As of this week, restaurants with more than 250 employees are legally required to include calorie counts on their menus in the UK
The new government law is set to tackle obesity, and some restaurants in the UK are already doing so. But does calorie labeling help the problem or can it be detrimental to the mental health of diners, who may already be suffering from eating disorders?
A Liverpool woman shared her fears about calorie labeling and the risks it can pose to people like her. The 30-year-old from Toxteth describes her relationship with food as “complicated,” after battling depression, OCD, anxiety and anorexia for six years.
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Sophie Cook, founder of Sophie’s Kitchen, a bakery company based in Liverpool 8, spoke about her struggles with food. She said, “It took me a while to realize I’m sick, but I guess it’s a matter of mental health.
“When you’re struggling with yourself, you know exactly how hard it can be, so you spend so much time making sure everyone around you doesn’t feel the same. You lose touch with yourself.
“I liked going out with my friends to eat and drink. Slowly over time I found myself missing out on more and more social events.”
She learned how to cook on her own, the only thing she could do to “make people smile”. Unfortunately Sophie’s health continued to deteriorate and she was admitted to a psychiatric unit called Oaktrees in Wirral.
Sophie said: “I was hospitalized for a total of seven months, four of which I spent in a wheelchair. Over time they allowed me a few hours out of the hospital.
“I decided that if I wanted to improve I had to improve for myself, not just because I was doing what the doctors told me to do. I started looking at what would motivate me to improve and found a course at Liverpool Community College for pastry and pastry. cake decoration. “
Finding the class motivated Sophie to recover. Printing her college application form and sticking it to the wall of her hospital room was a “constant reminder” that she was well enough to go to college and complete the course.
She said: “The day I weighed enough to leave the hospital, I discharged myself. I have not seen a doctor or a psychiatrist since.
“Different things work for different people and I have seen firsthand how professional support can help other people. Personally, I have taken the time to become aware of what stimulates me, what I find difficult and what makes me happy. , but there are still triggers and calories are one of them. “
Upon learning of the new calorie labeling laws in May 2021, Sophie was “angry” at the idea and still is. There have been many petitions to try to stop the law but “they have all been ignored”.
The baker said: “I don’t understand and still don’t understand what calories will be gained by putting calories on menus – most organizations already have nutrition facts available and people can go online to find everything they need on most sites. Corporate Webs But seeing calories on a menu could have serious repercussions for someone struggling with an eating disorder.
“Even today, seeing calories makes me feel anxious. I’ve spent years figuring out my triggers and working on them, but one thing I can’t seem to shake off is the impact of seeing that number.
“I have taken steps to educate myself about what calories are and how they are accumulated, now I am able to look at a meal and figure out where those numbers actually come from. That a high number doesn’t necessarily make it a bad choice.
“But no matter how far I’ve come, I still find myself noticing the calories on what I’m eating. I’ll openly admit that when I have a bad day, my eating disorder will creep in again, and it doesn’t matter how much I’ve learned to myself. itself, my brain will forget all of this and I will struggle with certain foods based on calorie content. “
He told ECHO: “The government actually needs to understand mental health. Anyone can read books and get qualifications, but that doesn’t mean you actually understand how people feel – and that’s the most important thing in mental health.
“Mental health is not black and white, people may have exactly the same mental health ‘problem’ but they feel completely different, which is why education is so important. People need to be educated. [about mental health] from a young age, not just because it’s a social media trend every time a celebrity dies of mental health, or it’s a day like World Mental Health Day. “
Helpline and support groups
The following are help lines and support networks that people can talk to, mostly listed on the NHS Choices website
- Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24 hour service available every day of the year. If you’d rather write how you feel, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at email@example.com.
- CALM Campaign Against Living Miserably (0800 58 58 58) is a major anti-suicide movement. She runs a helpline and webchat in the UK from 5pm to midnight 365 days a year for anyone who has hit a wall for whatever reason, needing to talk or find information and support.
- PANDAS (0808 1961 776) operates a free helpline and offers support service for people who may be suffering from perinatal mental illness, including antenatal (prenatal) and postnatal depression, as well as support for their family or network.
- Childline (0800 1111) operates a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number does not appear on the phone bill.
- PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is an organization that supports adolescents and young adults who commit suicide.
- Mind (0300 123 3393) is a charity that provides advice and support to empower anyone with mental health problems. They strive to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
- Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, depressed or have suicidal thoughts.
- Bullying UK is a website for children and adults who are bullied.
Amparo provides emotional and practical support to anyone who has been affected by a suicide. This includes dealing with police and coroners; help with media inquiries; prepare for and participate in an investigation and help access other appropriate local support services. Call 0330 088 9255 or visit www.aparo.org.uk for more details.
- Hub of Hope is the UK’s most comprehensive national mental health support database. Download the free app, visit hubofhope.co.uk or text HOPE on 85258 to find relevant services near you.
- Youth Counseling Service: Provides mental health and emotional wellbeing services to children, youth and families in Liverpool. tel: 0151 707 1025 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Paul’s Place – Provides free counseling and group sessions to anyone living on Merseyside who has lost a family member or friend to suicide. Tel: 0151 226 0696 or email: email@example.com
The Martin Gallier Project – Offers face-to-face support for suicidal people and their families. Opening hours 9.30-16.30, 7 days a week. Tel: 0151 644 0294 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
James’ Place – supports men over the age of 18 experiencing a suicide crisis by providing quick access to therapy and support. Call 0151 303 5757 from Monday to Friday from 9:30 to 17:30 or visit https://www.jamesplace.org.uk/