Being “too healthy” is commonly a topic that gets swept under the rug, overshadowed by media exposure on the current obesity epidemic and overall unhealthy habits that many people have. Nutrition Expert Marissa Puleo sheds light on the “hellthy” side of the spectrum that makes eating stressful and far from enjoyable. Take time to understand the dark side of eating “too healthy.”

Orthorexia – a term defined by Dr. Steven Bratman, is the “obsession with righteous eating.” Unlike anorexia and bulimia, those suffering from orthorexia are not exactly focused on being “skinny”, but more so the quality of their food.

The most heartbreaking thing about letting your healthy eating habits go too far is that it can potentially put the rest of your life on a back burner. Your focus is all things food and health with no room for anything else. 

Eating clean, following an arbitrary set of “rules”, avoiding certain ingredients, and not trusting others to prepare your food is what makes orthorexia a disorder and no longer a balanced healthy diet. As a matter of fact, there’s nothing balanced about it.

Not everyone will catch themselves when this persist, and that’s when things can dangerously spiral downward.

Check in with yourself here, and ask yourself the following:

  • When you eat the way you’re supposed to, do you feel in total control?
  • Has the quality of your life decreased as the quality of your diet increased?
  • Have you become stricter with yourself?
  • Do you skip foods you once enjoyed in order to eat the “right” foods?
  • Does your diet make it difficult for you to eat anywhere but at home, distancing yourself from family and friends?
  • Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet?

When eating healthy turns into an obsession that rules your life, that’s when it becomes a problem. The journey to leading the most healthful life has health implications, and why balance is so important. Those pizza slices, fudgy brownies, and loaded nachos can fuel our brains in ways celery sticks can’t.  Without balance, you miss out cultivating relationships, talking over coffee, and being all in when your friends decide to just order appetizers that everyone can share.

Being happy and satisfied is just as health-promoting as the healthiest green smoothie.

And if you’re going to feel nothing but stress and anxiety over your food choices, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Long-term stress wreaks havoc on our hormones and cardiovascular system.

So how does one overcome?

It starts with flexibility and a willingness to let go of your control over food. Understand the idea of mindful eating because it is indeed crucial to healing your relationship with food. It means honoring your body’s needs, finding pleasure in food, not feeling guilt, and listening to your hunger cues. Understand that there is no need for perfection. Move your body in ways that actually feel good as opposed to going to the gym if you hate it.  These are the things that will make you live a realistic healthy lifestyle that works for you. You will feel stronger, more alive, and have so much more energy!

Adapted from the full article.

Marissa Puleo, RDN, LDN is a private practice Registered Dietitian based in Scranton, PA helping people find the balance between healthy and happy.  As a ‘food peace promoter’, Marissa specializes in helping those with food struggles and disordered eating in learning how to enjoy food while leaving guilt and self criticisms behind. Connect with Marissa at Thrive Nutrition.