What If the Rest of the World Has the Eating Disorder?

This article came to my attention while reading The Gloss this morning. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. On one hand, yes, some of the “signs” are slightly ridiculous; however, some are just signs of a person who enjoys caring for his or her health. What if the big scare over “orthorexia” lately is actually a sign that the rest of the world has developed a disordered relationship with food and eating?

Full disclosure time: I have struggled with restrictive-type eating disorder in the past, and I’m also diagnosed OCD about food.

But who says it’s healthy to always socialize in a way that requires eating or drinking?  Who says it’s healthy that a friend takes it personally when you don’t want to eat what she’s prepared without regard for the foods you prefer to eat?  And, no, I don’t have a wheat allergy or Celiac disease, but I know that I feel better when I avoid gluten, so I will frequently order off the gluten-free menu at a restaurant.  It also helps me avoid MSG, which causes my migraines.  It really is the easiest way to deal with a food preference in an impersonal way.  Yes, to a close friend, I would explain that it’s a preference, but a preference that I’ve made for a well-thought-out reason.  It doesn’t mean I “don’t eat anything normal;” it just means that I value my body enough to put quality food into it.  You wouldn’t make a roast beef for a vegan friend and I don’t think you should make spaghetti marinara for a low-carb friend.

And that’s another thing.  Why is it that “eating normally” has to mean “eating crap,” even “occasionally?”  It used to be that “occasionally” or “special treat” meant foods that were so dear they were only eaten on holidays.  Christmas pudding was a special thing because sweeteners were hard to come by and difficult to afford.  Now that we can all afford sugar and corn syrup, we eat it every day.  That’s not normal.  And we constantly feel the need to indulge in “treats” or “comfort food,” rather than having other ways to reward ourselves.  Isn’t that a disordered relationship with food?  How come nobody gets on the case of the person who wants to drown a breakup in ice cream, but they holler “eating disorder” at the person who doesn’t want to join in?

Now, the exercise thing.  Yes, I go to the gym during vacations, if it’s available.  If it’s not, I’ll often go running outside or do some yoga in my room.  If I’m taking a particularly active vacation, then I don’t feel the need to also workout, but I don’t do well “just relaxing.”  Exercise is relaxing to me.  And, as an animal, I’m made to move about and play, so I don’t consider it odd that I don’t want to lounge around all day not doing anything.  And some hotels I go to have really nice gyms.  In fact, when I take a personal day from work, one of my favorite things is to go out and have a nice, long run, followed by lots of stretching, and maybe some yoga after that.  I love having the time to exercise.  But when I don’t have that kind of time, yes, I do get up at an hour that some might consider “ungodly” (6 a.m.) to exercise before work.  If I have an early flight, I’ll make sure to add an extra run the day before because a day of sitting still during air travel will drive me up the freaking walls.

Yes, there are people who try to mask a legitimate eating disorder with the guise of “healthy eating.”  I should know; I was one of them.  But I now eat a balanced diet, plenty of calories, some treats, and I exercise enough that I enjoy it without feeling obligated.  I maintain a healthy weight and plenty of muscle tone.  So I resent being treated like I’m still whatever-rexic for not wanting to eat chocolate cake when I’m not hungry just because I happen to be friends with the person who offered it.


About Kyniska

In ancient Sparta, women were encouraged to train their bodies and minds as warriors did, in preparation for an adult life of strength and intellect. They strove to win a husband through strength as well as beauty. I try to live my life by this philosophy, that athletic ability and accented beauty can co-exist, yielding a richer whole. View all posts by Kyniska

2 responses to “What If the Rest of the World Has the Eating Disorder?

  • RG

    Excluding the middle? The only option is to be on your regimen or eat a pound of sugar every day? I don’t know anyone who goes around eating actual feces, we eat food which may not have your requisite nutritional content but is generally something my body approves of. Some of your habits jive well with me – the early morning run before a flight, sure, but in a choice between 6 hours of sleep or getting a run in, the sleep wins. I have plenty of rest days.

    The chocolate cake only becomes an issue if you make it one – it usually works well to take a small piece, eat two bites. I did have someone serve me beef when I was a vegan, and I accept that other people serve the meals they serve. The two-bite rule works if I’m not morally opposed, allergic, diabetic, etc. The other point is, if you know someone doesn’t follow your food preferences, then don’t eat with them. I don’t go to happy hour with binge drinkers, who might be perfectly good people to hang with away from alcohol.

    • Kyniska

      The point of my post isn’t that I want to impose my own ideas about nutrition on other people. I’m perfectly happy to share what I think about nutrition and accept that other people have different ideas. What’s steams me is when articles like the one I linked convince people to get on other people’s cases about how they eat or behave when they’re just trying to be healthy. I’m not telling people they shouldn’t eat chocolate cake, just that I want people to stop pushing it on me if I say no. It’s not personal. I just don’t want cake. The problem isn’t cake, but the emotional value assigned to it, which causes hurt feelings when someone simply makes a food choice for him- or herself.

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