Weight Is Just A Number

Uncategorized

No one likes stepping on the scales to be faced with the horrible reality that they probably ate too many slices of cake last week. The chances are you’ve had your suspicions about those extra couple of pounds for a while but have been in a firm state of denial with yourself. Finally, you pluck up the courage to see for certain and can deny it no longer – the numbers don’t lie after all. While to most, a little weight gain is a minor confidence blip, an inconvenience, for me it’s a minefield. No matter what size I am, I spend my life both dreading it and trying to avoid it, in equal measure.

So when I started to return to health after an illness that saw me shrink to just under 8 stone, the joy and relief of recovery was tainted by the fact that I would inevitably gain weight. I knew it was something that needed to happen – I was the thinnest I’ve ever been, even when in the throws of an eating disorder, I just wasn’t prepared for how horrific it would be when it started to become physically noticeable.

I didn’t notice for a while, I was too busy thinking about what I was going to eat next, high on the excitement of being able to enjoy food again and while I was aware that the food I was shovelling into me wasn’t particularly good for me, I was powerless to my appetite. White bread, smothered with Lurpak became the staple of my diet, I would go to bed dreaming about McDonald’s double cheeseburgers and my boyfriend watched in awe as I devoured sticky toffee puddings every weekend at dinner. Concerned by these new eating habits, I broached the subject with my dietician and of course, there was a perfectly reasonable explanation. My body was starving. I should point out that by this point I had been ill for a considerable amount of time, struggling to eat barely anything most days and what I did manage to eat, my body wasn’t absorbing any nutrients from. It turns out the human body is a pretty intelligent organism and it knows what it needs. I was craving these calorific foods, high in fat and carbohydrates, because my body was severely lacking the nutrients that they provide. The dietician reassured me that once my health and weight began to return to normal these cravings would stop and my diet would stabilise and she was right. Now that my body is nourished again, the bizarre cravings have stopped and I’m back to eating the balanced diet I had before, I’m back to myself again.

What isn’t quite as simple however, is accepting myself. As much as I know that gaining weight is a good thing, I can’t help but be disgusted every time I look in the mirror. When I step on the scales and the dial inches up a few more notches, my heart sinks a little bit more. Each time I’m offered a well-meaning compliment along the lines of,  “You’ve gained weight,” I die a little bit inside.

My arms – the only part of me I have ever considered as slim enough – now appear twice the size they used to be, my collarbone is no longer protruding and the gap between my thighs is getting smaller by the day. While all of these are positive signs, physical indicators of good health, I hate each and every one of them and I also hate the fact that I hate them. I’m happy my body is healthy again, yet I can’t accept it in its healthy form.

The worst part is not knowing if what I’m seeing in the mirror is as it really is or if my mind is lying to me, distorting my view with it’s dysmorphic tendencies. I might feel bigger than I’ve ever been, but the scales say I’m no heavier than I was before I fell ill – a healthy weight – and the numbers never lie, right?

I may be healthy physically, but mentally there’s still some work to be done. I need to listen to my body and to trust it, if I’m craving that slice of cake it’s not because I’m fat and greedy as the voice in my head would have me believe, it’s because my body needs sugar. I need to train my mind to work with my body rather than against it so that the dinner table is no longer a battlefield. I need to learn to love my body and to look after it, because it is healthy and for that I am grateful. For me gaining weight is the first hurdle, but the real recovery begins after.

Advertisements

7 Ways to Make Sure Your Easter Isn’t Ruined by Your Eating Disorder

Uncategorized

egg-100161_1920

If were being honest, for most of us Easter is about one thing, chocolate. It is for this reason, that after Christmas, Easter comes in a close second as the most difficult time of year for people with an eating disorder. For some, Easter means overindulging on chocolate eggs and hot cross buns, or sitting down to catch up with family over a traditional holiday meal, for those with eating disorders, Easter often means guilt, anxiety and fear. There is no avoiding the fact that holidays are stressful – I mean, they do involve family and food, at the same time –  but there are some ways to take control and make sure your Easter isn’t ruined by your eating disorder.

