True Life: I have Orthorexia

I chose to watch True Life: “I have orthorexia.” Which is is a eating disorder which people try to eat excessively healthy. They are afraid of eating unhealthy and consuming junk food. There were three different story lines. The first was, Spring, she is an actress and model, she spends a large amounts of money to maintain her diet. For a couple of years, all she has ate was raw food. When she consumes anything cooked she forces herself to vomit. The second one, Lauren, she only eats 15 different foods. If offered something else she will not eat it. She has a daily eating schedule, this is because she used to have anorexia. So she would not die, instead to started to eat healthy, but it has became excessive. Finally, Andrew, who became vegan because of a biology class he took. He started to eat healthily because he discovered the chemicals in processed food. He believes this causes people to have cancer, become obese and then acquire diabetes.

The type of narrative is a quest for all of them. They are experiencing that they have a illness. All of them have in common that they are willing to get better. This disorder causes turmoil in their everyday lives and they want to make a change. Our culture, is very fond of what they view as “beautiful”. For example, if a woman is skinny and fit they assume that she eats healthily and exercises often. So, they idolize those images and want to be like them. The stigma is that this illness is a psychology disorder that causes people to be obsessed with eating healthy.

They all sought out help to change from medical professionals. They vowed to make a difference in their eating habits and deal with their psychological problems of having orthorexia. Although, they have decided to make a chance Spring and Lauren used the sick role as advantage when they have to go to social events to stray away from being with family and friends. They didn’t want people to question what the we’re doing and why they were eating a certain way. This week lecture explains that it’s important that the story teller has a person listening because they both benefit, i.e. family, feinds, signficant other. Illness narratives can be helpful to patients, families and health care professionals because this allows them to relate to their perspectives by doing this they are able to sympathize with them.

1. Department of Anthropology. “Medical Anthropology Illness Narraives.” Michigan State University. PowerPoint. Viewed July 23, 2014.
2. True Life. “I Have Orthorexia.” MTV. Posted April 19, 2012. Viewed July 23, 2014. .

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Shelby Brewington says:

    Visit youtube!

    The video that I found on youtube discusses a young women who is suffering from orthorexia, her name is Christie and Like Andrews narrative in true life hers is a quest narrative. Christie started to struggle with orthorexia in her late twenties. It progressed slowly in that at first she only wanted to eat healthy, and organic. To then that was not good enough and she cut more and more foods out other diet in fear that the foods she was eating were going to give her a life threatening disease. In trying to prevent diseases, she gave herself one, Oothorexia. She shrunk her body from 120lbs to only about 60lbs. Her doctors were convinced she was going to die. But just when she hit rock bottom she realized she had to change. So she slowly started to incorporate foods she used to like back into her diet. She says that the reason she wants to share this narrative is because she says doctors did not fully know how to help her through this illness. They were more focused on helping her gain weight instead of helping her face the deeper psychological problems. She said that doctor specializing in eating disorders were not much help because they focused more on the anorexia perspective of orthorexia, something she says iix non existent. This is because for her, not eating was not about her weight. Instead, it was about her fear of eating unhealthy contaminated foods. She hopes by sharing her narrative doctors will better address this illness and gain a better understanding for treatment. I think many factors influenced Christies experience. I think our culture of always hearing things we should and should not eat online, in the news, or in magazines influenced and escalated her fear of unhealthy foods. I think her family was impacted by this because she no longer wanted to attend family parties where the only food she would have to eat would be in her mind terribly bad for her. I think her family influenced her recovery by being there for her and trying to encourage her to change her life.

    Citation:YouTube. “Orthorexia.” YouTube. (accessed July 23, 2014).

