What Is Orthorexia? My Battle And How I Overcame It

When I was 24 years old, I stopped binging and purging. I thought it was the end of the line of what I thought was the battle with Bulimia nervosa. The day that I stopped binging and purging, I thought that was the last day that I would have an eating disorder. I told myself that I was recovered, and I started eating really healthy. What I didn’t realize was that what I was doing was really moving from bulimia to Orthorexia. For the next two years I thought I was super healthy and fit. When people made silly comments about my VERY healthy eating habits, I thought they didn’t understand what it meant to be healthy and didn’t know that what they were eating I considered poison.

Many people have never heard of Orthorexia – and I hadn’t before I realized I had it. Orthorexia is a relatively new term, but the disorder is characterized by an obsession with health – way more so than losing weight, which often comes as a result. You can read the full clinical definition here (http://www.orthorexia.com/), but in general, people who have Orthorexia create terrible associations with what they deem “unhealthy food” and eating such foods will cause things like paranoia, anxiety and irrational fears of disease.

After obsessing and reading more about what is healthy and what else I could do to avoid eating anything that might damage my body or brain in any way, I came across the word Orthorexia. I started reading the definition and while at first I was in a denial about having it, I realized that I was also lying to myself. When I was able to be honest with myself, I had to admit that I wasn’t recovered from my eating disorder but rather developed another form of eating disorder. I decided that I had to slowly introduce myself to what I considered unhealthy food. I tried to initially eat 90% healthy food and 10% unhealthy. Then I realized that I was missing out on a lot of opportunities that involved eating food that I considered bad.

I slowly allowed myself to eat less healthily and was able to enjoy foods that I would have never allowed myself with my previous thinking. I had to totally rework my definition of health, and it was a slow process.

I write this to share with you all how different disordered eating can look for different people. The typical starvation tactics and binging and purging we associate with eating disorders aren’t the only signs of unhealthy behavior.

If you would like me to connect you with one of our expert therapists or dietitians, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you!

4 replies
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