Orthorexia: the Evolution of Disordered Eating
Unfortunately, the distorted body image of that has been sold to us for decades does harm. Disordered eating takes different forms. It disconnects us from the felt sense of being embodied, of being alive and sensual.
The newest eating disorder is orthorexia or a preoccupation with specialized diets. It can be linked with other eating disorders and often goes along with body dysmorphia.
Orthorexia & Social Connection
Body image and disordered eating emerges with many of my patients. What I am noticing is the shame around it about this has lifted. How refreshing! A study showed that people find support for orthorexia online. Talking about the disorder helps people find their way back to healthy eating. Social support is key to being at ease in your skin.
Information helps too. A restricted or special diet is not the end goal. With an elimination diet we can know within a month which foods are causing a problem. Usually there are just one or two. Once removed the body’s resilience kicks it up and deeper healing can happen.
Food is an important part of social connection. The health benefits of feeling relaxed and connected to a community are as important. This can be even more important, at times, than what you eat.
Women Know Their Bodies
Establishing trust with my patients is important. Many people have had negative experiences in the medical system. Their power or wishes weren’t heard or respected. Yesterday I had a young person explain that her gynaecologist wouldn’t offer a diagnostic procedure if she didn’t first take oral contraceptives (OCP). She knows that the OCP has negative health consequences for her. No other option was offered. She left feeling defeated.
Having options and feeling heard are crucial aspects of mental health and well-being. Another patient explained to me that she can’t change her diet for various reasons. I understand why. Later I asked her why she was feeling better. She shared that she had tried a few of the suggestions we had talked about. It was going ok and the results felt good.
Being in a body can feel good. Its meant to. Media has not only created a monster out of branding body shape and size. It also has hyper sexualized certain aspects of being. By doing this it has diminished the erotic nature of simply being alive. The felt sense of being alive and connected is naturally pleasurable.
I see a trends in my work and orthorexia is one of them. Yet each person I work with is unique. Having more time with patients is important. In this way we get to know one another. It can be empowering and enjoyable all at once.