Real talk: Today I’m thinking of orthorexia as a mole

That might sound odd, but hear me out. 

I was drinking a kombucha the other day—GT’s, Cosmic Cranberry, if you’d like to know—and turned the bottle around to look at the Nutrition Facts. I’ve had this flavor and brand of kombucha many times in the past few months (year?). (This is not to spark a debate about kombucha, so hold on those opinions please.) But habitually, I looked for the calories. There was almost no thought process that preceded this motion. Turn bottle, glance up and down, find “calories” and mentally save that information. I haven’t done that in a while, and I (thankfully) found myself unattached to the information. I didn’t really care whether it said “30 calories per serving” or “50” or “100.” To be honest, I knew it was somewhere between 30 and 100, and was just fact-checking. My mind did this before I fully realized what it was doing. I registered the number—30 calories per serving, about two servings per bottle—and felt no emotion, or compulsion to behave in a certain way.

It didn’t matter, though.

Which is significant for two reasons:

  1. In the thick of orthorexia, I would have had that number memorized. See: this was not my first Cosmic Cranberry GT kombucha bottle. By bottle number forty-something, I would have had no problem recalling exactly how many calories there were per serving, and servings per bottle. Actually, I would have had it memorized by the time I finished bottle number one.
  2. This same me would have only had “one” serving, or at least intentionally less than the full bottle. Because that control and restriction was satisfying.

Like a damn mole

I don’t know the experience of being addicted to something, but I imagine it similar to recovery from any sort of obsessive/compulsive behavior. By that I mean, maybe you never really, 100 percent, fully let it go. The thing you were once obsessed with lingers in a way that, more often than not, you victoriously push it back. You say to it, “You don’t control my brain anymore, sorry-not-sorry!” and it because it has little-to-no fight left, it recedes. It probably gets frustrated every day, it can no longer manipulate you, so it flails about but never really leaves. Like a damn mole, dangerously on the surface but hopefully harmless.

Starve the action, not yourself

It felt good to not know that “calories per serving” number. Sure, I look at the number of servings on a package, and the ingredient list, before I buy or consume something. But that’s to make sure I’m not getting duped by a bottle or box of pure shit. If a product is familiar to me and I consume it regularly, or just more than once, it feels good to know that my brain space is not becoming maxed out with these numerical values. That I’m no longer feeding that data into the obsessive behavior, giving it more and more power.

Real talk

Obsessive calorie counting doesn’t consume my thoughts or decide my actions anymore, but does still catch me off-guard sometimes.

It just lingers now, like a mole, or more appropriately, a scar. I’m aware of it more acutely in some situations than others. I sense it, but know what words, thoughts, and actions are its kryptonite. I’m learning more by the day. Now I know, my brain can just as quickly fall prey to this mindless information-seeking grip as it can mindfully come to and think, “you don’t win anymore.”

Comments

  1. September 29, 2016

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences with orthorexia. Some people don’t recognize it as a real thing but it definitely is!

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