My name is Stephanie, and I’m a high maintenance eater. I was vegetarian for ten years, and have been eating gluten free for the past few years, and have always sought out healthy, organic, sustainable food, but eating clean all the time is hard. It takes discipline, readily available and affordable good food, and preparation. Allow me to recount some recent circumstances where Paleo turned FAILeo.
On the road:
I took a 10 day road trip to visit some friends in Utah (Neena!) and Arizona, then Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Yay! Oh wait, what to eat? I realized a week before my trip that it was probably too late to order Primal Pacs. So I picked up some nuts, dried blueberries and jerky at Trader Joe’s. The jerky was organic beef and wild-caught salmon, but they both have sugar. (Side note – my dog also likes to eat Paleo, go figure.) My sister in law hooked me up with some of beautiful eggs from her pastured chickens, which I brought to Neena’s. (But I also brought tequila, shhhh.) This was not enough food for all the hours of driving.
GAS STATION FOOD IS NOT FOOD!! Walking into a gas station convenience store hungry is almost tear-inducing; it is so frustrating for a high maintenance eater to be surrounded by “food” with nothing to eat. I have elited (made up word) myself out of pretty much every “food” offered commonly everywhere. No grains, (no chips, pretzels, sandwiches, donuts) no sugar, soy, hydrogenated oils (candy bars, drinks) or dairy. I don’t buy the jerky because I don’t know/trust the source, plus it often has MSG, sugar and other evils. And the fruits and nuts (forget peanuts, they are legumes) – well, I just imagine them sprayed down with pesticides and skip it. I did drink a Starbucks vanilla coffee drink and ate an Almond Snickers bar by the end of the trip.
I drank with friends. Shocking. Actually, nearly every day. Sigh.
StephyD has been embarking on the lovely adventure of online dating. On the VERY RARE occasion I find someone even remotely datable and agree to meet, I prefer to not show ALL my crazy at once. I may reveal that I like to eat healthy food and have a food blog, but don’t go TOO much into my orthorexia. So in the interests of seeming “normal” I might have a cocktail or glass of wine. Or a Jack and Coke, popcorn with Peanut M&Ms and basket of steak fries with ranch dressing. Hypothetically speaking, of course.
(“Orthorexia nervosa” is the informal name of an eating disorder – more precisely, an aberrant eating pattern – defined by an extreme obsession with healthy eating food. According to an article in The Guardian, the term was coined by Steven Bratman, MD in 1997. He combined the Greek “ortho” – straight and correct – with the medical prefix “orexia’ – appetite – to describe a “pathological fixation on proper eating”.
People with orthorexia may feel virtuous about their “good” food choices, but vile and self-loathing if they should stray. They may spend hours and hours planning what to eat, and opt for nothing if the right food is not available. The Guardian says the pattern is typically seen in “well-educated, middle class, adults over 30”…who have rigid rules about which foods are pure and good. The pattern may start with food allergies and diets where foods are systematically eliminated until only a small number remain. Excerpted from this article. OMG this is me!)
Eating clean – an unhealthy obsession or the only sane option to optimize health? Anyway, I’m back home and happy to have more control over my food choices, even if the choice of men around here is some slim pickin’s.
[Cartoon from the New Yorker, April 2, 2012 print edition, by Harry Bliss]