  • Talk to someone close to you and that you trust, about your concerns. It’s easy to get trapped in your own head, getting an outside perspective can make a huge difference. A problem shared and all that.
  • Plan ahead. If you know you’re going to be seeing family and friends who haven’t seen you for a while, be prepared for any questions that might come and think of your responses in advance. This way you don’t feel unprepared or put on the spot.
  • Be Mindful. Practice some Mindful Eating techniques throughout the day to help you stay in control. For example: eat small or moderate amounts every few hours, before eating ask yourself, am I hungry? Am I thirsty? What type of food or drink do I want? Eat slowly and think about the taste, texture, smell and sound of the food. Check in with your hunger signals every few minutes. Stop eating just before you feel full, and wait at least 20 minutes before eating again if you are still hungry.
  • Relax. Whatever your plans are over the weekend, make sure you allow some time for yourself. Take time out to do something you enjoy, and something that doesn’t revolve around food. Go for a walk, listen to music, read a book – it is supposed to be a holiday after all.
  • Remember that holidays were made for overeating. People will eat too much chocolate and then they will talk about eating too much chocolate. Remind yourself that these comments are not aimed at you.
  • Remember also, that all eyes aren’t on you. Although it feels like it everyone is watching you, judging how much – or how little – you are eating, this is not the case. Most people are actually too preoccupied with their own food – humans are pretty self-involved, especially at meal times.
  • Enjoy the fact that it is totally acceptable to eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and at various intervals in between if you so desire. Guilt is inevitable, but keep it under control by being aware of how you feel, you know better than anyone what your limits are. Easter or not, it’s your body and your mind, you decide what they can cope with.

Happy Easter!

5 Reasons Never to Date the Guy Who Wrote this Post…

Opinion

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 18.29.19

http://www.returnofkings.com/21313/5-reasons-to-date-a-girl-with-an-eating-disorder

The post above was brought to my attention on Facebook a few weeks ago, yes you did read that correctly, this is a blog stating the reasons why men should date a girl with an eating disorder.

I know, and I sincerely hope I’m right in thinking that most people would look at this post and realise that the author of this is a just a complete moron. Still, I felt that I couldn’t let this post go without drawing attention to how ridiculous and ignorant it is. It is worrying to say the least, that there might be men who actually think like this and see a woman with an eating disorder as something to take advantage of. Of course as always, what this ignorance boils down to is a lack of knowledge and understanding, but whoever wrote this may wish to think again before publicly mocking such a serious illness.

1.Her obsession over her body will improve her overall looks

Unless pale skin, dark eyes, hair loss, blistered knuckles, acid-stained teeth and downy hair growing on the skin are among your must-haves when it comes to women, an eating disorder will absolutely not improve her looks, whether it be Anorexia or Binge Eating Disorder. In fact, the opposite could not be more true. Eating Disorders are more often that not, not actually about the way the sufferer looks, it stems from something phycological and the eating disorder is a way of coping.

2. She costs less money

For many sufferers, the idea of even stepping foot in a restaurant is almost unthinkable, never mind a dinner-date. While you may be lapping up her leftovers, she will most likely be in turmoil, wishing she was anywhere but in a restaurant with you.

3. She’s fragile and vulnerable

If as a man, you need a girl to be fragile and vulnerable before you can date her, I think that says more about you than it does her. Only men who are fragile and weak themselves tend to go for women who are too insecure to stand up to them. They are easy targets.

4. Probably has money of her own

Aside from all of these statements being massive generalisations, this one is perhaps the most ridiculous as it is simply incorrect. I don’t know where the author got the idea from that only rich girls develop eating disorders but even if this was the case, that money will most likely be spent on slimming pills, laxatives, junk-food binges, you get the idea.

5. She’s better in bed

Maybe sleeping with a girl who lacks the confidence to tell you what she really wants, makes some men feel macho in the bedroom. As a woman, I cannot expect to fully understand what men want in bed, but using someone’s “pent-up insecurities, neuroses and daddy-issues” for your own sexual gain? Pretty disgusting if you ask me.

“a girl with a mild-to-moderate eating disorder—that hasn’t excessively marred her appearance—is today’s best-buy in the West’s rapidly plummeting dating market”

So as long as the eating disorder doesn’t progress into anything to serious, and it doesn’t damage a woman’s appearance in any way, you have yourself the perfect woman?

Is this a joke?

This post is a fantastic representation of everything that is wrong with society. As well as the shocking stereotypes, it shows the ignorance and inaccuracy that surrounds issues concerning eating disorders and mental health. Not only this but it is also a sterling example of blatant sexism, bringing to our attention that there is men out there who view women like this, and we are far from equal in their eyes.

The perfect woman? Quite frankly I wish any man who thinks like this the best of luck in gaining the respect of any woman at all.

Have Yourself a Healthy Little Christmas…

Food

It may be the season to eat, drink and be merry, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose sight of the healthy body and mind you work hard for the other 364 days of the year. The meaning of Christmas isn’t ‘eat yourself into a coma’ or ‘calories don’t count today’. Christmas is about family and tradition, though for some reason, Britain can’t help but turn it into an excessive eating and drinking binge, packed to the brim with parties, buffets and leftover turkey sandwiches.

At the same time, you don’t have to be sat in the corner with ‘humbug’ on your Santa hat if you decide to go for the healthier options this year. By making just a few simple swaps and altercations to your Christmas menu, you could save yourself from a sack load of calories, fats and guilt.

Satsumas

The days of getting one in the bottom of your stocking on Christmas morning might long be gone, but the satsuma is the fruit of the season. They are great for adding to desserts, such as trifles (soak in 15ml of Brandy) or a simple fruit salad and the peel can be soaked in chocolate for that cocoa fix. They’re full of vitamin C too to keep the winter colds at bay!

satsumas

Pretzels

At parties and buffets, swapping a bowl of crisps or salted nuts for a bowl of pretzels reduces the amount of fat and calories but is still a great snack. In 30g of pretzels there is 0.8g fat, a much healthier (and more original) option!

Less Pastry

The less pastry, the better! Cutting back on the pastry means you can still enjoy the same Christmas pleasures, but they don’t have to be guilty ones. For example, make mince pies without tops on, choose cocktail sausages rather than sausage rolls, and nibble on breadsticks instead of cheese straws!

Vegetables

This is obvious. On Christmas Day, load your plate with vegetables, they are fat free and full of vitamins and though it is tempting to give those sprouts the wide birth, they are probably the best veg on the table. To keep your vegetables clean, flavour with herbs rather than butter.

Copyright of theguardian.com

Copyright of theguardian.com

Potatoes

Although potatoes have a bad rep, there is actually barely any fat in them, and it’s okay to allow for a little extra carbs at Christmas. Boiling or baking, rather than roasting the potatoes for your Christmas dinner, is a much healthier way to enjoy them and still just as tasty and traditional.

Dates

Granted, dates aren’t for everyone, but they are a great alternative to snacking on chocolate and sweets on Christmas afternoon. If you can’t be persuaded try other dried fruits instead.

Mulled Wine

Mulled wine is THE festive drink, it has the ability to make  even the grinch feel christmassy instantaneously, and the best part? If made with 50% orange juice, it is much healthier than a glass of regular red wine, so you can enjoy a guilt free tipple – or five!

gilpin-bridgemulled-wine-716389-regular

Most importantly, my final tip for having the healthiest Christmas you can is to enjoy yourself. Don’t get too bogged down worrying about what is passing your lips and how long you’ll have to spend on the treadmill come January. ’Tis the season to be jolly, after all.

The Tracking Debate

Fitness

In an age of ever expanding technology, are fitness trackers and Apps a motivational tool for monitoring our progress or an express ticket to obsession?

 

 

This is a question which is difficult to answer and a great cause for debate. Like anyone, I have found myself filled with excitement when downloading calorie counting Apps to my iPhone and I can’t leave the house for my run without setting my Nike Running App first – it is a great motivator! However I feel that, as with everything, it may have been taken too far.

