The Sour Taste of Numbers…. (Calorie Counting)

When I say numbers most people think of long boring maths lesson spent doing pointless sums with time that seems to drag on forever. However “numbers” to a sufferer of Anorexia means something entirely different….

  • Calories
  • Fat content
  • Step counting
  • Miles
  • Weight
  • Time exercised
  • BMI etc…

Yes it’s amazing how just one word can mean completely different things to individuals and when I was at my worst I was constantly caught up calculating every step I made and every thing I would eat/ drink. I would scroll the internet searching of ways to cut/ burn calories with numbers literally controlling my life…

It became dangerous…

the more I lowered the number the worse it got, nothing was good enough. Some days the calories in chewing gum became too much for me to handle and it would end up sending my brain into overdrive.

NO NUMBER WAS EVER GOOD ENOUGH!

I had set weights to reach, set calories not to go over but no matter how quickly I reached these numbers Anorexia was never happy. I was fighting in search of happiness that never came…

Being just 10 years old when I started counting calories on the day I went into General and I could no longer control my calorie content it hit me hard. I almost would say I had an emotional attachment to knowing these numbers and without them I felt lost, panicked and very much out of control. I didn’t handle the situation very well and desperately tried to find out as many details as possible, taking my personal files to find my meal plan, searching online and begging the nurses to tell me. Everything I received was weighed specifically and calculated by my dietician but I didn’t trust anyone and struggled more than ever.

However when I moved to Huntercombe Hospital I was not once told how many calories I would be having and none of my food was weighed out. Instead we had to pour out unmeasured bowls of cereal and had no specific set meals only snacks where the same. This I found extremely difficult. But after all your average person does not weigh out their food or calorie count so by moving away from this Anorexic behaviour it has really benefited my recovery.

This week I have made a big step and have for the first time stepped on the scale backwards. You make think this sounds a peculiar thing to do but it means I won’t know what my weight is to the exact. I found it very anxiety provoking not to know the number but at the same time I know I shouldn’t be letting a number ruin my life. Instead of knowing I have agreed with my nurse that I have a specific range to maintain in and she will let me know if I drop below, or raise above it and we will make adjustments accordingly. This may sound like an easy thing, but for me I feel unnerved whether to trust her or not? Like don’t get me wrong she’s not the person to lie and trick me and it may sound strange but in a way we can all be like that with people. It could be down to someone saying you look nice in a dress but you feel unsure whether they are just saying it to keep you happy. I would say it’s a similar feeling but much more magnified.

I have so far managed to maintain my weight without measuring things out, counting calories or fat. Which in a way calms me as although it can be worrying not knowing exactly what I am having it also takes away the stress of things not being exact.

I would advice anyone in recovery to move away from counting and knowing their weight as it just fuels the eating disorder and keeps the rigid rules in place. I think by stepping back from knowing numbers has helped me a lot and although I can still religiously check things when I can I no longer let it control me as much as I used to.

“Today, I will not count calories. I will not eat numbers. I will eat food to nurture my body to help it grow and thrive. I will not feel guilty. I will smile because I am alive and am one step closer to being happy and healthy! If anything is worth counting it should be the number of days I haven’t counted…”

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12 thoughts on “The Sour Taste of Numbers…. (Calorie Counting)

      1. Great post and I so identify with this obsession with numbers. When I had a nervous breakdown was doing crazy OCD checking rituals 10 hours a day numbers were everything. I had to check the car 1000 times all the locks on the front door (there were lots!) 400 times I had to check the garden doors 900 times. Everything was controlled by numbers and there were good numbers and bad numbers common with OCD. I am also recovering from an eating disorder and do still count calories a bit but rarely weigh myself. I am so glad you are recovering and thanks for following my blog.

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  1. I count calories, I find it so hard to stop,i cant trust myself to a simple so scared incase I end up overweight like I was before my ed,everything makes me feel guilty yet i am not far from wr,others seems to say it gets easier but now I’m near a healthy weight ,i feel it’s so much harder,I’m scared of foods still and feel guilty and not sure how to cope when I have no friends and family are not really that supportive ,they see it as all i have to do is eat and my mum just says that she wish she could eat whatever she wanted and not gain and I said I wish I could even eat the foods I’m scared of without feeling guilty and panicing😥,I’ve never been ip so I feel fake and like even though I could of, i put family first yet i wish I put myself first as they allways put them self before me,now it’s so hard to carry on and theese dark thoughts back it all worse 😣I did find it hard to see on a black background, I have trouble reading things on dark backgrounds x*

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    1. Firstly, you are not fake at all! Everyone copes with things in different ways and you did what you thought was best for others at the time (this just shows how thoughtful you are – a admirable quality to have).

      I, like you found it hard when reaching a healthy weight and my hardest part of recovery was the fear of maintenance when weight restored. I panicked that any small amount of food would send my weight rocketing…. it hasn’t happened like that! I listened to my dietician and followed what she said and since (even though not counting calories just going on average portions) I have managed to remain steady for many weeks!! Keep going, trust the professionals and you will get there eventually!! Its a long road and I’m still at the beginning ,like you, but it will be worth it on the day when we can look back on it all and say ‘we beat it!’!!

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    2. Sorry about the writing still trying to work out the whole blog thing! 😂

      Please try your hardest to move away from these habits! I know how difficult it is but if you start with one thing and slowly develop it might become easier X

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