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.