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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Homelessness Affects Mental Health

how homelessness affects mental health, sloth speed recovery, www.slothspeedrecovery.wordpress.com

Homelessness is a worldwide epidemic where thousands upon thousands of people don’t have a place to go, a bed to sleep in or a meal to eat. In Canada alone, 200 000 people experience homelessness every year, 150 000 access shelters and 30 000 Canadians are without a home every single night (source). It is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

People discuss the topic of homelessness on a frequent basis, but the mental health of the homeless is often forgotten. Having experienced homelessness, shelter hopping and food-begging, one may find themselves completely isolated in this world and without a place to belong. These kinds of emotions often exude depression, anxiety and other serious mental health conditions. If the situation is severe, the individual may attempt suicide, with or without fail.

A large quantity of people who lose their homes develop mental illness, but some become homeless due to mental illness or their sexual identity, which is often seen in youth.

Being homeless or having a mental illness is a war on it’s own, but the combination is a whole other hell.

How does homelessness affect mental health?


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Constant Fear. Once homeless, there’s this constant fear that lingers. The majority of people residing in North America believe homelessness is the unthinkable if it has never happened in their family, and once they become homeless, it longer seems impossible. That separation between them and “the homeless” no longer exists as that line fades.

Homelessness is true fear; you don’t know what you’re going to eat (if you will), where you’re going to sleep (if you can find a bed) or who will be your neighbour. Everyday is a new unknown.

Shelters offer some safety in regards of keeping the homeless off the streets, out of the cold and away from nightly dangers, but they have dangers of their own. Youth shelters have more resources regarding counselors and mental health, along with available staff and smaller bedrooms. Whilst adult shelters can be one massive room, cluttered with beds side by side, and peoples’ things everywhere. It’s wonderful to have a bed to lay your head on but the fear of a fight breaking out can be too much. The in-shelter fears are what keeps some on the streets; unfed and in the cold.

They can get their own place but the fear will remain. Some days, they may not feel a differentiation between homelessness and them having a home in the fear of losing what they they worked so hard to gain.

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Lack of Self-Care. When someone has spent several months working a dead-end job, not spending a dime on themselves, they lose a healthy perspective on money. Money suddenly becomes something they need to hold on in case that “rainy day” comes again. Spoiling themselves no longer becomes an option because they don’t want to risk losing everything they worked so hard to get.

Do they really need that toothbrush? That sweater? How about that meal?

That obsessive need to keep every dime will decline their health, happiness and well-being as they no longer know when it’s okay to purchase food for themselves in case it’s “too much money”.

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Taking Any Employment. Having money and a job can be a desperate need, and thus, the individual will take any job that pops up. This can result in a decline of happiness if their work position is bringing them down or the coworkers they have do not respect them. They may have a poor paying job with excessive amounts of labour, but it won’t stop them.

They will let themselves be insulted and disrespected, all to get that apartment they so desperately need. They won’t get an option as to what they get to do because, they don’t exactly have a say if they want to get back on their feet.

This kind of environment will be the ultimate sacrifice of that person’s mental health as they lose sight of what they deserve, what is acceptable or unacceptable and how their voice matters.

There are a good number of people who cannot access employment due to mental illness or disabilities they may have, and do not have the help for, which leaves them trapped, unemployed and without money to feed themselves.

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Trouble Accessing Help. In youth shelters, there are more means of mental heath assistance, though not always plentiful or perfect. But, adult shelters aren’t always equipped with this, which leaves homeless adults without the proper care they need.

Luckily, in Canada, we are offered free Health Care, which covers some mental health services, but not all. Not to mention, all free mental health services have some form of wait list, which can leave someone in need of dire help in the back seat. If accessing a service is taking a lengthy period of time, there are drop-in counselling services hosted by different organisations that will help assess the issue and try to open doors to other services, if required.

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Influences. It would be naive to not acknowledge drugs and alcohol as those are behaviour changing substances that are taken for coping reasons, though it is important to remember that homelessness is not synonymous with drug addict or alcoholic.

