I am a 17 year old male, 5′ 11″, and weigh *** pounds. I am orthorexic. I am obsessed with eating healthy and all natural foods and don’t want to “give into the temptation” of eating unhealthy. I avoid white flour, white sugar, trans fat, and high fructose corn syrup at all costs. That’s good and all, but I am obsessed with it; food is never far from my mind. The worst part is I can’t seem to find any kind of balance; I am an extremist. I am also driving my family crazy. I’m not eating the same dinners and lunches they are eating because they are not healthy enough (they usually contain white flour, white sugar, too high carbs, calories, or fat for that meal based on what I had eaten earlier in the day). I always criticize them for not eating healthy, thinking “I’m doing this for their own good.” I want to stop because we always have arguments regarding food. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just stopping; I feel it’s psychological, but we don’t have the money for a psychologist.
I have asked God to free me from this obsession, but I don’t want to compromise my healthy habits and eat any white flour or white sugar because I am “better than that”. If I were to relax on white flour and white sugar, how much do I relax? Do I eat white pasta? Have refined cookies? Load up on fat or carbs at dinner? I have read the book “Health Food Junkies” that addresses orthorexia and how to deal with it but there are no specifics (yes, I know there aren’t many specifics when it comes to balance). I have to change 1) for my relationship with God, 2) my relationship with my family, 3) my weight. I’m desperate. I need to gain weight but I also don’t want to get all flabby. I don’t know how much exercising is too much or how much is too little. I am doing college courses and sometimes don’t have time to workout long. Any Help? Anthony
We are so glad you asked your questions. We hope more guys will find this website helpful in their search to find balance. The sad news is you feel so unbalanced and desperate right now, but the great news is that you are reaching out. You’ve already done something we encourage everyone to do: You’ve listed your priorities and reasons to change. Keep that list posted in places where you will be reminded of them. Perhaps you could write them on an index card and carry them close to your heart. These are your reasons to change!
Of course, if there is a specialist and/or a dietitian/nutritionist trained in these problems in your area, I would encourage you to do anything you can to consult with them. I believe helping professionals are often guided by a much higher power, as there are many wonderful miracles in the therapy process. In order to afford therapy, some of my clients have given up their cell phones for a few months or asked for a session as a birthday present. I realize that even with those ideas it still might not be possible to afford therapy, but its something to think about.
If not, then I want to encourage you to utilize every other resource available. See the links on this website. Also, if you have a pastor or high school counselor, perhaps you could talk to them about issues of self-love, control and moderation. Why control? Those of us in the field of disordered eating know that when someone is so focused on weight and food, they may also feel that other things in life are very much out of their control. Talking to your clergy, for example, may help give you some ideas about how to feel more appropriately in control of other aspects of life.
That is just one example of a core issue that could be discussed with someone you trust. Other questions for you to explore could include:
- What does healthy mean to you?
- Are there things other than healthy eating that you wish your family would attend to? Are you trying to get them to see some other things, too, maybe?
- Are there things that remind you that you can trust your body to handle this imperfect world? For example, your lungs purify even really icky air. Your liver is designed to process all kinds of food. Your body can cope with extreme temperatures. Your brain and heart know what to do when you’re asleep… you get the idea.
All the “health food” in the world is of no use if we aren’t strong enough in mind and spirit to function at our best. Please, don’t give up, Anthony, in pursuing more mental and physical strength. If you keep trying, I believe the resources will be available. Stay in touch with us.