Anorexia/Eating Disorders/help!!

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Question
hi,
I am going to try to explain myself as best as I can. I'm a 17 year old and I've always had body image issues. I exercise often and am constantly counting calories aiming to get below 1200, but I usually end up binging maybe eating 1800 per day. I am a competitive athlete, I practice at least 6 times per week, and to top that off their are weight classes. I'm 5'9'' and there is constant pressure to remain below 130 lbs. Not just pressure, but you HAVE to be under 130 in order to even compete. Realistically you should be 125 incase you're fluctuating the day of weigh in. So I am always every day thinking about weight. I used to be a solid 123 lbs but I seemed to have gained weight and now am at 133. It is killing me. I desperately want to get back to 120ish pounds but I am having such a hard time because I've been stuffing my face and eating up to 2000 calories a day. It stinks being on the heavy side because you are looked down upon for being heavy but not as strong. Like being light makes up for you not being as strong as all the other girls who weigh 170. I just need help because this is always on my mind and I just hate myself for being so heavy. I'm trying to get back into my groove of eating 1000ish calories a day but I am having such a hard time because I keep binging. Its bad but I really want myself to be very thin. It'll make me look better in general and I'll be looked higher upon if I'm light and as strong as I am now

Answer
Hi Olivia,

Thank you for reaching out to me. The first thing I want to do is to reassure you that you are NOT heavy. At 5'9", you are actually underweight - you should be closer to 150. Don't freak out! I know that is not realistic for you right now. What is your sport? Those weight requirements seem very restrictive for any sport based on your height and level of muscularity.

Regardless, your biggest problem is that you are eating too few calories. 2000 calories is actually less than you need given your activity level. Please do not restrict your calories any further. Not only will this make you more likely to binge, but restricting your caloric intake will make you lose muscle, put on fat, and your athletic performance will suffer.

Here's why. Early in a diet, caloric deficit results in weight loss from fat stores being burned and loss of body water from glycogen depletion. After a few days, your body notices this change in fat stores and decreases Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) to replenish lost fat. BMR might decrease by up to 45%. When the decrease in BMR = the decrease in calorie deprivation, you hit a weight plateau and stop losing weight. In this state, two things happen: 1) your body clings on to every fat cell you have because it thinks you are starving and thus, will not get rid of any fat, and 2) it makes you crave high fat, high carb foods because, again, it thinks you are starving and high fat foods have a lot of calories whereas high carb foods provide you with immediate energy (hence the bingeing).

I recommend that you get a sports nutrition book (Nancy Clark is a great author in this area) and learn about how to properly fuel your body for your sport. Once you are eating enough calories, if you need to lose weight (which you don't), your body will be more willing to let go of fat.

You can also check out these websites for more information on fueling your sport:
http://www.eatright.org/Public/list.aspx?TaxID=6442452022
http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/lifecycle-nutrition/fitness-and-sports-nutrition
http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00370
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09362.html
http://www.nismat.org/patients/fitness/sports-nutrition/guidelines-for-a-healthy

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Anorexia/Eating Disorders

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Mary Pritchard

Expertise

I can answer questions about the psychology of eating, disordered eating attitudes and behaviors such as drive for thinness, drive for muscularity, binge eating, body dysmorphia, dieting, excessive/obsessive exercise, and body dissatisfaction. I can also answer questions about anorexia and bulimia.

Experience

I have a PhD in Psychology and teach courses in the Psychology of Health and the Psychology of Eating. I have been conducting research on disordered eating and exercise behaviors for 15 years.

Organizations
Midwestern psychological association, rocky mountain psychological association

Publications
Over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles in journals such as Eating Behaviors, Eating Disorders, and Eating and Weight Disorders

Education/Credentials
PhD in Psychology from the University of Denver

Awards and Honors
30 teaching awards, have received funding to conduct my research from academic institutions and state and local government

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