( I warn you this is a bit long! I apologise)
I'm 16 and my relationship with food isn't the best. I started to think differently about myself at about 13 when someone at school kept calling me anorexic, even though I was at a perfectly healthy weight, just naturally on the tall side and have a small frame. From then on I payed more attention to calories and body weight, There wouldn't be a day that goes by without me knowing approx how much i would eat a day.
I'd say since i was 13 I would mainly eat for taste, and have tendencies to under eat, i counted calories to make sure i wasn't over eating, I didnt think i was fat or underweight, but I had the urge to pay attention to this.
As the years went past and after a family incident a relative moved into my place and cooked for us, It was great because take-aways aren't the healthiest. Then at 15 I was bullied by a bunch of overweight girls, and picked on me about anything and everything. I started to emotional eat after dinner after school and i slowly began to gain weight. I got upset about this and decided to eat smaller lunches to compensate for eating more, but that didn't work. So i ended up compulsive exercising, I would walk 3 k's from home with a 5kg bag on my back as fast as I can. I did this day in day out, until one night I practically collapsed and fell asleep instantly. The next morning by the time I arrived at school I started shaking and my muscles were hurting. I saw a doctor and he said I over-exercised and should take it easy for a few weeks.
I was very upset about all this. I knew that sugar was a big craving of mine, so i started googling how to stop this. It was here I found Mark's Daily Apple and within 2 days of hours of reading I went cold turkey paleo. I stupidly didn't replace anything I took out and I didn't know how to cook, but i was determined of getting rid of this " craving issue". I ended up becomming 3 kgs underweight and lost my period. I started distaning myself from my friends because of course, if you don't eat enough it affects your mood. I'm not mentally ill, and within 2 months of not having my period I upped my calories to 2300 a day, I gained all the weight back by myself and got my period back.
I upped my carbs to 150g because my mood was still funny, and this improved my mood. Now i'm okay, my health teachers at school are amazed with my knowledge on food and I get compliments from my friends of how healthy i now look , but I still have a few issues.
On weekdays because of the un-paleo food the cafeteria gives at school, and because of my suspected wheat allergy which causes asthma, I would only bring 2 rice crackers
( I'm not 100% paleo, and am recovering from severe constipation from being underweight and not eating enough, and i'm following fodmaps because of acid stomach and is seeing a G.I specialist about this I do eat white rice and more dark chocolate than reccomended),
out of this stupid fear that i still wont be able to eat slightly less at dinner, and i would gain weight. Sometimes I end up eating two meals, one at breakfast one at night, and will eat half my daily calorie intake in the morning, and half for dinner , so please don't think im not eating enough. Im very careful that I eat enough because If i undereat, when i tend to do quite easily, then I will probably end up snacking on some rubbish later, or just eat some dark chocolate lying around.
Now im counting my calories again and even though I eat enough, I now chew and spit food after dinner, mainly because ive been used to eating alot at dinner ,and it somehow emulates my emotional eating days.
I wish i was normal, I wish i was like everyone else. everyone else seems to be so care-free with their eating, by this i mean, not binging or not thinking about food so much.
I wish i just had a healthy relationship with eating,
If you have any suggestions, or advice, or your own experience, it would be much appreciated.
asked byKintaK (70)
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on March 05, 2012
at 04:15 PM
First of all, you sound like you're making a very brave effort to pull yourself out of a very disordered eating pattern; it takes an incredible amount of strength to do that and it is going to be exhausting a lot of the time, especially at first. So kudos to you for taking it so seriously and being such a trooper about everything. I also get so frustrated that I'm always worrying and thinking about food and everyone else seems to just eat whatever they want and have no problems. I feel like I'm the only one in the office daydreaming of eating huge piles of nuts (huge binge trigger for me) and having to constantly tell myself no, no, no, and try to force my mind off the subject.
I don't know if you do already, but I find it helps a lot to keep a diary or a journal about my food issues and write in it every day, without exception - just about my thoughts on eating that day, or things I want to focus on, or something I realized. Sometimes when I feel like I need to binge eat I'll sit down and write instead, just repeating stuff like "this isn't a cure, it's a band-aid, and it's a really lousy band-aid at that. What will it solve? Nothing. I'll respect myself less. I'm stronger than this. I don't need to do this." - just imagine if you had a mentor to encourage you over your shoulder and write down what that person would say.
Also: try thinking about it one day at a time. It sounds to me like you have a kind of emotional dependence on food with the chew/spit thing, and it can be so hard to say "I'm going to stop emotional eating cold turkey." Try just focusing on the next hour, or even the next five minutes. For the next five minutes, can you sit still in your chair and not go get food? Great! Now you have five more reasons to be proud of yourself, and five more layers of strength to resist the emotional eating.
