Do you have an eating disorder? Or, maybe you don’t think of it that way. Ask yourself this… Who is in charge, you or food?
Since going plant based, I have often thought that I had stomped my eating disorder (binge eating) into submission; but, have I?
I’ve been reading many books and articles and listening to numerous podcasts on various eating topics recently, and I have come to realize that, even if I have subdued my binge eating, my eating may have taken another unfavorable turn.
I had not heard of orthorexia nervosa before the other day. It's not considered a formal diagnosis yet, but the symptoms connected to it sounded way too familiar. Familiar enough to prompt me to examine, once again, my relationship to food.
In a nutshell, orthorexia is an unhealthy obsession or fixation on the pursuit of a healthy diet.
That sounds like a better condition to have than the former, doesn’t it? Well, it probably is, but it could lead to malnutrition and emotional symptoms as well. The reason this struck a note with me is that I often find myself hunting for something to eat in an attempt to follow to-the-letter restrictions I’ve put on myself to ensure I become healthier than I have been in the past.
Signs and symptoms
Here's a list of some of the signs of this condition. Any or all combined could be an indication of orthorexia.
preoccupation with the quality of food
cutting out entire food groups
eating small portion sizes
feeling guilty if eating outside healthy or clean parameters
stress over eating
low energy, hair loss, unhealthy skin
Rapid weight loss
similar to obsessiive-compulsive disorders, orthorexia can result in stress from trying for perfection ( in this case, trying for perfection in eating healthy)
guilt may be a consequence if you eat outside your rigid healthy or clean parameters
loss of energy
preoccupation with purity and quality of food interferes with quality of life (limits eating in restaurants or at a friend's home and interferes with social life of going out to lunch with co- workers or out after work)
Fiends can't understand nor accommodate your fixation on righteous eating.
What to do
In my reading, there appears to be no particular protocol for treatment of orthorexia, but I did find instances where it has responded to treatments similar to those used with obsessive- compulsive disorders. Since I feel I am on the fringes of this disorder, I'll keep you posted on what I find in my further reading.