When you’re dieting it’s easy to sometimes let calorie counting get out of control and become a habit, which could eventually lead to an eating disorder. Instead of keeping a healthy weight and physique an eating disorder will make you become unhealthily thin, your skin loses elasticity, your hair becomes thin and weak, periods stop, bones can become weak and in extreme cases people have starved themselves to death.
Of course this kind of obsessional behaviour is extreme and uncommon, however, as well as obesity becoming an epidemic in the Western World, anorexia is also increasing, among teenage boys and especially girls.
When Your Healthy Eating Turns Unhealthy
While anorexia and bulimia are diseases which affect the mind and consequently the body by cutting calories, engaging in secretive, unhealthy behaviour such as purging and fasting eating disorders while on a diet may appear healthy and can even be encouraged by people who don’t understand how bad eating habits can affect health.
Photo courtesy of Rega photography
We’re all perfectly well aware that the only way to lose weight naturally is to eat less and exercise more, but how can we make sure that we, or our loved ones, don’t begin to lose sight of becoming healthy and start obsessing over extreme weight loss?
1) Avoid diets that concentrate on only doing one thing and are unreasonably strict. Embarking on a diet which solely consists of honey and hot lemon because they are ‘fat melters’ will certainly help you lose weight quickly, however, you will be losing weight in the most unhealthy way possible since, as well as calories, you will also be missing out on vitamins, minerals and all of your food groups. Instead of opting for a faddy diet that is unproven, ask your doctor or a qualified dietician about healthy ways to achieve your target weight.
2) Don’t confuse thinness with happiness, popularity or quality of life. While you will feel better on the whole once you’ve achieved your goal weight, being thin won’t make you happier, more popular or a better person. You will feel better about yourself because you’ve achieved a great thing, however, continuing to lose weight will make you more ill than being overweight. Having self-esteem is critical to overcoming eating disorders; so don’t let your weight define you.
3) Diet, and dine, with friends. Because eating disorders are secretive you will be able to prevent getting into the habit of excessive calorie control by sharing your weight loss journey with others. Having someone go through the same exercise regime and diet plan means you will have someone who is going through exactly the same feelings as you, is understanding, able to offer support and stop you feeling like you are going through this change alone.
4) Don’t compare yourself with others, particularly not celebrities. Assuming that people are happier, more successful, popular or necessarily healthier because they are thin is simply a mistake. The media, Hollywood and television do reward people for being thin, that’s true, but to assume that they are happier, better people is to undervalue yourself. Plus, when you look at the exposes that the tabloids run when they tire of a particular celebrity you’ll see that they are no happier than anyone else.
5) Talk about what you’re going through. If you’re losing weight successfully but you’re beginning to feel as if it’s starting to take over your life don’t keep it to yourself. Talk to friends, your doctor, even your gym instructor since they may be able to switch things around so that you break any bad habits before they become embedded.
In summation, you should always remember that no matter what your size, you’re a good person, you’re not alone and other people want to help you. Keep your weight goals realistic and talk about what you’re going through with anyone who’ll listen.
Amy Fry writes about various subjects including eating disorders, anxiety and mental health.For more information about eating disorders visit Clinical Partners private psychiatrists in London at http://www.clinical-partners.co.uk or http://www.mind.org.uk/.