Jason Wood combined his therapeutic love of writing with his mission to break the stigma around men’s mental health and eating disorders by launching Orthorexia Bites in 2021. His first book, a memoir titled Starving for Survival, is out now.
In this episode of Peace Meal, Jason discusses how weight-based bullying, the loss of his parents, and a cancer scare all contributed to the development of his eating disorder. He reflects on how the praise he received after weight loss in his early teens led him to believe that diet and exercise were something that made him “good” in the eyes of others. Then, he explains, a cancer scare led him to dieting and “clean eating” in an attempt to prevent cancer—the illness that took both of his parents. Jason experienced weight loss and was once again praised by friends and healthcare providers, suggesting that he was on the right track. In reality, however, an obsession with “clean eating” was consuming his life. Jason wants to share his story so that other men and boys know that they are not alone in their struggle with an eating disorder.
- How bullying can affect body image from a young age
- How our culture praises weight loss and extreme dieting, which can reinforce disordered behaviors
- The power of a diagnosis
- How writing and sharing your story can help you find a community of people who understand what you’re going through
- How toxic masculinity can prevent men from getting the mental health help they need
In Jason’s words:
- On sharing his story: “As a guy battling an eating disorder, I needed to get out there and I needed to share my story because there’s not enough men who talk about it. As someone who’s battling orthorexia, there’s not many people talking about it, I needed to get out there and change that as well.”
- On his relationship with food during his eating disorder: “There is nothing wrong with wanting to have a ‘healthy’ lifestyle… But then there’s individuals like myself when it goes too far… where suddenly, I’m no longer consuming food, food’s consuming me.”
- On how his definition of a “healthy lifestyle” has changed: “I was pursuing just physical health… I underestimated the power of mental health… social health… emotional health… Now I realize that there is a lot more to a ‘healthy lifestyle’ than just worrying about what you eat or how much you exercise.”
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