Monday, June 8, 2015

The idea of eating clean 100% of the time

There was a comment on my blog yesterday that I deleted. I NEVER delete things, but when someone is openly being hostile and insulting and doing so anonymously (twice now), I feel it's in my and other reader's, especially those also struggling with their weight, best interest to delete such a comment and I will continue to do so. If someone can't say something openly and without hostility, then there is no merit in the comment.

But the anonymous poster said one thing that triggered my memory about a recent topic I read about last week and also a growing problem - feeling we have to eat perfectly 100% of the time.  There's a growing disorder called Orthorexia Nervosa. And, I have seen it on various forums - when people are spending an inordinate amount of time and energy analyzing their micro-nutrients - becoming obsessed with them. Honestly, I think it would be quite easy for someone who has other eating issues to start to develop this problem because it's just switching one form of disordered eating for another.

Here's more on it too from
Because overdoing it is the American way, we’ve now managed to warp even healthy habits into a new form of eating disorders. Welcome to the era of orthorexia.
As Heather Hansman notes this week in Fast Company, orthorexia differs from other forms of disorders in that the obsessive focus is not on how much or how little one consumes, but the perceived virtue of the food itself. As she reports, “Nutritionists and psychologists say that they’re seeing it more often, especially in the face of restrictive food trends, like gluten-free, and growing information about where food comes from, and how it’s grown and processed.” Though the term has been in use since Dr. Steven Bratman coined it in 1997, the uptick in cases is leading to a new push to formally include it in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – aka the DSM 5. 
Along with “gluten-free,” “juice fast” and other phrases, you may have been hearing “orthorexia” a lot more lately. Last summer, popular health and food blogger Jordan Younger made headlines – and faced intense criticism – when she announced that she was “transitioning away from veganism” as she realized that she had “started fearing a LOT of things when it came to food,” and had been struggling with orthorexia. Her blog now is called “The Balanced Blonde,” where she talks honestly about her journey to wellness. In a recent post, she observed, “It. Breaks. My. Heart.It breaks my heart to see and hear beautiful, motivated, capable young women being sucked in to an extreme diet and way of life because it has been branded to them as ‘THE HEALTHIEST WAY TO LIVE’ above all else.”
And from by Maya Dodd:

The biggest problem of course is that by making some foods “clean” you make all the others dirty. The impact that can have on a person extends far much further than just a meal. It has recently been argued that “clean” eating diets are nothing more than a socially acceptable means of restrictive eating. That might sound dramatic, but think about it — it’s creating a world where only certain foods are good or safe to eat, a world where the “good” foods might not even taste that good to you, a world where all other foods are bad, so you won’t eat them no matter how much you want to because they’ll make you sick or fat. Isn’t really that much different than restricting, and could lead to disordered eating if not an eating disorder. In fact, it happened to me as I jumped from diet to diet, slowly decreasing what I could eat under the guise of eating healthier. Eventually I realized what I was doing and started looking at food as what it is — just food. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still have to remind myself that the slice of cake or bowl of ice cream can be just as okay as a salad or an apple.
Now, I'm not saying that the anonymous poster yesterday was suffering from this, but the comment that no one ever needs to eat a cake or cinnamon roll reminded me of  a "symptom" of this disorder. Saying that I will never keep the weight off BECAUSE I think it's OKl for people to eat these things here and there... well, besides being mean, it's also a sign of being ultra rigid with diet and I don't think that is healthy either.

True, no one needs to eat cake. Heck, I could probably go my entire life without ever eating cake again as I don't particularly like cake. Cake was not what made me fat. Crackers and chips and candy and plain overeating are what made me balloon up. Saying I should only ever eat clean -  is probably healthiest to follow most of the time, but feeling that having a "dirty" item every few weeks is bad, is  not healthy thinking or living.

I want a healthy relationship with food and when I'm not depressed, I do. Unfortunately, that depression comes yearly!  I eat wholesome foods. We rarely go out to eat. I make everything from scratch at home and I eat tons of vegetables and "clean" food, but I don't want to fall into a trap or mode of thinking that foods can be evil or are poison. Food is food. Some of it is more nutritionally complete than others, but it's not healthy to start thinking that my son's birthday cake is evil. Or that having a piece of it makes me a failure.

Weight loss reboot: 5/18/15
Down 14.9 pounds


  1. Great post! To succeed in this goal of healthy weight loss, we have to be able to develop a positive relationship with food, and to be able to enjoy all types of food while maintaining that. I'm with you - I could skip cake the rest of my life, but there are a few goodies I definitely will find a place for within my healthy eating plan.

  2. Excellent post. As I said on your last post, since abstinence hasn't been long term working for me, I am branching out and trying to learn about the best way to develop a controlled moderation of less-than-ideal foods. It's a journey, for sure. And yes, I was starting to lean orthorexia, and see others doing so, too.

  3. I agree that this is a great post! I agree. I just read a weight loss memoir - It Was Me All Along by Andie Mitchell (who also has a food blog). She lost 130+ pounds and after she lost weight for a time she was really afraid to lots of foods. She actually was told this was an eating disorder in her. She had to work hard to get to a point where she could eat those foods (sometimes) and wasn't afraid of them, but could still maintain her weight loss. She really was good in the book at showing how totally abstaining ended up not working well for her.