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Orthorexia Nervosa: The New Eating Disorder

Thanks to many of your blog posts, I learned that last week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. You had some great, insightful posts on intuitive eating and on celebrating our bodies for the amazing things they enable us to do.

When one thinks of eating disorders, anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive overeating come to mind. But in this post, I want to highlight another eating disorder, because I feel it’s the one to which we healthy-living bloggers and readers can probably most relate:

Orthorexia Nervosa

orthorexia

Orthorexia Nervosa is characterized by an excessive focus on eating healthy foods. Basically, its sufferers start out with a simple desire to live a healthy lifestyle, but they become so preoccupied with eating healthily that it becomes an unhealthy obsession.

Unlike with anorexia, orthorexics don’t necessarily think they’re fat. Their underlying motivation, therefore, is not to be thin or lose weight, but to be “pure.” However, with such restrictive diets, they can become just as malnourished as anorexics. People suffering might avoid certain foods, such as non-organic foods, cooked foods, or processed foods. (Feel free to click over to the following post for more about my thoughts on processed foods.)

This doesn’t mean that every vegan, raw foodist, or person who strives to eat a healthy diet has orthorexia. It’s only when the healthy diet becomes an obsession; when a person spends hours planning out his/her “perfect” diet, calculating nutrients, preparing everything in a very specific way (and not letting anyone else prepare his/her food), that one can be seen to have a problem.

People suffering from orthorexia may display some of the following signs:

  • Feeling virtuous about what they eat, but not enjoying their food much
  • Continually cutting foods from their diet
  • Experiencing a reduced quality of life or social isolation because their diet makes it difficult for them to eat anywhere but at home
  • Feeling critical of, or superior to, others who do not eat as healthily they do
  • Skipping foods they once enjoyed in order to eat the “right” foods
  • Choosing to eat foods based solely on nutritional value, instead of eating what they’re craving
  • Feeling guilt or self-loathing when they stray from their diet
  • Feeling in total control when they eat the “correct” diet

I can definitely see myself, if not careful, displaying some of the other orthorexic tendencies, like feeling critical or looking down on certain foods, such as white bread, white pasta, and white rice, deeming them “valueless.” Does having one of the characteristics mean I have orthorexia?

No, of course not.

But I do have to remind myself that just because it’s white bread does not mean it’s worthless. After all, a food is so much more than its numerical nutritional value. The French have been eating white bread for years, the Japanese eat white rice, the Italians enjoy white pasta… and so on.

Sure, it’s great to eat a healthy diet 90% of the time, mostly choosing whole-grains over white ones. But honestly, a little nutritionally valueless piece of white-flour-white-sugar cake every now and then is not going to hurt you. It’s not something you should feel guilty about, but something to be enjoyed! And the enjoyment you can get out of eating it will boost your mental (and thus physical) health! My great-grandma ate processed foods, drank coffee, and—as an Italian—loved her daily servings of white pasta. But one thing my great-grandma did NOT invite into her life was stress. She lived well into her 90s.

There’s a lesson to be learned here: Stress and guilt are much more detrimental to one’s health than eating a few refined grains every now and then. In the end, “Orthorexia Nervosa” is just a label. Whether you fit that label or not, we can all probably benefit from the reminder that food is only one component to a healthy life. Eat what your body truly craves, exercise (but not excessively), feed your soul, and–above all–try to stress as little as possible. Such is the way to a healthy life.  (Sounds like something Confucius would say!)

What are your thoughts on all of this?

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Published on March 1, 2010

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  1. Rebeka says

    I’m so glad that you wrote about this. I have seen this disorder in others and mildly in myself when something else isn’t quite right, a way to gain control over something maybe. But, I’ve always known it was unhealthy and I’m glad that it is a thing, it has a name and people are acknowledging that it is very real. The realness, in my mind, makes it easier to help those in a bad situation, in the fact that it is diagnosable and relatable hopefully means that more people can get help when they need it. Thank you for bringing attention to the issue, Katie.

  2. Keri says

    Oh, I love this post. I feel like lately I am in danger of this. I have put a huge focus on nutritional eating, planned meals, etc. And I have started eating the same thing every. single. day, because I know it’s healthy. But.

    But.

    I am enjoying VERY MUCH the things I am eating, which is why I’m sticking to a few things now, until I get sick of them. Also, I am definitely one to splurge, but then I do feel very, very guilty afterwards. I am starting to get hard on myself for the few handfuls of chocolate chips I have after supper. And that’s not cool. I have lately been feeling superior and pretty self-righteous about how much better I am eating than others.

    Time to take a step back. Splurges are good, enjoying my food is key. Don’t be self-righteous. Everyone is different.

    Whew.

    Thank you, Katie!

  3. J.J. says

    I told my M.D. yesterday that my eating regimine gave me a certain degree of anxiety. I want to learn more about this Orthorexia Nervosa…..I’m so “worried” about adhering to somewhat of a diabetic “diet”…..OR ELSE! At one time in my life I was Vegan (7-8 years), now my son is on a “caveman diet”……all protein. The hype for all the various “diets” is so convincing in each of their respects! So, I don’t know that my “diet” could be catagorized…..but of course I worry about the every 3 month A1C test. And……….of course in the evening, I must have my sweet “need” satisfied. Then if I have ice cream, well, then I “fail”, and the same is true if I have any potatoes, bread or carbohydrates. Guess, you already know, I gravitated to or found CCK – searching for ideas or recipes that will help me get my evening cravings – satisfied and not have the anxiety or consequences of to much of whatever – I am “Type II” taking oral meds, and want so bad to reverse this diabetic crapola.

  4. J.J. says

    I told my M.D. yesterday that my eating regimine gave me a certain degree of anxiety. I want to learn more about this Orthorexia Nervosa…..I’m so “worried” about adhering to somewhat of a diabetic “diet”…..OR ELSE! At one time in my life I was Vegan (7-8 years), now my son is on a “caveman diet”……all protein. The hype for all the various “diets” is so convincing in each of their respects! So, I don’t know that my “diet” could be catagorized…..but of course I worry about the every 3 month A1C test. And……….of course in the evening, I must have my sweet “need” satisfied. Then if I have ice cream, well, then I “fail”, and the same is true if I have any potatoes, bread or carbohydrates. Guess, you already know, I gravitated to or found CCK – searching for ideas or recipes that will help me get my evening cravings – satisfied and not have the anxiety or consequences of to much of whatever – I am “Type II” taking oral meds, and want so bad to reverse this diabetic crapola.

  5. Trajayjay says

    The website called greatist.com is a horrible website to be on if you want to recover from orthorexia.
    They bash bananas and potatoes simply because they don’t have as much fiber as some other foods. They act like if you eat them you will get constipation from lack of fiber.
    They bash peanut butter and hummus and dried fruit because they are high in calories and taste good. Hello! Whose fault is it that YOU inhaled half the jar of peanut butter. But no, they blame the calorie content of the food instead of their own lack of self control.
    Whenever something with 3 less grams of fat comes out, they like to act as if you should switch over to that food immediately before you get diabetus. For example pumpkin seed butter has one more gram of protein than peanut butter and 5 less grams of fat, so the peanut butter is sinful.
    It’s great that they suggest replacing white flour with whole wheat and vanilla for sugar, but this site takes healthy recipe substitutions to the orthorexic level, by substituting beans for flour, applesauce for oil, chia for eggs, zucchini ribbons for pasta, cauliflower for potatoes, quinoa for oatmeal, etc. The reasoning for why these subs are healthier is simply because they are lower in calories/fat/carbs, which is a flimsy reason. They need to leave innocent foods alone just because another food has a little more fiber or vitamin K
    They always act like calories are little fattening monsters and you should avoid them at all costs. I hate it when people think that a calorie is a unit of fatteningness, because it’s a unit of energy. It’s only when you don’t burn a calorie that you gain weight. A great example of this is when they recommend subbing olive oil spray for oil. Using less of something doesn’t necessarily make you healthier.

    This site sucks because they act like that you should ONLY eat those foods with top nutritional quality, even if foods with less nutrients are still healthy. They act like you eat oatmeal for breakfast, potatoes for lunch, and pasta for dinner, you are not healthy enough. This type of thinking breeds very orthorexic tendencies and I recommend that no one follow its ignorance.

  6. audrey says

    I’m totaly agree with you. I have regrets we are not in a perfect world with only unprocessed foods, but balance is a healthy way to enjoy life as she are. You know what? You are my favorite bloggers!!!!

    Audrey Potvin, diet technician (sorry for my English writting), I speak french but its easy for me to read you)

  7. Franzi says

    Thank you so much for posting this, Katie! It was very frightening to read because I display many of the things listed above but I think I am just at the border line. I do count calories and nutrional information very obsessively but I don’t really PLAN. I just look at it afterwards and usually I have something “bad” everyday. Yesterday I had icecream and chocolate and today I had cake made with white flour and butter for example.
    It really makes me feel uncomfortable when someone else is cooking for me but I always remind myself that I can’t ALWAYS eat 100% healthy and other people are eating this, too and they’re not dying or getting fat. The only thing I am VERY obsessive with is eating something unhealthy in the evening because I am really afraid of my body storing for example the white flour, processed sugar or unhealthy fats. I am really fine with eating cake for dessert after breakfast or lunch because I know that my body is very likely to burn it but in the evening….. Well, I don’t want to talk about myself to much now.
    Thank you so much for posting this and hosting your whole blog. I love your style of writing and your recipes. Just stay the way you are! 🙂

  8. Balancembs says

    Excellent article. I found one of your receipes and made it a week ago, looked at your site for seconds only,had all the ingredients and like u got the basics and winged it. But as the universe would have it your site crossed my path more than once since then and this lazy Sun. Morning I found myself on your site actually looking around for an hr or so. This article hit home. I do have this disorder. Whew hard to say but it is so. I’ve been working on it, I became neurotic about food! I realize it was a control thing, it was the only thing I could control in my life while everything else was lost!!!! I needed this, another stepping stone on the way to balance!! Thank you for your hard work & honesty!

  9. George Lin says

    Just wanted to say, this post struck a chord with me. Over the last few years I’ve lost weight and as a part of it, started eating better. Even though I’m not obsessive, I’m definitely a little bit more concerend, than I think should be, to the point where I realized last week when I had a cheat meal, I felt better after dinner than I probably had in weeks.

    So thanks for this, even though it’s a healthy food blog, it’s good to know that ultimately you advocate balance, which is just as important a message, especially in today’s world.

  10. Travis G. says

    This is very insightful, I have never heard of Orthorexia nervosa before. But I have heard something of being obsessively concerned of one’s diet. So its nice to see a name for it. I made a comment before about how I like seeing things here that I will actually allow myself to eat, well I want to make that clear. I am a type 1 diabetic, so when it comes to sugary things, or high glucose things, I have them rarely. I usually make them myself too. I haven’t had any grains or actual candy in over 4 years. I do feel guilty sometimes but it is more from high fat and high protein meals that end up bringing my glucose numbers high because of gluconeogenesis (that is the breakdown of protein and fat into glucose, if you don’t know). I am also trying to do the supposed impossible and heal myself from this terrible disease, so thats where my guilt resides as well, when I do something bad. But as for healthy people, there is no need to obsess, and I don’t think I need to obsess as well. I can see someone being Orthorexia nervosa being very stressed and having chronic stress is no way to live.

  11. Samantha says

    Thanks for this post! My aunt displays many of these symptoms – it’s to the point that if she is at a family gathering, she demands that my mom (who is a food safety freak) has to cook her food separately and to her specifications (meat can only be thawed in the fridge, cannot touch plastic wrap or aluminum foil, cannot be grilled, etc.). Before her divorce, she would berate my uncle about eating birthday cake or red meat at kids’ birthday parties. It was ridiculous! She’s a size zero because she’s terrified of eating just about everything because she thinks it will cause cancer or another disease. I can’t imagine being so obsessed with eating a “pure, healthy diet” that I was essentially starving myself for lack of options, but that’s basically what my aunt is doing. It’s really sad to watch it happen.

  12. Anonymous says

    Thank you so much Katie for this post! In February, 2014, I was discharged from my part-time hospitalization because I was diagnosed with Anorexia. I was doing really, really well after I got discharged! I would have a slice of pizza, chocolate cake, and even candies. But now I can’t find myself the eat those. I feel so guilty afterwords. I feel as though I will gain weight. I’m not trying to lose weight I’m just trying to eat healthy all the time and it is really affecting my life. I fit all the categories of having Orthorexia Nervosa. I am trying really hard but my eating disorder is still really strong. I am trying to fight it by myself, without telling my parents. This post is really motivating me to have that slice of cake. I will recover slowly by adding a little bit of sugar at a time, I don’t want to overload. Thanks Katie! 🙂

  13. Amy says

    Wow, what a great post Katie.

    I feel it relates to me in some ways. My boyfriend was just telling me today how I seemed to be so much happier and care-free back when we met about 3 years ago. He said it was all before I started being too serious about eating healthy and I had on “a couple extra pounds.” Reading this really made me feel better and not to stress out or think the world is ending if my diet isn’t 100% perfect all the time and instead I should be enjoying my life. Thank you! 🙂

  14. Marcela says

    I totally agree! I have been thinking about this for a long time. Studies show that if you eat what you enjoy, you will be healthier than only eating very healthy foods. But you can eat delicious food that’s healthy at the same time, which is where you come in- I love your recipes, one of my favourites is Gingerbread Banana Bread, there was little sugar so the subtly spicy ginger and cinnamon flavor really shone through. I also love the Janet and Greta cookbooks, they have the exact same focus and their recipes are amazing! Even though healthy food can be delicious with the right recipes (and fruit is always delicious), I will most likely never say no to any delicious dessert, no matter the calories and sugar content! However to make up for it, I do some sit-ups or crunches to strengthen my abdominal muscles or go for a refreshing, energizing jog in the morning. Love this post, thanks Katie for addressing this!
    -Marcela, 13

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  15. Trish says

    9 pages of comments, no wonder this is a very important topic and i’m glad you wrote about it. thanks katie for addressing this immensely important. these days people try stuff like paleo diets because our ancestors ate that and its pure and all that, but nowadays we have so much more options so why leave it all to waste? what’s the point of life if we dont enjoy it (in moderation of course)? you read a magazine and you see celebrities and all the smoothies and cleansers they try and the tough workouts they do and how it can help you and you really need it. but these celebrities are only doing it because they need to lose weight for the red carpet. they don’t need to build muscle, they don’t need to get abs, they need to lose weight. but realistically? everyday people like me and you don’t need to lose weight to fit into a size 4 dress. what helps the most is building muscle. and muscle helps you burn fat, fast, and helps you to get the healthiest you can be. and how do we do this? not 2- hour long sessions at the gym. try rock climbing! soccer! something fun that doesn’t help you get a tiny waist, but a strong waist and a strong, healthy body. that’s how. and for food? whole, nutritious food. the kind that our ancestors ate, plus more. stuff to enjoy a full, healthy, whole, happy life. thanks.

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  16. Christina says

    That eating disorder is not even official diagnosis. I am not trying discount those who have it. I’m sure that is just as bad as anorexia. I just hope people don’t get labeled that just because they eat super healthy and don’t splurge as much as someone or dr. thinks they should.

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  17. Amanda says

    Hi! 2 years ago I was actually diagnosed with orthorexia and was down to 75 pounds two weeks before graduating college. I was a collegiate d1 soccer player and started to focus a lot on health as I was becoming captain. Was the worst thing I could have ever asked for. But I made it. Without any help (besides friends and family of course). Summer 2015 I decided I could not be this weak and isolated anymore and made changes. I want my competitive physicality back. So I began to eat more and workout. Of course this took me the long route to recovery, but since I have won many marathons and shorter races. As well as, 40 miles and weight lifting everyday. I am up to my healthy weight and feel amazing. I still struggle with eating choices but orthorexia is never an option for me again!

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  18. Sara H says

    Thanks for this post! I really appreciate how honest you are and your encouragement for us to consider our own approach to food!

