Sugar Sweet

I’ve always been a bit of a health food nut. Whole grains, herbs, fresh everything, no additives. I developed a galloping case of orthorexia in university – probably stress transference, as are a lot of eating disorders. Orthorexia is a disorder marked by avoidance of anything the sufferer deems “unhealthy” or “non-nutritious” and can lead to an anorexia, a refusal to eat. I came close. Beer and cheap wine probably kept me from losing too much weight, although I got very thin. Why I didn`t find them unhealthy- well, beats me. It`s the nature of an eating disorder.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with watching what you eat, choosing fresh, locally grown, organic food, but it can’t lead to a refusal to eat anything that falls outside the category.

Our household tried the Atkins plan – a first for me, but not the others. Yes, you will lose weight. No, you will not eat what you like unless scrambled eggs and butter top your list. I missed – really deeply longed for – whole wheat bread and potatoes. I didn’t want to head for another orthorexia bout, either.

In March, we all quietly dropped the idea when we had a marvelous gourmet chocolate-raspberry birthday cake. Fifteen years ago, I would have refused it because it had dairy, eggs and white sugar and flour in it. Four months ago, it would not have been allowed in the house.

So this is my public declaration: No more orthorexia. I can eat reasonably and still enjoy the occasional burger and fries. I am going to bake with white sugar and flour from time to time. I will act like a mature adult and eat just enough to enjoy it without stuffing myself on cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies. (The rest of you are on your own here.)

I will not feel guilty or lose sleep if I have a third glass of wine sometimes.

I will get a good walk with my dog several times a week, and look to add exercise to my life instead of being an obsessive health nut.

If I drop ten pounds, fine. If I don`t, fine.

God is not asking me to waste my time in impossible attempts at skinny and healthier. I`m pretty darned healthy now, and it`s likely to stay that way. I`m good at making nutritious balanced meals and I don`t have to fret and obsess over every little detail.

Eat what is put before you – and enjoy the meal!


11 thoughts on “Sugar Sweet

  1. The denomination that claimed the majority of my adolescent and adult life possessed a solid core of ‘health reformers’ who believed the denomination’s ‘Health Message’ went beyond health, and attributed to it salvific im[port. If Ellen G. White wrote in her literature that such and such a food was not fit for consumption, then, to knowingly go against this teaching was considered sin – grave sin – built upon the premise revealled in the book of James ‘If a man knows a thing to be law and does it not, such is sin’. With all its attendant implications.

    Additionally, end times writing stated that towards the time of Christ’s coming we would needs turn from all dairy and eggs; flesh food (as it is termed in this community) was already deemed sinful and a destroyer of character – i.e. people who are meat eaters have more clouded and unable judgement centres than those who are vegetarians. Though they would be quick to say such was not a test for baptism or membership, the higher up and deeper in one became in the denomination, the nire tge truth became clear.

    Now, I am not advocating against vegetarianism (corporate industrial animal husbandry, if such a beautiful term can be misapplied to such horrid practices as those of contemporary large scale farming is a disgrace and should be dismantled – natural, herritage methods that have fed peoples all over the world taken back up…search online for the Slow food manifesto). What I do cry out against is its linking to ones standing before Christ! It makes a mockery of the paschal Mystery and transfers Christian focus from Christ’s transforming grace as that which reconcyles us to God.

    It is common for historic SDA’s that I have mixed with to refuse all manner of foodstuffs, from dairy and eggs to all processed carb, no sugar, to more obscure SDA prohibitions against vinegar, pepper, ginger, chilli, cloves, nutmeg – what EGW termed inflamitory spices not to be eaten. The well-known SDA vegan cookery book ‘Vegan’s delight’ by Ollie Aldridge lists spices to be avoided – SDA’s of a certain generation will be familliar with the reference to pepper as ‘devil’s dust’; yes, I am not making this up – I have heard it with my own ears!!

    It is one thing to be mindful of what we put into our bodies, the temple of the holy spirit, and do the best we can (again, nurturing slow and herritage food traditions, sustainable agriculture and foodcraft); it is another thing altogether to confuse food and theology to this extent that grossly oversteps any dietary boundaries listed in the OT…

    EGW wrote that compromised diet leads to compromised character; she was not speaking of such sadnesses as US kids brought up on fastfood who have literally lost tastebud function because their diets have crushed this out, or the fact that a balanced diet does lend clarity, but the notion that not to follow what the lesser light has revealed about the greater light (scripture) is sin; salvation-compromising sin.

    I remember in my early adulthood vigilent SDA’s checking out the contents of fellow parishoners’ refrigerators (I knew personally the checkers and checkees), confronting them of their sinfulness and error if they had so much as a block of cheese on the shelves (EGW wrote cheese should not entre the stomach).

