The episode of True Life: I Have Orthorexia follows three young adults who have very strict control over their diets to the point where it is unhealthy for them. They all have routines for what and when they eat and it completely consumes their lives. One woman, Spring, limits herself to eating the same foods every single day and she will purge if she consumes cooked food. At one point during the episode, it showed an invoice for an online food order costing her $200.20! The second girl, Lauren, limits herself to only 15 different foods and is constantly thinking about her diet and when she can eat. Lauren previously suffered from anorexia nervosa, but had to start eating more to gain weight in order to live. The boy, Andrew, after taking a biology class and learning about the different chemicals used in processed foods, decided to become a vegan. Andrew is very afraid of getting cancer, diabetes, and becoming obese. This episode is both restitution and chaos narratives. It’s restitution because the whole point of the episode is to try to get the individuals to get help, which does happen at the end. It is also chaos because all three individuals suffer socially with their friends, and obviously the audience who watches the show. I believe the point of using both these narratives is to make sure these individuals get the help they need and to educate the audience of the TV program about this disease.
Our culture today is very focused on appearances. If someone sees an obese person walking down the street, the first thing many people will think is that they don’t know how to stop eating and lack self-control. This stigma forces people to be really strict with their eating habits and causes eating disorders such as orthorexia. These people, like the ones in the show, then need to get medical help. These professionals talked to each person in the show and made them realize that what they were doing was not healthy for them. Lauren was the only one that did not add more protein or foods to her diet, but the other two did and saw great improvements. Spring and Lauren both used the sick role to their advantage in order to step out of social responsibilities such as family parties and going out to dinner at restaurants.
Illness narratives are extremely important to all patients, family, and healthcare providers to get insight to how a person sees and feels about their illness. A lot of illnesses are difficult to understand unless you’re going through them yourself, therefore, patient narratives can really come in handy.