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FIXATION ON RIGHTEOUS EATING: ORTHOREXIA

orthorexia

As you continue to reach your health goals, nutritious meals are naturally recommended. No matter what eating plan you are following, consuming healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy protein, omega-3 fats, and dairy are typically always encouraged. However, when does it come to the point of becoming obsessive? This may be rare, but it is becoming more common among our population.

A relatively new eating disorder called orthorexia nervosa is when there is a fixation on righteous eating. This can be a rigid style of eating—eating right, being “good,” and self-punishment if temptation wins out (excessive exercise, stricter eating, fasts, etc.). The innocent attempt to eat more healthfully may curtail one to the point where healthy eating is no longer “healthy.” Certain food groups may start disappearing. For example, it starts out by cutting back on all trans-fats (a positive thing) and over time the mentality changes to “fat makes me fat.” Side note– that is not true. Going out to eat or social events with friends and family cause a lot of anxiety and relationships eventually struggle —all for the control to maintain the highest food quality and purity as possible. The motivation is on health, but healthy food and eating can become the identity. If this may be you or someone in your family see this link: orthorexia nervosa

I am not saying to NOT follow a healthy diet. However, if you are plugging away at your meal planning or grocery shopping and you are diligently focused on creating the “perfect week” to the point you become fearful of adding anything relatively “bad” to your plan, you may need to ask yourself if it is becoming an unhealthy barrier to the enjoyment of other areas in your life. Orthorexia nervosa may be on the extreme “righteous” side of the spectrum, but I am seeing more individuals becoming fearful of calories, eliminating food groups because they are processed a certain way, or cutting back on fruit because it has too much sugar. To me, this sounds pretty exhausting. Below are a few take home messages (all from personal experience):

  1. Put love into your food. Get in the kitchen, take recipes and make them your own, savor your meals, enjoy your food. Developing a healthy relationship with food is crucial.
  2. Stop being your own food police. Punishing yourself for making a “bad” food decision isn’t going to fix why you chose that food in the first place. Instead of trial and error—it is trial and learn. Give yourself some grace just as you would towards others around you.
  3. Take advantage of the support in your life. I’m sure everyone has someone or an outlet that makes them feel more confident, balanced and healthy in their life. For those at home, reaching out to your H3 family can be a good first step…
  4. Check out this video from Good Morning America: Too much healthy not the best thing

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