    Imagine!! an entire denomination with Orthorexia as one of its most beloved tennants!!

    God help us!



    • I used to shop at the SDA store just outside DC. They had many vegetarian/vegan cookbooks and herbals Some were, even for me, pretty wacky. The staff was quite a sales advert for SDA – slim, smiling, knowledgeable. But the SDA doesn’t have the monopoly on outdoing the Pharisees! I have met Christian Zionists and neo-Buddhists who would sneer at the SDA for its laxity! I didn’t realize that they had such an aversion to spices, most of which have anti-oxidant properties. Vinegar is fermented;some orthorexics refuse all fermented food, including tofu and seitan. So that would include cheese – although dairy is already out of the picture!

  2. Magdalena,

    i have run into my fair share of Christian zionists/Messianic Jews; (slice it and dice it as one will), and know exactly where you’re coming from; same goes for the various groups and individuals who refuse fermented foodstuffs.

    I find Orthorexia that stepps above and beyond understood dietary guidelines in the Abrahamic traditions, and for that matter, those understood by traditional bhudism and hinduism in Asia and the Subcontinent most perplexing; it seems strikingly prevalent in the West, in a sad twist of irony, where we have, for the mostpart, access to food in obscene abundance, whereas in many traditional and non Western communities, it is far more uncommon.

    How much sabotage was made to my family in my witness for Christ, and how much awkwardness plus difficulty by means of SDA=based orthorexia…

    It helped to undermine them taking Christianity seriously.

    I am thankful that we serve a God who can restore the years the locust has eaten…



    • I remember how uneasy I was about the orthorexia label. I thought I was doing the “right” thing. It was in that time frame that I heard a preacher speak the line “Eat what is put before you – and enjoy the meal.” Yes, I realized that I was no longer enjoying my meals. I either devoured them ravenously, or I was picking them apart.

      Some time in the undeveloped/poverty stricken areas of the globe would hep a lot of Westerners realize how blessed they are with food resources, and maybe make them sit up and take notice of how much they waste.

  3. I was on the verge of getting unhealthy habits regarding food and exercise at a point during university but my own body saved me. I got ‘overtrained’ and simply could not move without feeling very bad. I understood that I needed to stop working out and had a break for about a month. I try to not eat too much sugar, and I am often successful but since I met R we have kind of gotten into that trap of having cozy nights at home eating icecream and potato chips as many new/semi-new couples. Now it has gotten better and we soon move in together so I hope that will help. Usually I ride my bike to work (takes about 35-40 min) but it was stolen so I need to get a new one before I can take that up again. (getting it back is not very likely it was too new for that)

    • University is hard on women. Half my class had eating disorders, according to a campus survey. Mine was particularly weird,but followed from my personality. I am very detail oriented.

      Sorry about your bike. I know it is difficult to get bikes back – the police don’t care much. I was thinking about a bike myself!

  4. Yes, about 0,2% of bikes reported stolen in Sweden are returned to their owners… I use my bike a lot since I do not have a driver’s licence and I have problems with my feet and hips which mean that I cannot walk as much as I would like. If it is meant to be I will get it back, but if not I have to buy a new one and an even better lock.

    University was both good and bad for me and my body. It was good because it was during that time I started enjoying working out which I never had before but also I almost took it to far too. I still enjoy working out but not when I have to rush to the gym to do so and that is the case now when I work as much as I do. When I had my bike I could mix going to work with working out and that was perfect.

  5. Thank You!
    I had never heard of orthorexia, but I’ve certainly had it off and on most of my life.
    I have FINALLY, after half a century on this planet, gotten to be friends with food instead of arch enemies.
    I have finally realized I’m just not genetically disposed to be as fat as my mom was and do not have to hate my body as she hated hers.
    I have finally realized no matter how strictly I eat, or how little I eat, or how much control I have around food I AM NEVER GOING TO BE TALL AND WILLOWY.
    God gave me a good sturdy little peasant body. I am a middle sized person. It is ok for me to eat, and nourish this middle sized body. It is ok for me to like food.

    I’m realizing we, as a culture, have a very skewed relationship with food.
    Pondering what can be done about that….so far I have questions, not answers.
    But having a name for this thing we suffer is a help to me, so thank you again!

    • I think culture pushes us to the eating disorders. Our ancestors ate what they could when they had it! I, too, am a short, well-rounded, woman – once considered the epitome of feminine beauty! We are still beautiful, just out of fashion at the moment.

  6. I grew up as an SDA (Australia) and I have to say that your post made me laugh. Obviously culture makes a huge difference. At our vegetarian church lunches we ate curries, stir-fries, chocolate cake and ice cream. On occasion we had chicken too.

    • That goes along with some conservative jewish communities that would non-kosher food outside, since it didn’t count there.

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