Question: I am 15 years old and I am recovering from anorexia/bulimia which I have suffered from for over 4 years. I have been running at home every day for a while & am soon joining a running club as I would like to run competitively. I used to be a sprinter but obviously I cannot sprint that fast right now – will I be able to sprint again once I am fully healthy? I run long distance at the moment – what sort of foods should I eat to build my muscles back up? Thanks.
Answer: The best news Chloe is that you are recovering so keep concentrating on your goal of getting better. You are at an age when your body is still growing and developing so having a good balanced diet with an adequate energy intake to allow for the fact that you are still growing is very important. Base your meals on carbohydrates such as bread, potatoes, pasta, cereals or rice these will give you energy and are a good source of B vitamins which help release the energy from food. Make sure you include two sources of protein daily such as meat, fish, cheese, eggs or alternative sources such as soya or pulses (lentils, beans). Protein is vital for growth and repair and contains essential nutrients such as iron, zinc and magnesium. Aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegatables a day which contain necessary vitamins and minerals and last but not least 2-3 portions of dairy produce. You are at an age where you bones are developing and strengthening, so the stronger they become now the less the risk of them becoming brittle in later life. Your teenage years are a really important time for your bones so make sure you are getting enough calcium, for your age you should be having 800mg daily. Vitamin D will help you absorb calcium form your diet, it occurs naturally in oily fish (e.g salmon, sardines, trout) so aim to have this once a week, meat, butter and eggs. The main way to absorb vitamin D is through the action of sunlight on the skin just be careful not to burn! Good luck, don’t push yourself too hard running wise give your body a chance to recover and regain its strength but I am sure given time you will achieve your goal.