We all want to eat well and be healthy but sometimes those good intentions cross the line into obsession. Many vegans lead a lifestyle that is balanced. But that was not the case with author Jordan Younger, whose fixation with clean eating turned dirty.
Known as The Blonde Vegan, Younger became a blogging sensation with some 70K followers. But much like Essena O'Neill, she was forced to come to terms with the appearance versus the reality of her public image. She had built up an entire brand around veganism. Yet in her quest to become extremely healthy, Younger had become extremely unhealthy. She had dropped to 101 pounds, and her family was deeply concerned about her.
"My mom came to New York and the whole trip was miserable because I was so restrictive," Younger recalls. "I had ordered oatmeal in a restaurant and realized it was cooked with milk and not vegan. I freaked out and threw a tantrum. I was such an unhappy person.
Eventually Younger came clean with her fans last year in the post, "Why I'm Transitioning Away from Veganism."
Even as Younger admitted to herself and to fans that she was suffering from a form of disordered eating known as orthorexia - having lost her hair and her period - she lost 1,000 readers.
In the wake of her about-face, some of her followers felt betrayed, lied to. Some even issued threats like "You don't deserve to live."
And many more will scoff now that the The Blonde Vegan has transitioned into The Balanced Blonde, with a memoir, "Breaking Vegan," to go along with her new image. Yet Younger insists veganism itself wasn't the problem; it was the excess food and exercise restrictions she imposed on top of her vegan diet.
"Enthusiasm for healthy eating doesn't become 'orthorexia' until a tipping point is reached and enthusiasm transforms into obsession," says San Francisco-based Dr. Steven Bratman, who coined the term orthorexia in the 1990s.
These days, 25 year-old Younger is all about listening to your body and eating an unrestricted diet.
"If you are not getting enough nourishment, your body will tell you. I was ignoring those signals. And don't compare yourself to others. Our bodies are so different."
Hers is an important voice for women particularly. When you blog, you present a version of yourself you believe to be true at the time, but that self can - and does - change over time. And that change in no way detracts from her story.