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Ontario’s New Calorie Count Law Is Dangerous

 

ontario's new calorie count law is dangerous, calories, eating disorders, government, sloth speed recovery, www.slothspeedrecovery,wordpress.com

“Nutritional information, including calories, is already available on the labels of many items we buy at the grocery store.” […] “As of January 1, 2017, all food-service chains with 20 or more locations in Ontario must post the number of calories in the food and drink items they sell.”

Calories on Menus in regards to the Healthy Menu Choices Act

The government of Ontario has decided that their citizens need to be more mindful of the calories entering their bodies, and has chosen to have all foods and drinks in restaurant chains with over 20 restaurants listed with their respective calories. Their goal is to ensure everyone is getting the right amount of energy needed for their bodies, but this listed number is doing more than that, and sadly, it’s not all good.

On one hand, those who want to lose weight healthily and have the means to do so have an advantage when they’re eating out, but a group has been forgotten in this whole equation.

In the US, 30 million people of all ages and genders struggle with an eating disorder, and eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any one mental illness. From anorexia nervosa, to binge eating disorder, to OSFED (Otherwise Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder), there seems to be no leg up through their struggles.

I, being a 19 year old woman in eating disorder recovery, diagnosed with OSFED (past atypical anorexia, and currently compensatory subtype) can no longer go out to eat without those numbers haunting me and triggering me. Those numbers call out to me and scream the horrors that I have worked so hard to hush. I am no longer safe when I am out of the house; my nightmares have followed me into my social life and make outdoor meals all that much harder. I could get by, reminding myself that not knowing the calories would be okay, but that safety blanket has been ripped away from me.

My mother offered me food from a Costco stand the other day, and there I was considering it, until that 3 to 4 digit number made my mind up for me.

I am now forced to not eat out, or keep my head down wile my partner/friend orders for me. I can no longer look up at the menu freely, deciding what I want to eat, without letting my disorder make my mind up for me.

This new law is not all good; and here’s why.


calories_on_menus

Favours one agenda over another. I am constantly reminded when I go out that my recovery and the struggles I have with my eating disorder are not as important as someone who is struggling with weight loss. There is a divide where one groups’ health is put above mine, and I have no control over it. No where do I see on the Ontario governmental page a worry regarding eating disorders or the benefits it could have on those struggling or recovering.

fried-chicken-fries

It isn’t only in fast food chains. I would be more understanding if these numbers affected the well-known unhealthy fast food chains such as McDonald’s, KFC and Wendy’s, because people go there and expect an unhealthy meal. They are aware that they’re not getting exactly what their bodies need. But this law seeps into Pita Pit, Burrito joints and so many other locations that are mainly vegetable dishes. These favoured places of mine have become less safe as the calories stare me in the face as I build a well balanced meal.

Being affected with an eating disorder, 600 calories can seem terrifying when at one time, I considered this more than my daily allowance of calories.

Vibrant Produce

Calories aren’t always the most influential part of a meal on ones body. This law puts emphasis on caloric contents instead of nutritional contents. They didn’t choose to label the vitamins and minerals, but chose calories. They also don’t state if these are healthy or unhealthy calories. Some people need to watch cholesterol whilst others need to watch sugars, but don’t worry, darling. In this diet culture, calories are all that matters. No need to care about your actual health. (Is you sarcasm meter on?)

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It encourages the notion that fewer calories defines a healthier meal. If I were to have a McDonald’s cheeseburger (290 calories) with a side of small fries (240 calories) and a Medium Strawberry Passion Awareness drink (240 calories), it would amount to 770 calories, which is rather low for a full McDonald’s meal. Compared to a large shrimp burrito from Burrito Boyz with all the toppings amounting to the same amount of calories, the McDonald’s meal will not have the same nutritional benefits or calories from vegetables that the burrito has, leaving this caloric number misleading in some respects to people whom don’t know better.

food-calories

The new law does encourage getting enough calories, but also achieves the opposite effect. Though this law states that they aim for people to eat enough calories, it does the opposite. We live in the age of diet culture, where magazines and ads constantly remind us we need to lose weight, no matter how much we weigh. Some diets encourage 1500 calories for adult women, which is less than needed, and encourages our bodies to enter starvation mode. The majority of people nowadays would prefer to consume less calories to lose a few pounds than to make sure they eat enough.

