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What is Having Orthorexia Like?

So for true memories of my Orthorexic days see my Memoirs posts – I hope they are insightful! But this is one of the first ever posts I did on the topic a long time ago, as an early blogger (when this was healthfreakrevolution.com!), just as I decided to start my writing. Enjoy!

orthorexics are always worried about foodSo Orthorexia is a term used to describe people who have an unhealthy mental condition, where they are actually obsessed healthy eating. Some people think it’s a load of tosh, some people deny they have it, some people wear the label with pride. There are different kinds, which revolve around people’s different ways of eating. For example, veganism, low fat diets, raw food diets, or somewhere in between. Having one of these lifestyle doesn’t make you orthorexic, but when people core beliefs about certain ways of eating are powerful enough, they consume their life.

I have been through many ways of eating. And for some time, I would definitely have called myself orthorexic. I was proud to have the healthiest addiction in the world. But deep down, although my nutrition may have been good, I knew something wasn’t right. It was preventing me from living my life to the full. In the end I understood how to effectively overcome it, so food became an interest, a part of life, a tool to enjoy life, but not an obsession. I have spoken about how I did this before, and probably will do again.

But what was it like?

The biggest thing I can remember about this way of living was the mental energy it took to carry it out. My food was different to everyone else’s. I was eating many small meals a day, and each one had to be perfect in terms of nutritional requirements and energy requirements for my planned activities.

Such extra activities included; getting up super early to make fresh juice breakfasts (although easy when you wake up hungry), soaking oats and sprouting grains overnight, making packed lunches of buckwheat,seed,fruit granola style concoctions for lunch everyday which had to be prepared and soaked, making almond milk or coconut milk all the time from scratch, make “raw bread” by dehydrating food over night, preparing lunch box salads with 20 ingredients, homemade condiments, and the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, I learnt a lot, and enjoy the experimentation, but this was not sustainable or healthy in the long term. Calorie counting wasn’t a big deal for me, but I know it can be for others, everyone is different.

Eating out was near impossible, when I knew everything on the menu went against my values, usually I would let myself order from the salad menu. I sound like an anorexic right? But no, I ate loads, I was even trying to build muscle, in the belief that amino acids from plant foods was the most effective way of doing this.

Nothing I did was ever perfect, I was planning everything, and as a student, the extra dimension of funds was just another challenge. Shopping trips were long and exhausting, and often daily. I was never satisfied.

How can you live life, when you have the next 10 meals planned out? The cupboards were a complex stock management system in my head. Nothing was wasted, and whilst that sounds good, there is a point you can spend to much energy on this trust me.

So yeah, I was a real “health freak”, now I’m still interested in health, and I still get called a health freak, but to me it just means something different. Now it doesn’t control me, I enjoy food AND the rest of life, which is flexible and even more energised than before. I only got here, by continuing to question things until I unlearnt my limitings beliefs. My idea of a Health Freak is now someone in the minority, who is not sucked into the norms of society where gaining weight, feeling tired, getting ill, and ageing fast are just part of the standard package.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Wenchypoo February 28, 2012, 7:39 PM

    I’m still wrestling with whether or not dehydrating consumes more energy than just baking it. I know baking causes more nutrients to be lost, but I dunno…all those hours under low heat. You bring up a wonderful point about dehydrating–all the soaking and whatnot you have to do beforehand…you almost have to know what you’re eating two weeks before you actually eat it, and god help you if something goes wrong!

    My question to the dehydrators: if you’re not using the sun now, what are you going to do in a power outage? You can’t dehydrate OR use the refrigerator!

    • Health Freak Eddy February 28, 2012, 11:29 PM

      sounds like you have been in s similar situation to me! I decided that dehydrating was unnecessary, all foods in nature come with a water content, and I dont know about you but dehydrating for me was to make raw breads and stuff… which wasnt necessary or that worthwhile at all. Are there things which you think you spent to much time on? Occasionally I still almost enjoy the planning of food, but realise how much time Ive freed up since I went paleo ad introduced IF.

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