Orthorexia: The Truth
Last week was the perfect example of why I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram. This social media platform has enabled me to build friendships and connections with individuals all over the world. Instagram gives me the opportunity to connect with fellow advocates, warriors, and those who need to know they are not alone and are worthy of help; however, it’s also led to some uncomfortable situations.
Earlier this week I came across an account for a holistic coach who was posted using the hashtag #orthorexia. I check this hashtag often to see who is sharing their journey or simply raising awareness. Most of the posts are inspiring and empowering, this person’s post was anything but.
In bold letters, the image read, “Orthorexia: The Newest Labeling Trend to Make you Feel Bad About Eating Healthy.” The caption went on to discuss how orthorexia is a joke and just some silly label used to attack diet culture. She further stated that there is absolutely nothing wrong with eating as healthy and clean as you can ALL the time. While the post was alarming, the comments were even worse. I saw several people refer to themselves as, “proud orthorexics” while basically mocking the very thing that almost cost me my life.
My heart sank to see this account had over 22,000 followers. I quickly commented and provided a brief synopsis of my story to show that orthorexia is real. I asked them to not mock those of us who are battling orthorexia. To which, the holistic coach responded that I did not have orthorexia and that an addiction to eating healthy is “preposterous”.
My hands rattled in anxiety, anger, and sadness. I was stunned and deeply troubled by this rhetoric. I sat down on my couch and cried. I couldn’t believe some self-proclaimed “expert” simply invalidated my eating disorder and battle.
I felt disheartened knowing she sells clean eating as the total fix and solution to all of life’s problems, which probably explains why she could quickly discredit orthorexia. It might cut into her profits.
I reported the post, comments, and account only to receive the standard response that all of this content was within community guidelines. How in the hell can someone not just question orthorexia, but actually take pride in being orthorexic and still be in community guidelines? This is the type of garbage that infuriates me about social media; it’s also the reason I speak up.
This experience left me rattled, but it’s also left me more determined than ever to raise awareness of orthorexia. If I stay silent I let individuals like her control the narrative, but if I speak up maybe one day this condition will get the proper attention it requires.
Before I wrap up, let me say without a doubt that orthorexia is NOT a labeling trend. It is a valid eating disorder! Diet culture only attacks it because they see it as a threat to their profits. Let my story be a reminder that healthy eating can go too far!
I am not a doctor or researcher, but I have lived experience. I have the countless hours I lost researching the healthiest dining options. The missed memories with friends because I feared going off my diet or I couldn’t be fully present because my mind was on the food. The anxiety around certain foods because I bought into the fact that what I ate would make me good or bad.
Orthorexia consumed my life. In fact, it nearly cost me my life. So unlike what this holistic coach would like to believe, I’m not just throwing the label around to attack diet culture, I’m illustrating the condition to save lives!