Little funny girl stand on scales

Children are exposed to calorie counts at a young age. I distinctly recall being a child, sitting at my table eating cereal, and reading the numbers from the nutritional value over and over. I didn’t understand what those numbers meant, but I think I knew even then that it was encouraged to have less of that first number; calories.

This new law may encourage parents to make diet decisions for their children that aren’t totally beneficial as they may fall in line with diet culture, or they may begin to starve their child unintentionally to help them lose weight.

Being easily influenced, these children whom grow into young adults are constantly surrounded with pictures of fit or emaciated models on social media and television, that they don’t understand what is truly attainable and healthy. Ads for weight loss drugs and workout foods or items run in front of the eyes of these children, and they understand the language. They watch social media stars and their family members struggle with weight, and they may do it, too.

Canada also presents the Canada Food Guide to young children, teaching them about calories and exercise. There is no doubt that this encouragement could easily spark an eating disorder in our youth, and an obsession with that pesky little number known as calories.

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The obsession with numbers can perpetuate eating disorders. A common trait in restrictive eating disorders is an obsession with numbers; whether that be calories, weight or measurements. It becomes this internal dialogue where the counting begins. As this obsession increases, that caloric intake may decrease to a starvation diet; anything to be seen as skinny.

We are taught since we are young to obsess over these numbers, and having them in our face isn’t doing us favours.

long-term-recovery-eating-disorder

Those in ED recovery have a harder time staying on track. How the HELL do you expect me or my fellow recovering peers to stay on track in our recovery; to put our health and our needs first, when that (sorry for my language) FUCKING number is flashing in our faces? How do you expect us to get ahead and be healthy when our triggers follow us everywhere? It would be unreasonable to tell us to just not look, because some of us can’t. We can no longer ignore the calories; we must now try even harder to not let them affect us, and some of us can’t fight that.


Calories follow us everywhere, along with images of the frailest, most photoshopped images we have available. With access to the internet and even more ways to perpetuate eating disorders, nearly nobody is safe from the possibility of it taking over their lives. Male or female; nobody is safe. 

The overall relationship society has with food will not let us get ahead as a society; the statistics for eating disorders will continue to rise unless we take into the account everyone and teach the public about true nutrition and healthy eating.

These calorie listings could cost someone a meal, periods of pain and their life.

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How I Overcame a Binge

how i overcame a binge, binging purging starvation laxative abuse, eating disorder, www.slothspeedrecover.wordpress.com, sloth speed recovery

Last night, with the combination of moving and Eating Disorder Outpatient Recovery stress, I found myself wanting to turn to something to feel better. All I’ve known in regards to coping for several years was food control and self-harm. It was a vigorous cycle that never ended with good results, and though I thought I was in control, I had never been more out of control in my life. I would either restrict enormous amounts of food, or turn to eating as a coping strategy.

I was sitting at my desk, talking to my boyfriend. I could feel myself being hungry, but I was crying hard. I was run-down from the go-go-go of my life, and how everything seems to crash down on me. On days like that, I would usually go buy an overpriced bag of chips, consume the whole bag and rid myself of it. But, I couldn’t let myself do that; not in recovery.

This recovery isn’t just about learning how to eat properly again, but to learn not to use food as a coping tool. Food is to nourish the body; not to punish.

For the first time in my life, I admitted to someone that I felt like binging. I used to be too humiliated to speak a word of it. I let my walls come down and confessed to the craving I was having. It was an important first step.

I was hungry, so I couldn’t just not eat, because that would be falling into my restrictive habits; I had to find what my balance was, and how I could avoid losing control.

How did I get through my urge to binge?


I told someone. I took the first step and admitted the urge I had to fall into that coping behaviour. I was up-front with my loved one and asked for their help.

I talked out my feelings and the cause. I told him why I was having those feelings; I felt my life was falling apart all around me. I’m in the process of moving, I have appointments nearly everyday next week, I’m in an outpatient eating disorder recovery program that’s opening up old wounds, etc. It’s important to assess the root cause of those emotions, and why they’re coming up. Write it down, talk it out; I did what I had to do to get through the rough patch.

