A Single-Sized Package of M&M’s has 240 Calories.
A single sized package of M&M’s has 240 calories.
A serving of Lays plain potato chips has ten grams of fat.
I have almost every junk food’s calorie count and fat content engraved so deeply into my brain that I will be able to recite them until the day I die. This is one of the lingering side effects of anorexia that continues to haunt me. I’ve always been known as “the skinny girl.” When I was a kid, I could eat an entire bag of goldfish daily without gaining so much as a half pound. But when I turned 13, that changed; I hit puberty and started gaining weight. The fear of becoming fat overcame me completely and calorie counting and dieting started to consume my life. I started restricting my daily food intake. At first I was only reducing the sizes of meals and making healthier choices, but as time passed, I was eating a 100 calorie granola bar and an apple for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The internet was my best friend and worst enemy during my battle with anorexia. I spent an infinite amount of time on the web researching the best ways to keep weight off. I joined a diet website that allowed me to record my daily food intake and used the site religiously. I made sure I included everything that entered my body, including gum, coffee and water. I went from 110 pounds to 95 pounds in less than three months.
I didn’t see anything wrong with what I was doing. All I cared about was that my size 0 jeans still fit me. I was constantly fatigued due to lack of nutrition. The small amount of energy I had left was used to count calories and research new foods that I could eat without guilt. I was so focused on my weight that I began to stray from my friends. Eventually, I had managed to isolate myself completely from everyone and everything. Still, I saw nothing wrong with myself. It never crossed my mind that I had a problem until one of my dance teachers bluntly asked me in front of the entire class whether I had been starving myself.
And so I went from researching ways to keep off the weight to looking up signs and symptoms of anorexia. As I learned more about the disease, I began to notice some of the physical symptoms in myself; I had extremely dry skin, irregular menstrual periods, consistently cold hands and feet, and fine hair growing on my face and arms. I was too ashamed to admit to anyone that I needed help so I took my diagnosis and treatment into my own hands. I put myself on a high-calorie, high-fat diet to help me gain weight. I began reading blogs of other anorexia survivors to inspire and motivate me.
Recovering was far from easy. The fear of getting fat continued to creep up on me and I often felt tempted to fall back into my old habits. It was a long process and I found it significantly harder to gain the weight than it had been to lose it. Finally, after almost a year and a half of struggling, I managed to gain it all back. My energy was restored along with all of the relationships with friends and family that I had pushed away.
I now consider myself recovered. I no longer allow myself to count calories or read nutrition labels. Many of the physical effects of anorexia I once had, like cold hands and feet and dry skin, have gone away. I am still thin, but I am no longer emaciated. Yet while I may no longer look sick, the mental aspects of anorexia have been more difficult to escape. Because although I now eat many of the foods I never would have touched while I was restricting myself, I do however still feel a small wave of guilt after consuming them. And there are some foods, such as potato chips and donuts, that I still haven’t been able to bring myself to eat. Although I no longer fit the term “anorexic”, the disease will always be a part of me. I still find myself trying to limit my food intake at times, and I occasionally have to force myself to eat.
The most important thing, however, is that I am eating.
There is no magic cure that will make my anorexia go away completely. There are only steps forward and easier days.
Anorexia takes over when a person is at their weakest. When I allowed anorexia to control my life, I was in a vulnerable state. My body was changing but instead of adjusting to the differences, I tried to reject them. Although the disease was unquestionably a huge obstacle in my life, I look past the negatives and focus on the positives. Pushing anorexia out of my life made me a stronger person. Through my recovery, I learned to measure myself in strength instead of pounds. Defeating anorexia taught me that strength comes through the simple accomplishments; like having the courage to write about a personal demon, that once seemed impossible to overcome.