So you've finally admitted it to yourself. It's probably not that normal to feel physical fear about food. It's possibly not quite right to spend most of the day obsessing about what you should be eating, spending hours searching on the internet for people who agree with you, then feeling anxious about what you did finally decide to eat in the end.
You've spent enough time googling food fixation to suspect all of this behaviour ticks the boxes of Orthorexia Nervosa, (which translated from Ancient Greek means Righteous Eating. It's when a person becomes obsessed with healthy eating and phobic about certain foods.). And it's sh*t. And you don't want to be like this anymore.
Maybe it would be quite nice to let someone else prepare your food. Or even eat the same thing as your family during mealtimes. Possibly life is supposed to be easier than you've made it...
So now what?
Now it's time to ask for help.
Who the f*ck from though?
One of the biggest indicators of Orthorexic behaviour is trying to use food to counteract an emotional problem. Even when I had admitted to myself that my eating was clearly disordered? A hard day at work or a confrontation with someone would result in the purging of my cupboards and fridge, followed by heading straight to the health food shop to embark on a stringent detox.
Of course there's always an element of control with a detox.
"If I can't stop my boss from being a total knob, at least I can control what goes in my mouth."
But with Orthorexia it's more than that.
"I shouldn't have felt panicked in that conversation I shouldn't feel angry now. It must be down to my eating sugar, or wheat or ____. This out of control behaviour is an indicator that my diet isn't serving me. I'll deal with the diet and then my life will be better."
An emotional problem is an emotional problem. You ever walk into McDonald's? (Okay. You don't. Clearly. But you ever walked past one?) Are there people falling about with anxiety attacks? Mass brawls in the aisles between families who cannot contain their rage because of the chemicals coursing through their body?
It's not the food that's causing the emotional problem. So food isn't going to solve it. And it is really important to remember that. Because if you genuinely don't want to live like this anymore, and you do understand that you need help and guidance to change this? Then your first reaction will be to enlist the help of a nutritionist. Because they are safe and familiar. Because you already know loads of them. Because it just feels logical.
Don't because they will also try and use food to cure an emotional problem. Because as much as I respect the passion and dedication most nutritionists have for their work, there are also those who are doing it because it is a tool to make a living from their own Orthorexia.
The irony is that once you are free from Orthorexia, the Orthorexic nutritionists are easy to spot. But not only will you not know how to distinguish between the two at first; you will be naturally drawn to the Orthorexic ones, as we all are to like-minded people.
I'm not trying to run any individual down, or make anyone lose work. There are plenty of non-Orthorexic individuals that will pay for a nutritionist's services without being damaged by them. But the truth is an Orthorexic cannot ask for help in overcoming their eating disorder from any nutritionist. Not even a really good one.
An Orthorexic elevates food to a level it never belongs. It becomes a protector from all evils (including illness and death). The medicine for our pain. The lover we won't make room for. The only friend and ally we haven't shut out. An Orthorexic doesn't need relationships, or emotional support, because they believe the food is the answer to all problems. So they use food as a massive cure-all to all of life's questions and issues.
Part of any nutritionists job is to label food. Use it in a bid to tackle certain issues. Most in a balanced way. But anyone who has been or is actively obsessed with food cannot ever label food or use it as a tool again. Any work with a nutritionist will just keep trigger after trigger activated. Maintain the obsession. Any interaction with a nutritionist is counterproductive to an Orthorexic person. No exceptions.
It is vital to any Orthorexic wishing to recover that food just becomes food again. That it is no less or more important than any other part of everyday life. And it is a process that can take a while to implicate. But it is entirely possible. I did it. Others have done it. There are those who are doing it right now.
So if you do want to begin your journey to overcoming Orthorexia? Then it's really important to bear in mind who you seek help from and where this help will ultimately lead you. The right sort of help will take you further than you've ever dreamed possible. To a life completely free of restriction and fear.
The wrong help will at the very best keep you stuck where you are. At the very worst? Push you further into the darkness and confusion.
And no one deserves that.