Orthorexia: An obsession with healthy eating

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uotg530Aa7Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3inpdB0J9c


That time I did a 1 day juice cleanse

I once did a one day juice cleanse. All the way with the cheesy "I kiss my juice" pictures as proof.  I had a bit hangover from just drinking 2 bellinis at the Operation Smile Ball the day before. So when you don't feel so great, what do you do? Exactly you take care of yourself! Eating really healthy is your own medicine. So I decided to visit Organic Avenue.

About Organic Avenue

Organic Avenue was a vegan and rawfood chain in New York City. It was founded by Denise Mari,  and back in the day I did an interview with her. There were so many new Organic Avenue Locations popping up around town at one point. To me it seemed they had a lot of success, but they also seemed to grow too fast. After a few years Denise sold the company, and from what I've read, she came back on board to run the company.  OA incorporated different foods into the menu besides cleanses (the vegan chicken and waffles was great!) but eventually they went out of business :( . Sad story of a vegan health food store I enjoyed so much in NYC! I notice many of my favorite restaurants have gone out of business, it is just part of doing business in New York City.

Organic Avenue Soho location
Organic Avenue Soho location before it closed

Now back to the juice cleanse story: There used to be an Organic Avenue Location in Soho, close to where I live, and I decided to do their one day cleanses.

The 1 day juice cleanse

I received 7 bottles of juice. 1 small one to start the day with chlorophyll, and 6 juices.  You were told to drink water in between..

1 day cleanse from Organic Avenue
1 day cleanse by Organic Avenue

8.30 am

Let's start this juice cleanse! I woke up tired and had my first juice at this time. A chlorophyll shot that made my tongue green! It has a specific taste, but it is not bad. Chlorophyll comes from plants and is an "extremely important bio molecule, critical in photosynthesis, which allows plants to absorb energy from light."- Quote from Wikipedia  

chlorophyll shot
chlorophyll shot

10 am

My first real juice is a nice simple orange juice. A great way to start a morning with some sweet citrus fruit juice.

orange juice
orange juice

12 pm

Green Love juice. Cucumber, celery, chard, spinach, pear, collard greens, kale, romaine, parsley, lemon juice. This one is a bit hard to drink due to the large amount of greens in this juice. So it took me a bit longer to drink this juice!

Green Love juice
Green Love juice

2.30 pm

Turmeric Tonic,  lemon juice, ginger juice, purified alkaline water, coconut sugar, turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper, cardamom, himalayan salt. This one was spicy but I actually liked this juice! It tasted a bit like something from the Middle East because of the spices. I drank it quite fast.

Turmeric Tonic
Turmeric Tonic
Lonneke & Turmeric Tonic
Lonneke & Turmeric Tonic

4.30pm

Veggie Vibe: carrot, cucumber, beet, celery, chard, spinach, ginger, parsley, lemon. This one is hard again! Took me longer time to drink. But you feel really healthy drinking it.

At this point I felt really energized and fit! Getting so many minerals and vitamins in, plus water is really doing good for your body, right?

6.30 pm

Spicy Avocado Soup: avocado, purified alkaline water, spinach, lime juice, celery, cilantro, garlic, Himalayan salt, jalapeño, cumin. This is my least favorite. maybe because of the garlic and that it is thicker. It took me some effort to drink it.

Lonneke & Spicy Avocado Soup
Lonneke & Spicy Avocado Soup

8pm

Last juice of the day! Fresh, sweet coconut juice. I love ending a day like this with something super yummy!

Although some people do cleanses a few days in a row, I think it was nice to just do a one day cleanse. This way it does not "shock" your body while still replenishing your body with the essential nutrients. It is also a great that for that day you have a plan, and the 7 juices keep you on track. You don't have to think what you are gonna eat or what's for dinner at night. The cleanse is telling you that already so it relieves stress that way as well!

