By Sarah Francis
A vegan blogger has revealed her inspiring recovery from orthorexia after a yeast infection led to a healthy eating addiction.
Henya Perez, 28, decided to switch from a vegan diet to a raw food diet after hearing claims it could cure her recurring candida.
She followed Raw till 4, only eating uncooked fruit and veg, without oil or salt, until 4pm.
Soon, Henya found herself consumed with perfecting her diet and joined support groups online which only fuelled her obsession.
She began to suffer from chronic IBS, fatigue and nausea while forcing herself to eat up to 2500 calories a day. She would even wake in the middle of the night to finish off her meals.
The wakeup call came after consuming contaminated fruit while abroad and she eventually decided to return to a non-restrictive vegan diet.
Henya, from Tel Aviv, Israel, said: “I spent most of my time thinking about food, making plans, shopping for food, posting pictures of food, and of course, eating food.
“I ate ungodly amounts of fruit and a cooked meal for dinner.
“I would usually make a 10 banana, coconut sugar smoothie for breakfast and for lunch I would have 1-2kg of random fruit like persimmons or
“I would mono-meal most of the time. For dinner I would eat rice and veggies to make a 1000 calories, or roasted potatoes, also 1000 calories.
“I would consume anywhere between 2500 to 5500 calories per day, thinking it was the ideal way of living.
“And I couldn’t sleep properly knowing I didn’t finish my dinner, so I would wake up every few hours to eat more until I finished my 1000 calories for dinner.”
Although Henya had been a vegan for ten years because of the horrors of the meat trade, she began to experience alarming side effects from her diet and dropped out of social activities like seeing friends and going to the gym.
She said: “Eating this many calories and high fibre foods every day took a toll on my body and I would have to go to the toilet a dozen times a day.
“I felt very dehydrated although I was drinking 4L a day and I would get very hungry and angry quite quickly.
“I felt tired most of the time from digesting so much food. I wasn’t able to digest foods that weren’t part of the diet like salt, oil and even cooked food was a huge struggle.
“I started suffering from functional dyspepsia and awful diarrhoea anytime I ate anything else, even though it was vegan and I used to consume it the year before with no problems.
“I also had problems sleeping since I was so full of food.
“I suffered from terrible nausea and stomach pain for many hours of the day.”
It wasn’t until she nearly died after eating contaminated fruit while on holiday in Thailand that she switched back to a normal vegan diet.
Despite a few setbacks along the way, Henya finally feels in control of her life but admits she still suffers long term effects from orthorexia.
She said: “It’s been a while since diets controlled my life but I do sometimes feel anxious using a lot of oil when cooking for myself.
“Otherwise, I actually celebrate eating healthy fats like tahini and avocado and the use of salt.
“I learned that I am not immune to the influence of diets, even after all that I’ve been through. It does make me sad to be honest, especially since I am chronically affected by it.”
She hopes that by sharing her story on her social media @henyamania, she can help others.
Henya added: “Orthorexia is not spoken about enough as much as other eating disorders.
“Being vegan is not about a diet. It is a lifestyle I follow because animals are being exploited, tortured, raped and murdered in factory farms, and I will never take part in that.
“I think it is important to share my story to warn others and also to show that veganism has nothing to do with diets and eating disorders, and has everything to do with choosing an ethical lifestyle and saving animals.”