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Saturday, 11 October 2014

Let's Talk Orthorexia

 I’ve been a long-time believer of not advocating a one-size-fits-all diet or lifestyle for anyone for a couple of reasons. One, because it’s what the dietician I went to in the beginning did and that lead to an eating disorder and reckless weight loss that resulted in severe metabolic damage. Two, because I know firsthand that the single most important part of weight loss and healthy living is knowing exactly what your body does and doesn’t need. Had I known what I know now about PCOS and hypothyroidism I don’t think I would’ve gone down the path I did. Does that mean I would take it all back given the chance? No, probably not. It made me stronger, way better informed and more courageous than ever. I understand that this is not the case for everyone. Somewhere along the line we- women specifically- were led to believe that looking good means being healthy and vice versa.

Often times I feel judged when I tell friends and family that I don’t eat carbs, grains or sugar. People tend to naturally assume that you’re jumping on a bandwagon, becoming obsessed with weight loss, or just going through a phase. I came across this article the other day and it got me thinking. It goes into some detail about Orthorexia, a term used to describe an unhealthy obsession with being healthy. The author goes into some detail about those who religiously follow, talk/share on social media about their healthy lifestyles are fuelling a dangerous trend of obsession that is tantamount to an eating disorder. I have often thought about whether the way I conduct my lifestyle is unhealthy: if it is worth it or if I’ve just shifted my obsession with eating bad foods to one of restricting. But I have long-since come to the conclusion that this isn’t an obsession with being skinny, or restricting myself, or having a “sense of moral superiority over other people” as the psychologist in the article claims it is. Sure, sometime I wish I could eat a whole pizza and not care about it or that I didn’t have to inconvenience everyone with my picky eating. But at the end of the day this journey has become about so much more than vanity and superiority: I can’t eat a whole pizza because at a very baseline physical level my body can’t tolerate it without causing physical pain. I don’t post on instagram about my weight loss because I think it makes me better than anyone; I do it because I wish I’d had more people to sympathise with during my own struggles. Although articles like this have merit (I believe a lot of people use the recent revolution of healthy living as a mask for or to glorify eating disorders), they highlight something very wrong with the public opinion on Paleo, sugar free eating etc: for some of us it isn’t a choice or a phase or a fad. Come hell or high water it’s a necessity, and we shouldn’t be labeled otherwise.

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