Our Health and Wellness bloggers, Kat and Ash from Body Fusion are back to answer a curious question – Can you eat too healthily?!
Is it possible to be too healthy? Eat too much kale? Go to the gym too much? Well I’m here to tell you, it is. Ever heard of the term ‘orthorexia?’ This is the new term describing a condition when one has an obsession with ‘healthy eating’. We constantly hear about how to be healthier, lose more weight and choose better foods but the flip side of all this is when this information is taken too far, causing more harm than good. What may surprise you is how sneakily it can develop. I’ve seen orthorexia start out as an innocent attempt to make healthier food choices before it started causing greater health problems.
My first experience with it was with a young female client, Rosie*. Rosie had always been a very active teen & young adult but her life had gotten extraordinarily busy with a new job and moving out with her partner. She had always been concerned about the size of her body and noticed she had put on a few kilos so decided to cut out all the ‘junk’ in her diet. Rosie did so for a month or two but decided to take it further, removing dairy and most meat products. She started to decline invites out to join her friends for lunch because there weren’t items on the menu she felt were healthy enough for her. Rosie followed many Facebook & Instagram accounts that promoted healthy food – all the time. When I met Rosie she was underweight, had no energy, lost her period for 3 months and developed an iron & vitamin B12 deficiency. Food caused her an incredible amount of stress and she didn’t enjoy any of the meals she used to. Rosie didn’t think that trying to eat healthier could of made her feel like this, but it really showed that anything taken too far isn’t good for the body.
When does eating healthy go too far?
Let’s get this straight; there is nothing wrong with eating healthy foods! However when this quest starts to take over aspects of your life and causes stress/anxiety it has gone too far. Eating a balanced diet means not banning any particular foods and still eating foods for reasons beside how ‘healthy’ a food is. The constant exposure to picture perfect meals on social media, the constant warnings that we are all too fat and the need to eliminate foods in order to achieve wellness has contributed largely to the rise in orthorexia.
Can you really eat too healthy?
Eating healthy foods surely can’t be THAT bad for you, right? To put it simply– yes actually, it can be that bad. Doing anything to the extreme will most often bring risk and fixating overly on having to eat healthy all the time can result in:
- Nutrient deficiencies; eg. iron, calcium, vitamin B12, folate and zinc.
- Social isolation
- Loss of the ability to know when you are hungry and full
- Feelings of failure or the ‘stuff it, I’ll start tomorrow’ mentality
- Lack of energy & loss of physical fitness
- Stress & anxiety leading to other eating disorders including anorexia or bulimia.
How to tell if you or someone you know may be showing signs
If you answer yes or sometimes to some of these questions then you may be taking your healthy eating too far.
- Do you restrict particular foods /groups?
- Does food take up a large amount of time and attention in your life?
- Does eating food that isn’t ‘healthy enough’ make you feel guilty?
- Do you find excuses to avoid eating out occasions or choose to eat alone because there isn’t anything you could eat?
- Do you only eating foods because of their nutritional composition?
- Are you overly controlling of food preparation & cooking?
What to do
To recover or better manage orthorexia we work on restoring balance back into meal times and redefining what ‘health’ means for you. We work on relaxing strict rules, eating for reasons other than to fuel the body and enjoying foods again. If some of these points hit home or if you’d like a check to see how balanced your healthy eating really is then be sure to visit us at Body Fusion. As Accredited Practising Dietitians, food & eating is our speciality, we can help you find what’s right for you.
Katrina & Ashleigh from Body Fusion
Address: 221 Longueville Rd Lane Cove, New South Wales, Australia
Phone: 0410 533 213
Web: Body Fusion
Facebook: Body Fusion
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