“Is calorie counting a eating disorder?”

This question was submitted to Kids Help Phone by a young person and answered by one of our professional counsellors.

Question

Is calorie counting a eating disorder? I’m curious do to the fact that everyone keeps telling me it is. I’m [edit height and weight]and I’m still worrying about if I look skinny or not. I want to loose more like maybe another [edit] pounds and from there I’ll see how I look. Everyone is like your too skinny and its annoying since I still have a little belly. Like How about I just go until I’m like flat I don’t see a issue in that. But apparently theres a big one like its my body. I’m not starving I’m just doing what I see fit. I guess by writing this I’m trying to justify what I’m doing and maybe get someone to agree with me but I need an honest opinion. Is it a disorder? Thanks.

Answer

It seems like while you are feeling o.k. about calorie counting and wanting to lose weight, the concern that people around you are showing is making you second guess it. I can understand why your thinking this over. You’ve been honest with me… you deserve the same. I understand that you are wondering if you might have an eating disorder. To be honest I may not be able to give you a straight answer to this one, it is something that needs to be explored with a therapist or doctor in deeper conversation. Having said that, some of the behaviours that you mentioned can definitely be signs of an eating disorder or a negative body image. What do you think it might feel like to stay at your current body weight, how do you think you would feel?. Is it something that feels possible? An eating disorder often has a lot to do with how someone is feeling about themselves on the inside, kind of like they are looking through a tube and only see a circle when really there’s a tall rectangle, does this make sense for your experience? It’s kind of like because of the way someone is percieving themselves they never end up being ‘good enough’. Yes, it is really important that you are not starving yourself but beyond that it is also really important that you are nourishing yourself well. Would you say that you are getting the recommended servings of food a day? If you are not sure about how healthy your eating choices are I wonder if it might help to talk to your family doctor about this or to make an appointment with a nutritionist (your doctor could make a referral for you). Another good resource that we have in Canada is the National Eating Disorder Hotline at 1 866 633-4220. I hope that this response was helpful for you but please let us know if you want to explore this further or anything else. Sending you thoughts for good self-care. All the best

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