So we’ve all heard of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, the commonly known eating disorders that can be very life threatening to ones health. But have you ever heard of Orthorexia Nervosa? If not, I bet you’ll never guess what’s behind this “eating disorder,” and why its very controversial. Orthorexia is when one obsesses over eating healthy. That’s right, now they’re saying you can eat too healthy? Wait, is that even possible? This disorder was first brought to my attention in one of my Nutrition courses at school. I’m not going to lie, it kind of made me pause in my seat and think long and hard for a few seconds.
So, how is it one can eat too healthy and this can pose health issues? That’s the tricky thing, it doesn’t actually pose any serious internal health issues like heart failure, cancer, liver damage, etc. it’s actually threatening in another way. Many times we forget to stop and consider ourselves; our wants, our needs, and how we receive joy from life. Better yet why and how we receive joy from food. Orthorexia is a disorder when one forgets how and why they are eating in the first place. It is when they obsess so much over eating a perfect diet that it starts to affect their normal life. Many times this can result in isolation from the people they love, the outside world around them, and more importantly, their own self.
Most times, “health” or “nutrition” fails to recognize happiness as a major factor. Feeling fulfilled with life, in your own skin, with the great meal you just ate, is equally as important as how many calories it contained or how low in fat it was. Now, by no means am I saying go out and eat an ice cream sundae every meal because it makes you feel happy. What I’m basically saying is 80/20. My dad told this fraction, phrase, guideline whatever you want to call it, a few years ago and its a great rule of thumb. Eat well 80% of the time and the other 20% you can splurge a bit.
The teacher who taught me what Orthorexia is, always stresses one thing about referring to non-nutritious food. She stresses, not to call it “junk” or “bad” or “fattening”. This is a very important habit to adopt especially when raising young children. Deeming foods such as chips, cake, cookies, ice cream, or soda should instead be referred to as sometimes food. I think this is a good habit for not only children but also adolescences and adults. It’s okay to enjoy a piece of decadent chocolate cake you’ve been dying to have every once in a while or to eat a meal that may not have been the best healthy choice, but it’s not going to ruin your life! Especially if you enjoyed it. <— There’s the key, enjoyment. Did you really enjoy it? How did it make you feel? How did it taste? What memories did it remind you of? Were they good memories or bad? What did you like about it? What didn’t you like about it? We live in a society that either pushes enjoyment completely to the side lines or completely over indulges in it. But, consistently recognizing why you actually enjoyed eating a particular food or meal is such an important skill when learning to live a healthy lifestyle.
Whose to blame..?
So, whose to blame for this new found phenomenon that one can eat too healthy and have that actually be unhealthy? The way I see it, it’s a mix. It’s a mix between what the media portrays as “healthy” and how the receiver interprets this idea of “healthy.” Remember true health and wellness means more than just being thin, having nice skin, or having low blood pressure; being healthy means living holistically. It means loving who you are inside and out, enjoying the way your diet contributes to your overall health, feeling happy to wake up every morning, and being close to the things you value most in life.
Blaming the media isn’t really going to fix anything, they are out for mostly one thing and that’s money. Ignoring that fact would leave out a big factor in why so many every day people’s whole self is being tainted by a $ sign. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you will start living for YOU not how someone else getting paid tells you how to live.
But leaving the media out of this topic completely, would be foolish. The media does play a big role in why teenage girls strive to be a size zero. The media does affect the way men portray a “beautiful” woman. The media does affect the way many think they should or should not be eating. And the media does affect the way an individual judges their own life- that’s the scary part. Someone you’ve never even met before, getting paid to brainwash you into conforming to their personal lifestyle; telling you how to look, how to feel, how to act, what to eat, what to drink… is making you second guess, you. That’s not healthy.
- Eat what makes your bodytruly feel good.
- Don’t call foods junk, instead call them sometimes food.
- Eat foods in moderation especially the sometimes foods.
- Be happy in your own skin and body, remember you are beautiful!
- Don’t compare yourself to others, you are your biggest competition.
- Strive for health goals that promote your lifestyle.
- Learn to love food and the enjoyment you get from it.
- Try new foods, go outside the box, keep it playful and interesting.
- Don’t get down on yourself for splurging every now and again.
- Learn to balance diet with exercise.
- And most importantly eat for happiness, eat for health, eat for YOU.