My orthorexia journey: How do you explain to someone that the loaf of bread on the table is scary?
Author Zig Zigler said it best, “F.E.A.R. has two meanings: Forget Everything and Run, or Face Everything and Rise.” I lived most of my life adhering to only the first meaning, fearing the unknown, the future, and food. I feared history repeating itself. The memories of an overweight childhood and being bullied haunted my mind. The pain of loss lingered over my soul like a thunderstorm. I could not bear the thought of gaining weight again or losing someone else I loved, including myself. So I ran.
I ran from happiness. I ran from food. Food scared me because orthorexia kept telling me how bad it was. The disease tricked my mind into viewing food as some horrible monster. If food wasn’t clean or organic, then it would kill me. Carbohydrates and fats only wanted to destroy me, as they did to my parents. Visiting a grocery store or going out to eat felt like a trip to a haunted house. Full of demons and devils, ready to maul.
When a person is frightened, they often feel anxious. The palms sweat, the body trembles, and the tears can fall. In some cases, they scream for help. These physical symptoms occurred quite often when faced with foods I deemed unacceptable to my diet. The problem was, I took too long to scream for help.
I suppressed my fears out of fear and embarrassment. How do you explain to someone that the loaf of bread on the table is scary? Or that non-organic produce wants to kill you. They’ll think I’m an irrational lunatic! Well, sadly, these were the thoughts that infected my mind for years.
Author Molly Fennig and I connected after contributing to an article on InsideHook. She wrote the groundbreaking novel, Starvation, which focuses on a male with an eating disorder. In one scene, the main character compares his eating disorder to his dad’s fear of spiders. Talk about a lightbulb moment for me!
I find it difficult to express the effects of my eating disorder on my mind. The physical damage was apparent. Bones speak for themselves. It is hard to describe the mind games orthorexia plays to someone who has never suffered from it. It’s like when people say, “Oh, you look great! You must be doing good.” or “I don’t get it. Just eat!” They don’t see the true depths of this eating disorder. This is why I try to illustrate my battles; paint a picture of what’s happening behind my blue eyes.
Molly nailed it with her scene in Starvation. I immediately realized that was the perfect analogy to my situation. Some people fear spiders, and others fear heights, well I fear food. Yes, I still fear several foods, but that no longer stops me from eating them. I’m following Mr. Zigler’s advice and facing my fears head-on. This is the only way I can rise up.
I now know I am not a freak or weirdo for fearing foods. I am a conqueror. Just like the nervous flier who still gets on the plane, I am looking fear in the face. With each bite, I grow stronger, and the disease grows weaker. At this rate, orthorexia will soon fear me. The roles will be reversed!
Previously Published on orthorexiabites.com