Addicted to healthy eating: Young body builder’s dangerous fixation on clean eating nearly ruined her life
Maddy Moon had the perfect body, worked out daily and only ate clean foods – but instead of being the pinnacle of health she was dangerously ill.
The young woman was struggling with a little-known eating disorder called orthorexia – an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating.
Maddy, 24, originally became a vegetarian for animal rights and then “went green to save the planet.”
However at high school she developed body dysmorphia and become fixated on calorie counting which led to other disordered eating patterns, such as purging.
Her problems intensified at college when she picked up body building and started a rigid six-meal-a-day plan on top of working out seven days a week.
At her worst she would only eat when and what her trainer instructed, even when the coach banned her from even eating fruit.
Maddy, from Boulder in Colorado, USA, said: “I started my healthy eating lifestyle with good intentions but found myself getting sucked into a weight loss obsession.
“I had a terrible case of body dysmorphia, and I believed the only cure was to shame myself into working out harder and eating less.
“I fixated on my stomach mostly, I thought I was huge and that everybody noticed me everywhere I went when, in reality, I had a small stomach.”
The blonde beauty realised she could disguise her disordered relationship with food as preparation for body building contest.
But now she has spoken out about the industry which she labels as “dangerous”.
She added: “Bodybuilding was one of the biggest contributors to my orthorexia.
“I realised I could easily conceal my disordered relationship with food – to the outside world it looked like I was full of self-discipline and willpower.
“Little did they know, I was suffering so intensely.”
One coached warned her should would lose a contest if she eat a piece of cake on her birthday, eight weeks before the show.
She said “I had anti-fruit coaches who wouldn’t ‘allow’ me to eat any fruit.
“One of my coaches told me I was cute but not sexy, and in order to be a sexy fitness model I needed to stop eating fruit and then viola, he said, it would happen.
“Hearing things like that terrified me from straying from my plan, and created a fear of most foods.
“I think all bodybuilding competitions are dangerous. Period.
“In a ‘perfect’ world there would be no more bodybuilding competitions.”
As her orthorexia worsened, Maddy would binge on vitamin C powder just to get a sugar kick.
And the fitness buff refused to stop working out even when she caught Pneumonia.
She added: “There were many days where I would be on the treadmill coughing up a fit, when I really needed to be in bed resting.
“I lost the ability to respect and nourish my body. My obsession with looking perfect was so strong.
“I was constantly on social media, comparing my body to other women’s bodies, jealous that I wasn’t as lean as them, or as fit as them.”
As well as experiencing physical side-effects such as loss of menstrual cycle and insomnia, the rigid meals plans and workouts harmed her social life.
She said: “You have to set aside your social life in order to stick with your routine perfectly.
“I had no room for friendships or a boyfriend, so I spent time all of my time with my meal plan, food scale and gym.”
When Maddy stumbled across the term orthorexia a few years ago, she realised she identified with the disorder.
Deciding to take back her life, Maddy got a dog, moved to the countryside and cancelled her gym membership.
She now works as a Body Image and Disordered Eating Coach to help others in similar situations.
She added: “I want to enjoy whatever I am eating, but I also want to know that it will nourish my body and give me energy for the day.
“I eat tons of plants, but I also enjoy wine, chocolate and pancakes.
“Sometimes I will love my body, and other times I may find an endless amount of imperfections.
“I don’t believe full recovery is a thing. I believe eating disorder recovery is something you learn to maintain for the rest of your life.
“I still have self-shaming thoughts pop in my head, but now I know how to acknowledge those thoughts and move on quickly.”