Melainie Rogers, MS, RDN, CDN, CEDRD
Eating Disorder Hope: Welcome to today’s #EDHchat! Today we will be tweeting with @melainierogers how to know when healthy eating turns into orthorexia.
Eating Disorder Hope: Please welcome Melainie Rogers, Founder of BALANCE ED Treatment Center @BALANCEedtc
Eating Disorder Hope: Melainie will be tweeting as @melainierogers
Eating Disorder Hope: Melainie, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your involvement in the eating disorder community?
Melainie: I am the Founder and Executive Director of BALANCE eating disorder treatment center and melainie rogers nutrition, llc.
Melainie: I received my education in Melbourne, Australia, where I was born and raised.
Melainie: I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Melbourne University and completed a Graduate diploma in Sports Nutrition from Deakin University
Melainie: Upon coming to the US, I earned my Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition at New York University
Melainie: In 2002, I developed the largest private group nutrition practice specializing in eating disorders in NYC.
Melainie: As I saw a need for more services for eating disorders, I established BALANCE eating disroder treatment center in 2009.
Eating Disorder Hope: Eating “clean” has been trending for some time. What might this term imply and what are the dangers associated with this concept?
Melainie: Eating clean means eating foods that are healthy, organic, usually locally sourced
Melainie: This could also be eating foods that do not contain antibiotics or hormones, and that if they contain fat, are comprised of health fat (nut/vegetable based fats)
Melainie: Eating clean has been taken to mean eating low to no fat, which can be disordered adn unhealthy.
Melainie: It also has become a pseudonym for low calorie eating, which can also be disordered
Melainie: Eating clean can become obsessive to the point that it is in fact unhealthy.
Melainie: It can also be disruptive to daily life if foods can only be eaten from certain stores, etc.
Eating Disorder Hope: How does a person know if their attempt to eat healthy has gone too far?
Melainie: One measure to know if an attempt to eat healthy has gone too far is the degree of obsessiveness and anxiety that is related to this style of eating.
Melainie: If a person is not able to tolerate eating out at a friend’s place for dinner…
Melainie: Or unable to eat any food other than what they themselves have cooked, for example…
Melainie: We know that this style of eating has gone beyond healthy and is more about anxiety.
Eating Disorder Hope: What is Orthorexia and how does this differ from Anorexia?
Melainie: Orthorexia is “perfect eating”, making sure that one is eating all of the “right foods”
Melainie: Perfect eating can mean that a meal must be made up of the “perfect amounts” of healthy protein, carbs, and fats…
Melainie: But also must have the maximum number of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and super foods that one can put into one meal.
Melainie: It is obsessive. Often orthorexia is the same as clean eating, but taken to a disordered, disruptive degree.
Melainie: Orthorexia may not be about weight loss as is the case with anorexia.
Melainie: Anorexia is an obsession with low calorie eating and body weight.
Melainie: Orthorexia is about the quality of the food.
Melainie: We often find our anorexic clients proceed to orthorexic tendencies in their recovery and can often get “stuck” there.
Melainie: Same with clean eating…
Melainie: Thinking they are fully recovered bc they are eating food, but it is still obsessive and food is still not neutral.
Eating Disorder Hope: What types of people may be more at risk for developing Orthorexia?
Melainie: Orthorexia is more likely to be a risk factor for clients who are anxious.
Melainie: The anxiety gets focused on the food, and eating perfectly.
Melainie: Orthorexia is often seen in clients who are recovering from anorexia… but they never get to the stage of neutralizing all foods.
Melainie: Judgements are still very high.
Melainie: There can be moral superiority for those who pride themselves on eating perfectly or eating clean.
Eating Disorder Hope: What are some helpful interventions for a person dealing with Orthorexia?
Melainie: At Balance, we use a lot of exposure therapy to expose our clients to all types of food
Melainie: Everything from salad to burgers to sushi to fries.
Melainie: Our philosophy is that all foods fit
Melainie: To be fully recovered from an eating disorder, it is essential to get to a place whereby all foods are neutral…
Melainie: And where there is no moral or nutritional judgement attached to that food.
Melainie: It is about moderation, food enjoyment and pleasure, and eating what makes us feel good.
Melainie: Also it is helpful to work with eating patterns and belief systems. Clients believe that if they eat badly they are bad.
Melainie: If they choose unhealthy foods, they are bad.
Melainie: There is often a great deal of judgement and shame attached to food choices, when in reality, food is just food.
Melainie: Nothing more, nothing less! That is what being neutral with food really means!
Eating Disorder Hope: What encouragement might you share with an individual who wants to eat healthier without becoming obsessive?
Melainie: If eating healthier means eating more fruit and vegetables, but also includes all macronutrients – protein, fat and carbs – then I say go for it!
Melainie: Stay flexible and allow yourself fun foods, also to keep things in balance.
Melainie: Don’t restrict yourself to certain restaurants or only eating your own cooking.
Melainie: This can get rigid, restrictive, and obsessive really quickly.
Melainie: Eat from hunger, fullness, and satiety and not to a calorie goal – a sure fire way to get obessive!
Eating Disorder Hope: Can you tell us about the services offered through Balance Eating Disorder Treatment center for orthorexia sufferers?
Melainie: At BALANCE eating disorder treatment center, we have several levels of care available to clients who struggle with orthorexia.
Melainie: We have a full time day program of 30 hours per week of meals and therapy groups.
Melainie: We also have an evening program that offers a dinner meal and therapy group for 9 hours per week.
Melainie: For clients who need weekend support, we also have a Saturday day program that provides meals and therapy groups.
Melainie: Individual nutritional counseling is also available to help a client work through their food beliefs and obsessions.
Melainie: Our goal is to help clients move towards a more neutral relationship with food and their body.
Eating Disorder Hope: Thank you so much to everyone who participated in our Twitter Chat today with @melainierogers!
Eating Disorder Hope: Thank you again to our fantastic guest, Melainie, for joining us for this important conversation on Orthorexia.
Eating Disorder Hope: Please check out Balance Eating Disorder Treatment Center at http://balancedtx.com/ for more info about their program and eating disorder resources
Eating Disorder Hope: For more helpful eating disorder resources, visit www.eatingdisorderhope.com
Eating Disorder Hope: No matter where you may be today, be encouraged in your recovery journey and know that you do not walk alone. Take care everyone!