All posts by cookandcontemplate

Leftovers Beef Orange Stir Fry

Quick and easy, this beef orange stir fry uses all my leftover vegetables to provide you with 5 OF YOUR 5-A-DAY!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Handful Spinach
  • 140g lean stir fry beef
  • 1 carrot, sliced finely
  • 80g sweetcorn
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp reduced-salt soy sauce
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 orange, half juiced and half in segments
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Noodles, cooked

METHOD:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan on a medium heat and add the onion and carrot; sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic clove and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  2. Add the stir fry beef strips and turn up the heat until browned. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the orange segments, sweetcorn and noodles, cooking for a further 2 minutes.
  4. Add the soy sauce, ginger, rice vinegar, honey, and orange juice. Combine and cook until heated through.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION: Screen Shot 2018-09-16 at 10.37.32.png

Beef – High in protein and low in fat, when the lean version is bought. It is also high in vitamin B3, B6 and B12 for energy release in respiration, and iron for protein and neurotransmitter synthesis and immune function.

Onion – High in vitamin C for immune function, folic acid for DNA synthesis, and fibre for digestion.

Orange – Concentrated in vitamin C for immune and antioxidant function; oranges are also high in fibre for digestion and potassium for fluid balance and electrolytes.

Carrot – high in vitamin A (specifically beta-carotene) for vision and immune function.

Spinach – providing vitamin K for cell signalling and vitamin A for eye function, as well as fibre for digestion.

Sweetcorn – High in vitamin B1 and B5 for release of energy from respiration, and vitamin C for protein and neurotransmitter synthesis.

Noodles – high in carbohydrate to give you loads of energy to get you through your day!

3 Courses of Chocolate

HAPPY INTERNATIONAL CHOCOLATE DAY!!! To celebrate, I have created 3 courses of chocolate – all healthy recipes which provide numerous vitamins and minerals: spinach and pear salad with a chocolate vinaigrette for starter; steak with a chocolate and coffee sauce for main; and chocolate fruit pudding for dessert. I use 85% dark chocolate in all the recipes, which is high in antioxidants and minerals such as copper for iron metabolism and blood clots; and manganese for bone health and reducing inflammation. Enjoy!

Starter: Spinach and Pear Salad with Chocolate Vinaigrette

IMG_1684

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pear
  • handful of spinach
  • 10g 85% dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 slices parma ham
  • 1 tsp honey

METHOD:

  1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for 30s-1min, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the balsamic vinegar and honey, season, and whisk to create the vinaigrette.
  3. Arrange the spinach, pear and pancetta on a plate, and cover in dressing.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION:

Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 09.25.40.png

Pear – High in vitamin C for immune and antioxidant function, K for cell signalling, and potassium for fluid balance and electrolytes.

Spinach – providing vitamin K for cell signalling and vitamin A for eye function, as well as fibre for digestion.

Parma ham – High in protein and the B vitamins for carbohydrate and energy utilisation, and mineral phosphorus for bone and protein function.

Main: Steak with Chocolate and Coffee Sauce

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 140g (1 average) lean trimmed steak
  • 1 medium potato, cut into wedges
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 2 slices parma ham
  • 50ml white wine
  • 50ml fat free creme fraiche
  • 2 tbsp coffee (I used 1 tsp instant made up with water)
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp pink peppercorns
  • 10g 85% dark chocolate

NUTRITION:Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 09.29.56.png

Beef – High in protein and low in fat, when the lean version is bought. It is also high in vitamin B3, B6 and B12 for energy release in respiration, and iron for protein and neurotransmitter synthesis and immune function.

Onion –  High in vitamin C for immune function, folic acid for DNA synthesis, and fibre for digestion.

Creme fraiche – contributes towards your protein and calcium requirements. Calcium is essential for bone growth and maintenance.

Parma ham – High in protein and the B vitamins for carbohydrate and energy utilisation, and mineral phosphorus for bone and protein function.

Spinach – providing vitamin K for cell signalling and vitamin A for eye function, as well as fibre for digestion.

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220/ 6.
  2. Mix 1 tsp of olive oil with the potato wedges and season. Bake for 40minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a pan on a medium heat and sauté the onion until caramelised for 5minutes. Blitz in a blender with the white wine into a paste.
  4. Add the steak to the pan and fry on each side for 2 minutes on a high heat. Remove from the pan.
  5. Add the parma ham and fry until just crisping, then add the onion paste and heat through for a further 2 minutes.
  6. Return the beef to the pan along with the creme fraiche and peppercorns and cook until bubbling, then add the coffee, chocolate and thyme until simmering.
  7. Serve with spinach and the potato wedges.
  8. Enjoy!

