At age fifteen, drama with your friends is such a natural part of being an adolescent that you’d never think twice about it. But this girl’s high school drama resulted in one problem that she has been battling for the past five years. After a major fallout with one of her friends, Yasmine El Husseiny fell into a deep depression that developed into an obsession to stop eating. “, I was taking control over my food after failing to take control of my friendship, bearing in mind that anorexia mostly happens to controlling personalities!” Though at the time she did not understand what anorexia was, her obsession with reducing her food intake kept getting worse. “I think I was influenced by the media but, in fact, I did not understand what was happening to me!” recalls El Husseiny.
At age fifteen, Yasmine El Husseiny was diagnosed with anorexia when her weight was at 28 kilos. Today, Yasmine is twenty years old and she is still on her journey to recovery, which led her on a long search for different dietary habits until she found one that she feels comfortable with. For as long as she can remember, Yasmine has hated meat and it was one of the reasons that she hated “meal time”. Her young age limited her ability to make her own food and so she didn’t get the chance to experiment with other types of foods and diets. Her weight fluctuated for the last seven years. “I would go up, say 5 kilos and then drop them again,” El Husseiny says of her eating habits. It was only last year that she started trying different ways of eating and cooking for herself. “After having reached 28 kilograms at my worst, I am now at 40, which is a great achievement for me! I still have about 5 or 10 more kilos to go in order to be at a healthy weight and get my monthly cycle back!”
Yasmine’s parents quickly became concerned when her monthly cycle stopped and she was losing weight drastically. They took her to a nutritionist, who gave her a meal plan to follow, and for the next month she lived by it and gained some weight. But as soon as she stopped going to the doctor, her weight went down again!
Anorexia… A Mental Disease
Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss. It is a serious condition that can be life-threatening if it goes untreated and unnoticed. Anorexia is a result of many factors, among which are an extreme fear of weight-gain or a distorted self-image. Yasmine tells us, “Anorexia is a mental disease. However, it influences physical health as a product of a mindset that is obsessed with controlling food.”
Signs that a person is anorexic can range from being obsessed with the quantity and type of food a person consumes, minimal interaction with people especially when this interaction involves food; such as going out for lunch. “Actually,” Yasmine says, “a person may be overweight and anorexic if meal times present a conflict and if food starts making them obsessive.”
After acknowledging her condition and and need for recovery, Yasmine started by visiting a nutritionist to give her a meal plan to get her weight up. But when that stopped working, she started seeing a psychiatrist every week. As her recovery progressed, her visits to the psychiatrist decreased and she now tries to depend on herself for full recovery.
Yasmine tells us “recovering from anorexia is not easy at all but I try as much as I can to motivate myself and setting realistic goals that I can reach and then developing harder goals when I reach the ones I have set in the first place.”
What Yasmine Eats In A Typical Day Then VS Now
In a typical day before recovery …
“I used to eat an apple for breakfast, for lunch I had what mum cooked but with very little quantities and for dinner I used to drink tea and eat a small packet of plain biscuits or a plain piece of bread”
Now in a typical day …
“I have oatmeal or peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast along with fresh fruit. For lunch, I may have rice or pasta with veggies, nuts and some sort of dressing such as tahini, guacamole, ketchup, etc. For dinner I always drink hot herbal tea along with fruit and a peanut butter sandwich. For snacks, I may have any of these: dates, cookies, cereal, chips, juices, dark chocolate or fresh fruit with nut butter.”
Dealing With Anorexia In Egypt
One of the obstacles that Yasmine has faced during her recovery was that she is living in a country that does not fully or properly understand anorexia. “Living with anorexia in Egypt has proven hard for me because there are no specialists in this sort of illness in Egypt”, Yasmine told us. “You can go to a nutritionist or psychiatrist but still I have not met a person or doctor that specializes in treating eating disorders so you mainly have to depend on yourself.” At such a young age, Yasmine resorted to social media outlets such as Instagram and YouTube to truly understand her condition and find motivation through the many successful recovery stories she came across. “Posting on social media keeps me motivated because it gives me support through people’s positive comments. Also, I feel that I have to always eat well in order to continue the YouTube journey that I started, as I mainly post videos about recovery.” For Yasmine, awareness about anorexia in Egypt is nowhere close to where it needs to be, and finding the proper health care you need is close to impossible due to the fact that are no specialized clinics for eating disorders.
Watch below what a typical day following Yasmine’s diet looks like now: