Eating Disordered thinking in others

I sat next to a girl in my chemistry class. She looks a normal weight, not that I would judge her on her weight anyway. I said I went horse riding and asked me how many calories does the burn? I looked at her strangely — surely that’s not the first question I’d ask! Despite having an eating disorder I actually have no idea how many calories that does burn (and don’t care, either, as I was preoccupied with having fun).

Then she started discussing about how she weighs x kg, and would like to be 5kg lighter and that she counts calories but that’s not helping her. She quoted calories on bread and on the treadmill.

I tried to educate her, telling her how inaccurate calories on food items are (citing references). She was shocked to hear that I don’t eat diet products and do very little exercise and that I eat dairy products (but aren’t they high in calories and fat??). I challenged people’s misconceptions on nutrition too and everyone was asking me how I know all this stuff.

I ended it by telling her that she is a normal weight and so does not need to lose it, but if she wants to get healthier some gentle exercise might help her.

She said she liked my body and wanted to look more like me.

My initial concerns, followed by my challenges were:

I feel that validates my calorie counting as something normal that non eating disordered people do, so why shall I not carry on counting?

The truth is, I fully know that calorie counting is not an exact science. Not every biscuit is tested in a calorimeter to find out how much it has. And I remember the days of the Excel spreadsheet, and the countless hours spent…counting. Do I really want to waste hours of my life counting calories?

I feel embarrassed that people are looking at my body. I’m at minimum healthy, and am worried that people will no longer like my appearance if I go closer to my set point

Do I judge my friend’s by their weight or their personality and qualities? No, of course not. So if others judge me by my appearance, they are certainly not worth my worry.

I am worried I did not handle the situation in a different way: should I tell people the facts about nutrition/calories or should I just finish the conversation?

That question, I’m afraid I cannot really answer. There is no right or wrong in this situation. Perhaps I should do what just feels best to do at the time

But, on a final note, I feel quite sad to hear that so many women (and men, too) are dissatisfied with their bodies. We should appreciate our bodies for the fact that they allow us to function to do the things we can do. We should be able to accept that our natural shape may not be the ideal, and quit the comparisons which serve to make us feel rotten. As a society, we need to change our views, and as an individual we need to drive that change.  And, ultimately, we need to be careful what we wish for.

Distorted body image is wired in to our brains?

I came across an interesting news article in The Guardian where an experiment was being carried out in order to deduce how the mind perceives the shape of one’s hand, with interesting and consistent results: the hand in the mind’s eye is distorted and is seen to be much wider with fingers that are much shorter than in reality.

A study suggests our brains have highly distorted representations of the size and shape of our own hands. The distortion may extend to other body parts, skewing body image

[…]

“It’s interesting to note that what we find for the hand is that the representation seems to be ‘too fat’. If there’s an implicit default representation of the brain to perceive the body as overly wide, then that could potentially account for the pattern you get with eating disorders.”

I wonder if this research can be taken further — do we, as a population, also view others parts of the body with equal distortion? Why do we seem to see the hand as “fatter” and is this due to society’s opinions on thinness or the general dissatisfaction of our bodies that affects probably a majority of the population? (i.e. is this a result of culture or society?). Also, how do people diagnosed with eating disorders differ in their distortion compared to matched healthy individuals?

It’s an interesting article, which perhaps highlight some of the biological influences due to the wiring of our brain that may make others more susceptible to developing an eating disorder.

Summer Sunshine Worries

Summer is very challenging time for me for numerous reasons. It brings back memories of the end of May 2009, where my mum cried and said that no present would ever be greater than becoming recovered. It shattered me that she loved me so much. I always knew she did, but it broke my heart that I could not give her, at that time, something which would mean the world to her.

I am also dreading shopping for summer clothes (I had to throw out my anorexic ones, not that I had too many as I was wearing a warm coat in the winter last few years). That involves a lot of mirrors, decisions and deciding what best covers up the my pot belly which I’ve always hated. I always feel much worse after shopping. Well, I’ve not been for so long, but I haven’t got much to wear so I have to.

Secondly, I’m not sure what clothes I want to wear in the summer. I just can’t look at my thighs so I’m avoiding getting any shorts etc. And I find it difficult to wear certain tops.

I just hate my new body after weight restoration. I think I look so terribly ugly that I no longer both to put make-up on like I used to (because I’m ugly anyway). I look normal now. For me, that equates to being ugly and not special.

I want to change this and be proud of my body and be more confident in my own skin. However, I’m not sure exactly how to go about this. I’ve challenged myself in the following ways:

  • I plan not to weigh myself this week despite feeling rather huge
  • I plan on going shopping in a few weeks time (putting avoidance aside)

I’m looking for more challenges, however.

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