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Orthorexia: An Unhealthy Clean Eating Obession

When following a "healthy" diet becomes too extreme.

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At 15 I became obsessed with health and nutrition. In fact, I went to college to get my degree in nutrition and am currently getting my masters to become a registered dietitian. I never considered myself to have any sort of eating disorder since I ate food specifically to nourish myself, in the healthiest, cleanest way possible. I researched everything before I put it in my body, I was hooked on healthy eating, and I felt great. This continued throughout college and not once did I or anyone else see a problem with it. Friends and family supported it, asked for help consistently. It felt perfect, I was studied the exact thing that I was preaching. I hated seeing other nutrition majors eat pizza or anything that I looked down upon as I thought they were contradicting the nutrition world.

I cut out meat and was a vegetarian for four years, I heard cheese was bad for me, so I cut that out too. I learned we needed healthy fats, so I would take a tablespoon of raw fish oil every morning. I had my diet on a complete schedule. Once again, I never associated this with any eating disorder because I loved my body and never was attempting to deprive myself from nourishing it.

As I learned more in college about nutrition and health, my obsession expanded. I started to get anxiety about everything I ate that I was not personally cooking or controlling. If I dined out, all I could think about was the type of oil they were using or if additional sugar was added to my tomato sauce. I loved to entertain my friends and have them over for dinner, but started to avoid any other food centric social situations. I had a break down my senior year of college one night when we went out to eat sushi, and I had reviewed the menu prior to going out, but the restaurant was not serving brown rice that night. I choose to not eat simply because I could not fathom the idea of eating a white rice sushi role. This is when I officially realized I had a problem.

Although I thought I was eating well, I had an obsession, I had a disordered association with food. I was currently taking a class about eating disorders and talked to my professor about it. She defined my disorder as orthorexia, a term we were never taught. Together we learned to rebuild my relationship with food and make me fall in love with both the taste of food again. I learned that It's important to nourish your body, but our bodies are pretty concrete organisms, we can handle the dairy, and meat, and sugar. We are here to enjoy as much as we are to thrive.

The reason why I am writing this is because even as a soon-to-be health professional, this disorder went unnoticed for years with me, and it may affect a lot of other young adults, especially teenagers who are on sports teams, learning about health and learn to associate foods as "good" or "bad" for you. To learn more about Orthorexia you can contact the National Eating Disorders Association .

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