Ask Jigsaw: Obsessed with calorie counting | Advice for Young People

Ask Jigsaw: Obsessed with calorie counting, do I need help?

Hey, not sure if this is relevant so please feel free to ignore if there are better questions.

How do you know when you’re ‘bad enough’? I know that everyone says no problem is too small, but I can’t help but feel that if I seek help somewhere that I’d be taking the spot away from someone else who is more in need.

Over the past year, I’ve gotten super obsessed with counting my calories; restricting and then ‘binging’ (not really large amounts of food, just more than I think I should be eating) as a result, occasionally using other methods like appetite suppressants and laxatives to compensate. However, I don’t think that it’s serious as I’m not under weight or over weight yet, so I don’t think I have an eating disorder?
Not sure what I should do, I’d really appreciate an insight, as the new year is making me feel like there’s more I should be doing to be skinnier etc.

Thank you so much x

-Sershxo

It is very difficult to compare problems, as there are usually so many different factors at play

James, Jigsaw Clinician

Hi Sershxo,

Many people who have come to Jigsaw have worried that their problem isn’t ‘bad enough’ or that others need or deserve the support more. It is very difficult to compare problems, as there are usually so many different factors at play, including the issue or issues, the coping resources someone has, what is going on around them etc. Rather than thinking about other people who may access a service, it is more helpful to think about your own needs.

Not just about weight

You mention that you don’t think that you have an eating disorder as you aren’t under or over weight. It is important to know that eating disorders aren’t just about the amount that we weigh or how we look. It is not always possible to tell if someone has an eating disorder from the way they appear on the outside. Bodywhys is a charity that has some helpful information about what eating disorders are.

We can develop disordered eating as a way to help us cope or to feel more in control with things that are going on around us

James, Jigsaw Clinician

Disordered Eating

Many people, while not having a diagnosis of an eating disorder, may struggle with disordered eating. This is where our relationship with food has become difficult and can include things like skipping meals, binge eating, restrictive dieting, being preoccupied with food, weight or body image.

We can develop disordered eating as a way to help us cope or to feel more in control with things that are going on around us. However it is not a helpful coping strategy, and is potentially damaging to our physical and mental health. It is important to look at other ways to manage. The earlier you can get support to manage this the better, so please don’t feel you have to wait to be ‘bad enough’.

It would be a really good idea to talk to someone about how you are feeling about food and your weight. I would suggest talking to your GP about what is going on for you and if you live in a Jigsaw area, it might be good to arrange an appointment. You can read a bit more about body image here, and more about services available to support mental health for under 18s here and over 18s here.

I hope this has been helpful and that you get the support that you need.

Take care,

James, Jigsaw Clinician