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Veganism or Orthorexia?

Today I am going to be talking about veganism and the confusion that people often mistake it with Orthorexia. In case you are unfamiliar with orthorexia, it is basically a medical condition in which the sufferer systematically avoids specific foods in the belief that they are harmful.

obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy.

orthorexia

Although it’s not listed on the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), which psychologists and psychiatrists use to diagnose mental disorders, people still consider a very serious condition.

The reason I am writing this post is because of an article I just read online, and I want to address some things and clear some things up. Below I will post some excerpts from the following article: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/orthorexia-nervosa-when-righteous-eating-becomes-obsession

“American doctor Steven Bratman coined the term “orthorexia nervosa” in 1997 some time after his experience in a commune in upstate New York. It was there he developed an unhealthy obsession with eating “proper” food, “all I could think about was food. But even when I became aware that my scrabbling in the dirt after raw vegetables and wild plants had become an obsession, I found it terribly difficult to free myself. I had been seduced by righteous eating.”

“Raw food followers might meet regularly to “align their bodies, minds and souls” by feasting on “cleansing and immune-boosting” raw foods. Such foods are never heated above 44˚C, so “all the living enzymes in the food remain intact”. No gluten, dairy or “sugar” is allowed.

Clean eaters may follow similar regimes, removing gluten, dairy and even meat from their diets. You might overhear a discussion about “superfood green smoothie” recipes after a yoga class that also happened to “cleanse your gall bladder”.

There is a blurry line separating “normal” healthy eating and orthorexia nervosa, but one way to define the condition is when eating “healthily” causes significant distress or negative consequences in a person’s life.

They may be “plunged into gloom” by eating a piece of bread, become anxious about when their next kale, chia or quinoa hit is coming, or eat only at home where “superfood” intake can be tightly controlled.

Such behaviours can have a significant impact on relationships with family members and friends, let alone on their mental health.”

So now veganism and plant based diets come into play. How do you know if someone is just healthy, or is suffering from Orthorexia Nervosa? Well, the answer is, it is none of your busisness and it is up to that person to discover and help themselves. Of course with many exceptions such as noticing your friend of family suffering or falling into obsessive habits; but other than that, stay out of people’s lives with false accusations and opinions.

I find that most people don’t care about your health – they care about being right. That’s why most people will ask vegans how they get their protein and all their other vitamins and nutrients. Seriously…? You didn’t care about my health five minutes ago, but suddenly my bloodwork results are somehow your business. Why is this? Because people love to be right and to prove people wrong about their diets. This is a comment that is posted on the article:

[Typical vegan argument:
“Oh well…. you call it an obsession because you’re just a disgusting fat pig that eats nothing but junk food!”

Or maybe, we realize the human species was born omnivorous. There is an idea. We were never born to be rabbits.]

My point proven.

Some people like to eat healthy; what is the harm in that? I do not believe that going vegan is going to lead to Orthorexia in any way whatsoever. If you go vegan and develop Orthorexia (theblondevegan), then that is because of your behavior and your brain, not the fact that you switched to a vegan diet.

I hate calling it a vegan diet because it is so much more than that. (I actually have a blogpost on that here). It’s a lifestyle, and no matter what your reasons are for going vegan, think of it as a lifestyle rather than a diet. If you went vegan strictly for your health and do not care about any other factors such as the planet or the animals, than do not consider yourself vegan, but rather “plant based.” People who follow a plant based diet tend to usually wear leather, silk, use cosmetics tested on animals, and don’t usually mind if they have the occasional slip up. However I do not speak for all plant based eaters, but that is usually the case. But hey, whatever works for you – as long as you’re eating less animals.

ANYWAYS, back to Orthorexia.

Eating fully raw is not an obsession. Cutting out meat, dairy and eggs is not an obsession. It’s changing your lifestyle to be the best that you can be and to maximize your responsibility in saving the planet.

However sometimes people do take things too far. This is when you obsess over the foods that you eat and worry about eating “dirty” unhealthy foods. Even some healthy foods frighten you and it takes up most of your time thinking and stressing about it. This is when you need to realize that something is wrong and you need help.

But if you are fine eating the way you are, and do not find yourself ever in a panic or distress, than you are fine. I know I am fine because I can eat raw vegan one day, then have vegan cupcakes and cookies the next. I love to eat healthy because it makes my body feel the best, but I would never deprive myself of something that I want, and if that means cooked meals or vegan desserts, than by all means I’m going to indulge. (I do not believe that anything that comes from an animal is a ‘treat’, so that’s my opinion there when someone tells me to just “treat” myself to some cheese pizza)

 I never used to be like this though; I actually struggled with food and body image for many years, and though I was never officially diagnosed, doctors believe I had an eating disorder, and looking back now, I know it was either Anorexia or Orthorexia. I guess you could say that I was obsessed with working out and eating clean. I would feel bad if I messed up and ate something unhealthy and it was all sorts of crazy, right down to the obsession with specific plates/bowls/silverware. I kept a scale in my room at all times and would get so upset if my weight fluctuated. It was bad, but it wasn’t until I discovered veganism that all these negative thoughts and obsessions went away and my mind could finally be at peace. Now I never worry about what I am eating, and I indulge in whatever I want. Even ask any of my friends, I always say “calories are irrelevent if you’re eating the right foods,” and ” I don’t believe in depriving my body.” I also always say, “nana ice cream is good for my body, but this (vegan) cheese pizza is good for my soul”.

So yeah I like to have pizza and burritos and tacos and burgers. But I also like to eat smoothies, salads, nana ice creams and raw fruits and veggies. I’ve finally reached a place where I am happy and I hope you can all find that place to. I hope this article helped. <3

 

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Erica
    April 25, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    I absolutely loved this post, girl. Well written.

  • Reply
    Tasha.NZ
    April 25, 2015 at 5:29 pm

    A lot of what you say resonates with me. Perhaps I have Ortherexia, I’m not entirely sure. One day at a time.

  • Reply
    Cassie
    April 25, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    I love this post so much. Last year I had orthorexia and sometimes it comes back to haunt me. I was seduced by raw vegan, paleo and gluten free diets I couldn’t take it anymore. Now it’s still hard for me to really cheat without it being vegan, raw, sugar free or gluten free. I’m trying, but it’s not easy. 🙁

  • Reply
    Orthorexia or Veganism | faithfoodfear
    November 28, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    […] It really made me think what the intention behind this decision is. Am I doing this out of a disordered mindset, or for health conscious reasons? So I began to explore the internet for articles. One of them is called Mindfully Bliss, and she says, “Even some healthy foods frighten you and it takes up most of your time thinking and stressing about it.” Which is so true, then she says, “I know I am fine because I can eat raw vegan one day, then have vegan cupcakes and cookies the next.” (http://mindfullybliss.com/veganism-or-orthorexia/). […]

  • Reply
    An eating disorder in disguise – #vegan is the new black
    August 21, 2016 at 8:35 am

    […] Veganism or Orthorexia  […]

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