Why a one day juice cleanse might be good for you

Because you drink the whole day so you are very much hydrated.  And you don't have much time to feel hungry. Right when you feel hungry, you have the thicker Spicy Avocado soup that is filling. I think anyone can do a 1 day cleanse to just feel better and get rid of toxins or indigestion, if you don't get tempted by any food! So do this during a rainy day when you are likely to stay at home, or if you are stuck at the office with no food in sight, that's my recommendation.

You start to appreciate food more while on a cleanse, that is for sure!

Why juicing might not so good for you

You notice there is a lot of parsley added to the juices. This is because parsley contains lots of Vitamin K, a lot of antioxidants, which helps our bones and strengthens our nervous system.(that's good!) But I only learnt later that Parsley, other green leafy vegetables and beets contain a lot of oxalates and goitrogens. I will go into that some other time why that is actually not so good for some people like myself (oxalates can form crystals in your body and can cause kidney stones, goitrogens slow down a thyroid). Not to mention the high sugar intake which research suggests due to the lack of fiber that helps release sugar slowly into the blood system, a juice is causing a sugar spike. And juices that are not pasteurized, can bring harmful bacteria to your gut which can cause a whole other range of issues.

Maybe, just maybe, juice cleansing was a hype from 2006-2016, and now people just have one juice once a while and are onto another fad, like Keto or Paleo?

Related: Why no one does juice cleanses anymore

Organic Avenue used to offer their juices in glass bottles, but they were more expensive as there was a fee for returning the bottles. Now they serve the juices in BPA- free plastic, I thought that was a nice thing! Of course with the demise of Organic Avenue, their bottles are gone too. (I just kept one as a souvenir).

If you want to do a cleanse, there are many places in New York City and beyond to get a juice from, including Juice Press, Pressed Juicery ,Blueprint and Juice Generation

Related: 5 cleanses that get delivered to your door in the USA

p.s. for my readers in the Netherlands: you can order from Sapmeesters.

Final thought on cleanses: You should decide yourself what works for you! I will now enjoy a small juice once a while!

Love, Lonneke

First Published on May 6th 2012, Updated with new insights in 2019

 


Raw Mini Christmas Puddings

Hi everyone at OYL!!! Well here it is. Last minute post of the year for me! I was in the kitchen this afternoon making up a raw non-chocolate version of my 'Choka-fruit Puddin' (recipe in my book) and of course posted a pic to Instagram promising to share the recipe. So here it is. These tiny puddings are the most simple, delicious Xmas treats you'll ever make, and so good, that when people find out they're healthy as well, they will probably beg you for the recipe.

Raw Mini Christmas Puddings
The most simple and delicious tiny raw puddings.The most delicious Xmas treats you’ll ever make!

Author:
Cuisine: Raw
Recipe type: Dessert

Ingredients
  • ¾ cup organic dried cranberries
  • ¾ cup organic pitted dried prunes, diced
  • ¾ cup mixed organic sultanas and currants
  • 1 Tablespoon organic goji berries
  • ½ cup dried Kiwi Fruit, optional – for colour, diced
  • 8 large pitted Medjool dates, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla powder
  • Zest of 1 organic orange
  • Fresh juice of 1 orange
  • 1 dessertspoon rum (for flavour only, optional!)
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 2 cups almond meal (OR to make nut free – you may use ground coconut instead)

Instructions
  1. Mix together all dried fruits, spices, freshly squeezed juice, hot water and rum if using.
  2. Place this mixture at room temperature for 12 – 24hours, 2 of those hours may have mixture placed into the sunlight or in a warmer place. To be honest I didn’t have time, so only sat the fruity mixture in the sun for 1 hour then continued on with the recipe.
  3. Add in the almond meal and mix well. Form mixture into mini puddings with your hands, and decorate with goji berries or anything you fancy. Sit them in little muffin-tin liners and chill until Xmas day!
  4. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed, with freshly made raw coconut cream, raw banana or mango ice-cream (made by simply whizzing up frozen fruit in a food processor) ‘The Dreamcrème’ (again, in my book) your favourite vegan ice-cream, or yogurt such as Co-Yo.