How This TV Host's Healthy-Eating Obsession Led Her To Lose Half Her Body Weight

Photo: Ken McKay/ITV/REX Shutterstock.
Today on British talk show This Morning, 35-year-old sports presenter Carrie Armstrong detailed her crushing battle with orthorexia nervosa, highlighting the dangers of this obsession with "clean" eating. Eight years ago, Armstrong began to follow a raw diet in hopes of speeding her recovery from a serious virus that had left her wheelchair-bound. Her newfound interest in healthy eating soon turned to obsession, with Armstrong consuming only fruit, vegetables, and water — and, at one point, eating only organic melon, The Telegraph reports.

"I ate anything that wasn’t cooked. I thought eating anything cooked would put a strain on my body,” Armstrong recounted on This Morning. "It was all I thought about. I didn't consume food; it consumed me.” Within a year and a half, Armstrong had dropped from 150 pounds to 90. Her hair was falling out, and her teeth were deteriorating. Armstrong wasn’t trying to lose weight: She was terrified that eating the “wrong thing” would poison her in some way, and so she limited herself to foods that felt safe. As her health continued to suffer, however, she realized her approach was backfiring — and slowly started to regain balance in her diet.

While it’s not recognized in the DSM-5, orthorexia gained visibility recently when popular blogger Jordan Younger ("The Balanced Blonde," formerly known as "The Blonde Vegan") spoke out about her struggle with the condition. "I couldn't sleep because I was so full of anxiety about what I was going to eat the next day and what foods I had to avoid,” she wrote for Refinery29. "My hair was thinning, my skin was a mess (and orange from too much beta carotene), and my face was gaunter than gaunt.”

As the National Eating Disorders Association explains, there’s nothing wrong with following a healthy diet, "unless, however, it is taking up an inordinate amount of time and attention in your life; deviating from that diet is met with guilt and self-loathing; and/or it is used to avoid life issues and leaves you separate and alone” — all themes that both Armstrong and Younger have echoed in describing their former eating habits. As they and others share their stories, awareness of the line between conscientious and obsessive grows.

If you think you or someone you know may have an eating disorder, visit the National Eating Disorders Association to find help.

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