How do you know whether you are Orthorexic or just healthy?

For a start, if you are asking this question then there is something going on which is maybe not sitting very well with you, that you are not feeling very comfortable with, because when you have got a really positive and healthy relationship with food, generally you don’t worry about it and you don’t think about it. When you start thinking about it and you start worrying whether your relationship with food has got some sort of underlying destructive tendencies then the chances are there is probably something in it. 

If you do find you are overly concerned with eating a certain way and eating in what is universally perceived to be eating in a really ‘healthy’ way, then I would say it’s worth having a chat with somebody and seeing if you need support with that.


Is clean eating bad for you?

The term ‘clean eating’ is so unhelpful because it implies that there is some kind of unclean or dirty eating so I just totally wouldn’t even subscribe to that term.

Eating in a way where you are nurturing your body, mind and soul is a positive thing and there are no rules around that for me.


Is exercise during recovery for an eating disorder OK?

It depends whether it’s OK for you. What you have to think about is your own recovery – it is the most intimate and personal journey and if exercise has been a trigger for you or something that you have really struggled with, then that’s going to be a big part of how you view your recovery and how you take care of yourself. Speak to somebody who is overseeing your care and see what they think about it or talk to a friend about it. If it’s something you are worried about then it’s probably something you need to pay attention to.

One bit of advice I would give is, if your relationship with exercise hasn’t been the healthiest and you notice that you were running a lot in your unwell moment, then maybe shift to a completely different type of exercise. Start approaching more mindful exercises like yoga or pilates if that’s something that you want to do. Try and let go of some of those more triggering experiences and get personalised advice.


I feel distant from my mum because of my anorexia, have you experienced this?

Yes. Eating disorders do a great job of isolating us from our loved ones. Your mum may not fully understand your illness but maybe she doesn’t need to. Could you let a little love in? Be brave, you can do this!


I feel stuck in a “functioning anorexic” stage, did you ever feel like this?

Yes and it’s miserable. Make your goal nurturing a compassionate relationship with yourself. Your eating disorder won’t be able to survive if you start to really care for yourself. Recovery is possible, you just need to believe you can do it.


I have anorexia but I binge. It’s so embarrassing and I feel fake. How can I stop bingeing?

The first thing to know is that many people with anorexia also binge. Your eating disorder voice is being so unkind to you and you mustn’t trust it. You are no fake. You are worthy of support and kindness.


How do I know if I have Binge Eating Disorder or if I am just greedy?

It is so easy for us to believe the bad stuff and to have a really critical voice inside our heads that we invest all of our faith and trust in. Actually the truth is if you have recognised that you’ve got patterns with food that are making you feel unhappy, then it’s worth addressing them. If you find you are being self critical of yourself then that is something to look at too.


Is it worth contacting my GP or should I go straight to therapy for Binge Eating Disorder?

It might be worth going to your GP but be prepared that they are not always as useful as we’d hope. If you are able to start seeing an eating disorder specialist straight away then that might be more helpful. Many give free consultations.


Can you stop bingeing without therapy?

People can stop bingeing without therapy because let’s face it, therapy isn’t something that’s available to everybody. Certainly in my recovery, I wasn’t fortunate enough to be able to get to a clinic or to be able to have lots of private resources available to me, I had to do a lot of my recovery by myself. There are other ways of resourcing yourself for beginning your healing journey.

In an ideal world, therapy is an amazing thing if it was available to everybody but if it isn’t something you can access then there are blogs out there and resources for free. If you have a small budget then there’s great books as well that can help you to start to get a better sense of your recovery and ultimately stop bingeing. So don’t feel completely disheartened that therapy isn’t the thing you are able to access.

Eating disorders keep people trapped because they thrive on shame. An eating disorder is an illness, just like any other and you didn’t choose this. You deserve love and compassion, especially from yourself.


Why is there no help for chewing and spitting in place of eating?

It is a lesser known symptom of an eating disorder but it is just that… a symptom. The core of the illness is how you feel about yourself. Try to focus on healing those internal wounds and you’ll find that the rest of your symptoms improve.


How do you deal with the restrictive thoughts when trying to recover from an eating disorder?

The thing that a lot of people need to be aware of is that recovery doesn’t start when you wake up and go “right, I really want to get better, I really want to recover.” Having an eating disorder means that day doesn’t come; it means that it is not necessarily possible to come because you have an illness that makes you really ambivalent about recovery. It makes you really scared about changing your behaviours about food.

The best thing you can do is notice when you are having those restrictive thoughts or those strong eating disorder thoughts and just identify them as part of your illness so you can step back and think “I’ve really got strong restrictive thoughts today” or “I am really being unkind to myself today” and still remind yourself that you then have a choice as to whether you continue to nurture and care for yourself or whether you want to be guided by the eating disorder voice but really it’s up to you!


How can I stop comparing my food intake and body to others? I panic when I eat more than other people.

The best thing to do, especially around meal times, is to use mindfulness. Recognise if your eating disorder is really strong at those points and it’s making you feel self-conscious about what you’re eating and making you focus your attention on what everybody else is doing. Just recognise that it is a symptom of your illness – that’s how it’s working and it’s manipulating you. You don’t have to act on it, you still have a choice. You can observe yourself having these thoughts, observe the fact that your eating disorder is really strong and then still choose to focus your attention on what it is you’re supposed to be doing and making sure you are taking care of you.


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