Molly McKnight

@mollymcknight_ | contributor
passionate about raising awareness for mental health
Community Voices

How to help deal with the new requirement for calories on menus

The new requirement for restaurants and cafes to display calories on menus will no doubt challenge people with eating disorders – myself included, as I have personally suffered with anorexia. Here are some things to remember, which might help if you’re struggling with this.

Firstly, calories aren’t the enemy. Calories are simply units of energy, which everyone needs in order for your body to carry out its basic functions. You wouldn’t tell your younger self that you couldn’t have that cookie because it had ‘too many’ calories in it, would you? You wouldn’t make your younger self have that plain salad instead of pizza would you? So why would you now? You are still as deserving as your younger self to have full food freedom and have permission to live your life to the fullest, without a number on a flimsy menu telling you otherwise.

Secondly, for someone with an eating disorder such as anorexia nervosa, it may be hard to have foods that you’re scared you may not like, and it be a ‘waste of calories’. But calories aren’t a currency you spend, they’re something everyone needs to live! When you’re older, looking back on your life, don’t you want to say you made the most of it, and enjoyed it to the fullest? Don’t let a number control you. Calories aren’t money and you don’t need to ‘save’ them up, or decide what to get with them. You control food. Don’t let food control you. Because a life of food freedom, will always be better than a life listening to an eating disorder.

Lastly, calories aren’t an exact science. They’re simply an indicator of how much energy a food contains. Your body doesn’t care if it’s had X more calories than usual; it only cares that it’s getting enough fuel.

#BodyPositivity #EatingDisorderRecovery #anorexiarecovery #Selfacceptance #eatingdisorderawareness #tipsandtricks

One thing I can promise you is that once you push through the hardest parts of recovery, you will not regret it. I can't promise that things will be perfect, or that recovery will be easy. But I promise that you will find yourself again and things will be so much better than they are.

So, don’t let this new law knock you back. Get that pudding. Eat what younger you would really want. You wouldn’t tell your friends they couldn’t have something, so why would you tell yourself that? Don’t let a number on a menu get in the way of you enjoying yourself and creating memories. You’ve got this!

Community Voices

Not a teenage, skinny white girl

“Wait? Are you going to eat that? You’ll gain weight!” “Congratulations, you’ve lost weight – now lose some more and then you’ll be happy”. These are some thoughts, people with #AnorexiaNervosa may experience, and I wanted to help spread awareness of the topic. I have suffered from an #EatingDisordersanorexia, and It’s the eating disorder I feel most able to talk about. However, we mustn’t forget that despite anorexia being the most publicized, it’s by no means the only eating disorder, or necessarily the most dangerous, and all eating disorders are serious and require help and intervention, and only 10% of diagnosed eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa.

When you think of anorexia, what do you think of? A skinny girl? Someone on a diet that’s gone too far. Someone who wants attention. Let me tell you this. Anorexia is rarely any of these. It’s not the often depicted skinny, teenage white girl who has ultimate self-control, anorexia is overweight people of color, middle-aged men, healthy-weight women, and takes in every shape and form- it’s a state of mind, not a look. The media often glamourises anorexia, making it seem like ‘the perfect diet’, bombarding our social media feed with ‘how to lose a stone in a day’ or people showing off their perfect breakfast, of a glass of lemon water with a side of air captioning it ‘big breakfast today!’

This is not anorexia, anorexia is hell. I’ve missed many social occasions and I’ve broken trust, and that doesn’t even begin to describe the impact of anorexia on my life. Nothing, absolutely nothing is glamorous about that. I’ve had doctors tell me I was just killing myself, meanwhile, I was thinking about how I could get away with skipping my next meal.

It controls your life. So don’t for one minute think anorexia is self-control. It’s being so out of control that you care more about depriving yourself of food than anything else in the world. I’ve lied to people that were just trying to help and support me in the past, just so I could please an illness that was trying to kill me. What’s so glamorous about that? And I would go to extreme lengths to comply with the illness, to please its demands.

Not all people with anorexia are emaciated (in fact 97% of those with eating disorders are not underweight). Not all calorie count, excessively exercise, purge, wear baggy clothes or have fear foods. You can have anorexia, and not have/do any of those things. Eating disorders are so individual, and BMI should never determine an eating disorder diagnosis. It’s an eating disorder, not a weight disorder. Someone’s weight says nothing about how much or little they are struggling.

The reality of anorexia, is hair loss, #Infertility , extreme coldness, #Insomnia , tiredness, and you know what? 1 in 10 die from it. As I said before, what’s glamorous about that? And if someone with anorexia hasn’t been hospitalized, force-fed, impatient etc, they are equally as valid, equally as in need of help. Anorexia can be lonely people on online forums competing to be the illest. Anorexia can be falling so behind in education that you feel you’ll never catch up, anorexia is not dramatic. Anorexia is your life slowly falling apart, piece by piece until you have quite literally lost everything you once had. Anorexia is so many things, but please do not portray it as the skinny white girl in magazines.

The media doesn’t necessarily cause all eating disorders or is the absolute sole cause of them, but they certainly normalise disordered eating. Why should I care what user2737482 on Instagram is having for dinner? I need to nourish my body, as do you, and that’s that.

If you take away one thing from this article, let it be that you never know what someone is going through, and don’t make any assumptions about people’s mental state by their appearance, but if we treat each other will compassion and love, we can’t go too far wrong 🙂

Community Voices