UP by Jawbone, is a new health monitoring bracelet which is with you literally 24 hours a day. Finally! A 24/7 personal trainer! You might think, but as well as motivating you with high fives and encouraging “Amazing”’s and providing you with great accuracy on how long you’ve slept, how long it took you to fall asleep, whether you’ve reached your step goals, to name just a few, UP also has the potential to torment you with guilt, obsession and quite possibly make you lose your mind.

It is quite simple, all you have to do is sync the bracelet with your iPhone a few times a day and you    can see your sleep patterns and step count compared with what you have ate and drank and if you like the thrill of the game, you can even monitor your UP friends progress on a Facebook-like feed.

The primary aim of trackers and Apps like this is simple, to improve health and fitness, which I believe is of the upmost importance. Is this healthy though? Where it might have an – at least short term – impact on physical health (anyone being tracked 24 hours a day will surely make a conscious effort to be the best they can be), I seriously doubt it can have any positive impact on mental health, in fact, I’m pretty sure any impact it has on the mind, will be quite the opposite. 

UP isn’t the only one of kind by a long way, with $800 million sales of wearable sensors in the US last year, and for the many who aren’t willing or simply can’t afford the prices that bracelets like these cost, there is an ever growing collection of mobile Apps to download which do more or less the same thing, just less accurate and intensified. 

 

Nike Running+ App

Nike Running+ App

Argus App

Argus App

 

Argus App, water reminder

Argus App, water reminder

Constantly checking what you have eaten, excessive exercise in order to meet goals, comparing your fitness progress with other people’s. These are all things which in the real world are considered unhealthy, obsessive and disordered eating behaviour. Like it or not, the trackers are here to stay and the boundaries or self-tracking are only ever expanding, but if you want my advice, I would tread carefully.

 

‘I Can’t Afford My Eating Disorder Anymore’

Food, News, Opinion

A trip to the supermarket is a mundane task for most, a weekly necessity which takes up too much time and too much money. For those suffering from an eating disorder, the trip to the supermarket is an experience full of dread, obsession, fear and guilt. An obstacle to overcome. For anorexics and bulimics, money would not even be taken into consideration when fulfilling the task of the weekly shop. The only things which mattered, would be calories, fat percentage and the amount of guilt they would feel from consuming the product, but in the present day, when no one is escaping the wrath of the country’s recession, money has began to triumph all other issues.

Sufferers have another barrier to beat, a one which will relentlessly battle it out with those voices in your head.No matter what your state of mind or relationship with food, what you can afford will ultimately prevail over everything else. Hours can be spent trawling through the aisles, manically counting calories and painfully pouring over food packets, but if your budget doesn’t allow for those low calorie, 0 per cent fat, organic rye crackers, then it simply doesn’t and there’s not great deal you can do about it.

The financial climate has become such a huge counter part in our daily lives that it has even become a tool used in the recovery of Anorexia and Bulimia. Speaking to a dietician recently I was told, quite light-heartedly “When food shopping, a lot of people in recovery have found it helpful to look at the bargain bins and offers, rather than at the masses of products in the aisles.” Initially I was shocked and unconvinced by this, certainly not thinking that such a basic factor in everyday life, as money, could overcome those screaming voices of guilt, failure and self hatred which arise all too easily when faced with such a thing as the supermarket.

I was aware, of course, that money does have an impact, but I had never quite been able to counteract those voices and not being much of a budgeter, I had always focused on the product, rather than the price. However on a recent food shop, with my bank balance looking more miserable than I had ever seen it, I found myself gravitating towards the ‘savers’ brand, frantically checking and re-counting the total price instead of calories.

The hard fact is, eating disorders cost money. Generally speaking, they make a huge indent in the budgets of both the care system and the sufferer, leaving society and the many individuals with one more reason that they must be overcome. When financial times are hard, sufferers are left with a choice. Let anorexia take another part of their life from them, or use it to their advantage, and see the silver lining, an aid on the way to recovery.