Dessert: Chocolate Blueberry Pudding

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 150ml fat free greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 60g blueberry
  • half a banana
  • 1 tso 85% dark chocolate, grated
  • honey (optional, to make sweeter)

METHOD:

  1. Mix half the greek yoghurt with the cocoa powder.
  2. Serve in a tall glass tumbler, layering the cocoa yoghurt, fruit, and plain yoghurt.
  3. Top with chocolate shavings and a mint leaf.
  4. Enjoy!

NUTRITION:Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 09.31.43.png

Yoghurt – contributes towards your protein and calcium requirements. Calcium is essential for bone growth and maintenance.

Blueberries – Containing iron for oxygen transfer, phosphorus for bone structure, and magnesium for nerve transmission and DNA replication.

Banana – High in potassium for fluid balance and muscle contraction, and containing naturally occurring sugars to keep your energy up for longer!

Changing Behaviour: The Kindness Method

I have recently finished reading The Kindness Method by Shahroo Izadi – a self-help book dedicated to sustaining habit change. I never had time for self-help books, which could be due to both my stubbornness to change, and my belief that they are a load of bullsh*t. However, after a rewarding yet gruelling summer ‘holiday’ of working way too much and not looking after myself, my mum (of course, mother knows best), urged me to give the psychobabble another shot.

So, as recommended by Shahroo, I went out and bought a new swanky notebook to write down all my life thoughts. And here it began.

The book (or bible of positivity as I am now calling it) consists of a number of exercises, questions for thought, and mind maps to aid self-induced change. It urges a continuous process, which really is what change is, to build confidence (something that I have a severe lack of) in both myself and the prospect of sustained change. I felt like I was my own councillor – and I loved it!

After a week of reading and completing all the exercises, this is what I realised:

I need to treat myself how I treat others

From primary school, the rule “treat others how you would like to be treated” always stuck with me. It made sense; I wouldn’t like it if someone said horrible things to me, so why should I say it to them. However, I also lack the ability to be assertive and say no; I blame this rule. Shahroo has made me realise that now I should live by another rule, “treat yourself how you treat others”, and this was achieved by a very simple but effective exercise – a comparison between the thoughts that I say to myself in my head when I am upset, and the phrases I may say to a loved one if they were upset. For example, I would never say to someone “You know what, you are fat and ugly and you will never lose as much weight as you want”, “Yes I completely agree, you are lazy and useless and will never get that promotion”. No, I would say. “You can do this, you are beautiful and can work through this rough patch”, “You will succeed, you deserve this”. So here inviting this question – why am I saying all these negative phrases to myself when I would never dream of saying them to a loved one?

My unwanted habits are completely understandable

Following from this – negative phrases are often caused by unwanted habits. I am hard on myself because I am stuck in a pattern of unwanted behaviours that I cannot seem to break. This is where another comparison comes in – writing both the harmful impact of the habit, and why I haven’t changed it yet – essentially, the pros and cons of the behaviour. This here is where I find the motivation to change the behaviour, and some potential barriers – cleverly disguised amongst two relatively easy-to-answer questions. It also made me understand why the unwanted habit has dug its claws in and stuck; there are an unusual number of positives to it, despite them being unhealthy. For only a day, the negative thoughts surrounding the keeping of this habit disappeared. When these thoughts reappear, all I have to do is look back at my ‘why haven’t I changed already map’, and it stops me from being so hard on myself.

I need to look back in order to go forwards

Reflection – a skill that has been fully emphasised in the duration of my first year at university and will continue to be for the rest of my working life. And rightly so. Understanding who, what, where, why, and how my previous habit changes have and haven’t worked will help me in making my revised plan for change. Again, Shahroo does this by asking questions to make us think – a skill that I would like to refine as a future dietitian. What hasn’t worked? When are you ‘in the zone’? What are your excuses when avoiding change?

The Kindness Method puts the focus on what may have gone wrong in the past, learning from the experiences, and concentrating on positive attributes to maintain habits, as well as setting realistic goals.

