To continue our body positive thoughts and discussion, we asked member Christina Jimenez, a licensed associate marriage & family therapist who specializes in eating disorders & body image disorders, to share her thoughts on disordered eating, which often correlates with a negative body image:
As most people think about eating disorders they think of someone who doesn't eat, purges their foods, or eats without control. But there is a secret society of eating disorders that we're not aware of that is more predominant than you know- it's called "orthorexia."
Orthorexia is a condition where a person obsesses over a healthy diet or has a "fixation on righteous eating." The best way to explain it is "an obsession with healthy habits that turns into an unhealthy mindset."
The National Eating Disorder Association states, ”Orthorexia appears to be motivated by health, but there are underlying motivations, which can include safety from poor health, compulsion for complete control, escape from fears, wanting to be thin, improving self-esteem, searching for spirituality through food, and using food to create an identity.”
Symptoms of Orthorexia include:
Constant worry about food quality and overly strict diets
Excessive obsession over food, food quality, and how it affects your body
Struggle with eating meals prepared by others and feel a need to control all aspects of your meals
Constantly looking for why foods are unhealthy for you
Punishing yourself by excessive exercise or other means if you stray away from your diet
Engaging in excessive exercise, intense exercise, and have a rigid exercise schedule
Feelings of guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet
Feeling in control when you stick to the “correct” diet
Feeling “better than” others because you can “eat clean” and others cannot
My clients with this disorder often engaged in diets that were "clean" or they refused certain foods because of their need to be "pure." Interestingly, a lot of these clients would claim they would have “allergy” towards foods that they perceived as “bad” even without medical evidence. These clients also engaged in intense exercises like CrossFit, marathons, and other exercise that challenge the body. When they do not follow their rigid eating plans they "punish" themselves through exercise or other behaviors.
I thought that this is a good topic to focus on because of the environment that CrossFit creates. Obviously we work our butts off and do workouts that most people are afraid of. The Crossfit community supports paleo or clean eating and these behaviors can quickly turn into an unhealthy obsession.
Now there is a very fine line between being healthy and being orthorexic but I think it is a fine line that most people do not realize that they are walking. I know I sure struggle with my own non-working thoughts about my relationship with food and my need to workout.
Being healthy is not just body- it is mind, body, and soul. I think it's important to allow ourselves to miss the workout(s), eat the foods we want, and stay away from labels. It is so very important to find a balance that keeps both your mind and body healthy.
So the question is how do you create that balance or how can you create that balance? Do you struggle with the balance and what needs to change in order for you to find peace?
Christina Jimenez, MAS, LAMFT
We will be following up with more discussions about body image and healthy habits. As always, please reach out to your coaches (or Christina!) if you need more guidance in these areas. We are here to help you be the best version of yourself. You are not alone in your struggles to get there.