7 Signs Your Healthy Eating Obsession Might Actually Be Orthorexia
Growing up, I viewed my obsession with "eating healthy" as a requirement for existing. This wasn't because I thought eating certain foods would help me live longer or be stronger, but because I disliked my body so intensely. I felt that food was the only way to change or control it. I remember being in middle school and feeling bitter that other girls (those I deemed "naturally thin") could eat a bag of chips with lunch without thinking twice or choose mayonnaise instead of mustard on their sandwich without considering the caloric difference.
Still, I felt like this was just a fact of life. At my core, I felt that my body would never be good enough to not think about what I ate.
As I got older, this preoccupation with food took the form of diets and exercise. But with every diet and obsessive bout of exercise, I had an excuse that sounded a whole lot like, "I want to be healthy." I wasn’t running five miles a day because I was obsessed with being thinner. I was doing it because I was training for a half-marathon, and exercise helped me decompress. I wasn’t giving up dairy because it was an easy way to cut calories; I was doing it because of "gut health" (spoiler: my gut was fine).
I wasn’t refusing to eat pasta and bread because I thought I couldn’t eat carbs without losing weight; I was doing it because they made me tired.
The truth—which I’d later discover and admit to myself in therapy—was I had to be constantly shrinking myself to be happy. "I’m being healthy" was a much easier thing to say to myself than "I have an eating disorder." Orthorexia is the exact term that my therapist used to diagnose my behaviors around healthy eating (many of which I still have today).