I have only explained a few exercises included in the book; this is not to say that the others were not as, if not more, rewarding. It is also a process that can be maintained for however long necessary, with plans being made and reviewed every 3 weeks.

I would highly recommend.

Smoked Mackerel Kedgeree

Brunch or dinner, this recipe provides MULTIPLE essential nutrients like omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids from the mackerel, protein from the eggs (and mackerel), and loads of vitamins from the vegetables.

Serves 2.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 4 curry leaves
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 100g rice
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp mild curry powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cooked smoked mackerel fillets
  • 1/2 lime

METHOD:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan on a high heat; add the mustard seeds, coriander seeds and curry leaves and stir until the seeds crackle, for roughly 1 minute.
  2. Add the onion, leek and carrot and reduce the heat to low. Cook for roughly 10 minutes or until the vegetables have softened.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  4. Add the rice, turmeric and curry powder and combine; frying for 1 minute.
  5. Add the appropriate amount of boiling water for 100g of rice, reduce to a simmer,  and cover to cook for 15 minutes – keep watching, I read that 250ml water would be sufficient but found that much more was needed.
  6. Whilst the rice is cooking, boil the eggs for 5 minutes, then remove the shell and keep to the side.
  7. Uncover the rice, flake in the mackerel and season. Cook uncovered for a further 5 minutes – more water may need to be added to stop the rice sticking.
  8. Season and serve with the egg and 1/4 lime wedge.
  9. Enjoy!

NUTRITION:

Screen Shot 2018-09-04 at 14.25.06.png

Mackerel – High in essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids of which you should be having three times a week, and protein, so is a good choice of fish (and it tastes AMAZING).

Eggs –  Eggs are the most useful protein source as they provide essential amino acids (the building molecules of protein), which are also absorbed most efficiently by the body.

Rice – high in carbohydrate to give you loads of energy to get you through your day!

Carrots – high in vitamin A (specifically beta-carotene) for vision and immune function.

Onion – High in vitamin C for immune function, folic acid for DNA synthesis, and fibre for digestion.

Pesto Pork with Italian Couscous

Looking for something quick? High protein? Spiced? Delicious? This is the perfect meal – packing in two of your 5-a-day, as well as plenty of protein, this will satisfy your cravings and keep you fuller for longer!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Pork chop
  • 1 tbsp reduced-fat pesto
  • 30g dried couscous
  • 150ml water or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 red onion, quartered
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220/7.
  2. Cover the pesto on the pork chop
  3. Add the onion and pepper to a baking tray and mix in olive oil, half the spices, and seasoning. Make space in the middle to place the pork chop, facing pesto side up. Bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, add the remaining spices to the couscous and cover with the boiling water/ stock and leave for 5 minutes so the couscous can absorb the water.
  5. After the pork has been baking for 20minutes, remove the chop from the tray and mix the couscous with the vegetables. Make a well in the middle and add the chop again, baking for a further 10minutes.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION:

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 16.18.21.png

Pork – High in protein and the B vitamins for carbohydrate and energy utilisation, and mineral phosphorus for bone and protein function.

Couscous – high in protein and providing a good base for this dish.

Onion – High in vitamin C for immune function, folic acid for DNA synthesis, and fibre for digestion.

Pepper – high in vitamin A and C, but also B6 to release energy and folate which helps DNA synthesis.

Mini Pork Burgers 3 Ways

ITS NATIONAL BURGER DAY! Get ready Britain because I am switching up the traditional beef patty. Using pork instead and three crazy but creative topping ideas – brie and bacon; pineapple and peanut butter; chorizo and manchego – these treats are perfect as a party appetiser or can be sized up and enjoyed on a typical rainy British summer day.

Makes 6 mini burgers

INGREDIENTS:

  • 250g lean pork mince
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 6 mini burger buns, halved
  • 1 buffalo tomato, sliced lengthways
  • handful of rocket
  • skewers for serving
  • 1 tsp olive oil

METHOD:

  1. Add the pork mince and spices to a large mixing bowl. Wet your hands and form into 6 equally sized patties.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat, add the patties and cook for 5 minutes per side, or until they are brown all the way through.
  3. Build your burger! This is where you should add any extra toppings that you want.
  4. Enjoy!

NUTRITION:

Per basic burger – mini burger buns must be used (31g bread per bun):

Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 16.35.23.png

Pork – High in protein and the B vitamins for carbohydrate and energy utilisation, and mineral phosphorus for bone and protein function.

