The NEW Anorexia

I've heard a new theory to "improve longevity" called caloric restriction (CR).

You really think I could come up with this shit, day after day after day? Nope. I stumble across it, on the great wide Internet.

The sad part is that this is true stuff.



I'm sure you can see the news feeds along the right side of my blog. They're there for your viewing pleasure. They're also there because I'm too lazy to search the web for news every single day. I found this article on Eating for Less than One: Is caloric restriction any different than anorexia? by Kate Taylor.

There is apparently much research done on the theory (basically fewer calories=longer life). You can lose weight! Live longer! Go completely NUTS!

Gee, that sounds like fun.

The author, herself recovered from anorexia, points out the following:

Although we don't know yet whether the longevity benefits extend to humans, a number of people—probably at least several hundred—have put themselves on draconian diets in the hope of living longer. They refer to their regimen as CR (calorie restriction) or CRON (calorie restriction with optimal nutrition), and they call themselves CRONies. They eat obsessively, measure every calorie, and lose huge amounts of weight. Except for the fact that most of them are men, they look a lot like anorexics. And, on closer examination, it turns out they are a lot like anorexics. Many are trying to jolt themselves out of a midlife crisis, much as many anorexics are seeking relief from adolescent unhappiness. Like anorexics, CRONies discover in starvation an apparent solution to their problems: a source of energy (at least at first), a sense of purpose, and relief from stress.
No kidding. So..let me get this straight. You eat less and then you...become obsessed about food. This isn't about "optimal nutrition." This isn't about weight loss. This is about malnutrition! It's your body's way of saying "FEED ME!" I've been there. I have different names for hunger. That's anorexia. That's also caloric restriction.

And here's the absolutely most absurd part: some physicians have touted caloric restriction as a key to health, yet also saying that anorexia is a killer, blame your mom, there ya go. Anorexia has a rough mortality rate of 15%. And if that's the same as caloric seems a much more likely way to die than to live. Besides, how can you get "optimal nutrition" on a calorie-restricted diet?

Here's the incredibly fascinating part- how CRONies act just like anorexics. Just like researcher Ancel Keys found out almost 60 years ago when he cut the calories of a group of men by half and then observed their behavior. One participant said something along the lines of, "When I watched a movie, I was more interested in the food than the sex scenes." As much as a film of the 1940s had, I suppose. Unless it's sex in the kitchen, then all eyes ahead, sailor!

Again, quoting the wonderful Junkfood Science blog: "Researchers recently cautioned that current clinical guidelines for weight management put mature adults at greater risk of dying."

Well, it can't be both. Obviously, we're all gonna die. There's no escaping that. Personally, I don't really want to live forever. But I'd also like to stay here as long as possible. So either we're going to die of obesity or of anorexia.

Um, hello? Can't there be a middle ground here? If anorexia kills, then so does caloric restriction. Malnutrition causes virtually ALL of the symptoms of anorexia. You don't die directly from anorexia; you die of starvation or suicide.

Nice options, there. Also please note the extremely strong correlation between malnutrition, starvation, and, oh, death.

Frankly, even if restricting my food prolongs my life, it's not a life I want to live.

Death by chocolate, baby. Death by chocolate.


Sandy said...

No one dies because they have too much to eat, but they do die from not enough. It is a sad myth that people die because they are fat. Be not afraid of your natural fat.

Anonymous said...

My theory--they don't live longer, it just seems like it. Time does not fly when you're not having fun. I'm with you Carrie--CR is no way to live.



I'm trying not to be afraid of my natural fat and natural body shape. I also take solace in looking at my family and their (physical) health. Mentally...well...let's just not go there.

And, might I add, as an aspiring science writer, I'm an avid reader of your blog. I'm awarding you a pretty kitty award.


That's hilarious. They just "think" they're living longer. When I was deep into the AN, I just wanted the day to be over. It dragged by because all I could think about was food. Whether these CRONies are psychologically anorexic (a debateable term at best), they're biochemically such.

mary said...

I know it doesn't seem like you'll ever get these fears out of your head but I know you can. It just takes time....and learning to fully accept yourself.
It's like the missing numbers in sudoko puzzles. A finished puzzle is a victory but each little find is a mini victory along the way. When you finally finish and the last few numbers fly it's as if they were always there, where they belong.For you the search needs to be for the little things you love about yourself. Look for them. Build on them. I could help but it wouldn't be your own truth, which is what's going to carry you for the rest of your life and when you need it most. And yes, you can paint your nails and still accept them, color your hair and still accept it so don't start up with that nonsense again. Ok?
In a similar fashion your own puzzle will move along swiftly after you get past this stuck part. If you keep looking outside your own puzzle though, you are going to find that there are cults that seem to validate anorexia, but you KNOW it's sick and that's a victory, you can see this clearly now.
Ok, it was chess the other day and now it's sudoko. Regardless you have to keep your focus on facing this fear....if chocolate works then by all means use it. I think it's what it was born for! Watch the movie Chocolat if you have it. There's not only chocolate in it but a valuable lesson about life.
I like what Sandy said about natural fat, "be not afraid." And what Jane said too, about having fun.
Perhaps you need to have a cyber party to help loosen you up? I'll make pizza and bring the root beer!

marcella said...

My husband has been researching his family tree. It seems to me that his family tried this restricted eating over a hundred years ago only then it wasn't called CR it was called poverty. Did they live longer? No way! Reading the death certificates of the children is heartbreaking and while some of them died of infectious diseases, it is quite obvious that malnutrition played its part in making them more vulnerable.

k said...

Hi Carrie-
I found your blog through Lindsey's. I love your posts. They are all so interesting. I'm having a bit of a hard time now. It would be great to speak. Nice to meet you.


Mary, and (root) beer. I know which one I'm waiting for!


I hear they have other words for CR in different parts of the world: starvation, famine. That type of thing.


Good luck with your recovery.

Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home

ED Bites on Facebook!

ED Bites is on Twitter!

Search ED Bites

About Me

My photo
I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

Drop me a line!

Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at

nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


Popular Posts


Recent Comments