I’ve dived into hundreds of nutrition books, thousands of health podcasts, and countless diet blogs in search of THE PERFECT DIET.
What I have come to find is that no such thing exists and not only does it not exist but the quest for finding sed “perfect” diet will take you on a road of anxiety, obsession, and WORSE HEALTH….???
Welcome to the life of Orthorexia where food purity becomes the #1 thing you strive most for in life, where you perform detailed examinations of every ingredient list, triple sprout your quinoa, and keep gluten more than 1.5 miles away from you at all times.
If you haven’t heard of the term Orthorexia I am going to quickly define it for you here.
A fixation/obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy. There is no one consensus for what “healthy” means which is quite interesting when you think about it as it shows just how irrational it all is. You may have one person who claims a carnivore diet is the only food humans are meant to eat and the other that says raw veganism is the holy grail to health. Complete opposite dietary beliefs and yet those who follow in one camp or the other will be staunch advocates for that way of eating.
Someone suffering from orthorexia won’t necessarily be focused on food quantity (unless they suffer from anorexia too) rather food quality. The focus here is not weight loss rather immortality and living a life disease-free. Kinda a joke, but kinda true.
At first glance many might think, “Well, what’s wrong with this? Who cares if someone will only eat healthy foods??”. And that’s what I thought too when I had orthorexia. Like, get off my back everyone, and just let me bring my Tupperware of food to the dinner party!!! No big deal, okay.
Well, it is a big deal as orthorexia can not only impact one’s mental wellbeing but it can have a huge impact on one’s physical health as well.
DISCLAIMER HERE BEFORE WE BEGIN: I am in no way saying nutrition does not matter and that we should all eat bonbons all day. Having good dietary principles and eating well is radically different from the rigid dogmatic beliefs of an orthorexic. Orthorexia is simply “health” taken too far.
Common traits of people with Orthorexia. See how many you check off below
*Having foods that they strictly abstain from like sugar, wheat, meat, dairy without any medical reasons like a food allergy.
*Forgoing eating, no matter how hungry, if healthy food is not available. (A practice that is decidedly unhealthy.)
*Eating foods that are not on their approved list creates strong feelings of disgust, anxiety, guilt, shame, and the need to repent, usually by a stricter version of their diet or a full-on cleanse).
*Their sense of self-worth and pride is based on how well they followed their diet. They may begin to feel superior, virtuous, and strong from adhering to food rules. Self-discipline is important to them.
*Rigid food rules will dictate their behavior.
*They will withdraw from social activities as they won’t be able to follow their diet to a tee with others around.
*They may abuse things like detoxes, enemas, and cleanses.
*They may use a lot of supplements, powders, and tinctures. If they travel they may try and find a way to bring all their supplements with them.
*Food is mainly eaten for nutritional purposes only. The pleasure from food is not a priority.
*Things like meal planning and meal times are strictly adhered to. Their schedule often revolves around food.
*They may have an irrational concern about how a food was prepared and or a concern about the state of cleanliness of the kitchen where it was made.
*Inability to eat food that someone gives to them without knowing the exact ingredients.
*Judging others for eating food that they deem to be “bad”.
*Spend hours researching the health benefits or health detriments of certain foods.
*Believe that they are completely fine and that their dietary beliefs are negatively affecting their life despite what their loved ones around them see.
Do any of those things resonate with you? If so, it’s okay. I get it, as I was once there too. I would google the “health benefits of (insert whatever I am eating)” before I would eat anything just to make sure that science validated my choice in food. I was obsessed with eating super clean and thought that any deviation from the rules I had created would result in a catastrophic ending of the world. Well, at least my anxiety was at that level that one would think that the world indeed was ending.
But is the world really going to end if I eat something that has butter in it? What about sugar? Surely sugar will end the world?
Well, let me tell you this. I have added both butter and sugar into my diet and I have experienced nothing but butter health. (see my play on words there haha)
I spent a solid year challenging all my food rules, ditching all dietary labels and embracing ALL food. Yes yes yes even oreos dipped in milk 🙂
It was really scary at first but what I found was as I lifted the dietary restraints I had put on myself my life opened up in various ways. A huge stress dissipated from my life consequently improved my health.
My life is no longer ruled by food. I can date who I want, travel wherever I want, go to any restaurant, shop at any grocery store, and eat whatever I feel like. Boy that feels good to say.
This journey has been about way more than eating a chocolate croissant and cheesecake rather an exploration into who I truly am and an invitation to experience more in this life.
Important questions I had to ask myself in this journey were;
*Who am I without wellness?
*Who am I without all these products and “healthy” diets?
*Who am I without an eating disorder?
*I wasn’t going to find out until I left all those things behind and started anew.
I know that wellness and diet culture makes it seem like the most important thing in life is how clean your diet is but it’s not. There are so many things for you to experience, don’t let your dietary beliefs stop you from going out there and trying new things.
It’s okay to eat a normal diet. You can have good dietary principles and yet nutritional flexibility. It doesn’t have to be balck or white– eating perfectly or eating all junk food. Maybe there’s this thing called balance and by adopting a principle of balance with food you can experience better health.
Recovery is a hard process as it requires unlearning all that you have so that you can tune into what your body needs. It’s a beautiful messy journey I am not going to lie but at the end you will where at the end you will understand that you are a wonderfully beautiful imperfect human being.
I could write for days on this topic and I will create more content about this but if you are someone who is ready to let go of all these food fears and find wellness without obsession then apply for 1:1 coaching!
You can apply here
Recovering from orthorexia is a beautiful journey of learning that you are a wonderfully beautiful imperfect human being. I would be honored to help you on that journey!