Extremely calorie restricted diets and why I hate them.

I don’t believe in diets. In fact, I think that diets are temporary fixes that lead to short–term results, but long–term failures. I believe in lifestyle changes that make you happy and keep you healthy.

That said, I do want to address a craze that is making the rounds in Barbados: a diet that restricts the participant to 500-800 calories per day, plus or minus “vitamin” or hormone injections or homeopathic preparations. There are persons who present themselves as medical and health professionals who are promoting this extreme calorie restricted diet… and I am horrified.

How I feel about the addition of homeopathy to the mix can be best explained by the following imagesImageImage

Participants are asked to starve themselves and get a shot —which reportedly costs hundreds of dollars— or drink a glass of water. Of course, anyone who only takes in less than 1000 calories per day for months is going to lose weight. I know; I’ve done it. I did not do it as part of some fad diet; I did it because I have suffered from an eating disorder for years. I have had my “eating issues”. I have fainted due to a misguided notion that if I starved myself I’d be prettier… sexier… more worthy of love. I’ve had heart palpitations and nearly died, according to my doctor— who understood what was going on, because SCIENTISTS know that a few hundred calories was not enough to sustain my body. To hear of alleged medical practitioners advocating something that I’ve fought as a serious disease for decades as a valid weight loss option, makes me want to smash things and rage at the world.

You see this picture? You think I look great?Image

I was 116 lbs then and clearly underweight for my muscular build. Due to some genetic fluke I seem to have muscle tone despite only having set foot in a gym that one time last year when I went to Puerto Rico with my friend Ria.

I was starving, I was sick, I was tired just walking from my car to the venue. This is what less than 1000 calories a day looks like. I am ten pounds heavier in the next image and just starting to recover. Yes I know, it looks great right? Not so great when you are falling over and constantly sleepy or can’t breathe from the heart palpitations and anxiety. I had halitosis that was near incurable because I wasn’t eating and I was unable to do much more than pose for pretty pictures. Image

Everyone around me told me how great I looked. The doctor on the other hand told me to eat or I would die. I had my son and I knew that I didn’t want to die. I didn’t want to be unable to do stuff with him and I didn’t want him to grow up thinking that starvation was normal. So I ate, it was one of the most difficult things that I have had to do. After years of only eating when I had an audience I had to learn that eating wasn’t performance art. That my body wasn’t a show piece for clothing and admiring glances it was a housing for Risée, a person, a human who was worthy at whatever weight was healthy for her.

I used to hear “Oh I wish I looked like you, so toned and trim” and all I could think was “No, you don’t wish this” then I’d feel like a million dollars because I was being told I was the ideal and who doesn’t like to hear that but then I’d sleep until noon the next day because I was lethargic from a lack of nutrition and my mother never knew why. I think she thought I was just avoiding chores.

Two and a half decades later I can now admit that what I suffer from — yes I use the present tense because disordered eating is like alcoholism— is what used to be called an EDNOS, Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified  http://www.nedc.com.au/ednos  *it is now classified as an OSFED.  “Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder. This refers to situations where a person has clinically significant feeding and eating disorder symptoms but does not meet the full criteria for another diagnostic category.”

Oh you thought only white American girls got eating disorders or that one couldn’t look like a gym bunny while being sick, well no.

Many people think they know how to spot someone with an eating disorder. We think “eating disorder”
and this comes to mindImage

or perhaps thisImage

but even with my pseudo gym-bunny body I too am the face of an eating disorder, I am the ideal that so many are told to strive for. My body type is what people will consume 500 calories per day to achieve in a short space of time. That persons in medicine would promote a mental illness that has taken me years to overcome as a viable way to achieve weight loss goals makes me sick to my stomach.

Yes, I said mental illness because that is what eating disorders are and I have one and I am not ashamed.

*Edited to add updated information regarding the categorisation of eating disorders.

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Posted in Fitness, Self Love
10 comments on “Extremely calorie restricted diets and why I hate them.
  1. Lasonta says:

    You are very brave to have posted this, thank you

    • nubienne says:

      Thank you, I don’t feel brave. I am just tired of watching people destroy themselves, of being encouraged to destroy themselves for pointless weight loss goals.

      I spoke out because I could no longer be silent, it was no longer even a choice.

  2. Dionne says:

    Love how you always keep it real!

  3. i have tried it only with in the last two weeks, it has been torturing me and i decided that it wasnt for me I would rather change to healthy and exercise and lose my weight over time than to try to eat only a few calories per day and feel tortured …. the first day was like i was going out of my mind imagine it takes 2601 calories to sustain my body and im trying to et 500 nah man thing near send me off the rails. I made a conscious decision to eat healthy and work out and my near 300 lbs will come off eventually.

    • nubienne says:

      Deborah…

      Strive for healthy.

      People used to disbelieve me when I’d say I was tired after a flight of stairs or that I had heart palpitations or that I was so tired I cried.

      Also, you are gorgeous, I have seen you, I know you, I have photographed you and there is nothing wrong with your size. If you want to get healthy I support that but I’m very over supporting thinness as a visual that ultimately masks unhealthy and dangerous eating habits.

  4. Nailah I says:

    *slow claps* I sincerely hope some of the Barbadian entertainers who have jumped on the “starvation diet” bandwagon (some of whom – whether they intend to or not; whether they like it or not – influence their fans’ thinking and behaviour) read this. As you’ve pointed out, Risee, moderation is key…. As someone who has dealt with (over)weight issues, my ENTIRE life, I applaud you for speaking out. Thank you!

  5. KMB says:

    Thank you for showing us how big your brave is.

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