When substances enter the picture, it can be hard to resist as drugs and alcohol are an accessible way of coping with this distressing time. They offer a form of escape that lets the one affected escape from their reality.

Using can affect someone’s cognitive ability, along with healthy decision making and a progressive outlook. If the individual isn’t careful, they could ingest a substance that causes a terrifying and dangerous psychosis phase that could be life threatening.

It’s important to talk about the matter instead of shunning every homeless person for the serious coping strategies of a few. We must encourage sobriety to encourage everyone to put their future’s first, and help get them into a safe and stable environment.


This is a serious problem occurring all around the world and we need hands to reach out and be of help to those who need it. Homeless, mentally ill, the combination of both… Try your best to be of help, to be understanding and not to shame either or.

If there’s something you can do, do it.

 

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10 Ways to Prepare for Eating Disorder Recovery

10 ways to prepare for eating disorder recovery, sloth speed recovery, www.slothspeedrecovery.wordpress.com

Eating Disorders are difficult to recover from because they’re characterized by disturbed eating habits and rituals, that are consistently repeated, resulting in habitual behaviour. Trying to break this pattern may be complicated due to food being apart of everyday life and a source of nutrition; being unavoidable. We are constantly exposed to foods that we may not be comfortable around or feel are safe to consume, and we may struggle with breaking habits and routine.

Everyday is a challenge, but with these steps forward, we may see an end to our eating disorder.


 

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Admit to the Problem. There will never be an end to the problem if we cannot admit it. It begins with ourselves, followed by our closest friends and family, and finally, the professionals. We should expect tears and hard times from this confession, but must remember that this is the start of something new. Be prepared for it to be an excruciating experience, with an outstandingly beautiful outcome.

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Seek Professional Help and Build a Support System. During this difficult time, you will need the encouragement and love of the people that mean the most to you, and the professionals that have been educated on your disorder along with the recovery methods. These people will able to aid the construction of  your safety plan, make lists of friends to communicate with and map out coping mechanisms to remain on the recovery path.

Professionals will be able to help with your next steps, whether that be group therapy, eating disorder clinics, meal plans, one-on-one therapy sessions or other options. Try to remain open-minded because, these people are only there to help you.

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Don’t Try to Physically Prove Your Eating Disorder. The recovery process can prove difficult when you feel your body mass does not reflect your eating disorder. It is important to recall that your body weight is not the sole evidence or validity of an eating disorder. They are mental illnesses, characterized by a perception of self and food, and not the gap between ones’ thighs.

Do not try to conform your disorder and recovery to that of someone else. Every person is unique, along with their respective disorder, and you should not be trying to emulate anyone else. The focus is you and your recovery; not that of a popular Instagram star.

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Be Uncomfortable. Put yourself in situations that you never wanted to face. Go out to that fast food joint with your friends like you’ve been wishing to visit for years; eat in public; let yourself eat “unsafe” foods. This process is about breaking rituals and routines, and to do so, you have to go places and do things out of routine or your comfort zone.

Be logical. Do not expect yourself to eat a burger, fries and drink non-diet soda in your first outing, as it may be overwhelming and throw off your recovery. Take baby steps whilst continuing to progress. Go at your pace.

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Don’t Hide Any Feelings from Your Supports. If you are struggling to eat a meal, and your friend confronts you, don’t pretend your refusal is from a tummy ache. Be upfront and tell them that this specific meal is very hard for you, and that you will need time and patience to conquer it.

When you feel upset about your body, or sense a relapse occurring, speak up. Voice your feelings of lack of control and be honest regarding the trigger. Keep open communication and always be honest.

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Be Strict with Your Boundaries. Do not let someone disturbed drag you back into your disordered eating habits. There are people who will want to discourage you, act as if you look healthy and don’t need recovery, but they are wrong (according to you, your loved ones and medical professionals). If they are a disturbance to your recovery, you need to cut them out and no longer give them the time of day.

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Don’t Let Yourself Skip Out on Important Appointments. It doesn’t matter if there’s a concert or a cool party, you cannot skip out on important therapy sessions and clinic dates. You will be diservicing yourself, and nobody wants you to do that.

