(Image source: Harpers Bazaar)
- an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy.
- a medical condition in which the sufferer systematically avoids specific foods that they believe to be harmful.
noun: orthorexia nervosa
When vegan blogger Jordan Younger previously known as “The Blonde Vegan” finally came out to the world that she was leaving veganism because her obsession with ‘pure’ foods had led to an eating disorder known as Orthorexia Nervosa, I was fascinated.
Fascinated not because I share the same obsession with pure foods (I don’t – I eat gluten, I sometimes eat fish and seafood and if I really need to I will eat chicken) but because there is actually a medical term for a health food obsession gone too far!
In Jordan’s case, her health obsession became unhealthy.
A gorgeous young woman renowned for her clean living choices, seemingly the picture of health, with tens of thousands of fans… and she was anxious and unhappy. She had a severe vitamin B12 and protein deficiency making her constantly tired and she hadn’t had her period in 6 months!
So when she came out of the closet so to speak about why she was transitioning away from veganism, there were mixed reactions from the wider public. Whilst there were some who criticised her, I was part of the crowd that supported her and embraced her honesty.
I am not full on about my food, although I have been accused as such. Many years ago in my early 20’s I was a strict vegetarian working long days for a finance company which led me to eating convenience foods in the form of Hungry Jack’s veggie burgers! In addition I was suffering from vertigo and lacking energy and when I went to the doctor for a general checkup, found out that I was a few points off anaemia and had low blood pressure which was causing the vertigo. Contrary to popular belief, vegetarians aren’t as healthy as you may think! Today I am what people often refer to as a pescatorian, a vegetarian that eats fish and seafood. I now try to pay attention to my body, take note of how different types of food affects me, avoid the ones I don’t respond well to and eat the food that provides me with optimal energy (usually plant-based). And I get a check up twice a year to obtain all the key info I need from my blood results.
And like many of us, Jordan is just searching for her own truth. When so many people are content to live a lie, here is a young woman facing her fears of being judged and is just trying to be real. Kudos to her!
The biggest learning lesson from her story: whatever your idea of healthy is, make sure you listen to your body!