Orthorexia: an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food. The term is derived utilizing the Greek “orthos,” which means, “right,” or “correct,” and is intended as a parallel with anorexia nervosa. (Source: orthorexia.com)
How did food become something that controlled my every thought? I grew up with food being a daily nourishing ritual. Food was shared with family in a way of meals without the thought of carbohydrate, fat, and protein ratios. I have to admit that the past few years have been challenging when it comes to nourishing my body. Even today I can still put an unhealthy amount of thought into what I consume. Over time, days of irrational thoughts are getting less and there are weeks I feel great. I practice daily mantras of healing and acceptance. I trust with time I will relinquish my need to control my every calorie and simply just be.
Over the past few months here in Nelson BC, I've been reconnecting with myself. I say reconnect because two and a half years ago I failed to see what I found important in my life. Living in Victoria BC, I had this constant search for something greater. I wasn't sure what this was so I began to put all my focus into my health. Health was something I could control rather than admit feeling lost.
In 2014 after being gluten free and dairy free for a couple of years and playing with the newest nutrition trends I still had digestion issues. Little did I know, these issues came from stress, and were more mental than physical. The effects of stress on the digestive system is an entire blog post to itself. I didn't think stress was the issue. I'm a Massage Therapist; I see first hand what stress can do to our bodies. My symptoms included constipation, bloating, indigestion, mood swings, and just an over all sense of malaise. There had been periods when I wouldn't have a bowel movement for anywhere from 7-14 days. I started asking questions and seeking answers. My naturopath at the time suggested colon hydrotherapy. At this point I was happy to try anything.
Walking into my first colon hydrotherapy appointment I felt welcomed and at ease. The comforting glow of the salt lamp and calming music made it seem more like a spa experience rather than a medical treatment. The process isn't as scary as one would think but still very humbling. The professionalism I received was incredible and after learning people use this therapy for a variety of reasons I began to feel hope. Treatments became intense quickly. I had 13 sessions in a span of 8 weeks and bowel movements still weren't easy.
Still on the hunt, to feeI healthy I turned to The Body Ecology Diet. In a nutshell this diet strips you of most foods with strict restrictions. With this diet and an increase of fermented foods I began to see my symptoms improve. Though taxing, bowel movements were happening. The purpose of the diet is to improve digestion and then slowly add certain foods back in. My diet consisted of most non-starchy vegetables, meat, eggs, and fermented foods. Zero, starchy vegetables, grains, nuts, sugar, fruit, dairy, and alcohol. Fear controlled my thoughts and without adding food back in, I stayed with these limitations for months.
For a while I was feeling strong and happy. A combination of low calories and increased exercise was my daily routine. Naturally, I lost weight and fast. People began asking if I was alright since I lost 40 pounds within three months. I swore I was the healthiest I've ever been and secretly loved how people noticed. I played the victim, complaining about how scary it had been losing weight. Isolation quickly became my new normal. I didn't socialize with others for meals, mood swings were strong, and I prioritized the gym over my friends. This isolation tarnished my relationship with one the most important people in my life. Having the need to prove to others I was okay, I thought education and becoming a nutritional coach through Precision Nutrition was the next step. How could I be sick if I gave others advice?
Working out, poor nutrition, digestion anxiety and the obsessive fear about bad food got taxing, physically and mentally. Reality of my health began to surface with a visit home to Nelson for Thanksgiving. Sitting with my family at the dinner table, was the first time in months I enjoyed food. I clearly needed this reality check before the orthorexia became too dangerous. It wasn't an over night switch and I don't think that will ever be the case. Time truly does heal and with this time I've started to relax. Socializing is easier and I've slowly increased my list of food. I can be honest and say, I do feel strong and my health has improved greatly. The last two and half years have been a trip and I'm so lucky I'm healthy today to be able to talk about it.
Writing a blog is part of my own healing. Writing down the truth solidifies the work I still need to do. As I said this is still a part of my life and for anyone who has struggled, or is currently struggling with any type of eating disorder there is support and a good place to start is http://nedic.ca/. I hope opening up about my own struggles can bring understanding for yourself or others in your life. This isn't a woe is me blog. This is just the beginning to personal experiences, recipes, research and the odd animal meme.
I'm so thankful and lucky my friends and family are understanding and supportive. Without them I wouldn't have had the courage to take a look and connect with myself once again.
"The universe will configure around your best efforts."