The Signs Of Orthorexia
#1 Nutrition Content First
I would read nutritional labels... every... single... time. Anything without a label, I would completely disregard. Anything that has sugar or 'too much' carbs, I would put back on the shelf. It's a good habit to avoid hidden sugars, but not until it becomes an obsession. Heck, I would check the nutritional value of natural foods too--removing fruits from my diet because they contained fructose, and removing vegetables like carrots because of its high glycemic index.
#2 The No Carb, No Sugar, No Gluten Challenge
|#2 Case in point: |
I added a star whenever I ate
completely clean--I thought it
was a good practice.
This has since been erased.
I constantly challenged myself to go carb-free, sugar-free, and gluten-free for as long as I could. I would ask people to hold me accountable and would feel accomplished whenever I succeeded. I thought I was making myself healthier by doing all of these. But with one challenge came another, and the only thing any of them succeeded at doing was making me binge to satisfy my cravings.
#3 'Is Rice Healthy?'
I was constantly googling whether something was healthy or not. If there's one unhealthy fact about a certain food, despite the nine other health benefits, I would consider it unhealthy. I would also silently judge a plate of food and note all the unhealthy things on it--too much unhealthy oils, sugar, potatoes, etc. Separating the 'bad' food from the 'good' food--what I should and shouldn't eat--had become a subconscious habit.
#4 Offsetting 'Unhealthy' Decisions
I put further restrictions and more exercise sessions whenever I make a supposedly poor eating decision. I placed more bans on foods because I slipped up once or twice. I also disregarded my rest days because I believed a day without exercise would make me 'fat'. When I wondered why my restrictions weren't working, I would try new techniques to fix my mistakes--combining IF protocols, tweaking exercise regimes--without realising that the only thing I needed to fix was my obsession.
#5 Binge Eating
All of the restrictions caused me to binge when my cravings got out of hand. I wouldn't feel great after a binge episode, resulting in more challenges, restrictions, exercises, and disappointment when I lose control. It became a never ending cycle and it sparked me to look into what was wrong. It was my fear of being unhealthy that made me discover that what I was doing was unhealthy. If not for that, I wouldn't have thought orthorexia was a serious problem.
Now that I've evaluated it--after writing and reading this through--I'm so glad I realised it before it became worse. I don't want to hate myself in my upcoming trip to the UK. And since I discovered orthorexia, I've endeavored to eat what I used to consider 'bad' and off limits.
I have allowed myself a slice of cake every Sunday (like I used to, a long, long time ago). I have allowed myself to eat bread and rice in small portions. And, I constantly remind myself not to classify certain vegetables and fruits as bad. Forcing myself to consume foods I used to run from is helping me to be inclusive instead of restrictive.
Also, at this point of my fitness journey, I've decided to adopt the 80/20 rule--80% healthy eating, 20% not-so-healthy eating--as it has helped many with eating disorders. And the fact that the 80/20 works for many--in terms of staying healthy and achieving a good physique--well, doesn't it sound worth trying? I like the idea already.
I'm confident--very confident--orthorexia will be a thing of the past pretty soon. And I'm looking forward to the day I can be free and healthy at the same time.
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