I am 18, 5 feet 2 inches, and weigh 118-120. I know this is a healthy weight, but I have been struggling with wanting to lose weight for about 4 yrs. I’m always on a diet, and I exercise all the time, sometimes obsessively. I don’t think I’m fat, but I know I want to be skinnier, and constantly focus on the weight I need to lose. I want to get down to 105, maybe even 100lbs. I feel guilty after I eat anything (no matter how healthy it is) and seem controlled by food. I love food, but I want to be skinny more. Recently I have started to consume only 300-500 calories a day and skip meals, but it’s hard because I get weak and so hungry. Sometimes I break down and eat a big meal, then feel sooo guilty and sick. Sometimes I chew or spit food so I can taste it without getting the calories since I dont want to throw up the food. If I feel fat, I’ll have a bad day, and think about my weight 24/7. What is this?! Do I have an eating disorder? Thanks for your help!
- Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
You are asking an excellent question about yourself, "Do I have an Eating Disorder? My answer is that you seem to be on the road to developing one. However, there is still time to stop this. Let me explain.
For your height, your weight is good. If you attempt to reach the goals of 100 pounds or less, you will become underweight, could lose your menstrual cycle and threaten your health and your life. Don’t go there.
You are a young women struggling with many of the problems that plague young women and men today. We live in an era of great stress and pressure and one of the pressures that afflict women is to be "beautiful." Well, I have never seen or met you but I would bet good money that you are beautiful. But, that is just the problem: Young women being driven to define their beauty by how "skinny" they are. Guess what? Who said skinny is beautiful. It is not.
So, what to do?
I want to urbe you to get yourself into psychotherapy Immediately. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy would be excellent to help you learn to think in healthier ways than you are currently thinking. Frankly, I am guessing that you could be experiencing a lot of anxiety and depression and those are behind your eating disordered thinking. Do not despair because anxiety and depression are common for young people given the way the world is now. In addition to psychotherapy, you should consult a licensed nutritionist so that you could learn about healthy ways to handle your meals and how to exercise in ways that will help you remain fit and feeling good.
By the way, starving yourself or dieting will only set off a counter-reaction: over eating. Stop the cycle of starvation and over eating.
You are not too deeply into this as yet. Get help now so you can spare yourself from years of coping with anorexia or bulimia.
Best of Luck