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Relapse Is Practically Inevitable. Be rational and expect there to be difficult times, relapses and feelings of regret regarding confession, but you must remember that you do not want to live like this anymore. Your eating disorder was never a friend or a healthy process, and it wants to destroy you. The best thing you can do for yourself is fight it.

Ride the relapse thoughts and behaviours, challenging it at every chance you get. Do not let yourself spiral. Keep your recovery in control, and consistently remind yourself the reasons you chose recovery.

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Loving Your Body Will Not Be An Everyday Occurrence. Some days, you will look in the mirror, proud of the weight you’ve gained and the way it looks on your frame, and other days, it will be your biggest nightmare. Understand that those negative feelings regarding your body are fueled by the eating disorder, and not a healthy mind. Your body is beautiful, it’s healthy and it’s on its way to recovery.

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You Are Not in a Race; Pace Yourself. Do not let yourself be affected by the hoards of others in recovery. They are not you, their experiences and feelings are different, and their recovery will reflect this diversity. You cannot expect yourself to attain a goal made for someone else. This recovery is yours, and yours alone. It is not a competition, it is not a race; it is your life.


You cannot expect perfection in a process like this. Be reasonable, be understanding of your limitations and goals, and don’t give up for anybody or anything.

Remember; you will recover and this eating disorder will be history.

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Why is my BPD Partner Manipulating Me?

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One day, you are their favourite, their everything and their addiction, the next, you are the scum of the Earth. Is it your fault?


Someone diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder will consistently struggle with relationships throughout their lives, especially the romantic ones. Dependency becomes hardcore with them, as they lean on you for everything, expecting you to complete them, never truly giving you enough space. They understand the faults of their ways, but it is not a behaviour they can seem to crack.

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Distance from you can be perceived as a form of abandonment, and your expression for this need of space is hell to them. It is you clarifying that you do not want them around, and even if that period of time is a half hour, for someone in the extremes of this disorder, that can be perceived as abandonment and the end of the relationship.

The anxiety will run wild as they wonder if they are even worth it. The only person they felt they loved no longer strives to be by them, and they are alone in this world for that period of time. That loneliness transfers into their brain as dissatisfaction, unhappiness and anger.

Their minds are telling them that you are the perpetrator of this pain; you are the cause. You are the one who is tearing this relationship apart. Your needs are too much to ask for and they will not be afraid to show you.

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In response, you will receive hatred, attitude and manipulation. It is vengeance from the borderline who needs gratification for their pain. When the relationship starts to go haywire, you will be hung on the cross as the worst partner ever. They will go from loving to hate filled, and you will be their victim.

In seconds, you will be on the opposite side of their spectrum.

But, the misunderstanding is that they mean to do this to you, but they don’t. An individual with BPD has episodes and the disorder can entirely control them when they sense fear. We are not being rational, though it is not entirely in our control.

We preserve our relationships with all of our hearts, and we try to make them work, consistently blaming ourselves. When you push us away in that fashion, we blame ourselves subconsciously, and pin it onto you. We accuse you of not listening, not understanding, etc. but it is the true portrayal of self-hatred and lack of control. Your actions lead us to a spiral with our Borderline, and every time abandonment is perceived, it is a repeated crisis.

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So, what do you do? 

They’re mistreating you and seek out to cause you pain. Do you choose to leave them?

If you are truly unhappy and don’t see a future with this person, you are entirely allowed to choose to leave. For those who have seen happiness with us and can see a future with the healthy versions of ourselves, work on it with us. Be straight forward about how you feel in a calm environment, and offer alternatives to compromise for both parties. Reassure us of your love and your desire to be by our side. Offer your effort into the compromises and try to understand the constant inner torment we are subjected to on a daily basis.

A relationship with an individual diagnosed with BPD is passionate, and sometimes that passion is channeled in the wrong ways. But, all in all, though we may claim to hate you, we indefinitely do love you, and that is why you are the one exposed to our ups and downs.