I’ve made lots of research about anorexia via anorexics’ blogs and books and medical TV programs.
It turned out that my relationship to food and eating was not “normal” but:
I never had dysmorphophobia: I was skinny and saw myself as skinny. Anorexics always see themselves as too fat even when they are dangerously underweight. (My BMI went down to 16.5).
I did not count calories and only weighed when my mum asked me to do so. I just ate very very little food and this lasted 7 or 8 years. However I was NOT dieting. I just couldn’t eat more, I was not hungry. I skipped breakfast and lunch for a long time, only had dinner. When I was alone in my apartment, in college, I could even skip dinner, only nimbled very little food in the day. My lack of apetite was due to the fact I was depressed, anguished, with period of over-excitment which all caused a knot in my stomach.
I was not obsessed with food and not eating. I was not scared of food. When I was finally hungry, I ate. I did not try to lose weight. Actually, I tried to gain when my weight was too low, or at least maintain. However when I got to a “normal weight” again I started to be mindful of what I ate because I wanted to stay slim. Not stick thin, but slim.
When I felt fine, I could have an ice cream, or a piece of cake, or a chocolate bar, without feeling guilty.
I started to eat normal again without making much effort. I learnt that undereating increased depression, and to get rid of depression I started to eat three substantial meals a day. I don’t remember it was a challenge. I just did it.
About the symptoms due to being malnourished: I was dizzy, cold, lost lots of hair, had bruises, shook all the time, was depressed, constipated…which can look like anorexia. But when I finally got better I had no long term damage, well I don’t think so.
I am glad I did not have anorexia. From what I’ve read and seen, it is really, really hellish. It ruins your life, your health, your relationships…one of the worst part is the obsessing over food, over eating, calories, gaining, that’s why it is called a mental illness (although it also seriously affects your body).