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  • Jason Wood

The Cost of Orthorexia

We hear a lot about the high costs of gasoline, groceries, and rent, but what about the high costs of eating disorders and mental illness?

Orthorexia is an expensive obsession. “Health” food is not cheap, but the high costs of this condition go well beyond the impact on the wallet. Orthorexia nearly cost me my life.

As it was, my eating disorder took the following things from me:

Memories with loved ones. I skipped out on social functions for fear of breaking my food rules. Even when I did attend events or go on vacation with my husband, I wasn’t fully present because anxiety and orthorexia ruled the day.

Food fun. Think about how much fun it can be to enjoy your favorite food. That PSL on a cool fall morning along with an apple cider donut. Food is meant to be fun and enjoyable, but I lost sight of that joy as my condition worsened.

My health. It’s ironic that my pursuit of perfect health was actually destroying my physical well-being. My pulse and blood pressure would reach scary lows and my medical team ended up monitoring me closely for a sudden cardiac event as a result of the damage being done. I lost hair, my nail growth slowed, and I constantly felt dizzy.

My comfort. Sitting down was a literal pain in my butt. There were days when my entire body ached from the abuse it was receiving in the gym with not enough food or rest to compensate. It took all my energy to get out of bed, only to sit in 90-degree heat and shiver during the day because my body lacked the essential fat it needed.

The relationships with myself and others. I started pulling away from friends and living behind a mask because I didn’t want them to think I was weak or a failure, which is how I viewed myself. I hated the person I thought I was and lacked the self-compassion to see that I was enough. I became a very negative, angry person. This cost me relationships and put a strain on my marriage.

These are just some of the expenses of an eating disorder and mental illness. I can think of many more but I’m sure you get the point.

Sadly, access to mental health care in this country is not easy to find or afford, however, the cost of having an eating disorder is not cheap either. This is another reason why I’m on this mission to change the narrative around eating disorders.

For the longest time, I didn’t think I was worth helping. At one point I even told my husband Matt that working with a nutritionist and therapist was just a waste of our hard-earned money because I wasn’t worth it. He looked me dead in the eye and said I was.

Man, I’m glad I listened to him because we’re all worth the help!


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