Counting Calories as an Eating Disorder?

neldabg
neldabg Posts: 1,452 Member
edited December 2015 in Goal: Maintaining Weight
One of my best friends saw me the other day for the first time irl as a non-overweight person, and she congratulated me. We got to talking about food and the changes I've made to me life, and I mentioned that I had my meals planned for these two weeks of winter break, and she gasped and said, "You have an eating disorder!" I firmly told her I did NOT have an eating disorder, and that was the end of that, but now I got to thinking about it. Do you guys consider my interactions and justifications with food a disorder? If so, even if I feel fine and don't mind calorie counting at all, and I'm now officially considered fit (my university offers free fitness assessments), and I'm okay by BMI charts and stuff (currently almost 5'2" and 120 lbs, with goal of 110 lbs), should I still consider changing my ways? Here are my habits:
Okay, so, I wanted to be healthy with a slim physique badly enough that I got really serious about it June 2015. What's been working for me as far as weight loss is planning a workout regime (1-2 hours long) to span a course of one to four months, planning meals 1-2 weeks in advance to go along with estimated macro requirements for intense, low impact, and the rest days, and since three weeks ago, making sure I get 10k steps a day (no more than that). I weigh everything but eggs, breads, and protein bars. I planned to have a few days a year where I log, but eat whenever I want (Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, Birthday, July 4th). I have a physical portfolio with sections for healthy eating tips, my current routine, my food and fitness goals, and my before and after pictures and strengths. I don't eat restaurant/fast food, and I don't eat a lot of commonly eaten "junk" foods, but I don't restrict myself either. If I crave pretzels, swiss chocolate, popcorn, etc., I make it fit. I am indeed really strict and anal about my body now, and I stick hardcore to my meal and exercise plans, but I never once considered it an eating disorder. Still, I know it's hard to judge ourselves fairly, so I want to analyze and re-*kitten* my strategy.
I guess I'm super dedicated to my plans because all my life, I've struggled to understand and apply the "secret" to sustainable weight loss, and now that I've found something that works, I don't want to let go. I lurk on the message boards here, and far too often, I see people say that they regained once they got complacent with accountability. I'm determined to not be a re-gainer, so that's why I do such big planning and stick to my plans. I find that though it's been over six months, my natural instincts remain that of an obese girl, so I fear that I'm one of those people who'd put on weight immediately after stopping plans.
If you got this far, thanks for reading!
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Replies

  • rosebette
    rosebette Posts: 1,659 Member
    I don't think you have an eating disorder, and I'm also getting the same kind of response from family members (who are overweight). I'm a lot older, but exactly you're size, and I think many people don't realize how tight petite people have to be about tracking in order to maintain or lose weight. A big restaurant meal is often our entire calorie allotment for the day, and we aren't allowed that many calories, so every bite has to be nutrient dense.
  • jennifer_417
    jennifer_417 Posts: 12,344 Member
    Calorie counting and sticking strictly to your plan do not equal an eating disorder, by themselves. Sometimes the lines can be a bit blurry, but, since all of your health markers are good, and you're not underweight, or aiming to be underweight, presumably, then I wouldn't say you have an eating disorder. However, it does seem like you might be being a bit...unnecessarily strict with your plan? Of course that's just personal opinion, but you want to make sure you have something both sustainable and flexible. I guess, for my own sake, I would find not eating out to be overly restrictive, but if it's not causing you distress, then I suppose it's not a problem. You don't say how many calories you're aiming for daily, so just as a caution, I will caution not to go under 1200 NET (that is, after exercise) as an absolute minimum.
  • You do not have an eating disorder, in my book. I'm not a professional but i've had a fair share of experience. You're just determined, bordering obsessive, so i'd watch out if i were you. The line between eating disorder and normal is drawn at a very precise point; you won't allow yourself anything outside of your regime and freak out if something shakes it up; like crying when someone ate that breakfast you wanted to have or having a breakdown because you overate or something.

    Just watch out and cut yourself some slack, you'll eventually learn to eat and exercise without constant planning, while still maintaining fitness.
  • earlnabby
    earlnabby Posts: 8,171 Member
    Counting calories CAN be indicative of an eating disorder, but it is the obsessive counting and freaking out over a 10 calorie overage that is disordered, not the actual monitoring of your intake.
  • ElJefeChief
    ElJefeChief Posts: 651 Member
    edited December 2015
    Counting calories by itself does not mean eating disorder - and furthermore, getting to and maintaining a healthy weight and attaining fitness goals is something that I've found requires a lot of dedication and attention, similar to the kind of attention you've given to this yourself.

    It's highly inappropriate if not basically insulting for friends or family members to unilaterally diagnose each other (with eating disorders, psychiatric disorders, etc). I consider it basically a slur. She probably didn't mean it that way, but I don't think she was right in any way to do it.

