Years ago, popular vegan blogger Henya Perez had a chronic yeast infection and read that eating by the ‘Raw till 4’ diet could cure it.
Instead of taking care of her infection, the diet triggered disordered eating habits that were later diagnosed as orthorexia, an eating disorder that causes people to obsess over the healthfulness of their food to such a point that it becomes unhealthy.
The Raw till 4 diet is essentially what it sounds like — those on the diet eat only raw fruits and vegetables until 4 o'clock at night, when they add in some cooked carbohydrates. Because they're only eating fruits and vegetables and very little protein, those on this diet aim to eat about 2,500 calories a day.
Typically, someone on this diet would eat seven bananas, two oranges, and two dates just for breakfast. For Perez, eating this way eventually made her obsess about how healthy her food was, and triggered her eating disorder. Not only that, but the diet isn't proven to cure yeast infections. The only treatments medically proven to cure a yeast infection are anti-fungal creams, according to Harvard Health Publications.
"I spent most of my time thinking about food, making plans, shopping for food, posting pictures of food, and of course, eating food," Perez told Metro. "I ate ungodly amounts of fruit and a cooked meal for dinner."
Soon, she began to have other health problems like chronic IBS, diarrhea, fatigue and nausea.
"Eating this many calories and high fibre foods every day took a toll on my body and I would have to go to the toilet a dozen times a day," Perez told Metro. She was also often irritable and tired, which took a toll on her social life.
It wasn't until she ate contaminated fruit while on vacation in Thailand that Perez switched back to a less restrictive vegan diet and started feeling better. She now talks openly about her struggle on her social media channels in order to warn others about the dangers of restricted eating, and to raise awareness about orthorexia.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NEDA” to 741741.
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