Is there a point where healthy eating becomes problematic? Can the quest for health actually take a turn that results in your being physically and mentally unhealthy?
The short answer is yes.
You may or may not have heard the term Orthorexia. It is an Eating Disorder although it has not yet been made its way into the DSM 5 as an official diagnosis, it is still a very real problem.
Orthorexia is essentially when a person’s healthy eating goes too far. The disorder typically starts out as an attempt to eat healthier, but then turns into something that is very rigid, which becomes a problem.
Often times, this goes unnoticed for a while because it is applauded in our culture when you are able to eat a salad all week at lunch and “be good” all day in terms of your eating. Again, these “achievements” are viewed as positive in our culture. The fact that society typically views these behaviors as exhibiting will-power and strength, makes it easy to overlook this disorder as an actual disorder.
This disorder consists of restrictive eating. How is this different from Anorexia? The big difference is that the person is not engaging in their behaviors because of an intense fear of gaining weight. They typically do not have a distorted body image either. Weight loss often occurs, although that typically is not the goal. Many with this disorder actually say they don’t like the way they looked, they felt they were “too skinny” or that they looked like a “bag of bones.”
The problem is the inability to be flexible with their eating. Sometimes they may suffer weight consequences; becoming underweight and unable to gain because of their restrictive eating.
It also affects people socially as well. Again, there’s a rigidity around healthy eating. Let’s say the person will only eat organic, and never budge on that. Their family is going out to eat at a restaurant and the person can’t go because the restaurant does not offer organic options. Maybe the person will go, but won’t eat. This becomes problematic.
It is possible for healthy eating to go too far, become problematic and cause issues both physically and mentally. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make choices that you perceive are better for your body, but the real solution is to be flexible with it. You are human and you are not reasonably always going to be able to do the “healthy” thing all the time.
If you feel there are choices that are healthier for you, that you can still be very healthy if you make those choices the majority of the time. Remember, flexibility is important in making sure you’re taking care of your mental health as well. If you seek health, you can’t underestimate the influence your mental health has on both your physical and overall well-being.
If you feel you are struggling with Orthorexia, please get seek help from an Eating Disorder therapist who can help you recover and find more balance in your life. If you’re in New York, contact me here! If you live outside of New York, here’s a video guide to finding the right help for an Eating Disorder!
I hope you found this post helpful! If you know anyone else who could benefit from reading this, please share with them. If you have any questions, concerns or requests for future posts, please leave a comment or message me privately.
I wish you wellness and flexibility on your journey to finding your State of Balance!
You may also like this video:
When Has Healthy Eating Gone too Far? (Orthorexia)
Getting the Right Help for an Eating Disorder (Guide)
And these posts:
You Can Eat Whatever You Want
Our Cultural Paradox
Access to Treatment
Binge And Restrict Cycle
Eating Disorder Specialist
Healthy Self Vs. Eating Disorder