Don’t upset yourself on Sunday.” Though, I really ought to ask myself, why should I be upset on Sunday? So what if I’ve put on an lb? Weight has the tendency to fluctuate anyway! It’d be abnormal if it didn’t. Though, I do know the feeling of frustration when you’ve been trying extra hard during the week not to go over your calorie limit, and then finding that you’ve still somehow gained an lb by Sunday morning.
I gave myself a new rule a few weeks ago. DON’T STEP ON THE SCALES. I thought about how silly it all really was; if I knew it was going to upset me, then why did I do it? Even if my weight had remained the same as it was last Sunday, I’d still feel upset. Though, on that first Sunday of following my new little rule, I couldn’t help but feel anxious. It was like a little wood pecker in my head, nagging me to go and step on the scales. “You can be grown up about this. You won’t feel upset.” I’d tempt myself. And so, I gave in, and stepped on the scales. Big mistake. I had gained 2lbs that week.
So, how can you step away from the scales without any anxiety kicking in? Honestly, this new ‘routine’ of checking my weight has been quite some help, and I really do suggest that you try it:
If your clothes still fit, then why worry? When you’re walking down the street, looking around at different people, do you think to yourself “Blimey, she’s put on an extra lb!” No. So, why would anyone else? People have the tendency to judge others on their weight (unfortunately) by how their clothes are fitting, without even realising! It’s a misleading concept, really. For instance; if a size 12 girl is wearing a size 8 dress, then obviously she’s going to look bigger. If another size 12 girl is wearing a size 12 dress, she won’t look bigger! It sounds stupid, but it really is that simple.
So, do yourself a favour, and give it a try. Judge by how your clothes are fitting (if need be, of course.)
Nando’s Mediterranean Salad.
Last night was my first binge in weeks. Although, when I say binge, I actually had around 1881… it could have been worse.
It took me a while to get away from the binging habit. I would eat very little during the day, and I’d promise myself that I’d go to bed without the guilt of binging, though at the back of my mind, I knew that it would happen.
I’d wait until everyone was asleep so that I wasn’t heard or disturbed during my ‘session’. As soon as one bite of a chocolate biscuit entered my mouth, and slid down to my stomach, it was already out of control. I’d eat packets upon packets of biscuits, chocolate bars, crisps; just about anything that I could get hold of. I didn’t care. Weight could go do itself. I needed food.
Of course, afterwards there’s the aftermath of guilt and panic. I’d shove various wrappers into different bins, so that it didn’t look like I had eaten it all in one night (though, it was rather obvious). I’d feel so ashamed and pathetic, like I’d been helplessly beaten down. I went through a short phase of purging afterwards. I can’t say that shoving your fingers down your throat is the most pleasant of experiences. Though, I knew that it barely made any difference, and so I’d just go to sleep, and try and forget that it had happened.
So, what should you do after binge eating? DO NOT purge. The side effects of purging are horrific, for instance, stomach ulcers, dental damage, insomnia…etc. What’s rather funny, in the most disturbing sense, is that the one side effect that ended the whole purging period for me was the fact that it made my face chubbier. If you’re like me, and you usually binge during the night, the best thing to do is to just go to bed. Lie in bed, close your eyes, take deep breathes, and just drift off. On the other hand, if it’s during the daytime when you binge, then just get out of the house. Go for a walk, meet up with a friend; escape the crime scene.
The day after a binge, I usually keep my carbohydrates at a minimum level. I do this because I have a tendency to go for the carbs whilst binging (and I’m sure that many of you do too). Though, I make sure to keep my protein level high. I do this by starting my morning with some eggs. For lunch, I keep it simple and have some soup of my choice. For dinner, I usually go for roasted vegetables with chicken breast. For snacks then, I stick to fruits, nuts (my favourites are cashews), and a small bar of dark chocolate in the evening with my cup of tea. By all means, DO NOT starve yourself after binging; you’ll only confuse your metabolism even more, thus making things worse for yourself.
Although the guilt of a binge really can eat you up *pun not intended*, try not to be too hard on yourself. Stop and think about it for a second; is this your first binge in a long time? If so, then why are you worried? Everyone deserves a treat every once in a while. In fact, a lot of dieting programmes recommend that you have a ‘cheat day’ once a week! On the other hand, if this has been an on-going binging problem, then it’s time for you to really think about what you’re doing. My guess, is that you’re eating very little during the day, and suddenly break by night. Take this as a hint. Eat good sized meals during the day, snack when you’re hungry! It can sound taunting, but when it comes to a choice between the average of about 1500-2000 calories a day, or about 2500-3000 calories a binge, would it really hurt that much?
I eventually came to the conclusion that enough was enough; I needed to eat more during the day so that I didn’t crave so much during the night. I started by having two slices of bread to make my sandwich for lunch. It may seem small (about an extra 99 calories), but this was a huge positive step for me. Then, I went from having an orange for breakfast (20 calories) to a bowl of muesli (114 calories) for breakfast! I thought I’d feel guilty and so on for doing so, but I actually did feel so much better. I was finally improving! Although, at the beginning of this ‘new diet’, I still felt the temptation to binge. If you find this too, then don’t panic. It’s just because your body and mind is so used to going all out every night. I took things step by step, and had smaller and smaller binges every night, until eventually, I was only having one or two snacks a night.
Although last night I did feel a little guilty for going all out, since it had been so long, there was one thing that I was proud of; I actually felt full. During my binging sessions before, I’d finish feeling full, but not really full;meaning, I could probably have carried on eating more. Though, last night, I literally could not eat another bite; thanks to the good meals that I had during the day.
So, to conclude: