It's an actual thing.
I was watching the news this morning and a story came on about a girl who went vegan and about a year into it she realized that she would stand in front of the fridge for 20 minutes, overanalyzing her food choices, afraid to make a decision. She was obsessed with picking the healthiest choice (the definition of orthorexia). Hearing her story was like looking into the mirror. The girl became malnourished, having an extreme case of the disorder. I would consider myself more borderline, but the truth is, my obsession with food has lead me to become weak, have more seizures, limited my activities, and has isolated me from social settings. It has been too much. My relationship with food has become unhealthy.
The tricky part, is that in the case of cancer many people say that their extreme food choices (orthorexia) saved their life. That it stopped their tumor growth, or even healed them. Of course, as with everything, there's a fine line, but I'm realizing for me personally, I've crossed it. Analyzing food has been all encompassing. Food has come to signify life or death. It has become my god and my devil.
This realization, of orthorexia, comes just several days after making the choice to stop being so restrictive. I have stopped checking macronutrients (even though I can mentally size up grams, and ounces, and calories, and fat content and carb amounts of various foods - vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy items, oils, nuts - by memory) I no longer eliminate things from my diet. I made that decision after observing the fact that my seizures have gotten worse the more I restrict, the more I obsess and remove foods from my diet.
I should say, I can't, nor would I want to, unknow what I know about food. I'm now allowing myself to use my vast knowledge (and part of this is me acknowledging that I am educated enough to make great decisions) to eat the way that I need to for energy, for seizure control, and for tumor-fighting. Every body is unique. Each body has specific needs, and now that I've tried everyone else's protocols, I need to just create my own. I finally feel comfortable enough, after trying every tumor diet I could find, to fly on my own. Now I'm truly off in unchartered territory. My own rules. My own way. I feel empowered, but nervous. My training wheels are off.
I have always put so much weight on food choices, since I was diagnosed, then progressively so as I researched more and more. Now it's up to me to make the best decisions. To compile all of my reading, my knowledge, and live healthy, to fight my tumor, and eliminate seizures, and have enough energy to get out and enjoy life. I hope I'm making the correct decision. I guess we'll find out in October when I have my next MRI. Perhaps, I just need to have faith in myself. And remind myself that no one diet (vegan, raw, restricted ketogenic, paleo, vegetarian, Budwigs, macrobiotic...etc.) cures cancer. But a percentage of people do well on each one. I need to go back to listening to my body, and quit beating my head against the brick wall of food/diet.
I leave you with a photo of Charlie, my largest, happiest, cucumber plant. Note to self: I should probably stop naming my plants because it makes it harder to eat them.