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I Wanna Be Thin!

Question:

I’m 12, 5’2, and weigh 103 but i would do anything to weigh 90! I’m not big boned or anything but its just when i try to diet and eat right i end up failing EVERY time! so I’ve come to a conclusion… i can not eat. well i have to eat some or my parents would find out what i was doing…. so i wanted to know if i stop eating all but one full meal a day for 10 days then would my body eat up most of my body fat? actually i already know that when your anorexic your body eats your body fat… but if i eat just lunch everyday will my body stop eating my body fat after i eat lunch… or dinner… please help… i wanna be thin! please!

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Answer:

It’s sad for me to read your email, because you are so young, and already so much a victim of the unhealthy obsession with thinness that our culture promotes. Being super-thin is held out for you as the way to be sexy and pretty, but the truth is most people aren’t designed to be super-thin, and there are so many boys (or girls) out there who will ultimately find you attractive despite your ‘failings’ that it won’t matter anyway.

Have you ever heard of something called the Body Mass Index (or BMI)? BMI is a way of computing a single number that can tell you whether you’re overweight, underweight or normal weight. Given your height 5 feet 3 inches), and reported weight of 103 pounds, your BMI is 18.8, which is on the low side of normal. You can compute your BMI yourself at any number of websites on the net, this being one. This means your weight is what it should be for your body. If you did succeed in losing 13 pounds, to arrive at a weight of 90 pounds, your BMI would become 16.5, which would make you underweight. In fact, ‘underweight’ starts at any BMI less than 18.5, which makes even your weight of 103 pounds quite close to being too thin. Being too thin can be dangerous to your health (as can being too heavy), so let me say this clearly: You don’t need to diet; you are at a healthy weight as you are now.

At age 12, it’s unlikely that you’ll be impressed by numbers like BMI, or anything I can say to you suggesting that your weight as it stands is just fine (which it is). Nevertheless, I urge you to stop attempts to diet below the weight you’re currently at. Becoming super-thin can seem like an important goal, a way to be pretty, and a potent proof of self-control, but it comes with terrible risks. Lose too much weight and you can get very sick. Obsess too much about food, or try too hard to restrict your eating (as you appear to be doing) and you can truly end up with serious disorders such as Anorexia or Bulimia, either of which can mess up your health. People have even died from these disorders.

You ask a specific question, “if i stop eating all but one full meal a day for 10 days then would my body eat up most of my body fat?”. If you did this, you’d basically be starving yourself during this period – eating far fewer calories than your body requires to sustain your life and health. Starving yourself will cause you to lose weight, but it is dangerous, and it is unsustainable. Your body is designed to cause hunger pains to occur when it is starting to starve. In very short order you would literally be fighting tooth and nail to not eat – you would crave foods in an enormous way, and literally feel pain at not eating them. Ultimately the chances are good that you’ll break down and eat something you crave. If this breakdown of willpower occurs (and it is very likely to occur – so common in fact that it has a name – a ‘binge’), you won’t eat just a little food – you’ll eat a whole lot of it – so much so that you would have been better off calorie-wise just eating regular meals. After a binge, it is also common for people to feel disgusted with themselves and to try to get rid of the food they have binged on – by vomiting, by pooping it out (with laxities to help the process), or by exercising excessively. Binging leads to purging, and purging leads back to food avoidance, and ultimately back to binging. It’s a big vicious circle that you don’t want to get into if you can avoid it.

Let’s say that you succeed in losing the weight. If you lose too much weight, you become unable to have your period (which will be coming along one of these months for you if it hasn’t come already) which means your body is starving so much it need to shut down what it can to conserve resources. At a certain point you go past where thin is equal to sexy, and you get into the place where thin equals creepy. Boys (or girls, depending on what you like) will actually start to look at you funny and think you’re sick, but you may not notice. Once you’ve entered into the anorexic cycle, you won’t be a good judge of what looks good. Instead, you’ll be locked into a mindset where you can never be too thin, and skeletons look like they could lose a few pounds. You’ll get sick, and others will think you look funny, and it will all be for nothing.

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p> To sum it up: You don’t need to lose weight. You should not restrict your eating. If you recognize that you’re already too obsessed with weight control to stop yourself, please let someone know who can help you to stop (like a friend, or your parents or family) before you get into danger.

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