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  19. Mel says

    i am just so scared to eat currently!! Like i have lost 26kg and yes i’m super proud of myself but i’m just so scared to gain everything back. I’m so hungry right now but I’ve already had one snack today and I ate lunch just over an hour ago. Mind you, I feel so flat with no energy. I’ve recently gone vegan and I feel great but I don’t think it’s the right decision because it’s making me more and more restrictive. I’m even too scared to have nuts because they’re fat, but I know they’re good fats. I’m very unsure on what to do, please help!!

  20. Fishfry says

    Katie, you’re young enough to be my granddaughter, but I learned an important lesson from you in this blog. I started eating healthy very late in life and have lost a lot of pounds (now down to my healthy high school weight) and have much more energy. In my zeal to maintain these gains, I guess I became a bit obsessive. A couple of days ago I went to a birthday party and ate a piece of cake (OMG — white flour and real sugar! Surely, death must soon follow!). I beat myself up about this until I read and appreciated the wisdom of this blog entry. Thanks.
    I just ordered your book today from Amazon and I’m looking forward to trying it.
    This afternoon is devoted to making the zucchini brownies on your website. If they’re half as good as they look, they’ll be a winner.
    You’re already a winner.

  21. Rosie says

    I probably already commented on this post/ a related post at some point, but i really appreciate reading about your past with disordered eating. It helps me a lot to know that just because I could never QUITE be diagnosed with a “true” eating disorder like anorexia (I use those quotation marks in place of sarcasm) does not mean I was not sick in some way. Thank you Katie and I am glad that things started to look up for you.

  22. Justine says

    Thank you so much for writing this, Katie!
    I have been reading your blog for years, even through the darkest days of my anorexia & orthorexia.
    When cooking these recipes, I cut WAY back on the sugar, oil, chocolate, etc., to make them lower-calorie,
    And they tasted…well, not good. Now I’m going full-ingredient in, and, wow! They are so much better!
    My anorexia almost killed me. Seriously. I was thirteen and got down to such a low weight that my heart was
    Slowing down, I was fainting, I was constantly exhausted, I was excercising until I couldn’t talk. I was, literally, dying to be thin.
    I went into an eating disorder treatment center twice, and I am still fighting my ED.
    My goal is to go vegan, but my weight has to stabilize first, according to my mom. Keep writing posts about eating disorder awareness, Katie! You are awesome!

  23. Jara says

    I was taught to read nutritional labels at an early age by my Rastafarian vegetarian math teacher from Jamaica who condemned unhealthy eating and was a tyrant about controlling his family’s diet. His wife and daughter used to come to our house to sneak “forbidden” foods. His stepson openly rebelled against his food rules and regularly ate meat and sweets. Most of the teachers at my private school were vegetarian, followed and taught “new age” philosophies, and shamed us into eating “healthy”. Those of us who were “successful” healthy eaters were lavishly praised and given authority over our peers for our superior “wisdom”. In the 80’s.

    My parents were raised Christian in the South, then moved to California where they both converted to whatever sounded good to them. Our family menu converted with them. My dad’s new religion (Muslim) has food restrictions, so my (now spiritual, but non-religious) mom learned to cook for him. I ate whatever she prepared…but I insisted on only eating from my dad’s plate because the way he seasoned his food was always perfect. My extended family (southern Baptists raised on a traditional slave…I mean, “soul food” diet) still jokes about how I used to ask if pork was in whatever they offered me – even fruit! My parents divorced. “Irreconcilable differences”. My dad moved back to the South, remarried, and forbade chocolate because I started developing acne (because of stress, not chocolate!). His new wife constantly spied on me and snitched to him whenever I ate chocolate to win favor with him over my mom.

    In 1992, my mom became vegan because her body started rejecting meat and dairy (yes, way before it became trendy!). Really, this was a return to her vegetarian diet in college when she moved away from the South to attend a Northeastern Jewish university that served kosher food. She felt her best at that time. She was also regularly attending a Christian church that focused on helping people apply God’s Word to their daily lives…but church politics forced the popular youth pastor out. The youth became disillusioned and left the church. My mom graduated from there and moved to California. My dad followed her after his graduation from a Midwest college. She started eating meat again when she became pregnant with me…because my dad told her that I need meat. She listened to him…and immediately became toxemic and almost died. She spent the last several months of her pregnancy in the hospital on strict bed rest, hooked up to machines. Our diet was strictly monitored. Her blood was checked every day and she was given whatever we were missing.

