Yup, so a friend of mine has been saying stupid things to me recently, which has made me angry as anything. The gist of most of them was ‘having orthorexia would be so handy because eating healthy is so good for you’ / ‘having anorexia would be so handy because having control over what you eat is so good for you’.
But in all seriousness, this is kind of a universal problem. The sucky thing is, most people won’t ever really understand how shitty it is to have to isolate yourself from others because food, day in, day out. How shitty it is to analyse and ‘justify’ every single thing you eat. How shitty it is to have to plan everything, and..ugh, I could go on for hours.
Healthy eating basically has a halo over it these days; I mean, the way I hear some people speak of it, we should all be eating raw soaked grains and raw vegetables in the morning sunrise after chanting prayers to the sun or something because ~holistic lifestyles~, or something. (Ugh, sorry if that sounded a bit rude or what, I’m just still pretty angry over a ‘conversation’ I had the other day on Yahoo! comments.)
Moving on, though:
First of all; do not fall for the trap of ‘it’s healthy, everybody else is doing it, so it’s fine for me to go all exercise-yay too’. Do not. Let everybody else do whatever and focus on you; both of you know deep down where this sudden love for ‘healthy’ and ‘exercise’ is coming from, and so, do not listen to a word of it.
Unfollow all ‘fitblrs’, just as a safety precaution. If you get random temptations to eat vegan dishes / ‘pure’, ‘unprocessed’ foods a lot, be careful with it. If you feel yourself itching to move, to exercise, to ‘tone’, stop and think. Do you want this? Or are you doing it to just ease disordered anxiety?
I’ll be honest here - I used to struggle a lot with this. It was easy to go along with my urges, because ‘healthy’ was everywhere; it only got worse as I neared BMI 20 and was told by all sorts of ignorant people to start ‘watching my shape’ (no, seriously). When you take a person suffering from a restrictive eating disorder and let them loose in a health-food store, it can become quite a scene; I’d spend hours, hours wandering around Whole Foods, buying bags and bags of wild rice, ‘dairy-free gluten-free raw vegan etc’ brownies / bars, sugar-free yogurt, frozen ready meals, oat bran, wheat bran, fat-free Greek yogurt (sadly, quite a lot of you will be all-too-familiar with this baby; you know what I mean), liquid egg whites, a lot of spinach.. The list goes on. It horrifies me when I think about the amount of money I spent on food, and the amount of time I spent on organising it, reading about the healthiest ways to retain vitamins, or whatever - when you add in the time I spent walking around obsessively, convinced that not walking at least an hour a day would make me fat and unhealthy and die of heart disease, the time I spent doing yoga/’toning’ exercises/squats… wow. I lost so much time to this, and I hate it.
I realised, though, that this wasn’t real, the way I was living. I realised that focusing on nutrition and fitness nearly every minute of my life was going to get me nowhere except, eventually, deeper relapse.
This helped me to start recognising eating-disordered anxiety, and ‘calling it out’, as it were. For example, during those ‘food-health-exercise’ obsessed 2 months, I was at a BMI 19-20 and told myself that I was ‘at the prime of health’ and that I was exercising ‘not to restrict or anything, but just to stay healthy’.. I wasn’t, of course. I wasn’t having periods, I was thinking about food too much, I restricted myself from foods, I had a limit to my calories, I was just weirdly interested in food and fitness, when that was clearly not who I really was. It all became a crutch, a buffer for all the ‘fat’ feelings - a very counterproductive one, may I add.
Not to sound too cliched, but I wasn’t really ‘me’, and as I realised this, I knew that I wanted to find out who ‘I’ really was. What I looked like (MY body, not my artifical-BMI 19-body), what I liked doing - I thought of it as an experiment, really. I said, ‘Okay, I’ll just see what happens.’ I rediscovered Gwyneth Olwyn’s website (before, I think I came across ‘the 3000 calories theory’ on a forum somewhere a year ago and of course thought it was bullshit), I made this website, I started doing things that had nothing to do with ‘fitness’.
It paid off. It was wonderful.
Whenever I felt myself getting anxious and very panicked about eating saturated fat/refined sugar etc., I told myself ‘No’, and I did what seemed hardest. This got easier with each day, and now, it’s almost no effort at all to intuitively eat.
It really all cleared itself from my head for good, though, as I got myself into things I was really interested in. School, for example; ugh, my lessons are amazing (idek if that’s weird, I like school okay), and I’m so nicely busy that I don’t really have time or energy for this anymore.
Find things you truly love, things you used to love, before your eating disorder - try to think about getting yourself back. It’s the most fascinating thing in the world.
Remember, if you’re turning to food restriction/ fitness to help with eating disordered anxiety, then really reconsider what you’re doing. There is nothing wrong with vegetables, or oatmeal, or yoga - abusing them, however, or doing them for the wrong reasons, is extremely counterproductive.
(This q is also relevant.)
The walking thing I mentioned earlier brings me nicely to this, though:
If I’m wrong here, let me know, but this is my (sorry) assumption:
You’re on a recovery meal plan, and you’ve seen the ‘sedentary lifestyle’ guidelines, but you’re still struggling with the ‘lazy-fat’ thoughts, and so you feel like you have to get a certain amount of exercise ‘in’?
Please, be careful.
Exercise is something that’s only safe to take up when your mind is healthy. At the moment, it doesn’t sound like you’re quite there yet; remember that exercise is a very psychological thing (have you SEEN the number of sports psychology books there are?) and so it’s counterproductive to take up exercise, especially planned/’numbers’-type exercise, whilst your mind still isn’t fully healed yet.
In recovery, you need rest. I mean it, I do; have a look at this post, and know that everything your body needs right now is food, rest, and love. Exercise is for later, for when your mind and your body are both fully healthy, for when you’ll be doing it ‘just because’ and not because you ‘need to be healthy’, or something.
In general, though, sedentary means ‘desk job equivalent’, whatever that may mean; either way, your body knows what it is doing, and so don’t try and force it into movement / exercise when really, both your body and your mind need the opposite at the moment.
Related question I dug up from the bottom of the fyoured inbox (the ones above were from my personal):
Keep in mind that your tastes would have developed and changed once you grew up anyway, but in no way is there a truly healthy person who does not ‘like’ the taste of all dietary fat, or all added sugar. They come in many forms, and there is one that (even if it’s secretly) you do still love, I promise. Cookie dough - not even the ice cream, but just raw cookie batter; classic childhood favourite. Butter on toast. Nuts. Cheesecake, cheese. An old favourite soda. A Frappucino from Starbucks, with whipped cream. I could go on for much longer, but you get the idea - as long as you are able to eat these foods without anxiety, and appreciate them for their taste, then you’re on the right track - but try to not let your ‘ED’ preferences lead you too far. (I mean, if I stuck with my ED-likes, I’d still be eating grilled shrimp, soaked buckwheat and broccoli day in, day out.) Be ready to try everything, and to see it as just an enjoyable experience, and not a ‘oh-I’m-eating-this-unhealthy-food-but-I-don’t-even-like-it-so-it’s-fine’ kind of way.
I really should wrap up, I guess, but the original point of this post was the following:
Orthorexia is a real problem, really. And to my friend whose comments made me angry in the first place - incidentally, the friend that also laughed at this picture and said that it would make people die of heart disease because everyone would be walking around eating crisps 24/7 (!??) - if you see this, Mash, let me know. I won’t forget the things you’ve said, they upset me more than you can imagine, but what upset me most is that you wouldn’t even accept your ignorance of eating disorders.