Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Ortharexia or a preference for nutritious food?

I got 3 very topical aspects of my life right now to waffle on about.... thought I might share my thoughts about each, help myself understand what's going down with where I'm at right now, not just ED related but the other stuff that goes along with helping me keep the ED under wraps and having as little impact on my life as possible. I'll save the other 2 for tomorow as I've got quite a lot to say about each.

First off- ORTHAREXIA (hope I spelled that right!). There are so many different and complex labels/ diagnosis give to 'disordered eaters' these days that I generally don't pay an awful lot of attention- only because I believe that if a person has an eating pattern that is messed up enough to be causing problems in their life- it shouldn't matter what label they're given my a medical person- they need and deserve adequate help to try and recover from it. Also the fact that most Eating Disorders cross over, (whether you be anorexic, morbidly obese), sometimes on a daily basis, between starving, binging, excessive exercise, eating only certain food groups etc. However- back to the Ortharexia- I'm using this 'label' as I'm aware that a medical person may mention this in response to the way I eat currently. And I guess the reason for this post, is that I get quite annoyed/upset when others question or comment on my food choices, even though I choose them because I believe them to be nutritionally the best option.

For example: I don't eat anything I don't like/ don't really enjoy the taste of just because it's 'good for me'. Certain fruit & veg I dislike and would probably leave them on my plate, were I served them. However, I DO love vegetables and foods such as salmon, chicken, turkey, also prefer granary bread to white bread and prefer sweet potatoes and brown rice to their 'white' alternatives. This is partly because I was brought up on foods such as these and developed a taste for them naturally and have therefore become my favourite foods, partly because I know them to be nutritionally better for me and partly because given the choice, I know they are going to provide with all-round better nutrition than the less nutritious alternatives. In a restaurant, I'm more likely to choose a piece of salmon with asparagus than lasagne even though I like both these foods- for the reasons given above. If they had run out of salmon and only lasagne was available-I would eat the lasagne. Same as if I'm at a friends house for dinner- I will eat the steak and chips if that's what is on offer. So, to me, that's not 'Ortharexia' or an ortharexic trait but a choice that I make for the good of my body. Obviously, there are certain foods that I find difficult to eat due to the ED, that I REALLY like but I DO try and make a consious effort to have them every now and then to gradually break my thought patterns that go with them.

If I was talking to a dietician that knew nothing of my ED history, I feel sure that my diet would be impressive! The problem that I come against is that a few people see what they think they're seeing and conclude that I may not be eating properly. To explain, if I have a spinach salad & with olive oil, pine nuts, a hummus dollop and a brown roll as a side dish with my dinner, it would be calorifically equal to a thick slice of white bread & butter.... ok. But I not only PREFER the taste of the afore mentioned, it is obviously a much more nutritious choice. Same as, if I'm out and about and need a snack, if there is a newsagents selling Mars bars next to a wholefoods shop selling Trek bars, then i'm going to go for the latter- I LOVE Trek bars and nutty/seedy snacks!! I think others sometimes just see 'a salad' or' a 'health bar so must be low in calories' and don't bother to try and understand that it's a salad covered in pumpkin seed oil or a health bar packed with nuts and fruit and therefore, an adequate source of calories and nutrients.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't sometimes get anxious over eating a piece of chocolate or some crisps, I do- and one thing that causes that is that I know foods like these may leave me hungry or not feeling as physically satisfied and therefore I will feel the need to eat again soon and that can make me feel anxious. But I have started to introduce them, in a way that I might have a handful of walnuts with 2 pieces of chocolate or crisps with an apple, as a balanced snack, instead of ALWAYS having a Trek bar. I know that's normal and ok as far as

I just want to not be penelised for doing the best for myself and enjoying feeling full of vitality for eating well. I don't NEED to stuff myself full of biscuits to prove that I'm 'well' or recovered or whatever!!! I did that in recovery a couple of years ago and ended up at around 10 stone with a still-very-active eating disorder!! And just to get people off my back. Yes, I will have a biscuit with a cup of tea and a full-fat latte... but day to day, when it's my choice, of course i'm going to have my preference- isn't that what people do?

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