    Based on your post, you sound like you're doing fine. Your friend likely has issues.
  • richardgavel
    richardgavel Posts: 1,001 Member
    I look at it like financial budgeting. I make X dollars a month and proportion it to the mortgage, foood, utilities, etc. So I know I will be even or positive each month. If I track each penny, that might be unhealthy. If I don't allow anything for entertainment or keep the heat at 60 degrees so I can put more money into savings, that can be unhealthy. But the act of creating a budget and sticking to it is not.

    On being careful and watching yourself closely, I'll say this. As someone who has been overweight for a while, it will take a while before you are comfortable that you forsee yourself keeping to this long term and that one mistake won't screw things up. I still won't buy soda for the house because I'm concerned I will drink too much as opposed to going to a 7 11 to buy one can for my occasional fix. But each day I see this lasting and being able to relax and you will too.
  • Lynzdee18
    Lynzdee18 Posts: 500 Member
    I agree with the budgeting idea. I am a lot older than you, and have lost weight several times over my lifetime, only to gain back. This logging makes sense. The only disorder I think I have is an unhealthy relationship with food. I find it hard to stop myself from over indulging. I am MORE healthy both psychologically and physically with the habit of logging my exercise and food intake. Also I too am growing weary of acquaintances advising me that I don't need to watch what I eat. Excuse me but NOT taking note of what I eat put me into the obese category in the first place.

    Carry on with your logging and monitoring of your activity and intake. You are in control and truly do not sound obsessed! :)
  • TrailNurse
    TrailNurse Posts: 359 Member
    Your friend is the one with the eating disorder....not you!
  • nxd10
    nxd10 Posts: 4,571 Member
    What makes it a disorder is that it is (a) compulsive and (b) it interferes with normal life functioning. Yours doesn't sound that way. By compulsive I mean that you don't do it because it makes you happy. I mean that if you don't do it you get really really anxious. You can't stop yourself from doing it without causing yourself discomfort. And it doesn't seem to be interfering with your life.

    An example from a colleague's blog. He as OCD (clinically diagnosed). He's really neat. He enjoys organizing his closet, recently organized it by color with matching hangers, and put that up on Facebook. Doing that made him happy. Not a compulsion.

    He was walking to work and felt compelled to pick up every single stick on the sidewalk that he passed. He neatly put it on the grass next to the sidewalk, exactly perpendicular to the crack. He didn't want to do it. He felt he had to do it. If he tried to walk past a stick he broke into a sweat and got really anxious. THAT is a compulsion.
  • neldabg
    neldabg Posts: 1,452 Member
    rosebette wrote: »
    I don't think you have an eating disorder, and I'm also getting the same kind of response from family members (who are overweight). I'm a lot older, but exactly you're size, and I think many people don't realize how tight petite people have to be about tracking in order to maintain or lose weight. A big restaurant meal is often our entire calorie allotment for the day, and we aren't allowed that many calories, so every bite has to be nutrient dense.

    I'm glad to see I'm not the only one getting this response. Yes indeed. My friend is only an inch taller than me, so I thought she'd understand the importance of being tight in what I eat, but then again, she's never been overweight and naturally maintains her weight without much thought at all, so it makes sense that calorie counting seems odd/disordered to her.
    Calorie counting and sticking strictly to your plan do not equal an eating disorder, by themselves. Sometimes the lines can be a bit blurry, but, since all of your health markers are good, and you're not underweight, or aiming to be underweight, presumably, then I wouldn't say you have an eating disorder. However, it does seem like you might be being a bit...unnecessarily strict with your plan? Of course that's just personal opinion, but you want to make sure you have something both sustainable and flexible. I guess, for my own sake, I would find not eating out to be overly restrictive, but if it's not causing you distress, then I suppose it's not a problem. You don't say how many calories you're aiming for daily, so just as a caution, I will caution not to go under 1200 NET (that is, after exercise) as an absolute minimum.

    No plans to be underweight here! 110 lbs is my goal, and at my height, that gives me a solid BMI of 20. My goal range is 107-112lbs, which keeps me at/near that BMI. I never liked the concept of eating out before, and only really started eating out about a year or so ago because I started college where everyone likes to eat out, so banning it doesn't distress me in the least bit. Yes, I do make sure I get no less than 1200 calories a day. Thank you for your response. :)

    You do not have an eating disorder, in my book. I'm not a professional but i've had a fair share of experience. You're just determined, bordering obsessive, so i'd watch out if i were you. The line between eating disorder and normal is drawn at a very precise point; you won't allow yourself anything outside of your regime and freak out if something shakes it up; like crying when someone ate that breakfast you wanted to have or having a breakdown because you overate or something.

