Sometimes I like to think about my childhood. I look back on that time and I think about that freedom. I think about how careless I was. I would wear crocs with a skirt. I would play touch footy in a backyard full of bindies. I smiled and I laughed and I couldn’t have cared less what other people thought of me. I ate lemonade iceblocks on the sand and I did cartwheels in the park.

I remember those blissful primary school years with fondness and happiness in my heart.

I’ve looked back on this time more frequently as I continue the journey into adulthood. The one thing I miss most is not having a care in the world about food.

When we were young, food was so simple. We ate when we were hungry and we ate what we felt like. There was never any analysis of what foods were “good” and “bad.”

When we’re children we are the most in tune with our bodies. There are no external social factors that change the meaning and purpose of food. That comes later in life when you start seeing things on television and observing older people.

“Clean eating” has exploded in recent years which has given rise to a new form of eating disorder known as “orthorexia.” Orthorexia is characterised by the sufferer being fixated on only eating “healthy” foods or avoiding entire food groups entirely. It differs to Anorexia Nervosa in the sense that the focus is not on losing weight but the types of foods that can be consumed. Orthorexics tend to become obsessed with food and the ingredients within them.

Orthorexia is, unfortunately, easy to misinterpret as just “healthy eating”. It is easy to hide this disfunction under the guise of health. But where did this obsession with healthy eating stem from?

Undoubtedly part of the problem is the wording we have adopted to describe food. We are now describing foods as “clean” which automatically categories other foods as “dirty.” By labelling foods as positive or negative we are unintentionally linking “dirty” foods with bad health. By associating foods with negative connotations we are creating feelings of guilt which is not what food is meant for.

Let’s think back to our youth. Food was enjoyable. We could sit on a pier with some friends clutching a Mr Wippy icecream in our hands with joy. We could sit at dinner with our families and enjoy the conversation. Food was an experience and a necessity rather than an inconvenience or an enemy. Why is it that in adulthood we lose that intuition? We start allowing media and big business to get into our heads and convince us that what our bodies crave is wrong. That the weight our body is comfortable at isn’t good enough.

There is also no doubt that the increase in social media usage has exacerbated the “clean eating” craze and contributed to disordered eating behaviours. This is backed up by experts in the dietry field including dietician Tania Ferraretto who was quoted saying:

 

Posted by Sophia Hatzis

Sophia is a Law and Communications student at UTS and has been a passionate writer her whole life. She runs a blog called The Beauty Breakdown which aims to educate young people about the importance of positive body image. Sophia writes openly about her struggles with mental health problems having battled with an eating disorder and anxiety for most of her adolescence. Sophia is a strong advocate for a holistic approach to health and wellness which is drawn from her own experiences.