Tomatoes – massively high in vitamin C for protein and neurotransmitter synthesis; it also has functions in detoxification and as an antioxidant. It also gives you vitamin A for vision and immune function, and potassium for fluid balance and muscle contraction.

Bread – high in quick-release carbohydrate if white bread is selected, or fibre for digestion if wholemeal is selected.

TOPPINGS:

Brie and bacon:

Add two slices of lean bacon, two slices of brie, and a dollop of cranberry sauce when building your burger!

Brie – even though it has a relatively high fat content, cheese is high in calcium for bone strength and stability.

Bacon – High in protein and the B vitamins for carbohydrate and energy utilisation, and mineral phosphorus for bone and protein function.

Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 16.41.11.png

Pineapple and peanut butter:

When frying the patties, add the pineapple to the pan as well and it will heat up and go all crispy! Slather peanut butter to the bun and add the pineapple to the top of the stack.

Pineapple – this sweet fruit is high in thiamin, riboflavin and B6 for energy release.

Peanut butter – peanuts are high in biotin and niacin for energy release, and copper for enzyme function and blood clotting.

Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 16.40.31.png

Chorizo and manchego:

Chorizo – Although relatively high in fat and salt, this meat is good for adding texture and flavour to meals.

Manchego – even though it has a relatively high fat content, cheese is high in calcium for bone strength and stability.

Add two slice of cooked chorizo, a ring of red pepper and two slices of manchego cheese to the stack.

Screen Shot 2018-08-20 at 16.42.38.png

Homemade Squash Gnocchi

This is the first time that I have made gnocchi and its actually went so well! I am pretty proud of myself (as you can tell). This vegetarian main tastes DELICIOUS, contains 3 of your 5-a-day, and is low in fat and salt!

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 whole squash
  • 6 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • sprigs of thyme
  • 200g white mushrooms
  • 150g broccoli
  • 1 400g can butter beans
  • 40g parmesan, grated

METHOD:

  1. Cut the squash into pieces and put in the microwave for roughly 5 x 2minute blasts, or until the flesh is soft.
  2. Meanwhile cook the broccoli and beans for 5 minutes in a pan of boiling water, and dry fry the mushrooms for 5 minutes.
  3. Squeeze the flesh into a bowl and mash up, add the nutmeg, sage, garlic, and flour – this should form a dough, if not, add more flour.
  4. Roll out the dough into a thick strip and cut into gnocchi-sized pieces.
  5. Add to a pan of boiling water and cook for roughly 4 minutes or until the pieces are floating on top.
  6. In an oven-proof dish, add the gnocchi, mushrooms, broccoli, thyme, and sprinkle with parmesan.
  7. Oven-cook on 220/8, or grill, until all the cheese has melted on the top.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION:

Screen Shot 2018-08-21 at 20.54.12.png

Squash – despite the large natural sugar content, squash provides LOADS OF B vitamins, which have functions in energy release in respiration, and is massively high in potassium which maintains fluid and electrolyte balance.

Cheese – even though it has a relatively high fat content, cheese is high in calcium for bone strength and stability.

Mexican Partayy

Hey! So it was my birthday last week and in pure cookandcontemplate style I had a massive Mexican make-your-own chicken burrito buffet. Here are the recipes making up the meal – just add all to a wrap with some tortilla chips on the side and you have got yourself a fiesta!

Spiced chicken:

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 8 chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 3 tsp mild chilli powder

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220/8.
  2. Mix the olive oil and spices with the chicken and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until white all the way through.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION:

Screen Shot 2018-08-17 at 20.45.57.png

Tomato Mexican-style rice:

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 500g wholegrain rice
  • 2x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 white onions
  • 1 tsp olive oil

METHOD:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan on a medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, or until transparent. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, rice and spices and reduce to a low heat.
  4. Cook for 15-20 minutes, adding hot water if needed, or until the rice is soft and has absorbed all liquid.
  5. Season and serve!

