First things first, eating disorders are serious business

They often times go unrecognized, especially with guys, but they are very real and can have a huge negative impact on your life. I know firsthand because I have had a particular type of eating disorder for many years called orthorexia. Before I move on, allow me to take a minute and define what this is all about.

When it comes to nutrition, there is nothing wrong with being healthy.

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The problem sets in when you take it to the extreme. That can be said for anything, really.

Orthorexia symptoms

For the orthorexic, nothing is good enough. You end up becoming obsessed with every morsel of food and drop of liquid that goes into your body.

It eventually takes complete control of your life.

Often times, you will spend hours in a store going over ingredient labels, seeing if food is organic and trying to find out where it came from. While you should be paying attention to work, building your business and having fun, you pass your time with strict food profiling. Then you start worrying about calories.

Calories in, calories out

For me, I had to burn more calories than I consumed every day of the week. My intake was in the ballpark of 1,400 and my expenditure was roughly 1,600. Before I knew it, I was 145 lbs. and standing 6’3” tall.

There was nothing wrong with the food I was eating. That’s not really the issue with an orthorexic.

Remember: it’s going too far in that direction that causes the problem. Everything I consumed was organic or close to it. But the way I went about it was the problem.

I ate small meals every two to three hours throughout the day, but I stress the word “small.” In between them, I’d exercise excessively in an attempt to stay lean and ripped.

Eventually it became a game to see how low I could get my weight and still survive.

Isolation from the world

All of this combined to make a serious problem where I alienated myself from friends, family and co-workers. The social isolation spawned from a fear that people would judge me if I didn’t have a beer or soda or piece of cake with them at a gathering.

healthy eating disorder_2If I even thought about having a beer or mixed drink, I’d feel guilty and exercise even more. I used to hide from my roommates to eat meals and eventually started to monitor the calories that friends in my presence were eating.

After a while, that gets old and those friends don’t want to hang out with you anymore.

So what do you do?

Cut your calories and exercise even more as an act of spite.

This is usually triggered by the fact that your body fat percentage has reached a really low number.

Once your body fat dips to a certain level, you start doing crazy things. That’s because your brain is highly composed of fat. Your body needs fat to function, and if it doesn’t get it from your body, the next resource in line is your brain.

Without warning

Really low body fat also dismantles your hormone function.

So with a brain being consumed for energy and hormones all over the charts, you end up having mood swings, chills and in the worst of cases, organ failure.

Yes, it’s true. And that can happen without warning in a split second.

If you are edgy, uber thin, always complaining about being cold and super judgmental of what you and others are eating, how do you think that’s going to fair with your relationships?

It’s going to eventually wipe them all out until you are by yourself. That’s a very lonely and dark place to be.

The cure is not simple

You usually end up hitting rock bottom and having an epiphany that pulls you out of the muck.

For me, it was my friend Jill telling me that if I didn’t change my ways, I was going to meet the woman of my dreams and not be able to get it up in the bedroom. That wasn’t the only thing that snapped me out of it, but it started my turnaround.

You really do need an immense amount of discipline to get better. It’s a 24 hour job.

In some cases, eating disorder clinics are the answer, but I was able to arrest my situation on my own. Not everyone has the same discipline that I do though.

Find support

If you feel you have orthorexia or know someone who does, feel free to contact me any time. I know this world better than anyone else and am always here for support.

Just know that it is not the end of the world and you can make changes to get your life back together. But also realize that this is much like an alcoholic who doesn’t drink anymore, but will always be an alcoholic.

Connect with Expert Kevin Rail

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