My Quest for Health Turned Dangerous

August 13, 2010
By Lindsay Rossum BRONZE, Annandale, Virginia
Lindsay Rossum BRONZE, Annandale, Virginia
1 article 0 photos 1 comment

I can’t even remember exactly when or how it started or turned so overbearing, but I know it did and dramatically changed everything. Never in my life had I been a girl who strived to be perfect; I was average and perfectly secure with my pretty good grades and supportive group of friends. In sophomore year, I started reading more about nutrition and becoming interested in the keys to a healthy diet. Maintaining a healthy weight and sticking to a balanced meal plan had never been any trouble until this point. But all of the websites and articles influenced me to the extreme; without even being aware of it, I started labeling foods as good or bad. Sure, sodium and saturated fat aren’t good for you in excessive amounts; in my opinion, I would tolerate none. I just couldn’t see past this view of purity, of perfection. My lunch consisted of lettuce and I would get home starving, then just reach for an apple because I couldn’t imagine incorporating anything into my diet except for fresh fruit or vegetables. Days went by where I was barely consuming any protein because beef wasn’t 100% lean and chicken’s salt content didn’t satisfy me (nothing was “acceptable”). Every label underwent a ten minute scanning before even consideration. I let myself fall into a strict meal plan where I would eat the same foods at the same time every day; if I did not get Greek yogurt at 9:10 AM or a fat-free turkey burger at 5:40, I couldn’t bear it. It was an awful way to live and I had no clue to handle it; through months, I never acknowledged the fact that I had a problem even though my life was horribly impacted. Going out with friends proved hard as I refused to go without packing my own specific snacks. Just seeing creamy pastas or pie, foods I formerly loved was too much to handle. I had even convinced myself that one piece of chocolate or bite of pizza would destroy my body in some way. Rock bottom was the fact that I worried over two of my best friend’s sweet sixteen’s because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get down a piece of cake. The mindset I had overtook me and I couldn’t change my ways. Feeling so alone, it was difficult to fathom that anyone could know what I was going through until my best friend told me that she searched online for my problem and I was a perfect match for orthorexia nervosa. Though not recognized as an official eating disorder, it affects many people and should be taken just as seriously as perhaps anorexia or bulimia.
This took a horrible toll on my body that seemed to happen so quickly. When I first experienced this eating disorder, the oversized hoodies and baggy sweats hid my shrinking body and I held no clue just how much harm I was causing. One night after I came out of the bath, I looked in the mirror and realized how much of a skeleton I was. My mom saw my jutting collarbone and bony arms as I ran to my room stunned- she yelled at me, confused as to what was happening to my body and so scared for my life. Eliminating such a sufficient amount of foods from my diet took off pounds instantly. I had never intended to lose weight as I felt completely comfortable with my body; my mind just took over. As active as I was, it seemed impossible for me to stop losing choosing such low-calorie, low-fat options. My downfall continued and I let more pounds slide off, unsure of how to fix anything. At 5 foot 5, I reached the dangerous low of 95 pounds. My hair began to fall out, I quickly stopped my period, and constantly shivered with coldness- I had absolutely no body fat on me. Everyone began to notice; worried friends asked questions daily and various teachers filed concerns. By increasing meal portions, I was in so much pain because my stomach had shrunken so much; I worked with every way to add calories, but it wasn’t enough. Still I refused to chug milkshakes, or even add salad dressings or cheese to dishes even though I knew it was best for my well being as underweight as I was. In such a life or death situation, I couldn’t break out of this routine. Counseling became recommended to me frequently, though in my eyes, fighting this battle on my own (and with the continuous help from my biggest supporter, my mother) was the way I wanted to be strong.
Around this time, I started attending church and learning more about God, how He has played a role in my life. Sitting at home on my bed, I still remember the moment where I started sobbing, figuring out that without Him looking out for me, I truly could have died or done permanent damage to my organs. That is what it took to turn my life around. From that day on, I gradually overcame so many walls I had never thought I could break down. I told myself that I HAD to take charge and move forward. Eating every two hours, I introduced nuts, olive oil, 100% fruit juices, and other snacks into my diet. Just waking up and striving to change my life, I challenged myself in new ways, growing into having gelato once in a while with a pal or not feeling guilty about a slab of mayonnaise on a sandwich in a restaurant. The pounds just started packing on once I committed myself to grabbing food as much as possible and getting down whole potatoes, huge constant fruit salads, and giant slabs of tofu- the healthy foods I love, just so much more of them that it started to add up, calorie wise. My diet remains still a lot more restrictive than most peoples’, but I’m working on changing my ways one step at a time. I’m just thankful I have come such a long way already and never could have done it without such supportive people in my life. At the end of my sophomore year, I delivered a speech to my English class alerting them of the signs of orthorexia nerviosa. Being such a shy girl, I received ample compliments about my bravery and it made it worth it. I would not change one second of my experience and that is the honest truth. Extremely passionate for nutrition despite the hardship it’s caused me, I am so excited to stand up in the future and teach others about the importance of achieving balance in a diet. I want to pursue nutrition as my future career and not only spend time experiencing knowledge about foods which I love, I want to share my story of orthorexia nerviosa and encourage others to belief in themselves- you too can overcome anything. ?

The author's comments:
My name is Lindsay and I hope by sharing my story with you, others can realize the importance of taking care of their bodies and always remembering the importance of balance in a diet. Being healthy is important, but too much of anything is too much.

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This article has 4 comments.

WillIAm said...
on Jan. 28 2011 at 10:52 am
I think it sounds like you have OCD. I would suggest getting that checked out because no matter what it is a disease and you cannot beat it on your own. I commend you for what you have done thus far though, based on your article it does sound like you're doing better. 

on Dec. 22 2010 at 5:13 pm
Lindsay Rossum BRONZE, Annandale, Virginia
1 article 0 photos 1 comment

Thanks, but I'm eating tons better now and have really changed a lot of my ways. I'm now a healthy weight, happy, and have a close relationship with God. No counselor needed. Thanks for your concern though.

softglass said...
on Dec. 22 2010 at 10:14 am
it really sounds like uve overcome alot, but i think youshould go see a counselor. these things don't ehlp eachother by themselves. and even if you think you've found god, he's not going to let you survive if you keep eating poorly. even if you try to eat healthy.

ohh.kaye797 said...
on Sep. 7 2010 at 2:19 pm

This was so good L. I'm so happy you were finally able to write this post down! It is really great. I love you so much & am so proud of how much better you have gotten. I am always here to talk to you, you know that.

Always, A


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