Mom with orthorexia forces it on me--please help

Postby EliseCM » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:40 pm

Please help and read. My mom has orthorexia (look it up) and I don't know what to do. She controls everything I eat to a ridiculous point. I have a slight autoimmune disease called ITP, but my mom seems to think it's as bad as cancer. If it wasn't for blood labs, we wouldn't even know I had a disease; it hardly affects my lifestyle or overall health at all. She is obsessive about not eating too much salt, sugar, grains, etc. She acts like I have celiac disease when all the gluten sensitivity tests have come back negative. (Apparently, there's a slight chance that they can miss a certain kind of sensitivity.) I also have not shown any symptoms of being allergic to dairy either, but if I even get some yogurt on a sweater she'll make me change my clothes even after I've cleaned it off. When I ask why she says something about "there's some left" (not visible), "you will touch the spot, then touch your food, and then you'll eat it." My diet sucks, and she obsesses over certain ingredients while ignoring overall lifestyle. She even used to do Eastern energy medicine, which is not even scientific. She'll believe any research paper she finds or doctor she hears on the internet. She gave me a diet for two years which, just a week ago, she discovered was "a terrible way to treat autoimmune disease." And the worst part is that I am HOMESCHOOLED. So this obsession carries over to lots of other things in my life and unfortunately she has complete control over it all. What should I do???
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#1

Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:58 am

How old are you?
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#2

Postby EliseCM » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:02 pm

I am 13 years old.
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Postby Richard@DecisionSkills » Fri Dec 08, 2017 1:05 am

Have you ever heard the terms shared decision-making or collaborative decision-making? At 13 and in your situation it is a good time to start developing that ability. It will be a very powerful ability the rest of your life, and can actually help you become very successful in certain fields.

At your age, it isn't necessarily easy. There is a natural progression as we transition from child, to teenager, to young adult in the way we approach decisions. As a child we most often listen to parents by default, as the authority. As we move into our teenage years, we start to realize parents don't necessarily have the answers and that they are human and make mistakes. This sometimes leads to a counterproductive kind of rebellion or defiance as we decide we are more than capable of making our own decisions. In many cases the teenager is correct, they have reached a point where the decisions might not be agreeable to the parent, but the decision is "good enough".

Parents have a tough time adjusting to this natural transition. Here their child was at ages 8 or 9 agreeing with every piece of wisdom offered, and now they are 13 and don't agree and wan't to make their own decisions. It almost seems like a light switch. One day you are their wonderful child soaking in their wisdom, the next day you don't want to listen, you have your own opinions, etc. This can create and often does create conflict.

Depending on the state where you reside you have about 4 to 5 years before the law says you are capable of making 100% of your own decisions, independently of a guardian. This isn't necessarily fair, but it is a function of society. This doesn't help you, or any other teenagers that might find themselves in situations where they are struggling to cope with what they see as decisions that see as potentially unhealthy.

So, for the next 4 to 5 years, your best option is to approach the situation as one where you are learning and trying to work on your communication skills, learning how to approach in different ways in order to come to mutually acceptable decisions. The way it sounds is that right now, you have 0% decision rights, while she has 100% and that is typical. What you want to do is work with rather than against your mother in order to start shifting that balance. It isn't about you making the decision, rather it is about working towards compromise.

Generally speaking, a compromise starts with points on which you can both agree. For instance, you can both agree upon the higher order goal of eating healthy. From there obviously things start to break down. Given your mother has orthorexia, being able to come to total agreement may not be possible, but gaining ground is certainly not out of the question.

For instance, you say your mother responds to research. If this is the case, then on points where you have a problem, such as the health merits of a specific food, you can offer counter evidence in a non-confrontational way, i.e. don't send her a link to an article and say, "See you're wrong again," but instead send her material that you say she might find interesting. Instead of making statements, ask questions. A good question, "I wonder why this article says that salt is X or Y or Z?"

Anyway, good luck to you. Remember, your goal is not to make overnight, instant progress, but instead to incrementally improve your skills in the art of communication. You will probably struggle at first, you will definitely experience some frustration and setbacks, but in the end you will make gains on multiple fronts.
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