Martha Norris - Orthorexia: the not-so-common-but-getting-more-common disease

Hi Warriors,

My name is Martha, and I was inspired by Warrior Talk to join the troops, but saw no stories that were similar to my experience. This is what encouraged me even more to share my story.

My story:

I was sick. I was unhappy. I was running myself off no energy, no fuel and eventually ended up being exhausted and starved of a once happy Martha.

I had orthorexia.

I was clueless to what this meant too. It actually sounded like a made up word from Google translate. The fact I couldn't even diagnose my own disease as my mother had to tell me who I was becoming.  She read out all the symptoms of this illness, it had no longer felt like a disconnected word, it sadly defined how I was. I was obsessed about ‘clean eating’, I was obsessed with staying healthy and cutting out certain foods to keep this 'status', thinking that eating carbs wouldn't help me achieve this 'healthy' lifestyle. I avoided eating out with my friends in fear that I didn’t know what I was eating, in fear of being 'off track'. I feared food that wasn't 'clean', I was anxious about food, it was no longer something to enjoy rather endure. It was exhausting.

I was sick.

It’s hard to admit I was ill. To think I got everything so wrong about myself. Because after all my intention from the start was just to be healthy. Yet a desire soon turned to a ironically unhealthy obsession.

Orthorexia is an eating disorder in where you have an unhealthy obsession with eating healthily. I constantly think, obsess about food. I described foods as 'good' and 'bad'. I wouldn't dream of eating something I deemed as 'unhealthy'. It controlled not only my life but my family's, my friendships and social life. I would scream and shout about food, it was something that wouldn't let go.

I was cross, angry, upset, moody, disconnected from just about everything. But I only seemed to care about my fitness and 'health’ (but I was far from actually being healthy). My eating disorder looked different to other eating disorder looks like. Yes, I had lost weight. But not to the extreme point where I was severely underweight, although I did reach that stage where if I had got any worse I would have encounter serious long term problems. It was more so to do with my mental state rather than my physical self, I had lost me. All eating disorders are mental illnesses, some however have more noticeable physical symptoms and effects than others and this meant mine stayed hidden for perhaps a longer time.

Orthorexia, slightly different to anorexia because I was striving to be the healthiest person possible. I was just extremely picky about what I ate and didn't have enough variety in my diet to be able to sustain this type of eating. But similar to anorexia, I was dropping in weight, energy, personality- I think I resembled a zombie more than Martha.

In the pursuit to find happiness through healthy eating and being physically fit, the obsession and control resulted in quite the opposite effect. Now with the right nutrition knowledge, finding a balance through both eating and exercise I can now say I finally have the happiness and lifestyle I strived for. I am currently at a healthy weight, have just started my period (after over a year of not having it) and my mindset is at its healthiest in a long time.

It doesn't seem like it at the time.... But it does get better. 

I've linked a page about Orthorexia if you want to read more into this not-so-common- but- getting- more - common disease. You may find it more informative and helps you understand such a horrible illness that's effected myself for the past 10 months. Orthorexia.

Thank you Warriors for reading this,

From Martha.