    I was born 2 months premature at 3 lbs…but super healthy with an advanced metabolism. A miracle baby who became the guinea pig for the posh hospital’s fancy new natal equipment. So I’ve been exposed to people with “food issues” and “(lack of) control issues” almost all of my life…which I “inherited”.

    In the late 90’s, I “suddenly” decided to cut out fast food…while in college in liberal, health-food-obsessed-but-anti-God California. Without making any other changes to my lifestyle, I immediately went from around 135 lbs. to 120 (I’m 5’5″). People complimented me on my good health and healthy appearance. They wanted to know what I ate and how I live. I told them: no alcohol or drugs, healthy food, moderate exercise, etc. Then, I started trying to make sure that I only ate healthy foods and stepped up my exercise regimen…and kept losing weight…until my doctor told me to add calories back in. I didn’t. I stopped praying regularly. My thoughts were totally focused on maintaining my physical health and attaining my “ideal body”.

    During a trip to a South African village with my dad in 2001, a native told me, “You’re pretty, but you need to eat some porridge.” My weight at that time: ~115 lbs. The irony of an African man telling American me that I need to eat more should have been my first breakthrough revelation, but it wasn’t. Guys who I dated (of various ethnicities from various places) constantly took me out to eat (or cooked for me). When I brought a male friend (who sleeps with many women!) his requested fast food, he complained that I lost my curves. Why he thought it was his place to comment on my body was beyond me. We had been just friends for about 5 years at that point. He constantly fed me, so I thought that it was my turn to reciprocate out of friendship. I started dating his Nigerian friend who told me that his brother taught him to always feed a woman who he wants to have sex with. Oh.

    I was starting to see a connection between my eating habits, my relationship with God, my father, and men, and how I felt about myself. Even though I was eating healthy foods (my dad made fun of me bringing a SUITCASE full of food to South Africa just in case they didn’t have any healthy food there), I had become obsessed with “purity” to maintain my good physical health (which I’ve always been blessed with regardless of what I eat or do!). I was definitely slipping into unhealthy patterns. Sure, let’s call it orthorexia nervosa. But that’s not the entire story. I was also exercising too much. Hours a day. Why? I liked a lean, athletic look…but my body type is naturally curvy (hourglass shape). I wanted to manifest my ideal. I have a fast metabolism so I only gain or lose weight beyond my normal range if I eat the wrong foods. The amount of food or calorie, fat, protein, etc. counts that I eat don’t matter! Regardless of my weight, my body shape remains the same…until I hit the point of extreme weight loss or gain.

    In my late 20’s, I went on a “sabbatical” from men and returned to nurturing my neglected relationship with God. It felt so good to be reunited with my Heavenly Father that I started focusing *only* on my spiritual purity. My church went on a corporate fast for a month…and I ignored that because of my previous food issues and not understanding the spirit-body-mind connection…but I quickly learned that I should’ve fasted because I made horrible life choices due in part to someone tainting my food during this time (so that he could have sex with me!). So I started fasting and immediately noticed the spiritual benefits (e.g., I could hear God more clearly so I made wiser life choices!). I fasted weekly for a year and a half…until I started understanding the root of my emotional issues and what role food played in them. God started showing me that His choice of husband for me is…the guy who serves in our church’s food pantry. And he likes curvy women. So I figured out that he is why I am built curvy and remain curvy regardless of what I eat or how I exercise. Oh no!

    Then I veered into “I don’t care” mode again because I didn’t want to deal with marriage and family issues. I liked the just-God-and-me-with-no-man era and didn’t want it to end. Why do I need to eat healthy if God is maintaining my good health for me regardless of what I do? Why do I need to live long if I don’t agree with God’s plan for my life?! Bye bye self-discipline. Hello, self-indulgence! Wrong mindset! So God arranged it so that my vegan mom chose, bought and delivered my food to me for almost 2 years. In exchange, I teach her God’s Word by example. I’m just now receiving the money to grocery shop for myself again. Why? Because I am learning about BALANCE!

