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To Sam

I want to be able to feel happy about my body but I can't stop starving myself

I'm 13 and really struggle with fitting in. I'm an average weight however can't help but think I am larger than everyone else. I compare myself to every girl out there and it  puts me down so much. I've tried going to the gym, doing more sporting activities;but I have given up on that. I have told my mum but she doesn't listen she just says I'm being stupid and that I'm a good weight but  that doesn't help me feel better about myself . I have began to eat a lot less that I would usually, I feel this is the only option, I now skip breakfast and rarely eat lunch, and at dinner time I tell my mum I feel sick or no hungry, some days I go without nothing! I have been doing that for a month and a bit but I am beginning to feel sick, tired, weak and very often get headaches. I want to be able to stop and feel happy about my body but it makes me so happy when I see the results of the weight I've lost, I can't stop!
Ask Sam



Thanks for your letter and well done for deciding to get in touch. I’m really concerned to hear that you’ve been skipping meals over the last month and sometimes going without food. At 13 your body will be going through all kind of changes as you grow. This means it’s really important to get the nutrients you need from food so your body can function, develop properly and survive. 

It’s important to get medical advice (from a doctor or nurse, for example) before you lose weight. Losing weight can be quite dangerous for a young person. It sounds like you’ve been feeling quite low physically. When someone isn’t eating enough or getting a healthy and balanced diet it can put their health at risk.

It sounds like your mum hasn’t understood how serious this problem really feels for you. You might want to think about telling her more about it in a letter like the one you have written me. There may be another adult that you trust who you could try to speak to. This might be a teacher or your school. You might find it helps to read our tips on asking an adult for help.

It might be an idea to think about whether anything happened or changed when you started to feel this way about food or your body. You’ve told me that although you know you are an average weight, you can’t help but think you are larger than everyone else. Sometimes when someone has developed a problem with food it can make it hard for them to see themselves as others see them. This can make it hard to know when the eating problem is getting out of control. We have a page about anorexia and the NHS has some information about eating disorders which you could check out

You’ve talked about comparing yourself to every girl out there. It’s important to remember that all people come in different shapes, sizes and colours. Our differences are what make the world an interesting place to be in. We are all attracted to different kinds of people both personality wise and also looks wise. How we look when we are 13 will be different to how we look when we are 18, 21 and so on. Throughout your life you will always be changing both in the way you look physically and the way you present yourself with your style and personality as you grow up and find yourself.

It could be interesting to imagine what life might be like if you were no longer worrying or thinking about your weight. Think about how you might be feeling, what you might be doing differently and who might notice. Eating healthily and getting a balanced diet along with exercising can help you to feel a lot brighter both physically and mentally. The NHS website has a great page about healthy eating for teens which could help.

Remember that you are always welcome to come and talk to a ChildLine counsellor any time. You can do that via 1-2-1 chat (a bit like instant messenger) or by calling us on 0800 1111 (free even from a mobile and it won’t show up on your bill). ChildLine also has pages on eating problems and message boards where you can find support from other young people.

I hope some of this helps.

Take care,

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