I also read a great blog post over at Cranky Fitness (which I went and tried to hunt down but I just! can't! find it! Help, anyone?) about how it is frustrating to pay so much attention to all this stuff, and how it does feel unfair and "omg why do I have to do it?" and isolating, but it only seems odd because we live in such a disordered world where healthy eating is light-years from the norm. You're fighting against a huge weight of culture and social structures, so yes it's very hard but you need to give yourself a pat on the back for making the effort.
IDK, that was really rambling but I hope some of this helps.
on March 05, 2012
at 09:46 AM
Usually I think all kinds of mental disorders are a result of poor nutrition.
I follow this simple rule : if I don't understand why I'm doing or thinking something stupid, yet I continue to do it, I'm not eating right.
I take it you don't take supplements, and that's great. Whole foods are better. Still, if you're like most people, you're gonna eat a couple of veggies and grass-fed steaks, some fruit and some nuts. Good nutrition, that's for sure, but not necessarily optimal for you.
You may need to eat some weird stuff from time to time : seaweed, liver and other organs, beef heart, shellfish and bone broth. You might not find them tasty, I don't know. It's up to you to find that balance.
This year I've learned that fat doesn't make you fat, magnesium doesn't make you bitter, eating cheap food makes you pay for health care, nasty things (like liver) can make you feel good, ... So many things are upside-down in this world, yet I continue to read everywhere that if you have anorexia, you just have to learn to eat more. No, you have to learn to eat better. And I'm not saying your diet is bad, KintaK (sorry if it seems like I am), as it is a great diet. I'm just saying it could be even better.
For the record, I'm not new to this. My mother and her sister both had periods of anorexia (my aunt died from it, she committed suicide after years of eating no red meat, some sandwiches and cheese), and I suffered from it last year too (I ate only grapes and grapefruits, and often ate less than 1500kcal while I was extremely hungry). Hope this helped a bit. I sure respect what you've accomplished already, that's awesome!
on March 05, 2012
at 05:13 PM
You found Marks Daily Apple at the age of 16. I found Marks Daily Apple at age 55. And you're asking "me" for help? You are so far ahead on the learning curve, you have no idea! Just keeping reading and "practicing" Paleo. You will get it and a lot sooner than you think. good luck.
on March 06, 2012
at 08:31 AM
You can be normal. You can be like everyone else. You can heal. You are young, you have a journey ahead of you. And I promise you, who you will be 10 years from now, in relation to food & your body, will be miles a way from where you are now. And in another 10 years, more light years ahead.
Of course, we want to have a happy fulfilled life NOW, not 10 years from now. But I say that to remind you that there is hope, that you are on a journey of continuous healing.
Getting down to it, you nailed it: it is about your relationship to food. You are in a relationship with food. Think about that in terms of an actual human relationship. If you were to think of food = love, you would see that the message would be you trying to measure out love, and spit it out, and control it. When where you want to be, is to be in a relationship with food where you enjoy it, and love it, and it gives you love back, in the form of nourishment. My biggest advice to you would be to start looking at the food that you eat as something that you love, instead of as an enemy. Right now, you are in a battle with food. I get that (boy, do I get that). But, it sounds to me, like where you want to be is in a place where you enjoy food just simply for the idea that it is food, with no strings, attachments, or punishments. To do that, you need to begin to treat your food with respect and love. What does that mean in practical terms? To be thankful for the food - yes, actually go ahead in your mind (or outloud if that is your thing), and thank it for its nourishment. Enjoy the simple tastes on your tongue. Really begin to learn about what the experience of eating is, of the pleasures of food. When you really enjoy and appreciate food, you don't tend to overeat, because you are also able to listen to your body tell you when it has had enough. Too often, we make food into a tool - of punishment, of escape, of control, - that we lose touch of what food really is. We lose touch of how our body and how our food relate to one another.
I also hear where you are coming from, in not having a mental disorder. But I do want to point out that your behavior seems to be in line with the behavior of anorexics & bulimics (spitting out food, emotional eating, compulsive exercise, etc), which is in the DSM - the Psychologists bible of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. I point this out not because I think you need to label yourself, but rather because sometimes when you are able to define something, it is easier to understand the next steps and treatment available. Personally, I've learned that applying a label to yourself is quite limiting, but learning about successful treatment techniques can be useful.
I also want to draw attention to one issue that seems to leap out at me here, around your relationship with food: social acceptance. In your question, you talk a lot about how people's reaction to you pushed you to certain behaviors with food. I would suggest that it is not only your relationship with food that needs to be examined & healed, but also your relations with others that may be the root of the issue (and food becomes the symptom/coping mechanism).
You have many possible next steps ahead of you: personal experimentation/examination, seeking counsel from friends, psychologists. I myself am a life coach, and am particularly interested in helping people heal their relationships with food & their body - I am on my own journey, and have been able to deeply heal on many levels, I have a healthy relationship with my body that I never thought I could have, and a much healthier relationship with food. I'd be happy to work with you for free, if you are interested.
