Tuesday, November 6, 2012

'I survived on a pack of Fruit Pastilles a day': Teenager was weak, wrinkled and so underweight she looked 90

As teen eating disorder cases reach a record high, one young woman tells how her obession with losing weight left her anorexic

Stepping on to the scales, Lucy Hemms felt euphoric. Another three pounds lost. Being thin was the best feeling in the world.

Aged 15, the teenager had lost more than three stone in six months after following a diet plan.
But unlike most slimmers, who happily stop dieting after reaching their goal weight, Lucy, then 17, took it too far.
In the grip of anorexia, at 5ft 10in, just 7st 7lb and a size four, she was dangerously underweight.
Surviving on only a packet of Fruit Pastilles a day, she was also taking up to 20 laxatives a day to maintain her emaciated figure.
“I didn’t realise how obsessed I’d become,” says Lucy, now 18, from Pontllanfraith, South Wales.
Teenager Lucy is not alone. Eating disorder cases are at a record high.
In the past year, admissions for conditions including anorexia and bulimia hit 2,290 – a 16% increase on the previous year.
Young people aged 10 to 19 accounted for 55% of the total, according to the research from the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
The biggest number of hospital admissions were 15-year-old girls.
Lucy’s own problems began aged 15 after being bullied at school for being 16st and a size 20.
“I’d always been chubby and kids would call me tank or blobby,” she says.
“I’d comfort myself by sitting in my room at home with a bar of chocolate, singing my favourite songs.”
An aspiring singer, she admired Welsh soprano Katherine Jenkins and longed to have her slim figure.
Her parents, Jillian, 48, a hairdresser, and Paul, also 48, a painter and decorator, tried to instil healthy eating habits in Lucy and her brother Leigh, now 22.
“I’d eat the salads and low-fat casseroles Mum made but then I’d sneak to the shop and buy a family-sized bar of Galaxy,” says Lucy.
“She’d pack me a healthy lunch for school but I’d queue up at the canteen for a cheese pasty.”
Finally, in early 2009, Jillian enrolled Lucy in a Slimming World class to help her lose weight.
Lucy embraced the diet, helped by the incentive of being bridesmaid at her cousin Laura’s wedding in two years.
“I was 16st and there was no way I wanted to lumber down the aisle looking like an elephant,” says Lucy.
At first, she was embarrassed about being in a slimming class.
“Being the youngest there was strange,” she says.
But she was thrilled to lose 5lb in the first week, and every week after that, by filling up on healthy jacket potatoes, pasta and salads.
“The weight dropped off,” she says. “For the first time I could buy normal teenage clothes. When I pulled on my first pair of skinny jeans, I squealed.”
Within six months, she’d lost 3st 5lb and was nominated for the Young Slimmer of the Year competition, run by Slimming World. She got to the semi-finals.
The teenager even got a boyfriend.
“I thought he really liked me,” she says. “We’d been together a year when our relationship became physical and I took off my T-shirt in front of him.
"He was the first boy to see me in a bra and I had a lot of loose skin from where I had lost weight. He didn’t say anything so I assumed everything was OK.
“But the next day he finished with me and told everyone at school about the loose skin. He said my stretch marks were disgusting.”
Paradigm Malibu is devoted to the provision of state of the art Teen Drug Treatment, Adolescent Behavioral Health, Mental Health and Emotional Health Treatment. To learn more about our services, please visit our web site at: www.paradigmmalibu.com

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