It can sometimes be dangerously close: behave in a responsible manner with food or be obsessive about it. That experienced Anna Nelson (22), who had had anorexia and orthorexia. She just wanted to eat healthy and turned in to not eating at all. Mother Paula: “My little girl almost died.”
Orthorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that is related to anorexia nervosa, but that is still not officially recognized. The disorder is characterized by one who suffers in an obsessive way involved with healthy eating.
Anna: “The first time I got sick was in 2011. I was bullied at school and felt lonely and unhappy. I did not know how to handle this and therefore focused all my attention on keeping an eye on anything I had to eat. From the start all I just wanted was to eat healthy: fruit, raw vegetables and minimal fat, but soon that was not enough. ”
Mother Paula (59): “I soon noticed that Anna’s new way of eating took another turn. Suddenly she refused more than three bites to eat in the evening, and then she just sat at the table, completely unreachable for both me and my husband. It’s terrible to see your child become more and more unhealthy and unhappier. ”
“In the beginning we confronted here with it every time our therapist said we should not do that, but my mother feeling just said that my child had to eat. I saw her more and more slimming and further sinking. I wanted sometimes, just out of frustration, cram a sandwich into her. I will never forget that feeling of helplessness. ”
After a heavy period it seemed to go a little better with Anna, but in 2013 it went wrong again. “Anna was finally getting better, but still in a vulnerable state. And suddenly the world seemed to become her ‘eating disorder’.
“The whole society was suddenly so focused on the need to eat healthily and everywhere incompetent people called to go on strange diets and extreme sports. Also, social media had a big role in this. One blogger called her to eat clay and the other said she had to eat something else.”
“I could not protect her from all those external factors. It’s so hard when I see her go out and cannot protect her from the continuous stimuli in a world where everyone seems to be concerned with healthy eating. And if they did some shopping, she saw ultra-healthy stuff with all kinds of check marks at eye level. That encouraged her idea of healthy eating even more. ”
Meanwhile, it goes better with Anna. “After many hours with her therapist she has come to realize that they she no longer wanted her alive to be only about food. Sometimes I have to get used to the idea that I don’t necessarily ‘have to keep an eye on her and her eating pattern.
“We now discuss together what we will eat in the evening and that goes in a normal way. She’s a real go-getter and has now focused to stay healthy, which will succeed her.”
To other parents Paula especially want to emphasize the fact that there may be a danger in the current health hype. “People think healthy eating is extremely good, but if you see that your child is not happy, you have to be careful.”