This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. I thought it might be a good time to lightly touch on this topic. I should say I have no authority on this nor have I personally suffered from an eating disorder; however, I feel this topic is incredibly important to talk about, especially in a world where many unhealthy eating habits are normalized. Although I promote “clean eating” and mostly post healthy recipes, I DO NOT eat this way 100% of the time. If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know how much emphasis I put on moderation. I am promoting a lifestyle that works well for me, and moderation looks different for different people but healthy eating without moderation and with obsession is an eating disorder, specifically, it is called Orthorexia.
The reason I bring this up is because people tend to only think of the common eating disorders of Bulimia or Anorexia. We often forget about eating disorders that on the surface seem to be healthy but in reality are not. These are the disorders I want to talk a bit more about today because they are more likely to go undiagnosed or unrecognized. I want to bring these to light because they are essentially healthy habits gone too far and become too obsessive.
Before I go any further I want to note eating disorders are NOT a lifestyle choice. They are a serious mental illness with potentially life-threatening and undoubtedly health-threatening consequences.
**The information I am providing below is from reliable eating disorder resources, all sources will be linked. This photos I am posting here are all from my Instagram page and show a wide variety of the foods I eat that many who just follow the blog don’t get to see.**
- Compulsively checking ingredient lists and food labels
- Cutting out an increasing number of food groups (all sugar, all carbs, all dairy)
- Inability to eat anything outside the narrow foods that are deemed “healthy” or “pure”
- Showing high levels of distress when safe of “healthy” foods are not available
- Body image concerns may be present
- Obsessive following of food and lifestyle blogs on Twitter and Instagram
See why I want to talk about this? Blogs like mine are often used by people who have Orthorexia to provide inspiration for unhealthy habits and diet restrictions. This is directly contrary to the purpose of my blog and a large reason why I emphasize that I DO NOT eat like this all the time. Social media is a powerful tool and when “healthy” influencers don’t talk about the slice of cake they had, or the donut, or the pizza, this portrays a false image of their life that begins to normalize eating habits and disorders like Orthorexia.
The important distinction between healthy eating and Orthorexia is stated well here:
“Enthusiasm for healthy eating doesn’t become “orthorexia” until a tipping point is reached and enthusiasm transforms into obsession. Orthorexia is an emotionally disturbed, self-punishing relationship with food that involves a progressively shrinking universe of foods deemed acceptable.”
Although not an eating disorder, Excessive Exercise tends to go hand-in-hand with Orthorexia. Much like Othorexia, Excessive exercise is taking something healthy…and pushing it to an unhealthy level. Excessive exercise symptoms include continuing to exercise when injured or sick, avoiding social functions to exercise, and firmly adhering to an obsessive and regimented exercise regime.
I am just going to link to the consequences of this, and multiple other, eating disorders because the list is far too long.
I want to continue promoting healthy lifestyles and eating mostly unprocessed foods because that is what makes me personally feel good and I enjoy the many health benefits of this lifestyle. Far more important than clean eating is moderation, enjoying foods that make you happy although they may not be great for your health. Like I said before this looks different for many people whether it’s a vegan indulging in avocado brownies and date ice cream, or a dairy lover enjoying a few slices of pizza on a Friday night, or me scarfing down a giant cheeseburger (WHY DID I GIVE UP MEAT FOR LENT???), moderation comes in many forms and is a wonderful way to stay healthy while also enjoying things that make you happy.
Please remember that people with eating disorders do not choose this. It is a mental disorder that needs as much care and attention as any other medical need. If you or anyone you know can relate to the symptoms described above please, PLEASE get help! Eating disorders are not something to mess around with.
I want to take a moment to share this hotline from the National Eating Disorder Association: You may reach the Helpline at (800) 931-2237. Here is a link to their website where you can find other resources for you or a loved one. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support/contact-helpline