    The issue isn’t food. The issue is whether or not to submit to God’s plan for me and accept why He made me the way that I am. The issue is that I tend to be an extremist who either doesn’t care at all or over-cares. Either I’m trying to control everything so that it will be “perfect” or I completely hand all responsibility for making decisions in my life over to someone else. What I’ve learned: food issues are rarely about food.

    Now that my relationship with God is healthy (He is my #1 priority but I also care about other aspects of life), my relationship with food is also healthy. Most of my volunteer service throughout my life has involved feeding people food and/or knowledge. Wonder why…

    Genesis 2:4‭-‬25:

    This is the account of the creation of the heavens and the earth. When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, neither wild plants nor grains were growing on the earth. For the Lord God had not yet sent rain to water the earth, and there were no people to cultivate the soil. Instead, springs came up from the ground and watered all the land. Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person. Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    A river flowed from the land of Eden, watering the garden and then dividing into four branches. The first branch, called the Pishon, flowed around the entire land of Havilah, where gold is found. The gold of that land is exceptionally pure; aromatic resin and onyx stone are also found there. The second branch, called the Gihon, flowed around the entire land of Cush. The third branch, called the Tigris, flowed east of the land of Asshur. The fourth branch is called the Euphrates.

    The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”

    So the Lord God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one. He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him.

    So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.

    “At last!” the man exclaimed. “This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’”

    This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one. Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.

    Genesis 3:1‭-‬24:

    The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

    “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

    “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

    The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

    When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees.

    Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

    He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”

    “Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”

    The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”

    Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?”

    “The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”

    Then the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

    Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”

    And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”

    Then the man—Adam—named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live. And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.

    Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!”

    So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

    John 6:32‭-‬40:

    Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now He offers you the true bread from heaven. The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

    “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”

    Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But you haven’t believed in me even though you have seen me. However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will. And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those He has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. For it is my Father’s will that all who see His Son and believe in Him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

    JESUS: “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

    “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask Him!

    “Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

    “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.

    “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get. But when you fast, comb your hair and wash your face. Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private. And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:5‭-‬18)

    John 4:1‭-‬42:

    Jesus knew the Pharisees had heard that He was baptizing and making more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself didn’t baptize them—His disciples did).

    So He left Judea and returned to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime.

    Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because His disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans.

    She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”

    Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

    “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”

    Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

    “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”

    “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.

    Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband— for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”

    “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”

    Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about Him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

    The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When He comes, He will explain everything to us.”

    Then Jesus told her, “ I Am the Messiah!”

    Just then His disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?”

    The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?”

    So the people came streaming from the village to see Him. Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something.”

    But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.” “Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other.

    Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work. You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”

    Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!”

    When they came out to see Him, they begged Him to stay in their village. So He stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear His message and believe.

    Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard Him ourselves. Now we know that He is indeed the Savior of the world.”

    Matthew 22:1‭-‬14‭, ‬34‭-‬40:

    Jesus also told them other parables. He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!

    “So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.

    “The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.

    “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

    “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

    But when the Pharisees heard that He [Jesus] had silenced the Sadducees with His reply, they met together to question Him again. One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap Him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

    Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

    Mark 10:2‭-‬12:

    Some Pharisees came and tried to trap Him [Jesus] with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?”

    Jesus answered them with a question: “What did Moses say in the law about divorce?” “Well, he permitted it,” they replied. “He said a man can give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away.”

    But Jesus responded, “He wrote this commandment only as a concession to your hard hearts. But ‘God made them male and female’ from the beginning of creation. ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

    Later, when He was alone with His disciples in the house, they brought up the subject again.

    He told them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries someone else, she commits adultery.”

    Ephesians 5:17‭, ‬20‭-‬33:

    Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of His body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.

    For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to Himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.

    In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of His body.

    As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”

    This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

    1 Timothy 4:6‭-‬8:

    If you explain these things to the brothers and sisters, Timothy, you will be a worthy servant of Christ Jesus, one who is nourished by the message of faith and the good teaching you have followed. Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”

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