Health is not defined by calories

Something that really bothers me is the way people associate health with calories.

I’m not talking about people suffering with eating disorders, of course it isn’t their fault and I bet you anything they wish that they didn’t feel the need to count calories, but I mean the general population/ the way they are presented in media.

There is far too much focus and emphasis on calories these days.

“New recipe, lower calories”

“Workout more, burn calories” etc

The fact of the matter is; health is not and never will be defined by calories.
Calories can be a factor to your health I agree, but so can so many other things and calories only really come into play if you’re eating an unbalanced diet or are eating too much/ too little.

The Oxford dictionary definition of health is:
“The state of being free from illness or injury.”
Does this mention calories? No.

People say “a calorie is a calorie”, meaning that it doesn’t matter what they eat as long as the calories are the same, whereas I truly do not believe this is the case.
Again, I am not trying to pick on people or be rude, it’s just people’s lack of knowledge around health when it comes to eating. It really is shocking and I find it quite upsetting, especially when people refer to calories all the time when I’m trying to stop looking at them.

“A calorie is a calorie”, well, yes and no. If you have a calorie goal in recovery of course it is important you reach it! And it is equally important that you challenge yourself and treat yourself to niceties like chocolate. But, calories do not define health.

A really simple way of putting it is this;
say a glass of smoothie is 200kcal,
a bottle of Coke Zero is 0kcal.
But which is better for your health?
The smoothie.
But it’s higher calories, how can this be?!

Just because it is higher in calories does not mean it isn’t good for you. Smoothies are full of vitamins, minerals and natural healthy substances. Coke Zero has many artificial additives and not many natural substances at all.
So why is it that in today’s modern day and age, where we know so much about health and nutrition, that people are so fixated on calories?

Obviously I cannot answer this question. I can simply say this; a healthy diet is one of balanced nutritional values, not one based on calorie goals. Having treats is ok, good for you in fact, but so is it important to have things such as your 5-a-day.

I eat chocolate almost every day I would say. Not necessarily in it’s pure form, but I eat puddings that have it in and chocolate yoghurt etc. All food groups are important. I have a high metabolism and I love chocolate, so I shouldn’t be ashamed to say I eat it often. It isn’t bad for you, fats are healthy and are just another food group like any other. I have a balanced diet of all the food groups; fats and sugars, starchy foods (carbs), protein, dairy, and fruit and veg.

The key to a healthy diet is balance. And the understanding that calories aren’t everything is so so important.

I want to promote health and am sick of societies views on calories. I believe it is wrong and it’s encouraging disordered eating behaviours and thoughts around food.

[note: I am not saying Coke Zero is bad for you in any way, simply that you do not want to be drinking it every day of possible, and it was just an example to show that calories aren’t all that counts when it comes to health]

One day we will all be able to nourish our bodies well and understand health better. We just have to spread the word.

Thanks for reading.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2015: My first video

Sorry for my lack of posting lately, school is very stressful and I have been struggling a bit with my mental state. I am trying hard to stay on track, but food thoughts and self harm urges have been bad so it really is a battle at the moment.

I would never wish an eating disorder upon someone, no one deserves to go through that. I know from personal experience how horrible it is and how hard it is to recover from. But it is possible.

I wrote a song a while ago and decided to edit a video of it to raise awareness forĀ Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2015.

I am not a strong singer so I do apologise for my terrible vocals. It was really hard and anxiety-provoking posting this, but if I want to make a different to how people view mental health I have to be open about it.

So here goes!

My previous post on this poem/ song lyrics: Shadows [original poem]

Thanks for reading

The ‘anorexic’ girl [original poem]

Don’t call me that,
The harsh judgement in your tone.
Don’t use it as an excuse,
Oh she can’t help it, she’s anorexic.

Don’t separate me from everyone else,
Isolate me due to our differences,
Don’t stop and stare and whisper,
‘She’s anorexic

Don’t give me names,
Don’t stare me down,
Don’t treat me any different.
I’m just like you.

