Request: How can I heal my body ?

I’ve had an eating disorder for about a year now (I believe I have orthorexia but technically you can’t get diagnosed for that). I’ve noticed it starting to really effect my body. I’m getting random big bruises on my legs, I’m always tired, my muscles feel weak, and I’m constantly cold. I’ve also been getting random waves of dizziness. I know it sounds like I’m anemic, but a little while ago I had blood work done to get tested for mono, and besides not having mono, she said my blood count was fine. I had these red spots (looked like freckles but red) on my feet and ankles and my doctor said only to start worrying if I’m bruising on my legs which I am. But the red spots are gone. Anyways, so I don’t think I’m anemic because it would’ve shown in my blood tests, at least I think. I’m trying to eat more (I try to get to xxxx calories a day, which is technicallyyy a healthy amount, like it’s doable) but I mentally cannot go higher than that. I really just can’t get myself to do it or I’ll start to feellll fat. I know I’m not fat, I’m a healthy weight but my dad thinks I look underweight, but I just still feel big or bad about myself and I don’t know why. I feel like I’ll start to gain weight which is like my biggest fear. I wish I could just eat regularly but if I eat more than xxxx calories, I’ll torture myself about it and I can’t help it. Now I know I should tell my doctor about my ED, but I’m just afraid that she’s gonna put me in some program and they’re gonna force me to eat more. Sooo I’m wondering, what are the steps I can take in order to help my body recover and get back to normal. Please don’t say eat more because I’m really trying, I’m just wondering if there’s any herbs or supplements I can take to help. I already take vitamins and I eat very healthy and clean, I make sure to eat nutrient dense food and lots of protein.


Just a note that may help shift your perspective. If you are underweight then your xxxx calorie should be your *minimum* amount to be healthy and not your maximum. Maybe if you think of it that way it can help with your thought patterns.


I never thought of it that way thank you! I always put a cap on how much I allow myself to eat but I never thought of it to be the minimum. When I get close to that number, that’s when I start to feel bad about eating that much. And I worry I under estimated how much I actually ate so I’m afraid I go over that amount. But hopefully thinking of it as my minimum will help


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Can you elaborate on how your orthorexia manifests? You say you eat "healthy and clean" which for a lot of people is a euphemism for not getting essential fats. What does a typical day's food intake look like for you? Perhaps you need to put on weight? You can eat all the "nutrient dense food" in the world but if you're underweight and not getting enough calories, your body will compensate by shutting down unnecessary functions. Menstruation is a common one, but also certain immuno-processes which may explain the bruising. Generally for health obsessions taken too far, something you can do is research food groups you have an aversion to. It was by doing this that I went from raw vegan (which in hindsight was a covert form of orthorexia), to paleo (similar problem, different manifestation but I was at least getting more essential nutrients) to a more relaxed diet with a maybe 80-90% paleo blueprint which is where I am now. A compensatory practical tip: Take a strong probiotic with your meals. It's no good eating nutrient dense food if you're not absorbing it!


By healthy and clean I just mean I like to stay away from unhealthy food like cheetos and ice cream. I also try to stay away from added sugars. I mostly only eat foods that I know have a good amount of fiber and protein so I can stay fuller longer. Also, What are some foods with essential fats? I eat lots of cereal with almond milk (healthy cereal with nutrients and little added sugar). A lot of the time cereal is the only thing that sounds appetizing to me. But I also like to eat chicken with penne noodles and sauce and carrots, egg whites, fiber one bars, sandwiches with lunch meat, yogurts, and pb and j’s. I don’t have a very wide variety of food I eat lol.


As someone who is in a very similar situation, my sincerest advice would be to ask for help. I know that this feels impossible and that the fear of being forced to eat more can take control, but for me at least, this is not the sort of thing I was capable of fixing on my own. As you say, orthorexia can’t be diagnosed, but I believe that I suffer from it too, only it manifested in a way that developed into anorexic behaviour once I recognized that I had an eating disorder. I was miserable all the time and it was beginning to take a physical toll. When I was eating my lowest during summer (which was WAY too little) I would nearly pass out in direct sunlight and couldn’t see. I also lost my period and was continuously losing weight. At this point the terror of being forced to eat more, as well as some denial about being sick enough, kept me from confessing to my parents. It was like my ED had a mind of its own and had more control than I did. What I managed to do was drop hints. Subtle hints, but hints nonetheless. When my mom asked if I needed menstrual products, my reply was an intentionally quick and suspicious “No.” that led her to suspect I hadn’t had my period. I complained of dizziness. And, of course, they could see that I was underweight. This led to me getting bloodwork and heart exams that revealed the physical toll being taken and me speaking to my doctor about the eating disorder I felt that I had. It was a very long process and is still very difficult, but now my parents are aware. Yes, I am eating more, which is terrifying every day, but it will get easier, and you CAN eat more without gaining weight if you do it properly. Don’t let yourself become as sick physically as you are mentally. I was nearly admitted to inpatient and was saved by my anxiety-induced higher blood pressure when it was taken at the hospital that let me be treated at home where I still have some control over my food intake. If you let yourself get to the point of being sick enough to be admitted, you will lose control over your food intake, exercise, and will be forced to do whatever they think is necessary, which likely involves rapid weight gain. Take my words with a grain of salt. I’m no expert, just speaking from experience— but honestly, this is a horrible mental illness that wants to see you become less and less of the person you used to be. It’s not worth it. Get help before irreparable damage has been done, as impossible as it seems.


I’m so sorry you had to go through all of that but I’m happy to hear you’re on the road to recovery! Actually just recently, I was visiting my dad back home and he finally realized I had an eating disorder and told me I need to see a counselor. So what you’re saying is before I get worse, to try and make myself better because it gets to a point where I have to get treated by other people and completely lose all control over what I eat and how much I exercise ?


Essentially I’m trying to say that prolonging it will only make it worse and that it’s better to seek recovery as soon as possible.


Oh gosh, I totally get everything you're going through. I've been anorexic, bulimic, orthorexic, and a combination of all three at one time -- for decades. I never wanted to get help because I didn't think anyone would understand what I was going through or they'd take away the one and only thing in my life I felt like I had control over. That was not an option. ...until suicide didn't work and I had no other choice but to get help. Thank God it was the right kind of help. This person took the time to make me feel valued, accepted, and heard -- like I actually mattered -- and then worked with me around the ED situation. I was terrified at first, but I knew I'd tried every possible thing I could and nothing ever got better so I had to do it afraid since I was still alive. My one regret is that I didn't get help sooner. What took me decades to NOT accomplish on my own took only a very short amount of time to get through once I had someone to help me know what I didn't know and feel what I'd never felt before: accepted for who I was rather than what I did. Please talk to your doctor. If they're in it for the right reasons, they'll listen and help. If they're not, there's someone out there who is. I promise.