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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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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 RawTill4 Was A BAD Idea!

why rawtill4 was a bad idea rawtill4 vegan lifestyle www.slothspeedrecovery.wordpress.com freelee the banana girl

I was a young girl when I first began to question my body. I was in dance class, starring at the bodies of my peers. They had talents in gymnastics and would show us different moves, and I also had a close friend who was a gymnast. I looked up to them indefinitely, and I thought that by being flexible, I could be adored, the same way I adored them. But, in the midst of my thoughts, I associated thin with love.

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I spent every morning before school dancing like a fool in my bedroom, dancing for hours on weekends at times. I saw pudge and disgust in my own body, and the pressure to be thin around me was quite present. One side of my family was overweight, whilst the other had very thin counterparts.

I didn’t think I was particularly beautiful, and I became very influenced by conversations in elementary gym classes where the teacher would mention nutritional value tables, teaching us about calories, fats and carbs. We were given the Canadian Food Guide to consult, and were advised a specific amount of exercise minutes per day. I was never the most athletic, and I took my lack of exercise as a jab to my self-esteem.

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After my 14th birthday is when things sunk in. I had always tried to hide my body in black clothes prior, and did not like to be in tight outfits. I wouldn’t eat in public, and was humiliated by myself and my body. Not to mention, I had my eyes set on a senior about to graduate high school. He could NEVER see me eat!

I spent my ninth grade trying to lose weight, whilst my self harm worsened consistently. Sure, I was losing weight, I was constantly tired and binging on several occasions. I was invested in proana, spent a majority of my time on Tumblr and sunk deeper in self-hatred. My weight never plummeted exactly, but my mental and physical health definitely took a turn for the worst.

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There was a period where I was over-invested in exercise. The spring of 2013 was dedicated to weight loss; I was out of school due to mental health issues and spent hours in the gym. I would either walk or rollerblade to the gym, unless I had tutoring next door, and spent so much time on the treadmills and ellipticals. I refused to gain any muscle because I wanted to be frail. My speed on the elliptical caught a woman’s attention once, where she commented and told me it was crazy how fast I was going.

The summer proved worse where I spent about an hour a day in the incredibly hot sun, rollerblading as fast as I could, in sweaters. I was very unwell.

For a few years, the mentality was still present, but I was practically free of the behaviours. Sure, I hated my body and wanted to lose weight, but my weight had stayed balanced for years. I tried to learn comfort within myself and move along with my day. Not to mention, food is absolutely delicious!

In June of 2015, I turned to veganism, with no relation to my eating disorder. I truly did it for the animals and their well being. The documentary Earthlings was highly graphic and did traumatize me, leading me to hear pigs screaming and refusing to eat because of the trauma, but it was not related to my eating disorder. The sudden change in food and diet did awaken the disorder, but I fought it harshly.

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In April of 2016, I became invested in RawTill4. I saw Freelee The Banana Girl’s body and took her word like a Bible scripture. I could be happy, thin and healthy, whilst eating all the food I wanted? YES, PLEASE! But, that wasn’t the case


What is RawTill4:

Raw Till 4 is a lifestyle rather than a diet. A vegan program that focuses on eating A LOT of  raw fruits (especially bananas!) and vegetables, no animal products, little to no fats or seeds.  You basically eat whole, unprocessed raw foods until 4pm.  Then you are allowed to cook and eat certain beneficial foods, but again, without oils to help flavour and cook your food. (www.rawtill4diet.com)

And then began my journey.

It was a high carb/low fat vegan diet with restrictions on fat intake, meal contents, salt and oil, and you had to have exercise included almost daily. It was also instructed to use a calorie counter online that calculated fats and proteins. It was encouraged to hit 90% carbs/5% fat/5% protein.

ALREADY we’re mixing an eating disorder with calorie counting!? Not a good idea.

It started out great. I was feeling wonderful, eating as much as I cared for, and I was losing weight. I just didn’t know it would harm me the way that it did.

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The problems began when I was constantly eating and still not hitting my caloric intake goals. I was aiming for at least 2000 and could barely attain that on most days (especially since I hated banana/date smoothies). If it weren’t for me having 2 free periods in school, I would have never gotten close to my goals. Some days, I would arrive with half a watermelon and several other fruits to school, spend my day near the counselors office and eat all day, and couldn’t even finish my food load.

I would beat myself up if I couldn’t attain the 90/5/5 goal, and began to stress over the amounts of fat I had eaten. I would sometimes go frantic on my rollerblades, pushing myself far much harder than I should’ve, and I was weighing myself practically daily at about the 2 or 3 week mark, hoping on and off the scale repeatedly, not really entering any weight gained in aspiration to lose it. I hadn’t even hit the 2 week mark when I had attempted to purge again.

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I wanted so bad to see the number on the scale decrease that my intake decreased, too. It must have been obvious because my mother took the scale away. And, there I was, finally noticing a problem. I was no longer in a healthy BMI and spent my lunch and third period to buy a scale.

I had started to take laxatives (something I had never done before), and I would cry and avoid meals when my significant other would come to visit. All I could picture was my “fat” body and how I was kissing “beauty” goodbye.

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I finally attained that thigh gap the 14 year old me wanted, and I was swimming in a pair of jeans that used to be snug. I had lost over 12% of my body weight AND COUNTING! It was visible in my attitude and on my body, and though the 14 year old me would have begged for that, the 18 year old me wanted anything but THAT! I wanted so bad to gain the weight and to be free of my fears, but food just made me cry. I was so scared of ingesting anything, and I was hateful for putting myself in that position.

For a while after stopping RawTill4, I was dependent on laxatives and restriction. I hated the weight loss, but I wanted to keep it so badly. I sought help, and am now registered for an eating disorder program in March. I fight every single day, and some days are no longer battles. I’m happy I gained the weight, even though some days, I turn to my maladaptive coping behaviours. I often celebrate my body with my partner, looking in the mirror while I’m nude and commenting on how beautiful a healthy body looks on me. I’ll grab my tummy and thighs in front of him, and giggle at how cute they are.


I am much happier wrapping my palm around a big handful of chips and eating bananas, than I was restricting anything with too high of a fat content that could jeopardize the “wonders” of RawTill4.

I am happy I had this experience because, it really showed the sick side of my brain and how ridiculous it all was; that being thin would NEVER make me happy!

I am not condemning RawTill4, but I can tell you that I will never revisit it again. You can’t just hop into a diet like RawTill4 when your mind is still sick. I am not saying it doesn’t work or that it should be avoided, but it did NOT work for me. It created fear foods, and worsened my eating disorder overall. It encourages rules and habits, and for those who follow extremes, it can truly ruin their mentality and their body.

I learned that loving my body in whatever shape or form it chooses to take is much more valuable. I can eat wonderful foods, ranging from high fat to extremely healthy. And, if weight is an issue for a potential partner, I will never be with them. My body can be a different shape tomorrow, and that is okay. Recovery is much more tasteful than calorie counting and restriction.

The only thing RawTill4 and I have in common now is that we are both VEGAN!

**I do believe that veganism is the best possible way to live, but I do not support it to achieve weight loss, nor do I think it should be visited in the midst or the ending of an eating disorder. I believe that people should be vegan because, the torment caused to animals is diabolical and unnecessary. Not to mention, livestock eat up many of our resources, and animal agriculture attributes to 51% of greenhouse gas emissions! There are many vegan options of mock meats and dairy products that are just as delicious!**

 

This post is not to demean Freelee the Banana Girl, but more so to spread awareness about the effects of dieting on individuals.