Religious calorie counting bears much resemblance to the ritualistic and obsessive eating patterns of Eating Disorders. But can calorie counting (whether for weight gain or weight loss) be a trigger for people to slip into an eating disorder?
asked byCompote (9)
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on September 29, 2014
at 03:00 PM
If you have a predisposition based on your personality (like an obsessive compulsive disorder for example), calorie counting could trigger some of the conditions you mentioned. Let's face it some people are over-achievers and might try going lower and lower with calorie counting which could result in some problems.
Counting calories is a naive way to maintain weight, it would be almost as naive as counting mass. Sure you could say calories in calories out all you want just like you could say mass in mass out but these approaches ignore the human body's innate autoregulatory control systems which maintain energy homeostasis. Calories out is the trickiest part of the equation since it would involve measuring calories lost to heat production (thermogenesis), calories lost in breath (ketones in breath for example), calories lost in urine as ketones or glucose in the case of diabetics, calories that are not absorbed by the digestive tract (fiber, unabsorbed fats), calories lost to digestion, calories lost to physical activity, calories lost to organ function and calories deposited as fat in adipose tissue.
The naive idiocy of the calories in calories out argument is that it ignores all these variables and assumes that they are actually constants which do not fluctuate based upon the particular foods being consumed and the effects these foods have on fat-storage and fat-breakdown hormones, thermogenesis, intestinal absorption, urine/breath excretions etc. For instance, when fat is consumed in large amounts and ketosis ensues, a calorie lost in breath as ketone bodies is not going to your fat tissue like, say, a calorie of excess sugar would be, so this calorie doesn't need to be counted in the first place since it is literally being thrown away by the body.
Calorie counting is a heuristic approach to weight loss wereby you simply limit what you eat to a point below what the body requires to execute all necessary functions. So that even when the body lowers its energy requirements to the bare minimum, weight loss can still be achieved, which in essence is nothing more than controlled starvation. If a person gets "addicted" to this perceived control over their body, then they could very well dive into a condition such as anorexia.
on September 29, 2014
at 01:45 AM
I think you have it backwards. Someone who suffers from certain eating disorders may use calorie counting as a mechanism continue their behavior. but simply counting calories does not predispose (in any literature that I have read) one to an eating disorder.
on September 30, 2014
at 12:25 AM
Anecdotally, I used calorie counting to lose a lot of weight. I wasn't obsessed about it when I started. But the more 'healthy' and 'clean' I got, the more I became obsessed about maintaining it, and it all morphed into anorexia/bulimia in the end. So I don't know about scientific studies on this, but in my experience it was definitely a trigger to develop an eating disorder.