Last night I ate a huge cookie.............
Last night we attended the 10 year anniversary Gala for the Theatre Company I choreograph for, aaaaand I ate a huge cookie. I mean HUGE. One of those cookies, that is half chocolate and half vanilla dipped. It was delicious. I grabbed one intending to only eat half and I ate the whole thing, happily. But, after almost two months of super mindful eating, helping me reach my physical/health goals post baby and post breast-feeding, not only did all that sugar and gluten make me sick to my stomach, it also triggered some unhealthy thoughts as well.
In my upcoming book "Unfiltered Food" I talk about my personal issues with food and my body. The unhealthy relationship that has developed over my life and has come to a point where not only do I realize it is an issue, but I want to help others find some peace in their own struggle. I also discuss eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa ( with holding food) and Bulimia Nervosa (binging and purging food). But what do you call an unhealthy relationship with food where the actions mentioned above don't apply? A relationship where your mind is completely consumed with anxiety and fear over what you are eating and what it will do to your physique/health, and your thoughts about your body are full of shame and unrealistic physical "realities". Although, you may not binge or withhold food, the unhealthy view of food, whether its feeling like you don't have an off switch and over monitoring, or fearing that each bite you eat of food that is "unhealthy" is adding lbs to you before you even digest it.
Outwardly others may see you as someone who has this "food" thing all together and that you have balance in your life. You may be "fit" or seen as a healthy person. People see you make amazing choices and on the same hand see you enjoy a huge cookie here or there, not knowing that all night after eating that cookie, your internal monologue was full of crap. "Why did you eat that whole cookie? You have been eating so well, now all your hard work is ruined." You become consumed with fear, shame, and the feeling of chaos, not being able to be "normal" like everyone else.
As I started writing about this, I started my research. There had to be something to name this thinking pattern. I did find an answer that seemed to me like it could fit. It's called
an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy.
a medical condition in which the sufferer systematically avoids specific foods in the belief that they are harmful.noun: orthorexia nervosa; plural noun: orthorexia nervosas
Although this is a "new" Diagnosis, I feel like it is one that may be harder to diagnose, and at the same time probably a lot more common that previously thought.
NEDA "National Eadting Disorder Association" says that these are some characteristics of someone who could be struggling with this.
WARNING SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF ORTHOREXIA
Compulsive checking of ingredient lists and nutritional labels
An increase in concern about the health of ingredients
Cutting out an increasing number of food groups (all sugar, all carbs, all dairy, all meat, all animal products)
An inability to eat anything but a narrow group of foods that are deemed ‘healthy’ or ‘pure’
Unusual interest in the health of what others are eating
Spending hours per day thinking about what food might be served at upcoming events
Showing high levels of distress when ‘safe’ or ‘healthy’ foods aren’t available
Obsessive following of food and ‘healthy lifestyle’ blogs on Twitter and Instagram
Body image concerns
Has this become a new way of thought? Has our society created a culture of people who are overly obsessed and stressed about what they eat and how it will make them look?
Now some of this can be extreme, and I'm sure there are people who take one or all of these to that line of extreme. I may not take all of these to that line, however, it doesn't mean that the thoughts aren't still there. Can you relate with any of these patterns?
To me, if you are living a mindful healthy lifestyle, some of these things might come into play with your thinking. The danger is when these thoughts and patterns start to have a negative impact. They consume your thought process, or you feel guilt, shame, worry, or anxiety around those thoughts. Do you see the difference?
Let me say that in no way am I making light of any eating disorder. If you are struggling with anything mentioned above and are not currently in a program or working with a therapist or counselor, please reach out. There are so many amazing options to help you through this. You do not have to go through any of this alone. You are NOT alone. The simple fact that I am writing about this today is because it is something that I deal with, as well as many others.
What is scary and at the same time comforting to me is HOW many people have unhealthy thoughts regarding food, and their body. Body image issues do not discriminate, all shapes and sizes are impacted. There is a perfect storm in my life that lead to this behavior and thought pattern, pregnancy being one of them. I honestly didn't realize that this was a real issue for me, one I had unknowingly been dealing with almost my whole life, until I became pregnant. The "free pass" pregnant women are stereotypically given surrounding food was really difficult for me to deal with emotionally. This is when I knew something deeper was goin on.
Although I have been helping people with their health since I was 23 years old (12 years! wow) it was after I had this realization of my own that I knew I wanted to reach more people and be a light and positive voice on a larger scale. As I started this particular journey, it's almost as if the veil has been lifted and the amount of people who have admitted that they deal with something similar is outrageous. It's both comforting and alarming. Comforting to know that we are not alone, yet alarming that there are so many people living in anxiety, fear, worry and shame about their bodies and the food they are putting into them.
My hope is that this is an opportunity for you to reach out. To me, a friend, a mentor, a counselor, to anyone you feel comfortable with to share that you have a struggle in this area. To release the shame and start to heal.
As always, I would love to start conversation about this in the comments below. If you know of anyone else who needs to read this today, please share.
Here's to healing and self love. Because YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.