NUTRITION:

Screen Shot 2018-08-17 at 20.47.32.png

Homemade guacamole:

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 white onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • bunch of coriander, chopped
  • 3 avocados
  • juice of 1 lime

METHOD:

  1. Mash the avocados with the other ingredients and season.
  2. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION:

Screen Shot 2018-08-17 at 20.48.33.png

Corn salsa salad:

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2x 326g can sweetcorn, drained
  • 200g tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch coriander, chopped
  • 2 limes, zest and juice
  • 1/2 green chilli, chopped and deseeded

METHOD:

  1. Add all the ingredients into a serving dish and mix – leave to marinate in the lime juice for 30minutes in the fridge if you have time.
  2. Season and enjoy!

NUTRITION:

Screen Shot 2018-08-17 at 20.50.01.png

Curtido (Mexican coleslaw):

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 white cabbage, shredded
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • bunch of coriander, chopped

METHOD:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a serving dish with a pinch of salt.
  2. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION:

Screen Shot 2018-08-17 at 20.51.04.png

Lighter Swedish Meatballs

Bring them Ikea meatballs home with you with this easy, healthier version! Using yoghurt instead of the double cream which is normally used, and lean mincemeat, this recipe reduces the fat content significantly from regular versions whilst still tasting AMAZING.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 250g pork mince
  • 250g 5% fat beef mince
  • 4 tbsp fat free greek yoghurt
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 4 tbsp Hendersons relish or Worcestershire sauce
  • 600ml beef stock
  • 2 tsp dried dill
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 30g breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 800g cooked wholewheat fusilli pasta, to serve

METHOD:

  1. Combine the meat, onion, egg, breadcrumbs and dill in a large bowl and shape into balls – there should be 16.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan on a high heat and add the meatballs to brown. TIP: limit the turning of the meatball so that they do not fall apart. When no pink meat can be seen, remove from the pan.
  3. Mix the cornstarch in a bowl with 1-2 tbsp of cold water or until a thick consistency has been formed.
  4. Add 200ml of the stock to the pan used for the meatballs and simmer; slowly whisk the cornstarch mix into the stock, creating a thick gravy. Whisk the remainder of the stock in and add the browned meatballs, reducing to a medium heat. Cook for 15minutes or until the meatballs are brown inside.
  5. Whisk in the mustard, Henderson’s relish and yoghurt and heat for a further 2 minutes – this may alter the consistency of the sauce so cook until preferred thickness.
  6. Serve with pasta.
  7. Enjoy!

NUTRITION:

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 20.33.15.png

Beef – High in protein and low in fat, when the lean version is bought. It is also high in vitamin B3, B6 and B12 for energy release in respiration, and iron for protein and neurotransmitter synthesis and immune function.

Pork – High in protein and the B vitamins for carbohydrate and energy utilisation, and mineral phosphorus for bone and protein function.

Yoghurt – Contributes towards your protein and calcium requirements. Calcium is essential for bone growth and maintenance.

Wholewheat pasta – High in carbohydrate and low in fat this base will keep you full, providing fibre for digestion and energy for those long working days!

Eating Disorders: Myth vs Reality

Let me define an eating disorder for you:

“A psychological condition centred around abnormal or detrimental eating patterns”

Despite definitions like this and further information surrounding eating disorders being easily accessible, there are still false perceptions present which are having negative effects on eating disorder awareness.

I want to put to rest these myths and perceptions in hope to increase awareness for those in need. Please please read through this whole post and feel free to contact any helplines that I have linked at the end if you feel like you or another need someone to talk to.

Myth 1: Anorexia and Bulimia are the only eating disorders

In a society obsessed with criteria and categories, it is easy to focus on the well-known eating disorders and dismiss someone’s issues if they do not fit in a particular diagnostic box. Eating disorders, as with any mental illness, are not as easy as ‘black or white’, or ‘anorexia or bulimia’. There is a large grey area that people should be more aware of so that sufferers not ticking all the boxes can still access appropriate treatment.

This grey area may be easier to explain numerically. BEAT, Britain’s largest eating disorder charity, predicts that 40% of people with an eating disorder have bulimia, 10% have anorexia, and 50% have OSFED[1]. Please click below to read more about what the different eating disorders are and their signs.
Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 11.09.52.png

Myth 2: Eating disorders only occur in young women

Stereotypes are often exaggerations of the truth, and here is no exception. The stigma that eating disorders occur in young women is somewhat accurate; in fact, they are considered ‘high-risk’ compared to other societal groups. This is supported by statistics showing that 89% of people with eating disorders are female [1], and the illness often begins between the ages of 12 and 18, with 14 to 16 being the most common [2].

