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Orthorexia

If you ask my friends in NYC to describe me, you’ll be painted a picture of a boss lady taking on the city as a full-time professor, writer, and consultant, in addition to being a fitness influencer. They’ll also tell you I’m a people person, excitable, and will always make time to help you move apartments and celebrate your birthday.   

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“Be sure to eat your vegetables.” For me, this saying was an everyday staple of my childhood, and although it has been nearly half a decade since I last lived with my parents, I still try my best to follow a healthy diet and lead a healthy lifestyle. During my freshman and sophomore years in college, though, I entrapped myself in this philosophy to the point that I was becoming withdrawn from my friends and creating a relationship with food that was devoid of enjoyment at both the social and sensory levels.

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Although not formally recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, awareness of orthorexia among the general public and within the eating disorder community is on the rise. The word “orthorexia” was coined in 1998 and means an obsession with proper or “healthful” eating. Although being aware of and concerned with the nutritional quality of the food you eat isn’t a problem in and of itself, people with orthorexia become so fixated on so-called “healthy eating” that they actually damage their own well-being.

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In a society so obsessed with health, when does striving to be “healthy” become dangerous? When does it turn into a problem? Many people are familiar with the more commonly known eating disorders - anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, but most people don’t know about another serious eating disorder: orthorexia nervosa. Orthorexia, while not yet an official diagnosis in the DSM-5, is a life-threatening problem that requires treatment.

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Orthorexia

OrthorexiaAlthough not formally recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, awareness about orthorexia is on the rise. The term ‘orthorexia’ was coined in 1998 and means an obsession with proper or ‘healthful’ eating.

I have been doing a lot of reflection lately about my eating disorder journey, and what it was exactly that made me come to my senses and recognize that I needed to start recovering before it got as bad as it could have gotten. I read a lot of books, blogs and emails written by others who have suffered and in many ways dealt with their illness for much longer than I did, and it has caused me to stop and think — what was it that made me come to my senses after two years of intense restriction? What caused that shift?

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