(Jamie Ducharme/ Time) — At first, Melanie Murphy was just following doctor’s orders.
Murphy, then 19, had gained weight during a period of depression, and her doctor told her she should lose some. She went from 180 to 125 pounds in 18 months—and even when she knew it was time to stop slimming down, she couldn’t shake the need to chase a goal. Without weight loss, she needed a new target. That became finding the “perfect” diet, one that was clean and pure and would keep her healthy for years to come.
At least, that was how she thought about it then. These days, she uses a different descriptor: “orthorexia,” or an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food. “I was just being consumed by the idea of perfection, and being quite afraid of food,” says Murphy, now 30 and a successful lifestyle vlogger and author based in Ireland. “That’s all I thought about all day.” (…)