I mentioned before how counting calories became an obsession for me when I was anorexic- and I do mean OBSESSION. I would count the calories in EVERYTHING, literally every, single, last thing. Chewing gum, was a particular favourite here- you don’t even swallow it, how crazy is it that someone would study the calories in CHEWING GUM!? But I did, and again I can remember another ‘panic’ moment when I realised the new gum I’d bought (chocolate dessert flavoured, to try and ease my never ending cravings) had 5 calories, when my usual mint had 1- that’s an extra 4 calories!! Oh good god, how did I not realise this before?! I can remember this totally throwing me. Thankfully I can now look back see it all in a completely different light, and realise that the amount of calories something has, does not reflect it’s nutritional value. I also know that as I train quite hard, 6 times a week I need a lot of calories to fuel my work outs- but that’s for another blog.
Calories Through Anorexic Eyes
My diet, if you can call it that, during my ED was something more akin to the dreaded Weight Watchers. I would ‘feast’ on Boots Shapers Meal Deal, but shun a salmon fillet and some avocado. I mean who wouldn’t pick a low calorie, vaguely bacon flavoured little puff of air over a natural, nutty flavoured, ripe bit of avocado, obvious choice really. I would ‘allow’ myself more calories at the weekend (lucky me) and use them to eat sparingly during the day, but have a Magnum, some chocolate cereal and whatever else in the evening. Then end up feeling both sick and guilty. What little food I was eating wasn’t great. Yes, of course I had the standard chicken and broccoli, and chicken a salad, then back to chicken and broccoli again. But the other foods I had in my ‘diet’ were of such little nutritional value, and if I’m being honest, not even that nice. I can remember one specific occasion- it was a best friends birthday and she was celebrating by having afternoon tea at The Wolesely, in our own private room. How lovely! How scary more like- how would I tot up the calories of little, tiny, fiddly bits of cake?! CAKE, for the love of god, what was she trying to do to me- of course my friends didn’t ‘know’ at this point. Anyway I went and ate sparingly, trying to taste a bit of everything but likewise not wanting to eat a lot so I ended up feeling both guilty and unsatisfied. But that’s ok, because once I’d left, and obviously attempted to add it all up to rough calorie value in My Fitness Pal, I stopped at the services, which I knew had an M and S and bought every low calorie option going. I had saved oodles of cals as I hadn’t eaten very much and merely picked so I had this lovely surplus to gorge on rubbish. I can remember being amazed at how much I could get for a certain amount of calories. A salady thingy, a bag of flavoured crispy air like bites, a wannabe chocolate type affair and some little layered mousse with fake cream- yummy! Of course I ate it all and felt hungry about 30 minutes later- why? Because there was nothing in any of it that was actually going to fill me up, because it was ‘low cal.’
Calories In My Eyes now
I understand that when it really comes down to it, calories are a big factor in someones diet. If you consume more than you use, you will gain weight, that is fact. BUT, the type of calories you consume can have an effect on your body, as I understand it. My nutritionist once said to me that 100 calories from chocolate is totally different to 100 calories form celery (celery was like my BFF during my ED!). And how right that is. So now I don’t actually look at the calories in anything, at all! Never did I think I’d say that. I know some people who compete and need to get lean/to a low weight need to track what they eat but I personally don’t like the idea of having to count the calories my food. I would rather someone made an informed decision on what they wanted, rather than look at the calorie value.
Calories in The Eyes of the Media
I do think there is less of it now, but still we are bombarded with low calorie diets. And I feel these are aimed at women in particular, and it’s not great! Those Boots Shapers layered moussey thingys with the nice fake cream- what actually is that? And what actually will it do for your body? Will it give you a momentary amount of satisfaction, while you’re on a sugar high from the added sweetener, and then leave you feeling low and wanting more? Most probably. So rather than looking at the calories in foods, I try and look at what the foods will do for me, how they’ll make me feel, what the benefits are, and how they will really taste. Calories are important, yes, but not in the way I was viewing them before. Give me high calorie salmon and avocado over a low calorie bacon flavoured puff of air any day. Will the bacon flavoured puff of air contribute to my intake of omega 3’s, will it help my hair to shine, my nails to grow and my bones to become stronger- doubtful. Obviously food should be something that is enjoyed, and I’m not saying it should be viewed simply as fuel but our bodies need fuel, and without it they just don’t work. I want my body to work, and not only work, but work in the best way it can. I’ll never be Jessica Ennis or Paula Radcliffe but I can be the best version of me.
If you ever find yourself getting obsessive when it comes to calories, take a step back, don’t focus on the media c**p that’s being promoted by the latest Big Brother evictee- be sensible, and look at what the food really is, will a calorie laden avocado really hurt you?