    Just watch out and cut yourself some slack, you'll eventually learn to eat and exercise without constant planning, while still maintaining fitness.

    Thanks! So far, I've never felt fear/depression/anxiety when I had to alter meals for whatever reason, so I think I'm fine right now. I'll make sure to watch/guard my emotions more so as not to slip into obsessive behavior. Okay~ Being able to maintain with looser logging is my goal for the second half of 2016. which is right after when I've approximated that I'll reach my goal weight.
    earlnabby wrote: »
    Counting calories CAN be indicative of an eating disorder, but it is the obsessive counting and freaking out over a 10 calorie overage that is disordered, not the actual monitoring of your intake.

    That makes sense. Thank you!
    DrEnalg wrote: »
    Counting calories by itself does not mean eating disorder - and furthermore, getting to and maintaining a healthy weight and attaining fitness goals is something that I've found requires a lot of dedication and attention, similar to the kind of attention you've given to this yourself.

    It's highly inappropriate if not basically insulting for friends or family members to unilaterally diagnose each other (with eating disorders, psychiatric disorders, etc). I consider it basically a slur. She probably didn't mean it that way, but I don't think she was right in any way to do it.

    Based on your post, you sound like you're doing fine. Your friend likely has issues.

    It does indeed require a lot of dedication. Thanks for your response!
    I look at it like financial budgeting. I make X dollars a month and proportion it to the mortgage, foood, utilities, etc. So I know I will be even or positive each month. If I track each penny, that might be unhealthy. If I don't allow anything for entertainment or keep the heat at 60 degrees so I can put more money into savings, that can be unhealthy. But the act of creating a budget and sticking to it is not.

    On being careful and watching yourself closely, I'll say this. As someone who has been overweight for a while, it will take a while before you are comfortable that you forsee yourself keeping to this long term and that one mistake won't screw things up. I still won't buy soda for the house because I'm concerned I will drink too much as opposed to going to a 7 11 to buy one can for my occasional fix. But each day I see this lasting and being able to relax and you will too.

    What a great response! I really like the budgeting analogy. Thank you for the reassurance. I can't wait to reach that point. ^^
    Lynzdee18 wrote: »
    I agree with the budgeting idea. I am a lot older than you, and have lost weight several times over my lifetime, only to gain back. This logging makes sense. The only disorder I think I have is an unhealthy relationship with food. I find it hard to stop myself from over indulging. I am MORE healthy both psychologically and physically with the habit of logging my exercise and food intake. Also I too am growing weary of acquaintances advising me that I don't need to watch what I eat. Excuse me but NOT taking note of what I eat put me into the obese category in the first place.

    Carry on with your logging and monitoring of your activity and intake. You are in control and truly do not sound obsessed! :)

    I am the same way. Once I'm hungry or see food, I *will* eat and eat unless someone physically stops me. Eating just to eat is a terribly unhealthy habit of some sort that I've kept since childhood. Calorie counting has been a great tool for me in that it has become the "person" that reminds me that it is not good nor necessary to just eat non-stop when food is available. Simply planning and writing out goals and meals has been enough for me to hold myself accountable. I agree completely. Why would I go back to not watching what I eat, when doing so before made me obese?? I did fear that I'd enter the rest of adulthood as a yo-yo dieter if I didn't stop and monitor my eating habits once and for all, and I'm happy to read that you, as an older person, can further confirm that constant weight loss and gains will indeed happen if I don't keep my focus. Thank you for your kind response! ^_^
    TrailNurse wrote: »
    Your friend is the one with the eating disorder....not you!

    Lol :smile:
    nxd10 wrote: »
    What makes it a disorder is that it is (a) compulsive and (b) it interferes with normal life functioning. Yours doesn't sound that way. By compulsive I mean that you don't do it because it makes you happy. I mean that if you don't do it you get really really anxious. You can't stop yourself from doing it without causing yourself discomfort. And it doesn't seem to be interfering with your life.

    An example from a colleague's blog. He as OCD (clinically diagnosed). He's really neat. He enjoys organizing his closet, recently organized it by color with matching hangers, and put that up on Facebook. Doing that made him happy. Not a compulsion.

    He was walking to work and felt compelled to pick up every single stick on the sidewalk that he passed. He neatly put it on the grass next to the sidewalk, exactly perpendicular to the crack. He didn't want to do it. He felt he had to do it. If he tried to walk past a stick he broke into a sweat and got really anxious. THAT is a compulsion.

    Thanks for the response! I'll be keeping a note of this explanation as a guide as I monitor my emotions when I log.
  • myfitnesspale3
    myfitnesspale3 Posts: 276 Member
    your friend has a thinking disorder.