Don’t snigger as I mull over meals,
Each bite painful.
Don’t tease me when I’m down,
Don’t judge before you know me,
‘The anorexic girl’

Don’t call me selfish,
Attention-seeking, sad,
We all have struggles,
Mine are just expressed differently.

Stare instead into my hollow eyes,
The girl scared to exist,
See that I want love and support,
Like any other.

See my open arms ready to give,
See the hope in my eyes,
The smile trying to escape,
Help me be me.

Anorexia, now that is an illness.
But there is a girl,
And there is her illness,
They are not bound together.
There is no anorexic girl.

Insight into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD, we all know what that is, it’s the one where you want everything arranged, so you line your pencils up on your table in colour order right?! Um, no actually. It’s sad how many people seem to think that that is what OCD is.

Firstly, let’s just introduce what OCD is. OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and as defined by Wikipedia, is “an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear or worry (obsessions), repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety (compulsions), or a combination of such obsessions and compulsions“.

As you can see from this definition, OCD is a mental condition and not just people being tidy. I know plenty of neat and organised people, but that doesn’t mean that they have OCD.

OCD is characterised by the intense anxiety and sense of foreboding if they do not do certain rituals, or do not do or organise certain things.

What many people don’t realise is that OCD can manifest itself in so many ways, some more unusual than others. Someone who appears very messy could still suffer from OCD, as OCD is different things to different people.

A common OCD area is hygiene. In this case people often wash their hands excessively (often causing bleeding), will wash excessively, and have a phobia of girls and anything dirty. If they don’t do these things (such as washing hands), they feel intensely anxious and sometimes terrified that something bad will happen.

Although that example seems to make sense, many OCD habits aren’t.

For me, my OCD is very strange and select.
There are many things I have to do before bedtime for example, including washing my feet, moving my pillow right up against the wall, switching off my phone and putting it face down on the bedside table, making sure my hair dryer is unplugged etc.
I also have OCD when it comes to school work. All notes a teacher goes through must be written down, neatly too. I cannot ‘leave a gap’ in my workings or in a test to fill out later, which caused a 34% test mark when I couldn’t do the first few questions but also couldn’t move on to ones I knew. (Now I have my tests all as booklets which I fill out to avoid this, and since then my score has gone up to 86%, thank goodness). I must do homework every day, and complete at least one, no matter how busy I am.

Rules. Rules, rules, rules.

You never get a break from them.

Imagine having your mum constantly nagging in your ear 24/7. Now imagine that amplified to an unbearable level. That is what OCD is like.

People are quick to say ‘get a grip’, but of course it isn’t that simple! I try to break OCD habits but it just makes me extremely nervous and on edge, I cannot sit still if I know I haven’t followed one of the ‘rules’.

Another problem with OCD is that it grows and evolves.
It might start out as something really small, a little habit, but before you know it it’s turned into a huge thing, that often leaves you feeling like you can’t function properly. One thing can lead to another, so one habit can multiply to ten before you realise it was an issue.

I used to have only 1 or 2 things I struggled with, such as sitting in the same seat for dinner, but now there are more than I care to count.

So next time someone says “I’m a little bit OCD about my desk”, just ask them this question “do you feel crippling guilt if you don’t do that? Does your mind feel busy and you can’t sit still, do you feel anxious and sick? Does it scare you if you don’t do that? No. Then no, you do not have OCD.”
[obviously some people will have OCD about desks and the suchlike, I am just talking about people who use it as an adjective rather than the potentially serious mental illness it is]

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I hope this helped give some insight into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and some stereotypes involved. Please feel free to leave any feedback, I love to know if I’ve helped or if something was useful or not so that I can continue raising awareness of mental health in the best way possible.

Thanks for reading.

What you’ll never know [original poem]

I’m feeling really down tonight so decided to express it in some poetry. I haven’t checked it and gone back to improve it; I know it isn’t a beautiful piece of writing but I have to share it. These thoughts are consuming me and I am a hollow shell, a carrier of my depression. At least writing poetry, I can feel. That even through this pain, I can still be connected to myself. I am still human.

***

Do you know how it feels
To be constantly checking the time as you wash
Not wanting to stay too long behind the bathroom’s locked door.

