Could healthy eating become an unhealthy obsession for some?
By Jessica Ashley
Healthy eating is a critical component of living a balanced life, maintaining energy levels and for many of us, losing weight. While many people can eat healthfully to nourish their bodies, for others, meal time becomes the target of obsession and compulsion in the same way eating disorders do.
Some people say this cannot be an obsession more people need to pursue healthier lifestyles ardently. Others say it is a non-medical term that is abused by people who are not actively pursuing their health.
We could all be labeled with an -exia and we need to be educated by the medical community on each strand before we abandon healthy eating or make it the sole focus of our life. Orthorexia is a term that has come to media attention and gained controversy as a fixation on healthy eating.
Eating disorder issues are serious, need much more courageous conversation and require our commitment to addressing all of the factors that lead people to grave health of self-induced death by means of starvation, bingeing, purging, exercise compulsion, etc.
Four take-aways if you are concerned your healthy eating is bordering on disorder:
1. Have a "sponsor" or accountability partner. This is not someone who is cheering on weight loss or has a deprivation or over-indulgence mind-set. It may be someone to cook meals with or go to the farmer's market, but it has to be someone who you can be very honest with and check in with regularly.
2. Seek out a certified nutritionist from a hospital or a registered dietician who you can make appointments with for healthy guidelines, share your food diary with and stay on track with. They may offer support groups or reading materials or email guidance that will help you recover from disordered behavior or thinking or prevent it from happening with you.
3. Don't try to do everything. Don't go sugar-free, gluten-free, organic only, etc all at once without supervision by a medical professional. Choose to eat locally or decrease your sugar intake, for example, and take note of how your body feels and what is manageable not manipulate-able for your lifestyle.
4. Take yoga, run, get a walking buddy, ride your bike around the block with your kids, run into the store, journal, draw or find an activity that fuels your balance and well-being that has nothing to do with the food you are eating but adds to your sense of healthy living.