When does a strict diet tip over into being an eating disorder?

Hey folks

There really seems to be a fine line between the two. A close friend has expressed concern that I’m in the grip of an eating disorder having lost a lot of weight this year and knowing that I had what would now be called ‘atypical anorexia’ in 2011-12. You can read about this (here). So, am I just super focused…or is something else going on?

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In the UK, the acronym SCOFF is used by medical practitioners to screen for the presence of possible eating disorders. Answering ‘yes’ to at least two of these questions would suggest possible anorexia or bulimia so here’s me being honest in answering each one:

1. Do you make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full? No.

2. Do you worry you have lost Control over how much you eat? No.

3. Have you recently lost more than One stone in a three month period? One stone is the equivalent of 14lbs so yes…but my starting weight was very high? At the same time, I’ve lost more than the recommended 1-2 lbs a week and I’m jumping on the scales probably far more than is recommended.

4. Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin? No…as I’m still in the obese range. I feel far bigger than my clothes size would suggest but can’t that be the case for many people going through a transformation? Does the mind need time to catch up with what’s going on with the body?

5. Would you say that Food dominates your life? Yes! All day, every day. I wake up thinking about food, I think about how to avoid situations where others, like my husband, will expect me to eat more that I want to, I take ages to go to sleep because I’m thinking about calories and, well, my Google history is full of food-related searches. So, this is a resounding yes.

So, okay, I can say ‘yes’ to two of these.

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When I was ill in 2011-12, the mental health team said that I had all the features of anorexia as I’d gone from a BMI of 43 to 27 very quickly….but I was still actually overweight. They could see that day-to-day life was consumed with all things food-related and almost this obsession about losing that next pound on the scales. They could also see how my heart QT’s interval was becoming prolonged with regular heart tracings. The term ‘atypical anorexia’, which was added when the DSM-5 was published in 2013, basically means that the criteria for anorexia is met except that the person can be ‘normal’ weight or even overweight. So, I think it’s safe to say that this would have been my diagnosis at the time if it existed.

As some of you know, I do have a lot of pressure at home as I’m carer to one of my adult children and so, whilst I’m always the one with a huge, beaming smile, I know there’s a lot of sadness going on right now. So, am I struggling to sometimes eat enough because I’m tired and perhaps struggling as a carer or have I turned to being rather strict because eating and losing weight is something that I can control in life? I’ve decided to pursue some therapy to explore this so I’m hoping that will start in the next few weeks. But returning to my original question ‘When does a strict diet tip over into being an eating disorder?’, I guess this can happen when thoughts about food and losing weight permeate into almost every aspect of life. I’m having days when I feel almost scared of eating so I know I need to challenge my thinking around food to stay well. So, in answering this question, I’m going to have to get back to you. I’ve always been (and I’ll continue to be) open with you.

I hope you have a super weekend. I’m seeing my parents this weekend which is the first time for about 7 months due to Covid so I can’t wait. And I’ll be back on Monday with my next weigh-in

Love Erika xx

Trying to avoid the anorexic thinking…

Hey folks

Mmm, so you may see that my BMI is in the obese range and then be puzzling about why I’m talking about anorexic behaviour. After all, I’m not underweight. However, I’ve posted before that about 9 years ago, I became trapped in the anorexic behaviour where my daily intake was capped at a mere 250 calories a day, I ended up with heart problems after losing about 8 stone very quickly and I was very close to being sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Yes, it’s possible to adopt anorexic behaviour whatever your weight….and become so poorly.

So, I’m just a bit aware that some of those past thoughts are creeping in again and I’m getting panicky about certain things like:

  • being so rigid about eating only between midday and 8pm. I’ve had a couple of days where I’ve almost gone without dinner as eating past 8pm would be ‘wrong’
  • starting to count calories very strictly. I’ve deliberately stayed away from calorie counting up to now as, 9 years ago, I’d count every half a calorie. Yes! Every half calorie!
  • seeing some foods as ‘bad’
  • jumping on the scales again…again…and again
  • starting to think about how I can avoid meals

But I think it’s good that I’m recognising these thoughts as I can take action and tell myself:

  • Erika, you’re allowed to eat outside that 8 hour window. Just do it when you need to.
  • Erika, you know what’s a sensible portion. You don’t need to count calories as the weight is coming off so you’re doing great. You’re doing something right.
  • Erika, food isn’t bad. You’re allowed to eat anything but you just to need to learn about moderation so that one piece of chocolate doesn’t mean the family size bar! When you’re ready, you can start to reintroduce more foods so that you know when to stop and don’t feel bad about having treats.
  • Erika, you need to be eating enough. Be kind to yourself! Missing out meals will affect your energy levels, especially when gearing up for London Marathon day.

