I’m sure a lot of you follow Chocolate-Covered Katie, but I still wanted to direct your attention to an awesome post she did last week on orthorexia. One of the missions of Reverb is “to help treat those who fall outside the traditional target demographic for ED victims including males, individuals outside the typical age bracket and the undiagnosed: an estimated 15% of individuals who exhibit disordered eating behaviors but do not meet the criteria to be formally diagnosed with ED ie; orthorexics, pregorexics, exercise bulimics, etc.”
Here is how Katie describes Orthorexia Nervosa:
“Orthorexia Nervosa is characterized by an excessive focus on eating healthy foods. Basically, its sufferers start out with a simple desire to live a healthy lifestyle. But they become so preoccupied with eating healthily that it becomes an unhealthy obsession.”
As Katie points out, the main goal is not to lose weight or even necessarily focus on weight at all, but to be “pure.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to live a healthy lifestyle, but since I have very obsessive/addictive tendencies myself, I can easily see how these behaviors could morph into something truly unhealthy.
I follow a lot of healthy living/food bloggers and they constitute many of PB’s best readers/contributers, so I don’t want anyone to feel like I’m on the attack by any means. I commend you all for seeing food in the way I just recently came to: as fuel to power your strong and able bodies, rather than as a tool used to punish your mind. But, one of the big things I would caution those who have suffered from ED or are suceptible to the effects of the disease is that there are certain behaviors that can definitely trigger the onset or relapse of ED. Here are some that I know to be true for myself, so take them or leave them as you see fit:
-Overtraining for races (triathalons, half and full marathons, road races, etc.) or training while hurt or sick
-Food blogging ie; photographing and cataloguing every meal
-Striving for a “perfect” diet, with no room for “unpure” foods
PLEASE keep in mind that these are things that I, personally, cannot participate in because I know it would trigger me to fall back into my old ways. A big part of my recovery was due to embracing foods that weren’t “perfect”, including those empty calorie snacks like white foods, candy, etc. Setting small goals like working one of these types of “forbidden foods” into one meal a day or even one per week helped me start to classify those foods as regular, everyday foods, not ones that were binge-worthy. If I could have them whenever I wanted to, they weren’t cause for bingeing because I realized they would always be there if I wanted them. Others, however, might be just fine doing all of these things and still living a happy, healthy, obsession-free life, which is something to be PROUD of!
So, moral of the story, I suppose is just what Katie said: eating pure, healthy foods is a wonderful, admirable practice that keeps your body in good working order. Just don’t forfeit those little treats every now and then (eating a pice of cake or skipping a workout to spend a little downtime with your spouse) because those are what keep your mind healthy too.
Tomorrow, I’m going to explore what Jenni Schaefer calls “Counter Ed,” a very interesting side of recovery that I had never quite been able to put a name on.