Monday, 12 January 2015

Othorexia... Uh Oh

It's a topic that's been flying round the healthy living community for quite some time now. On blogs, in magazines on the news... it's growing.
What started off as people becoming interested in a healthier lifestyle along with the uprising popularity of amazing ancient super foods and a number of celebrities associating their 'perfect bikini body' with a clean eating diet, has now sparked a new age of healthy living.

And that's great, right?


The beginning of this attraction to simply eat well and rid one's pantry and fridge of 'bad stuff', would have resulted in a happier, healthier and more energetic feeling and in turn a new sense of power and strength. Reaching for an apple instead of a doughnut, going out with friends to a fast food place and managing to order a salad instead of a burger, surviving a whole week without a single. Scrap. Of. Chocolate. Pretty much super hero strength right there.

It feels good, right? If it feels good, if we feel empowered and if we tell ourselves that we are doing what's right for our bodies, then who in their right mind would stop?

Enter Orthorexia Nervosa.

It's all well and good when you first start out on the healthy eating train and make sure you add in a few more salads to your week and begin to take awareness of how many cookies you're really having throughout the day, though things start to become a little sketchy when you find yourself always thinking about stuff like this and only eating salads for lunch everyday. Of course the problem isn't these things per se, it's the anxiety that correlates with these behaviours if something doesn't go to plan.
If you begin to break out in a sweat when you realise the only food available to you is something you deem 'unhealthy', or you purposefully turn down a lunch date with a friend because there is nothing at the restaurant you will let yourself eat, are you truly living healthy?

Health is so much more than just physical. It's so much more than the food that fills (or not) the plate in front of you. It's more than the amount of calories you consume at each meal and the number of spinach leaves present in your salad.
Is it healthy to turn down experiences with your friends and family because of the food available. Is it healthy to constantly worry about your next meal and what you 'can/ can't' have. Is it healthy to be controlled by something so controllable.

If health is actually split into three categories- physical, mental and social, then if you think about it, the health you are trying to obtain is only 33.33% of true health- not even half!

This is where I come in. It's all well and good for me to say things like the above statements. It's easy for me to preach a message I believe so strongly about. It's effortless, really, to write a post that tells you why orthorexia shouldn't control you. What's not so easy?

Admitting that I think it controls me.

When I first came across this unhealthy obsession I was probably at my worst of it. I dreaded going out to restaurants with friends and if we did I would probably end up bringing my own per-packed food from home. Whenever we went anywhere I had my own little lunch box. I never accepted any food made by someone else and got worried whenever I bought a processed item of food (like a pasta sauce or muesli bar) because I wasn't sure what was truly in it. I read about orthorexia and it was pretty much the definition of my life. For some reason I am only now able to see that. Back then I would shrug it off and tell myself I was being healthy, not obsessive, but I know now how wrong I was.

Now this post is getting a bit on the lengthy (and emotional) side so I think I'll start to wrap things up.

In finishing I want to look at my life today. I know I probably still show a number of signs associated with orthorexia. I know this and accept this. I still bring food to places I know won't have vegetarian options and generally to friends houses so they don't have to worry about buying something different for me. I still sometimes freak out a little bit when I read the sugar/ sodium/ ingredients list of some products that I may have used in my dinner moments before.

What's changed? Those moments are less and less frequent. I freak out for a second and then I move on. Life's too short to worry about a few grams of sugar. I can see the bigger picture now and while I'll always be on a quest to live my healthiest life possible, I know now that that also includes fun with friends and family and making sure my mental health is in check. Only then will I ever be able to experience true health.

I guess it's unfortunate I had that whole period of my life where I thought I was being healthy and I thought I was really happy, but like most aspects in life, you live and learn- usually the hard way! Now I've been at that extreme, I will be able to recognise if I ever go back there and that comforts me.
How about you?
Have you ever experienced Orthorexia? Do you experience it now?
What are your thoughts on true health?
Any other thoughts?

Bye for now folks- make sure you have a fabulous day! :D


  1. Ironically, I shared an update on EDNOS today. My thoughts on true health would take a while to share :)

    Have a wonderful day!

  2. Jill,
    Totally agree, I think I could write a 7 page essay on true health.. and then need to go up to the teachers desk for some more paper after that!
    Thanks for the comment! :)
    Steph 2 chef x

  3. finding balance is SO difficult. I used to be a lot worse...but I still don't enjoy eating foods that are "bad" and have a little anxiety when going over to someone's house for dinner or eating out. I know how pointless and silly it is...but sometimes you just can't help your feelings. You can only control how you chose to act. you just have to make yourself eat the pasta for dinner every now and then, even though it has way too many grams of sugar and carbohydrates! Thanks for your honesty! I know so many women who struggle with this who are too ashamed/in denial to have an honest conversation about it.


Thoughts, questions, queries... leave a reply!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...