When you are obsessed with eating healthy, and your daily life has become all about the decisions and thoughts about healthy food, it can eventually make you sick. Obsessing over healthy eating has a name: Orthorexia Nervosa.

About Orthorexia Nervosa

Next to Bulimia and Anorexia, Orthorexia Nervosa is a (unrecognized) disease that is upcoming, according to a British study. The people that have orthorexia, want to be in charge of everything that gets into their mouth, and it has to be the purest and healthiest form. If not, they feel poisoned. Sometimes they even become scared of eating. This obsession has taken over their life.

RELATED: A story of a woman suffering from Orthorexia.

Social Media

Social Media has also fueled this phenomenon. People following a certain diet, whether it is raw food, plant-based, gluten-free, Paleo, Green juice or even carnivore diet have millions of followers. Some say that elimination diets are part of orthorexia and social media like Instagram are helping this extreme clean eating obsession.

Just realize that you do not know what goes on with all those social media influencers when they are not posting content to their instagram pages. They might still binge late at night, or not be so healthy than what they are appearing to be. (For instance, autoimmune diseases like Diabetes are not easily visible on the outside.) They are not monitored 24/7 and you do not know how their vitals and bloodwork are at that moment. That’s why you can only decide how you want to live your life, and what your relationship with food is going to be. You should definitely do the research, but you also need to consciously reflect regularly to make sure you do not go overboard. Every person is different, and every person can tolerate different foods in different ways.

The more places that offer healthy food, the choices for healthy eating will be growing for us people. The people that I know that are into healthy eating, are young, athletic, successful men and women, who say that because of this lifestyle, they have more energy and get more work done. They also say they don’t have mood swings as often, as they feel fine most of the time. They are also less likely to drink coffee, alcohol or use drugs to get an “upper”. The spirit of life is a natural upper for them! Of course these testimonies help more and more people to go into that “healthy living” direction, and sometimes they all take it to the extremes.

Still, I believe that eating healthy foods IS good for you, but obsessing over it IS NOT.

I believe eating organic and natural foods is the best for your body. And I do also believe you can prevent diseases, and improve quality of life. Just don’t go over the top. But thinking about what you put in your mouth every day, is a good thing. People should be more aware of things they eat. But you have to have a balance between eating good, and staying grounded and being social with others instead of living in your own World. It should improve your joy of life and not become a struggle or an obsession!

My experience with bulimia

I am very into healthy eating, but what that is exactly has changed enormously over the years. I might have been going into the orthorexia direction at some point. It happened after I went into the direction of bulimia during Paris Fashion Week in 2006. I was exhausted from the castings and fashion shows of the past weeks, as wel as rejections and not knowing if I would get booked for shows. When I would get home after a show there was no dinner, and there was only chocolate in the room’s minibar. I ate the whole bar when I was hungry, but would feel shame that I ate it all, so I would throw up. I realized right away that that was going into the Bulimia direction so I canceled the rest of Fashion Week (I only walked the Isabel Marant Show then) to stop the enormous stress and I went home to NYC to relax. My life was crazy already with people taking advantage of me, like bad financial advisors and my birth mother who thought she was entitled to everything I earned, an eating disorder was the last thing I needed.  I was relieved my amazing booker at IMG Paris understood. I still had a good relationship with clients like Ralph Lauren, and I wanted to focus on that modeling work as it was obviously a better fit for me than walking on the catwalk. Because the reality was that I am a horrible walker in real life, let alone on the catwalk, so this was more stressful for me than other work. On top of that I am not as tall as all the other amazing catwalk models, so I felt like a midget with hips at castings! That’s where I got the idea that you just have to focus on things you are good at to avoid stress!

My experience with Orthorexia

After that experience with Bulimia and no dinner available while working, I became more and more interested in healthy eating and being prepared for travel and jobs. I would prepare foods and do research what foods would give me the most energy and what was the most healthy. I have always had low blood pressure so eating foods at certain times was important. At one point I ate healthy foods, cooked healthy foods, thought about healthy eating 24/7, had discussions with my friends about healthy eating, my whole life was about healthy eating. I learned a lot in this period, but it was sometimes a bit obsessed. Like refusing to go to certain restaurants that were considered “unhealthy” and therefore missing out on a nice night out with friends. I was taking it to the extreme.

What helped was that when I fell ill because of a burnout, that obsession for only eating pure and healthy foods luckily faded away. I was just too exhausted and tired to care anymore. All stress, even the stress about healthy eating, added up and caused me to break down. Now years later, eating consciously is important to me though. For me it is fun to eat at and support restaurants and chefs that have good standards. I like to learn about organic farming, and cooking nutritious meals. It makes the World a bit better. But it is not that I think about every bite I eat, or weigh my food. I do sometimes go out of my way if I crave a certain food item, I will go travel to get to that place to eat it. And If I go out to dinner with friends in a social setting, I am relaxed with the foods that are served and enjoy my food. Feeling no stress about food is the most important!

Getting help

If you think you are suffering from orthorexia, don’t beat yourself up. If you watch the videos below, you see even dietitians are susceptible to orthorexia! Men and women equally are susceptible to orthorexia, children and elderly are susceptible to orthorexia. It is truly a disease of all ages. There are many ways to get help for this! I will share more stories on OrganiceYourLife.com. There are even places that offer in-house treatments. Also many psycho therapists and dietitians know that orthorexia is on the rise. So don’t feel bad, there are more people like us!

Love, Lonneke