True Life: I Have Orthorexia

Orthorexia is an eating disorder in which people’s diets are too rigidly healthy. This episode follows three young individuals suffering from orthorexia nervosa: Lauren, Spring, and Andrew. Lauren only includes 15 foods in her strict diet, which leaves her to leading an unhealthily lifestyle. Spring refuses to eat any food that is cooked, which only leaves room in her diet for raw vegetables and fruits. Andrew is so terrified of contracting an illness such as diabetes and cancer that he only eats vegan. These three people realize the trouble that orthorexia is causing in their lives, and they all seek ways to change for the better. That’s why this episode is a restitution narrative. They all realize that they are facing an illness in the present, and what they all have in common is that they look for ways to get better. Spring gets help from her mom who suggests foods for her to eat, Lauren consults a therapist as well as Andrew, who both attempt to include more foods in their diets. The use of this narrative suggests that they know that they face a health problem. Their obsession with food begins to take over their lives and they realize that they need to seek help in order to better themselves and become healthy. As seen with their families, the cultural view of orthorexia is that of misunderstanding. They don’t understand that these individuals can’t pick up a piece of pizza and eat it. With this misunderstanding also comes low tolerance for their picky eating habits. Andrew and Lauren both see therapists about their eating disorders. This use of treatment helps them to realize that they can still be healthy while expanding their food choices. They seek out these medical professionals because they realize their current style of living and eating is unhealthy. Spring consults her mom, who is a nutritionist, because she doesn’t like the way that food is her number one priority in life. When it comes to the sick role, they are all knowledgable that they have a problem and they take the responsibility for having an altered life style because of it.

Illness narratives are useful to friends/parents/healthcare providers because they show the ways in which people address and try to deal with an illness. Narratives such as this one show that there are people out there dealing with the disease and there are ways in which the illness can be dealt with and turned into healthy lifestyle. These narratives are also useful as a support to people either suffering from the same illness or to people who have loved ones suffering with the illness.

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