  2. Carrie Blackwell says:

    The illness narrative that I found was a YouTube episode on Orthorexia. In the video the girl talked about what Orthorexia is and how it affected her own life. The girl had started developing Orthorexia because she was recovering from being anorexic. Just like Lauren from the True Life episode, it eating extremely healthily consumed her mind. At first, she would only eat foods that were organic. She then progressed into eating only certain ingredients. Her next step was that she only ate food that she herself had prepared. She talked about how sometimes she would make a meal only out almonds so that it would be pure and healthy. She had only fruits and vegetables in her refrigerator and that was about all she would eat. She then felt that she couldn’t even go to the super market to buy her fruits and vegetables because she was so concerned with the fact that there might be something added to them. I believe that today’s society influenced all of these Orthorexic stories. Society today is completely consumed with looking thin or working out. Everyone feels some type of pressure to look a different way then what he or she is. Now people are trying to be healthy as well because as a country we are experiencing the effects of an unhealthy diet. People are taking it to an extreme and becoming obsessed with being healthy. There seems to be no happy medium, and we have our culture to blame.

    You Tube. “Orthorexia.”

  3. Ashley Lathrop says:

    I watched some of this episode, as I was skeptical on how bad they could actually be if they’re eating healthy. It’s unfortunate that the illness that they have inhibits them from being good role models to those around them. They’re making efforts to life healthy lives but unfortunately their disease has taken over and it now may potentially leave them with serious health issues if they aren’t careful. However, I do not see much of their actual diets as bad, but it’s their mental stability that makes it an issue.

    I read an article about a blogger named Jordan Younger. Her blog was called The Blonde Vegan and she was well liked. She talked about how she started obsessing her foods and that she actually was moving away from veganism due to health concerns. She felt that people can be vegans and be healthy but she couldn’t. She actually got death threats from people because she no longer was going to be vegan. People like Jordan who are in the public eye and are looked to for guidance and reassurance are ridiculed when they go back on their beliefs. Orthorexia took over her life and became an obsession. At one part Jordan says, “I would just stand in front of the refrigerator for 20 minutes totally panicking that I wasn’t going to be eating the right thing for my body.” I believe that a diet full of non-processed foods is best however, their actual diet is not the issue, and it’s the obsession with food that makes it toxic.

    Jordan’s experience was much like Spring, Lauren and Andrew’s where they all started out wanting to live a healthy lifestyle but the idea of putting impurities into their bodies consumed them and would not allow them to be free from food. They all found different ways that they believed they were healthy; Andrew with a fear of getting cancer so would avoid any processed food or anything that would promote possible cancer, Lauren only eating 15 foods in order to not get fat and as a way with coping with her past experience with anorexia and Spring that wouldn’t eat anything cooked, even vegetables. I think with Jordan, she obsessed over if what she had to eat was healthy enough. She mentioned walking to another juice stand because she felt that one had better greens. It’s just interesting to see the different personalities and their convictions of what health actually was to them. However, the outcomes for their eating habits were not alike. Lauren was using it as weight control, Andrew as cancer prevention and Spring much like Lauren wanted to treat her body as a sanctuary and fill it with healthy foods.

    The reaction of family and friends were pretty much the same. All of them were approached by friends and family and were judged for their actions and their obsessions. I thought it was interesting how Spring acted kind of rude when her mom was making lunch for them. To me that made it even worse that she felt the need to judge what other people were doing, even though she refused to eat it and she even seemed to scoff at their “healthy” eating.

    Tamkins , Theresa. “Vegan Blogger’s Unusual Eating Disorder Shocks Followers.” . (accessed July 27, 2014).

  4. Maureen John says:

    The video that I found on Youtube about orthorexia is about a young woman who explains her own thoughts about orthorexia nervosa. She is a health coach and she lives a vegan lifestyle.
    She had anorexia in her senior year of high school and that lead her to feel like she was not in control of her life. Since there was a lot of change happening in her life going from high school to college, the one way for her to feel in control of her life was to take control of her eating habits. This lead her to eat healthy and by eating healthy she felt like she was in control of her life again through food instead of starving herself. She explains orthorexia as not what you’re doing about your diet, but what you think about what you’re doing in regards to your diet. She felt more confident and had higher self esteem when she started eating healthy. If someone is eating healthy and is happy about their lifestyle then that is a good thing. Orthorexia would cause negative feelings for the person who is eating healthy. They may feel guilt for cheating their diet or constantly obsess about their weight.

    YouTube. “ORTHOREXIA (AM I ORTHOREXIC).” YouTube. (accessed July 28, 2014).

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