Whole Life Magazine

February / March 2017

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/781893

Contents of this Issue


Page 41 of 43

42 wholelifetimes.com I t was the early '70s. I was single and living alone. And I had just downed an entire fudge chocolate swirl cake in one sitting. "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" – a refrain from a recent antacid ad – fl ashed through my mind as I savored the last bite with a particularly large swirl of oozing chocolate. These little sugary sweet orgies happened several more times, always ending with the ad playing in my head as I licked the last crumbs off my sticky fi ngers. Then one day I awoke and decided to become a healthy eater. First, I became a vegetarian. A few years later, I cut out dairy and traded white foods – fl our, rice, pasta – for whole grains and brown rice. Eventually, I stopped eating junk food entirely. I was not just a vegan: I was a health food junky. "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" was history, along with the foods I now deemed unhealthy. I was fi nally on the path to a healthy body and mind. It felt wonderful to feel light and "pure." Simultaneously, I turned to natural healing. And I learned to make healthy choices to fi ll my mind and heart so that I wouldn't have to eat an entire cake in one sitting. "Why are you a vegan?" people often asked. I had a series of pat answers depending on who asked. For foodies, I simply said, "I've always been the kind of person who eats to live, not lives to eat. So it's no big deal to eat what you might think of as a limited diet." For those people who, like me, had an interest in healthy eating, I'd share research that supported my choices. And If someone talked openly about being on a spiritual path, I'd mention my issues with the taking of life. I patted myself on the back for a couple of decades, taking pride in my healthy diet, until the hand that had been patting me moved to the front of my body and began shaking its index fi nger in my face as if to say, "You're a hypocrite. You don't eat meat, but you still wear leather. And the real reason you eat the way you do has nothing to do with the explanations you have been giving people. It's because you need to feel in control!" It was true! What may have started for the reasons I gave people had indeed morphed into a way for me to feel "in control." On the deepest level, I knew this was the real reason I had maintained a vegan diet for decades. It was never easy being me. The same hole that I had tried to fi ll by downing an entire fudge chocolate swirl cake at once still returned from time to time. And I had unpredictable energy cycles. Sometimes I was fi lled with vitality. At other times I was totally drained. Food was the one area of my life where I felt in complete control! Once I owned that deepest truth, "you are what you eat" ceased to bring me pride and comfort. Instead, I began to question myself. Why would I choose to go hungry if the only food available contains one of my "forbidden" ingredients? Why would I only eat organic? Why could I only count on one hand the foods that brought me delight? It was at that time I fi rst heard the term "orthorexia nervosa," which was coined in the late '90s by Dr. Steven Bratman. He defi ned it as an unhealthy fi xation with what an individual considers healthy eating. All of a sudden, I realized that my fervor to be a healthy eater wasn't just about my desire to take care of my body. It was also a mental health disorder! I vowed to lighten up. It's okay, I told myself, if those roasted Brussels sprouts aren't organic. They're still delicious! I could have junk food once in a while, as long as it met at least some of my criteria. Then I discovered a wondrous delight! It was a bag of popcorn in the junk food aisle (where I hadn't been in decades). It had all the right ingredients – totally organic. This was the best of both worlds – totally organic junk food! That night, as I sat watching television, I savored each popped kernel. Sometimes one at a time. Sometimes gobbling a handful. Before I knew it, I was holding an empty bag, licking the coconut oil and Himalayan sea salt off my fi ngers, and happily saying to myself, "I can't believe I ate the whole thing." backwords DISORDERLY DIET By Joan Leof I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Whole Life Magazine - February / March 2017