Anorexia/Eating Disorders/Am I anorexic

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Question
Im 13 years old and I am 5ft 4in. I have recently (few months) been carefully watching what I eat. I cout calories and write it down. I workout around 18 hrs a week. Then, sometimes I'll add another 20min to that if I feel I need to. I only eat an apple every day for lunch. I average about 600-800 cals. A day. When i go over 1000 i am always upset with myself.I am always weighing my self at least once if not twice a day. All my friends call me skiny, but I feel fat. I am 95 ish lbs. I want to be less. I keep some candy hidden in my room that I will eat sometimes, just for me, but I generally don't mind eating in front of people. Please help. Am I anorexic?

Answer
Hi there,

Thanks for your email.  First of all, the fact that you have messaged me about this says to me that you recognise in yourself that there might be some cause for concern and quite rightly so.

At 5'4" and 95lbs in weight that puts your Body Mass Index at 16.3 which for your age is actually normal as the healthy range for your height/age is around 91-134 lbs, however for your age group and gender you need to be consuming around 1,600 to 2,400 calories and at least 45% of what you consume should be carbohydrates which are needed for energy.  You mention that you are doing 18 hours of working out per week, which again is fine to be working out for an hour or so per day so long as you replace the energy that you are losing with a balanced and healthy diet.  People who do sports burn more calories so you need to keep your calorie intake to a level that will compensate for this.  

The trouble is that with all of the exercise that you're doing, if you don't feed your body the energy that it needs you will burn out and make yourself unwell.  Your body needs essential nutrients in order to thrive including vitamins, carbohydrates and fats, electrolytes/minerals such as sodium, potassium, iron, zinc and so on.  Without the necessary nutrients severe problems can arise ranging from anaemia to heart arrhythmias.   

May I ask you what is your target weight?  You mentioned that you're wishing to lose more however for your height I would say that you are already in the low mark of normal with the lowest weight at 91 lbs.  At your age your body requires a great deal of energy for growth as you are at the second most rapid growth stage in your lifetime, hence the need for extra calories in your diet, these calories are necessary for healthy tissue growth, bone development and muscle development.  

May I ask, are you working out to lose weight quickly or to become healthier or both?  What other meals do you have during your day?  Do you eat breakfast?  Do you eat an evening meal?  I would be interested to know what foods you are consuming through the day.  

With regards to your question as to whether you have anorexia or not, I would say that there is strong concern here relating to the symptoms of anorexia; you appear to have a fear of gaining weight, you are in the low bracket of normal for your height and age with regards to weight, you are greatly restricting your calorie intake.  The effects of anorexia itself are not pretty and the complications that arise from it physically can have a permanent effect.  It can cause damage to your internal organs, tooth loss, muscle weakness/loss, hormone imbalances, vision problems, low red blood cell count (the cells that carry oxygen around the body) and low white cell count (which help you to fight off infections and viruses).  

I think what would be important at this stage would be to aim towards increasing your calorie intake, perhaps even some dietary supplements including a good multivitamin with essential minerals.  I think it is also important to look at why you are feeling that you might be overweight?  It is good to work out and keep fit but you need to be feeding your body the calories that it needs in order to build muscle, maintain healthy cells and tissue, and keep your organs healthy.  

Part of looking good is feeling good on the inside and I suspect that you're not feeling good on the inside especially emotionally.  I am happy to talk to you here online of course with full confidentiality, however I also need to suggest that due to your age you do need to tell a trusted family member (your Mum, your Dad) what you are feeling and what you are going through.

Treatment wise I would suggest getting you to optimal healthy weight for your height, a healthy diet plan with a nutritionist would also be beneficial and of course counselling to help you through the emotional side of what is going on at the moment.  

I hope that this is of help to you.  I am happy to answer further questions should you have them.

Samantha  

Anorexia/Eating Disorders

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Samantha Flynn

Expertise

I can answers many questions relating to an array of issues including depression, panic/anxiety disorders, eating disorders, bereavement, sexuality,phobias,bipolar disorder, post traumatic stress and stress management. A special interest in Womens Health also.

Experience

I am a deeply empathic practising qualified counsellor with 8 years' experience in counselling, qualified in Dip. Counselling, Psychology & Psychotherapy, currently also studying advanced Dip. in Psychiatry. Speaking both through qualification, counselling experience and even personal experience. I maintain full confidentiality and an open mind. I have experience in counselling people from all walks of life and from different cultures.

Education/Credentials
Dip. Counselling, Psychology & Psychotherapy Adv. Dip. Mental Health & Psychiatry Cert. in Biology & Behaviour in Psychology Dip. Social Work Studies Cert. Memory & Cognition in Psychology Cert. NLP Leadership & Practice Cert. Human Health, Health & Human Development

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