“Orthorexia nervosa (also known as orthorexia) is not mentioned in the DSM[a], but was coined by Steven Bratman to characterize people who develop an obsession with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy. Orthorexia nervosa is believed to be a mental disorder. Bratman claims that in rare cases, this focus may turn into a fixation so extreme that it can lead to severe malnutrition or even death. Even in less severe cases, the attempt to follow a diet that cannot provide adequate nourishment is said to lower self-esteem as the orthorexics blame themselves rather than their diets for their constant hunger and the resulting cravings for forbidden foods.”
I recently was on a strictly RAW plant based diet. I got so incredibly wrapped up in the no grains, no meat, no diary, no non-organic, no this-that-or-the-other, that my perfect diet was making me perfectly sick. I went from 118 to 111 in about 2 weeks and was extremely anxious, couldn’t sleep, was always on edge and felt “buzzy” a lot.
Now, Don’t get me wrong, a MORE plant based diet is great. We all could stand to incorporate more greens. But is the new “joy of cooking”, the “misery of eating”? I’m starting to think so.
It’s called Orthorexia. Basically it is an eating disorder characterized by your constant striving for perfectionism of your health and health food diet and letting it rule your life. I don’t personally feel that my diet rules my life. Some of my family and friends, sometimes even my Husband think i’m a little overzealous. But I truly enjoy reading about nutrition, blogging about it and eating the best possible, most organic, and sustainably farmed foods I humanly can. I believe it’s our right as Americans. We live in a free and rich country, we can get clean water, antibiotic and pesticide free foods. And we should!
I also believe that we are destroying our beautiful planet and resources with unsustainable farming practices. If we help local and organic farms remain in business by buying local and organic, then we can literally help save the world.
Back to Orthorexia. Now, regardless of how “perfect” my diet was, I was under so much stress about eating the wrong things that it stressed me out a lot. I also started worrying way too much about what my family was eating and friends too. I found myself feeling more judgmental then ever, and less forgiving. This stress, alongside my perfectness, led to my ultimate downfall.
I started having severe muscle cramping, sleeplessness, nightmares, hair shedding, heart palpitations, dehydration issues, and muscle tone loss. I also had a lot of panic attacks, and was always sick to my stomach. I recently saw my Naturopath and he told me I was very malnourished and that a lot of it was from stress.( we know I am not Orthorexic because I had no problem going back to eating cooked foods, etc.).
Stress is a killer. It will suck up all the good stuff in your body, regardless of how perfect and healthy you are. It will wreak havoc on your skin, your mind and the people around you. It makes digestion and sleep harder, which can lead to weight gain and anxiousness, leading to even more stress. The key is to work on meditation, even if it’s repeating a mantra to yourself in the car on your way home, taking a hot bath with relaxing music a few times a week, or doing something you enjoy regularly and making time for YOU.
No one wants to age quickly, pack on pounds, be covered in stress acne or hives and be exhausted from lack of restful sleep. Be sure to make wise choices in your food, but don’t seek for perfection, be kind to yourself and others,try hard not to judge them but offer wisdom. I am going to get into Yoga soon hopefully.
What are some of your favorite ways to decompress?
I love hot tea, snuggled up under my heat blanket. I also like nighttime drives with the windows down with friends and loved ones. Of course baths with soothing music, duh.
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