“Is your obsession with healthy eating making you ill?”
I never normally read newspapers, but when I spied the heading, ‘Is your obsession with healthy eating making you ill?’, I was hooked. This particular article in The Independent (on Mon 31st August 2015, written by Siobhan Norton) explained the emergence of a little-known eating disorder called ‘Orthorexia Nervosa’ – like food ‘OCD’. Whilst similar to other eating disorders; anorexia and bulimia, orthorexia doesn’t typically share the goal to become thin. Ironically, orthorexia sufferers are initially motivated to eat healthier ‘cleaner’ foods, which leads to a restrictive diet and a malnourished, crippled body.
Orthorexia appears to be the obsession with healthy eating, taken way too far, to a place way beyond enjoying a nutritious, delicious and balanced diet. There are over 27 million posts on Instagram with the hashtag ‘EatClean’, suggesting that anything out of this bracket is ‘dirty’. How many of you have looked at somebody’s social media – whether it be an Instagram account or a blog page – and felt guilty about not eating ‘clean’ food 100% of the time? People, particularly orthorexia sufferers, often feel suppressed by the need to be constantly planning their next meal or logging their daily food intake into apps which count calories. In my books, calories aren’t paramount, so long as they’re wholesome calories. Every time you eat it’s not only an opportunity to nourish your body, but also to have a good time and enjoy food.
Many food bloggers take food to the point where everything is entirely vegan, veggie, raw, refined and processed free, taking the ‘fun’ out of food. Stripped-back, this bare-food is no longer one of the pleasures of life, nourishing every part of you. Instead, a more balanced diet not only a lifts the weight off your shoulders, but is also better for you. ‘Eat the rainbow’, in other words, try to stay away from ‘orange’ processed meals where most of the ingredients come from cans or frozen packets. A little bit of what you fancy every now and again is good, but always bear in mind the 80/20 rule – 80% of what’s good for you and 20% of what you fancy. In order to eat a more varied diet, you have to ‘retrain’ your taste buds to different foods. Start introducing them slowly and gradually work your way up to a balanced diet.
What this article taught me was that food should not take over your entire life, it should be one of the joys that comes with being alive. Food should be balanced, wholesome, nutritious and delicious. So go, eat food, enjoy it, and reap the benefits!