You can spot them in a supermarket if you know what you're looking for.
Most obvious, are the tiny ones, well wrapped but with tell tale stork legs rooting them to the floor.
They stand close to the shelf, elbows tucked in, head down, clutching a tin.
They are looking at the nutritional information, specifically at how many kcals per 100g. They pick another tin and do the same. If there was a way of x-raying their mind, you'd see vast amounts of data being computed. Complex comparison tables charting an array of brands, computing calories, converting kilojoules, weight for weight, fat content, fibre.
If they weren't already, most anorexics get good at maths at some point in the descent into hell.
Less recognisable, are the less skinny ones, but don't be fooled... They may have just come out of a treatment facility (goodness, that sounds American!). They may have an Eating Disorder which falls into the mysterious EDNOS category. Not all ED patients are obvious, but an informed eye can spot them a mile off.
One of the
very difficult things about trying to recover from an Eating Disorder, be it Anorexia, Bulimia or something less definable, is that once you know the calorific content of a foodstuff, you can't just 'unknow' it. It's an unfortunate byproduct of many people's illness that they have a head filled with numbers which will, presumably, stay with them forever. After all, knowing the amount of calories in a slice of Warburtons Wholemeal Bread, being able to add up a total when including a medium sized egg, and knowing the amount you're ingesting when you scrape out half a pot of Ski Strawberry Yoghurt, is just as essential as knowing your pin number.
You are not going to forget.
Which, in fairness, just adds to the agony of attempting recovery.
This morning, deciding on a mid morning snack, was ridiculous. Almost laughable.
I'm hungry. My weight has dropped a lot. I know I must try to up my game.
I want chocolate with my coffee, but I know the yoghurt coated fruit snack has 70 less calories than the packet of chocolate... and, it's healthier..!(probably not , but hey... everyone falls for the gimmicky health advertising, right?)
At this stage, the inside workings of my mind look a little like a fantastical fight from a Harry Potter film. Numbers are darting about; variously sized and coloured digits streaking through darkness, pressing their shapes into the soft blackness of your retina.
"What if I halved that, added that..? Had 2 of those for the 1 of those? This is the equivalent to that... Hmmm... It's still over a 100 calories.
What do I end up with?
A half packet of salted popcorn.
I know I've had 40 calories.
(And before you feel compelled to tell me, I KNOW the info on these things is only approximate and there may be a 70% margin either way... but something is better than nothing.) Which is a mantra I need to double up on...