Eating disorders are no joke, and while I have not personally had one myself, I’ve seen and talked with people who have. So when someone brought Orthorexia Nervosa up to me, I looked it up, and figured I’d talk a little bit about it. For those of you who haven’t heard of Orthorexia Nervosa, here’s a general description of what it is: “an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy” (Google). To me, I think that sounds like B.S.
When it comes to eating healthy, there is certainly a spectrum that people can fall on. Some people really don’t care at all, where others follow a completely clean diet, and there are so many levels in between. As far as those who eat more on the healthier side, there are often different levels of balance that these people have. As for me? I don’t eat full-on cheat meals or junk food. It’s not because I have no balance, it’s because I just don’t need or even crave them anymore. Yeah, some people might look down on me or even feel bad for me because they think I’m restricting myself so much, but in reality, I promise you I really am not.
So let’s talk about this eating disorder, Orthorexia Nervosa. The National Eating Disorders website breaks it down into a few components and questions to ask yourself regarding whether or not you have this eating disorder. They write “Consider the following questions. The more questions you respond “yes” to, the more likely you are dealing with orthorexia”, so we might as well answer them:
- Do you wish that occasionally you could just eat and not worry about food quality?
Nope. I know I would break out, feel bloated, lack energy, and definitely experience brain fog after I eat bad quality foods, so why would I want to do that to myself? I’ve found healthy foods I love (and even healthier alternatives to foods I love) so I have no problem eating those whenever I want to.
- Do you ever wish you could spend less time on food and more time living and loving?
Even though a lot of my time is spent on food-related things, I’ve built a lifestyle around it. I enjoy cooking and grocery shopping, Mike and I love finding healthier options when eating out, I get to share my experiences on Instagram with a whole community of people I have surrounded myself with, I talk to companies who have mission statements that align with mine, and I still enjoy lots of time with my family. Even if I have slowly lost relationships along the way, I have built so many more with people who have the same passions as I do.
- Does it seem beyond your ability to eat a meal prepared with love by someone else – one single meal – and not try to control what is served?
This is an odd question for me to answer because it can be answered two different ways. If I go out to a restaurant, I will try and make healthier substitutions. Even if it isn’t made the way I cook my foods, I will probably still eat it if I know I chose the healthiest option on the menu. Obviously if it’s McDonald’s, I’d just wait until I get home to eat. And if it’s a friend/family member cooking for me, chances are they’ve taken into account that I do like eating healthier so they’ve done their best to accommodate to that. Those are the types of people I want and have in my life.
- Are you constantly looking for ways foods are unhealthy for you?
Yes, because I know I don’t need every single food. I can pass up an unhealthy snack and wait until I get home to cook. Easy as that.
- Do love, joy, play and creativity take a back seat to following the perfect diet?
You can easily find love, joy, and creativity in a healthy lifestyle; I certainly do. Chefs and cooks do it all the time, it just depends on what foods you use.
- Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet?
I often don’t majorly ‘fall off the wagon’ but if I have a few cookies one day, I’ll break out (acne) for a few days and then move on.
- Do you feel in control when you stick to the “correct” diet?
Yes, because I actually am in control when I eat foods that I know are good.
- Have you put yourself on a nutritional pedestal and wonder how others can possibly eat the foods they eat?
I don’t like to think I put myself on a pedestal, but I do wonder how others can possibly eat the foods they eat because I was once there myself. If I didn’t know half of the information about nutrition that I know now, then I would probably still be eating those same foods. But because I know how bad foods affect your body, and have seen and felt it with my own body, I can’t imagine going back to what I was eating even a year ago. The whole purpose of this blog, and even Mike and my Instagrams, is to share information that we have learned and gained from experience with as many people as possible. A lot of the times, people just don’t have much information. So we like doing the research, and sharing it with everyone else in the hopes that maybe they will realize the same things that we have.
So that’s a little bit about Orthorexia Nervosa, and I guess a little bit about myself while we were at it. It’s tough when people close to you think you’re going through a ‘phase’, especially when they don’t know what you’ve gone through to get to where you are today. For example, people don’t believe me when I say I break out from eating gluten, just because their bodies are fine. Everyone is different, especially their bodies. For many people, they may not experience any signs of inflammation or their body reacting to bad foods, until they get sick in the far future. And it’s become so common around us that people think it’s ‘normal’ or ‘inevitable’; that good nutrition won’t help prevent it.
I don’t expect people to follow what I do, especially if they follow the lifestyle I did about a year ago. But it’s also important to realize that I choose to do what I do. I have control over my lifestyle and I am happy where I am at. People shouldn’t feel bad for me because I don’t eat all the foods they eat, in fact I probably eat just as many foods, just different. Eating and living healthy is a lifestyle that I’ve chosen, along with many many other people, but it isn’t an eating disorder. Of course I agree that there is a point when someone becomes obsessive, but I don’t think the way Orthorexia Nervosa is described is accurate for that. People can live a very healthy and full life even when nutrition is one of the biggest components of their lives, and many people truly do.