Despite this, and emphasised in myth 1, mental illness is a grey area – even though eating disorders are more common in young women, it is predicted that 11% of sufferers are men [1], and there is evidence of eating disorders in children as young as 8 and in the elderly [3].

To summarise, eating disorders can occur in anyone, regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, upbringing etc etc.

Myth 3: You have got to be thin to have an eating disorder

“If you can’t see it, it is not there” 

The above quote and associated myth is a perception heightened by media coverage focusing on anorexia and malnourishment. The perception impacts negatively on eating disorder awareness by narrowing the public’s focus to the physical manifestations of eating disorders rather than the mental symptoms, meaning that sufferers that are not underweight are often disregarded as having an eating disorder.

The truth of the matter is this: 80-85% of people with an eating disorder are not underweight [4]. There is an increasing link between obesity and eating disorders, with binge eating disorder [5] and night eating syndrome [6] being the most common named disorders associated with obesity, and they both involve distress around food. Equally, eating disorders can occur when someone is of a normal weight and BMI. So, again, the weight of eating disorder sufferers is not black or white, underweight or overweight – sufferers can be any weight or body shape.

It is important to understand this myth because the mental symptoms occur before the physical ones. Treatment still needs to be engaged with if someone is displaying psychological and behavioural signs of an eating disorder, without the physical ones.

Myth 4: Purging only involves vomiting

Purging is a primary indicator of bulimia or other related eating disorders. It is a common misconception that vomiting is the only purging method; there are unfortunately multiple ways that someone can purge.

Purging is the act of physically removing food/ calories out of the body and this can involve[7]:

  • Self-induced vomiting.
  • Misuse of medication which can include laxatives, diuretics, enemas, appetite suppressants, thyroid preparations, insulin etc.
  • Fasting
  • Excessive exercising

Not only the lack of public knowledge about the different methods, but also the lack of knowledge about how dangerous they are, is worrying. With fasting and excessive exercise being a purging method, the binge-purge cycles may be much more common than you may think. Being aware of the different ways someone can purge is important for accurate identification, treatment and recovery.

Myth 5: Eating disorder behaviour focuses solely on food and body image

Eating disorders are often linked to other mental health disorders, with anxiety, depression, and OCD being common secondary illnesses that can develop with an eating disorder. I will be looking into this further in future posts.

Linked below are some helplines which can be used if needed:

https://www.mind.org.uk/#

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/

https://www.samaritans.org/

https://www.ocdaction.org.uk/

http://depressionuk.org/

Myth 6: Parents and the media are to blame

Nature or nurture? The above myth solely blames the environment that the sufferer has/ is experiencing. In reality, eating disorders are multifactorial – meaning that both nature and nurture can play a part in their development.

Nature – There is research showing that eating disorders are several times more common amongst biological relatives of people that have already had eating disorders [8], and that identical twins are much more likely to share a disorder than non-identical [4]. This, and a vast amount of other research, supports the theory that genetics contribute to eating disorder development.

Nurture – Every person has developed under different circumstances and has experienced different things. This considered, every eating disorder sufferer will have different environmental factors which have assisted their illness’s development. Some of the potential risk factors can include but aren’t limited to [9]: exposure to trauma such as abuse, death or bullying; a predisposition for obesity or leanness; and particular personality traits. 

Despite the extensive research carried out to find the causes of eating disorders, the recovery for sufferers is more important. Read on to find out how you seek help and treatment for eating disorder recovery.

Myth 7: There is nothing that can be done

There are a multitude of things that can be done.

For all other myths around eating disorders, I have collected credible, evidence-based sources and pooled them together to create my posts and increase eating disorder awareness. For the above myth, I want to link sources that have been made by experienced health professionals as I think that they would be more useful.

If you are concerned about yourself, a friend or a family member I would urge you to look at the below sources:

BEAT is the British Eating Disorder Association:

https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/

The NHS website is also useful:

https://www.nhs.uk/pages/home.aspx

If you are worried and are not from the UK, please give me a message and I can direct you to the correct association.

Alternatively, you could go and visit your local GP.

Like any disease or illness, it is much better if the signs are spotted and appropriate medical care is initiated during the earlier stages. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you are aware of the potential signs of eating disorders, and how treatment can be sought after. Please spread awareness and the helplines above. This should be talked about more.

Continue reading Eating Disorders: Myth vs Reality