In any case, good luck to you, and remember you can, and you will, get there.
on March 05, 2012
at 04:45 PM
Hi, KintaK, this is a bit of a dilemma because you are saying you have a problem, "I wish i was normal, I wish i was like everyone else. everyone else seems to be so care-free with their eating, by this i mean, not binging or not thinking about food so much."
but you don't have a problem "I do not have a mental disorder" "I dont have a good relationship with food but it is not at that level where I'm mentally ill"
Okay, I'll try to work within those constraints. First, you may think it's a bad thing if you do in fact have an eating disorder and I can reassure you that MANY people have an unhealthy relationship with food. Let's assume it's for a good reason--your body wants to make sure you are properly nourished and calories won't answer that need. Calories can tell you if you're definitely under-nourished but they can't tell you if the calories you ate gave you all the nutrients you needed.
It's pretty normal to think a lot about whatever worries you--and that includes food. So, if you are worried you have an unhealthy relationship with food you will think about food a lot. Telling yourself not to--or having someone else tell you--is more likely to aggravate the problem than solve it. The only remedy there is to go looking for things that seize your interest--for some people it's reading, for others it's physical activity or music or art or crafts. You see? To spend less time thinking/worrying about food you need other interests.
One more thing--you are assuming many people are carefree with their eating and I don't think that's really true. It's like looking at a slim person and assuming they're healthy, or looking at an overweight person and assuming they're unhealthy--neither assumption may be true. What you see on the outside doesn't really tell you about a person's thoughts and most of the people I've known in my life have had concerns about SOMETHING--eating, drinking, health issues, etc.
So, try to identify some things you're interested in and give yourself permission to explore and pursue those things. Even cooking--yes, that can be very healthy if you challenge yourself to learn how to select and prepare healthy whole foods and emphasize visual presentation over large servings.
on March 05, 2012
at 09:21 AM
First and foremost it is great that you are admitting that you have an issue. This is difficult, but it shows that you understand that this is unhealthy.
My best friend is bulimic and I have spent many nights crying, thinking of how I can help her. But I cannot do anything against her will and she is not willing to admit she has a problem. She is underweight and her periods had stopped as well.
I also had or even have a history of very unhealthy relationship with food. Just so you know one summer a couple years ago I did not eat anything at all for about one month. Needless to say, this experiment turned out very badly - I don't want to share details, but it is not pretty.
My colleagues' daughter entered college and became anorexic to the point that my colleague had to quit her job to stay by her daughter's side. The girl was placed in some Eating Disorder clinic for a month in California. Just so you know - the girl is doing great now and she is no longer anorexic.
When people learned about this, so many other women opened up about suffering frombulimia/anorexia. I did not expect so many people suffered from it!
There are two things you need to know. I am going to capitalize them not because I am screaming, but because I don not know how to use HTML language.
PLEASE REMEMBER YOU ARE NOT ALONE AND THERE IS HOPE. You will recover with the help from a professional and your family's support. You will get better. Don't be afraid to take action, because it will save your life.
GO TO YOUR DOCTOR FOR HELP and tell her you have anorexia. It is treatable and you do not need any meds for it. People on this board are nice, sweet and kind, they are a source of information and they are great with sharing their knowledge, but they are not trained to help you with this issue. The best they can do is share their stories.
I am sending you all my love. Thank you for opening up about it. You have already made the first step. Don't stop here. Don't be scared. Go to a specialist for help.
on March 06, 2012
at 11:39 AM
Ok I don't know if I read this right. You chew and spit correct?
This is considered an eating disorder that often goes hand in hand with bulimia. I used to chew and spit as well, and let me tell you it can do some real harm. The stomach acid can do terrible things to your teeth.
It took me a long time to feel ok about food, and I know it sucks but it might be time to talk to a counselor.
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on March 06, 2012
at 09:36 AM
hi Kintak! first of all, bravo for having the guts to share your deep struggles with someone else. that's a huge first step!
as someone who's struggled with emotional eating over the years, the best advice i can give you is to please be honest with your parents. it sounds like they (and your friends) see you as the picture of health, and that is BIG pressure for someone who is struggling. you cannot be free of your demons if you attempt to keep them to yourself and just "try harder." freedom comes with honesty! listen to Paleolady :)
also, the need to control intake and numbers is usually driven from something deeper, something inside. it sounds like you have been wounded deeply by other people's opinions about your body... understandably so! i would beg you to start seeing a counselor now while you are still young, so you can sort things out and cherish the beautiful life you have ahead of you. my issues also started at your age and it has taken me 6 years of hell to make any progress. if i had just gone to therapy earlier, i guarantee you it would have saved me so much frustration!
most of all? good luck. keep posting and keeping us updated, but biggest of all? take care of yourself. you can do this!