    Congratulations on making a plan and implementing it.
  • yogeshvaraom
    yogeshvaraom Posts: 45 Member
    My girlfriend said that to me. It was a reflection of her own discomfort with that level of analysis of what one eats. She lives on nut butters and popcorn and ramps up her exercise when she is getting a little heavy, so I don't think she wants to hear from me about healthy eating. As for me I fit the calorie counting in with the rest of my life and I think the confidence it gave me was actually emotionally healthy. Being strong and taking control of your life can often make others uncomfortable. Don't let em get you down... You go girl!
  • blankiefinder
    blankiefinder Posts: 3,599 Member
    Not an eating disorder unless you are obsessed with it, and couldn't handle not weighing a food before eating. So if it would send you into a panic attack to eat an apple and have to put in a 'medium' apple instead of weighing it, once in a while, then you have a problem.
  • AskTracyAnnK28
    AskTracyAnnK28 Posts: 2,834 Member
    I don't think you have an eating disorder. Maybe you're a bit on the obsessive side though.

    Here's the thing (in my opinion): Being rigid with weighing/measuring/logging etc. can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food, which can lead to 'disordered eating', which can lead to an eating disorder.

    Since so far you haven't experienced any fear or anxiety over altering your food log, you'll probably be ok. I think every once in a while you just need to 'check yourself' before what started out as healthy habits turns into something that's anything but healthy.
  • southhamptonmike
    southhamptonmike Posts: 61 Member
    It sounds to me like your very well organized. keep it up; your doing great
  • PamOliva
    PamOliva Posts: 101 Member
    I don't think you have an eating disorder. Maybe you're a bit on the obsessive side though.

    Here's the thing (in my opinion): Being rigid with weighing/measuring/logging etc. can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food, which can lead to 'disordered eating', which can lead to an eating disorder.

    Since so far you haven't experienced any fear or anxiety over altering your food log, you'll probably be ok. I think every once in a while you just need to 'check yourself' before what started out as healthy habits turns into something that's anything but healthy.

    I like this response. Speaking from my own experience, I channeled my obsession with eating into new habits of exercise, portion control, learning about nutrition, etc. I think weight loss does take some obsessiveness. When I reached my goal, I slowly started logging less (because I was eating a lot of the same foods). Next I starting weighing myself less b/c I didn't like that fixation. I have slowly learned to become more flexible but I still stick to the basic eating habits that work best for me. I do not feel obsessed like I felt during weight loss mode and I am staying within 1-2 lbs of my goal weight. Ultimately only YOU know what feels right for you.

  • tomatoey
    tomatoey Posts: 5,459 Member
    edited December 2015
    I remember that I was *obsessed* for the first 8 months, maybe a year. Because that involved learning about fitness (started with that), nutrition, how to tweak ideas to my taste, what worked and didn't. Like it's a learning curve. Once I had a good handle on it, and a rhythm, it became second nature and I didn't have to think about it as much. Mind you I'm 5'7, and I liked higher intensity workouts, so that probably let me relax some, too. I can see that being smaller you might need to be more precise and/or rack up the burn. I can't imagine being that organized about it, though - are you that way with a lot of things?
  • neldabg
    neldabg Posts: 1,452 Member
    Thanks for the responses!!
    tomatoey wrote: »
    I remember that I was *obsessed* for the first 8 months, maybe a year. Because that involved learning about fitness (started with that), nutrition, how to tweak ideas to my taste, what worked and didn't. Like it's a learning curve. Once I had a good handle on it, and a rhythm, it became second nature and I didn't have to think about it as much. Mind you I'm 5'7, and I liked higher intensity workouts, so that probably let me relax some, too. I can see that being smaller you might need to be more precise and/or rack up the burn. I can't imagine being that organized about it, though - are you that way with a lot of things?

    Thanks for sharing how your journey looked like. I *do* think I'll be able to loosen up a bit once I understand better how to eat in a way that maintains 110 lbs, and being smaller does decrease my margin of error. Yes. I am indeed this organized in pretty much everything.
  • ElJefeChief
    ElJefeChief Posts: 651 Member
    I think a little obsession is not a bad thing when it comes to being healthy.
  • SFJULES66
    SFJULES66 Posts: 168 Member
    I've read over and over that the people who are most successful at losing and maintaining their weight write down what they eat and count calories. It's like having a checking account or a daily budget. If you want to lose and maintain your weight you have to plan and be prepared or you will "over spend" and gain weight (says the one with 8 holiday pounds to lose!) But if you find yourself preoccupied with your weight and what you are going to eat, or it's affecting how you spend your time with people then maybe it's time to ask yourself if calorie counting is really in your best interest.