Afraid of your mothers knock,
Her nervous voice as she asks if you’re ok.
She thinks you’re cutting.
Dragging that razor blade across your skin
Again and again.

You’ve stopped that. For now.
But the pain will never stop for her.
You open the door, wearing short sleeved pyjamas so she can see
You’re ok.
Her relief she tries to hide
Plastered on her expression like a newspaper headline.

You go off to bed, but through the night she stands and listens at your door
Checking, again and again, that the silent, choked tears aren’t falling.

At breakfast as you sit picking at your cereal,
She sits watching, pretending to be interested in her own food,
But all the time scared of the demons that are hiding in you
Out of her control.

At school you’re confident.
At least that’s how you appear.
The smile and laughter does the trick,
The silly games and jokes,
Why would anyone guess that it was all an act?

Your mother goes to work.
But all the time thinking, ‘I wonder how she’s getting on today’
Never knowing what the answer will be.

The breakdowns have no countdown,
Nor time limit or reason,
They come on all of a sudden,
Consuming you and taking your mother with you in a cloud of doubt and fear.

But you keep going.
You plaster on that smile,
Do your homework.
Be a good girl.

Who would ever guess all this was going on in your head?
This is why it will never get better.
No one knows you.
And no one ever will.

The Weight of Eating Disorders

As a victim of an eating disorder, I know that there is one ultimate secret that is hard to hide… Weight.

The numbers consume you. No matter how small they go, they crush you in their seeming enormity. Others may ask, but never will you let them know how ‘huge’ you really are.

Since I’ve been in recovery I’ve learnt that often victims of eating disorders don’t see their body how they truly are, often associated with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). However, this new piece of knowledge does not provide much comfort for the agonising pulling and pinching of your body.

No matter how many or how often people tell you you’re not fat, your view of yourself doesn’t change.
So your weight drops and the numbers plummet, you forever hoping that maybe one day you will look in the mirror and like what you see.

“Maybe if lose a few more pounds I’ll be happier in my own skin”

If only it were as simple as that.

You see, eating disorders aren’t kind and forgiving like you and I; they’re out to cause pain and will not stop at attempting to do so. A few pounds lost, the voice tells you “not good enough” and “just a few pounds more, then you can stop“.
The pounds come off, but the ‘stop’ is never reached.

Even now that I am in recovery and dedicated to it, telling people what I weigh (e.g. my parents) never ceases to be a challenge.

I got weighed today and the ultimate question was asked; “give this [weight record] to your dad on the way out won’t you?”. And did I? No. Instead I folded the sheet as small as it would go, shoved it in my pocket and hoped dad wouldn’t ask. He didn’t.

You might be reading this thinking, “Ok, so I get that eating disorders are hard… But what’s the point in telling us about it?”. The simple answer is, for awareness.

If no one knew about cancer how could anyone possibly help support that person, let alone diagnose it! It’s no different for eating disorders and other mental health issues.
When I first went (/was taken) to the GP with eating issues, he told me it was ‘just a phase’. If anorexia counts as a ‘phase’, then yes, yes it is. But somehow I think that it is not.

If more people understood and knew about these disorders, and if the stigma behind eating disorders and mental health issues were broken, maybe more people would be correctly diagnosed and treated, with more support all round and therefore higher success levels?
And isn’t even that possibly, no matter how small, worth investing in? Just a thought to leave you with.

Thanks for reading.

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The monster of mental health [my original artwork]

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I wanted a way to express myself other than destructive things or writing things down where I would dwell even more on my thoughts. Doing this piece of art has been a big release and helps me identify how I feel.

This is my idea and I didn’t use a reference, I’m not very good at art but I like how this turned out I think.. To me it helps represent the thoughts and feelings that come with depression, eating disorders, and other mental health issues where you feel isolated and overwhelmed.
If more people knew what it felt like and how hard it was, people would be more accepting, understanding and supportive? You can always hope.

I had so many things to write, I didn’t even fit them all in!

[Reposts and reblogs are welcome, but please give credit]

Thanks for reading.