Because I was hungry, I ate. During most of my urges to binge, I am not usually hungry, but this time I was. I was treading on thin ice; I didn’t want to slip up. I had to be fed, but couldn’t use it to control my emotions. I couldn’t retaliate a binge by starving myself; that wouldn’t be following my recovery plan.

I decided to eat, and assess during if I was still hungry, and I paced myself.

I was mindful when I ate. I kept checking in with myself to make sure I wasn’t doing it to cope. I checked if I was still hungry. And, in retaliation to wanting to starve myself, I finished the plate because I knew I needed it.

I didn’t punish myself. I usually use compensatory behaviour to punish myself for eating, and in recovery, that isn’t an option. I made sure to keep the food down and understand that I ate to nourish myself, not to punish myself.


spiritual

I am nowhere near perfect or fully recovered; but I wanted to share how I got through that specific urge to binge. I’m sure in 6 months, I’ll be much healthier and have a more skilled way of getting through it.

I do think it’s important we assess why we want to binge, and where the desire is coming from, and I want to continue assessing that, and becoming mindful of my urges.

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Eating Disorder Diaries – April 29th, 2017

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I have made a large amount of progress in relevance to my physical being. I gained the necessary weight to make me appear healthy, I make it through my meals every single day and have overcome my fears of oil and salt (relatively). But I am not healthy.

Last Wednesday, I had my first appointment for the eating disorder program and it tugged at too many heartstrings that I wasn’t prepared to have touched.

I thought all the work I had left was loving myself, but that’s far from the truth.

I constantly avoided any conversation about weight or food or exercise to protect myself; to not get triggered; to avoid falling into the eating disorder habits because I knew I was one strand from falling apart and returning to the behaviours I had gotten so accustomed to. I knew I was fragile.

I may have been eating, but it didn’t mean I could go grocery shopping without crying or freaking out. I could keep my meal down, but it didn’t mean I wasn’t taking handfuls of laxatives. I could drink juice again, but it didn’t stop me from climbing on and off the scale to make sure that number was correct. I could have oil again, but it didn’t dismiss my ability to swallow a bag of chips in a sitting as punishment for having emotions.

I hadn’t truly realized how fragile I had gotten.

Just talking about weighing myself makes me frantic.

I never had issues in therapy; I was always very open in conversation and was honest about myself, but I never had to face my eating disorder like this. I shrivel up, my lips locked tight, my throat swelling on itself, tears streaming down my face.

I didn’t think this would be the hardest thing I would ever have to do, but it is. It will be.

I am terrified. I just want recovery.


Eating Disorder Diaries will be a series documenting my recovery with my eating disorder. It won’t be easy to read and may have triggering content. Read at your own discretion.

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Too Afraid To Leave The House Because My Arms Are Too Fat?

A little over a year ago, a woman I was in the mental ward with sent me a message commenting on the weight I had apparently gained since we met each other instead of giving me a kind greeting (she had no knowledge of my eating habits, and was not trying to be nice). The picture she was making a statement about was one of my partner and I, his arm around my waist and my arm pressed against my body. I didn’t think I looked fat, which was a feat from the years of struggling with an eating disorder. I immediately associated her comment with the size of my arms, which began a whole new cycle. In a frenzy, I removed that picture and get overly frustrated whenever I see it.

I’ve been able to abstain from eating disorder behaviour for the majority of the past year, but that comment sits with me every single day.

I’ve planned to go to a local group in my new city for the first time since I moved, and I am too scared to go because… My arms are too fat.

I am so terrified of people seeing my body shape as of late that I’ve been hiding in pyjama pants and long sleeved sweaters for the majority of the past 5 years. I am so horrified of people gazing at my hideous arms made of jelly that, I can’t even conceal with good positioning in a short sleeved shirt because I’m covered in scars. My arms are literally the main attraction to the amusement park that is my body.

I never thought that my arms would be the main hindrance for me not wanting to leave the house. I am so humiliated with my body currently. And, it doesn’t help that I have another eating disorder appointment in less than 3 weeks.

I want to remain hopeful, and stay committed to that recovery path, but I’m losing my hope and faith. I can’t help but want to hide in a shell and stay concealed until I feel I am thin enough to come out of my cocoon.

I was on the right path, but I don’t know if I can continue that right now…

***I sincerely hope this didn’t trigger anyone; I just needed this off my chest.***