Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I am what I eat. More than calories create the body.

Participant Observation is a difficult undertaking when exploring this online community as it would literally involve acquiring an eating disorder - something I am just not prepared to do. But as I read these blogs of about food intake and exercise I am trying to understand where I fit in as an 'outsider' and how I can relate to this community more effectively. 
So I have devised a way to attempt at understanding what it might be like to not only have a preoccupation with food and exercise, but also to self-disclose on the internet. I am working on a challenging experiment. I am taking note of my caloric intake from food, and what I expend during exercise and I will post it online after four days. I was also thinking of calculating my own BMI and figuring out what my caloric intake/ expenditure might have to be to be underweight. 

Today is the first day of this experiment. So far, I have to say, this is difficult. Not only to find the caloric value of all the foods I eat, but to remember each thing that I eat ( I am trying to write it down) as well as to get an accurate measure of how many calories I expend. I am a little nervous about disclosing this as I have already discovered that my own eating habits verge on ridiculous. For example, today  I ate three 'steamies' and fries for lunch and in doing this experiment I feel myself hyper-aware of their caloric value whereas I otherwise wouldn't think twice about downing hot dogs and fries for lunch (delicious!).

Another issue that has been on my mind lately in researching the pro-ana community is the dissention between what we put in our mouths, how much we exercise, and the shape of bodies. There is this assumption it seems, that food it directly related to body size. This simply is not the case. There are so many other factors that are involved to body size, such as body type, age, hormones, access to healthy foods and lifestyle. I think of a friend who is the size of a minute, but can eat like a true champion, and other friends who diet compulsively or watch carefully what they eat and yet are unable to shed pounds. Ultimately what is at work for the people involved in this community is an distorted self-perception as well as unhealthy eating habits. There are, as I am learning, a number of reasons why people develop eating disorders, but as I have tried to express in this post, there is a myth surrounding food/calories as being the sole factors that shape the body. 


  1. you have mentioned one of the most critical things that i think society in general is oblivious too and that is that ... i quote you "There is this assumption it seems that food is directly related to body size" . I like the fact that your post are not sugar coating this topic !!

  2. Thanks for your comment.

    It is that very point that you explicated from this post that I think is really key to not only our Western body culture, but very integral to the distorted body image that is so closely associated with Eating Disorders. I recently saw a fantastic film about fat people in New York and a group that advocates for their rights. I heard the film maker speak, and he brought up this very point. As a wry and petit man who claimed to eat potatoes, corn, and other 'fatty' foods, he found this whole concept of calories= body type baffling. It was this notion that directed his interest in the terribly problematic discrimination that fat people face. This really solidifies this issue for me. So often we see fat people and think ' If only they ate less/ exercised more... wacka wacka wacka'.
    In a similar (but of course, different) we might consider anorexic bodies in a similar way. In severe cases, they are obvious and in the same way, we might say 'just eat more'.
    Of course, such matters are never so simple. Rather, they are underpinned by many other variables.

  3. Counting calories every single day and for evert single bite can be a daunting task. I wanted to tell everyone about a site that I found that does it for you and it is as low as $3/week! Check it out: https://www.buildmymeals.com

    Here's a 20% off coupon code:EXTRA20

  4. Who is Michelle? In the class? Or is this a service enabling hyper-attention to calorie counting?

  5. A thing that you realized is really essential to the whole Eating Disorder community. The fact that it is difficult for you to remember that you want to count your calories and see how much you burn really sets you apart.
    What we eat and burn is all we think about. Each thing that we put in our mouth is decided upon before consumed. If we go out on a huge binge, we are so disgusted with ourselves afterward that we MUST purge in order to maintain sanity.
    Having an ED not only consumes your life, it is your life. It is your every waking moment.

  6. its not a choice. food/weight/body size/shape is always in the back of our minds, even if we aren't 'pro' whatever and actively being ana/mia.
    it doesn't go away. THESE THOUGHTS ARE ALWAYS THERE.

    a good book that might interest you.

    you might get more comments on your blog if u enabled people to comment anonymously.

    I am reading your blog and can't help but feel as if u are judgmental in how you view ppl with EDs/EDNOS