When I started to blog, I promised that I’d be very open with you and, you know, I think writing this is really cathartic. Hopefully it’ll help others who have a history of eating disorder thoughts and just see those behaviours creeping in.

Have a lovely weekend and I’ll be back on Monday

Love Erika xx

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lbs or kgs? No, us Brits talk about weight in stones!

What are stones?

At least historically, the people of the UK and Ireland have talked about their weight in stones and I’ve only just found out that very few countries to do this. In fact, when I started this blog a few weeks ago, my challenge was to lose 10 stone and you may be thinking, Erika, what on earth are stones? That’s a good question!

Well, 1 stone equals 14lbs so rather than say how we weigh 280lbs, we would usually say how we weigh 20 stone. However, I see on Facebook groups that the universal language of weight loss appears to be lbs so that’s why my blog name changed. I thought that losing 150lbs felt like a more round number than aiming to lose 140lbs!

Anyway, there’s a reason why I’m telling you about this. You see, at my weekly weigh-in on Monday, I was at 283lbs. And when I get to see 279lbs on the scales, this is going to be SUCH a momentous weigh-in as it’ll mean that I’m under 20 stone! I’ll be 19 stone 13lbs and well on my way to success.

What music gets you up dancing?

In Monday’s blog, I asked what music gets you up dancing and burning away those calories. As promised, here’s my list of the songs that get me up but these are 10 of many:

  • Wake Me Up Before You Go Go (Wham)
  • 1999 (Prince)
  • I’m Still Standing (Elton John)
  • I’m So Excited (The Pointer Sisters)…….I LOVE this!
  • Fame (Irena Cara)
  • Footloose theme tune
  • Shake It Off (Taylor Swift)
  • (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher (Jackie Wilson)
  • 9 to 5 (Dolly Parton)
  • Reach (S Club 7)

And finally, eating disorders

My blog tagline is about not falling into the traps of eating disorder behaviour which can be hard when embarking on a weight loss journey. Now that we’re getting to know each other a bit more, over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be telling you about my struggles with bulimia in my 20s (which ended up with 6 weeks spent in an eating disorder unit as an inpatient) and then being very ill with anorexic behaviour 9 years ago in my late 30s that lead to very serious heart problems. But it won’t be all doom and gloom. You see, I’m celebrating right now as I’m losing weight healthily for the first time free of my ED history which I hope helps at least one person out there. There is hope!

Okay guys, next blog will be my weigh-in on Monday…..although I might sneak in an extra one over the weekend!

Love Erika xx

I need to lose 150lbs

The first post on a new blog is rather scary! There’s so much I want to tell you but we’ve got lots of time to get to know each other, haven’t we! I mean, losing 150lbs (about 10 stone) isn’t going to be a goal that I can accomplish in the next month so I’m going to be blogging for quite some time.

First, I need to confess something – I THINK it’s 150lbs I need to lose. I was too scared to get on the scales on my own so I lifted a very large angel high-backed chair with me so that I could glance at the scales and think “Well, at least I’m not X amount”. I’d love to know if I’m only one who gets on scales with furniture, pets or children! I’ve been Googling the weight of the chair and it’s coming up 28lbs (over 12.5 kg) so I think I have an idea about my true weight but I need to shift some more weight more before I get on ‘naked’, without anything clinging to me or held above my head!

I must tell you that I have a history of bulimia and anorexia and so it’s vitally important that I do this in a really healthy way, a more sustainable way than in the past. 9 years ago, I was very ill with anorexia and put my heart at risk. I was obsessing about minimal calories over 6 months and was almost sectioned under the UK Mental Health Act due its physical toll. But more on that another time.

The last thing to share right now is that I started this journey on 14 February (absolutely no link to being Valentine’s Day). I wanted to make sure that I was beginning this journey healthily before blogging and I wanted to see if I could sustain healthy eating for more than 3 weeks (usually the point in a diet when I reach for the candy and biscuits!). But, with 2.5 months gone, I think I’m now ready do share my 150lbs weight loss with you which will be on top of however much weight I’ve already lost.

And I promise to be open, very open with you. I’ll tell you about some exercise I’m starting and what I’m eating. And, in my next blog, I’ll tell you what the scales said!

Love Erika xx