When we think of eating disorders, we so often imagine someone who is younger and struggling. After all, aren’t we supposed to have our lives completely figured out by the age of 35?! (spoiler alert: no)
Meg Bradbury joined us in this Dietitians Unplugged podcast episode to discuss her experience of having an eating disorder and orthorexia as an older person.
Meg Bradbury is a Certified Body Trust Provider®, anti-diet nutritionist, Accessible Yoga® Teacher, and registered Yoga Alliance yoga and meditation teacher. Meg is in private practice working with individuals, groups, and families, advocating for body acceptance, eating disorder/disordered eating/body shame recovery, freedom with food, joyful movement, and stillness/breathwork. She also co-leads the Elderqueer project, an online gathering space for 40+ queers to connect and build community through conversations about aging in body, relationships, emotions, transitions, trust, and cultural relevance. Meg’s practice is fat positive, weight neutral, and LGBTQIA+ affirming.
In this episode, we discussed:
Meg’s experience of developing an eating disorder
What is orthorexia, and how it took over her life
Why orthorexia has become so pervasive in our culture
The effects of aging on eating disorders
The tyranny of the anti-aging industrial complex
Using breath and yoga to connect with the body
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Many of you have heard this word before: orthorexia. But what is it?
While not an official eating disorder listed in the DSM V, orthorexia is a growing concern in the ED world. The NEDA website tells us,
The term ‘orthorexia’ was coined in 1998 and means an obsession with proper or ‘healthful’ eating. Although being aware of and concerned with the nutritional quality of the food you eat isn’t a problem in and of itself, people with orthorexia become so fixated on so-called ‘healthy eating’ that they actually damage their own well-being.” However, since there is no official diagnostic criteria, it can be very hard to recognize. It’s kind of a “I know it when I see it” situation, which isn’t great for those who suffer from it, because it means many people are probably getting overlooked.
I have orthorexic clients, and they’ve sought help because their “healthy” food choices are starting to ruin their lives. They have anxiety at the thought of eating anything outside their rigid “clean eating” food rules. It’s beyond “healthy eating” and making choices that meet both satisfaction and nutrition needs. It’s an obsession, and sometimes becomes a full-time job.
Aaron and I decided to tackle the topic on our Dietitians Unplugged podcast when he found a blog post that felt dismissive of the issue. If you are wondering if your eating might qualify as orthorexia, give this podcast a listen, and if you think you need it because your life is not your own anymore, reach out to a professional for help.
Feedback from participants has been great and we are helping people to get past the feelings of shame that sometimes come with a diabetes diagnosis, especially for those who are in larger bodies, and moving towards positive self-care. Learn more: HAES Care for Diabetes Concerns