The wellness world is a unique and funny place sometimes. This community (that we here at mindbodygreen are very much a part of) has the best of intentions for sharing information and news about how to be our most vibrant selves.
But all of this knowledge about nutrients, weight loss, and disease prevention can take a dark turn when it starts to consume one's every decision and overall happiness on a regular basis.
It becomes dangerous when we begin linking our self-worth to the food we put in our bodies.
Jordan Younger is best known for her work on her blog, The Balanced Blonde (formerly The Blonde Vegan). Jordan's new memoir, Breaking Vegan, explores her journey from vegan food blogger, to full-blown orthorexic, and finally to a place of peace and balance.
In the book she describes the moments and realizations that led to her challenging recovery.
She wrote, "If I could just learn to eat something without thinking about the end product of every calorie, imagining every last nutrient property of the food, basically swallowing its nutritional value label right along with the meal, then I knew my life would be a lot simpler."
Jordan spoke to us about her experience finding her own way to healing and heath.
"There’s not a ton of information out there on orthorexia," says Jordan, "I wrote my memoir because it’s a story about developing and recovering from orthorexia with a foreword by Dr. Steven Bratman, who actually coined the term, 'orthorexia.'
"My main reason for writing the book was to get it to people who might be suffering from it or have never heard of it. As far as other resources go, there are lots of blogs about living a healthy, balanced life."
Health Looks Different for Everyone
"If you’re someone who has an eating disorder or think you could develop one, beyond reaching out for professional help, try following websites and people on social media who don’t label their diets. Remember: There’s no such thing as one healthy lifestyle.
"Don’t compare yourself to other people. Just because one lifestyle works for one person doesn’t mean it will work for you. You can still be inspired by them and choose to do some of the things they do, but don’t just mimic what they’re doing, because that’s not going to work."
Find a Realistic Balance
"I talk about balance a lot on my blog. A balanced life isn’t eating junk food or processed food all the time. Those foods don’t make us feel good or fuel us.
"I focus on nourishing our bodies and eating food that will fuel us to live our happiest, healthiest, most active lives. That’s when you’re truly happy and balanced.
"But I don’t just focus on restriction. I focus on finding healthy substitutions for foods I love.
"I eat dessert every day, but I’m not eating a processed Hostess cupcake. I eat delicious, nutrient-dense brownies I make out of black beans, cacao powder, and honey. It doesn’t mean that they’re sugar-free. They’re just low-glycemic and the type of sugar that won’t spike my blood sugar and not let me work out the next day because I’m exhausted and have a stomachache.
"On the other side, if you go to a birthday party and you want some chocolate cake but don’t know where it’s from, that’s fine, too. Don’t beat yourself up over it. That’s something I had to learn in my own journey."
Perfection Isn’t Real
"I tell people that not every day is going to be perfect. I was very much caught up in my orthorexic mindset, that everything had to be 100 percent perfect or nothing.
"If I had a bite of something that was 'unhealthy,' then I wasn’t healthy anymore or didn’t belong in the health community and couldn’t be a wellness blogger. That’s not true.
"Find balance and focus on feeling good. Focus on how food makes your body feel good. When you let all of the restriction and judgments go, you can make awesome choices for yourself and feel great, not trapped."
Photo courtesy of Tynan Daniels Photography