Should you be obsessed with your health?
I was asked recently if I felt that people were worried to cook for me if they invited me over for dinner?! This took me by surprise as it never occurred to me that this could be the case. After all, I do eat everything; I’m not vegan, I do eat dairy, gluten and even sugar. I will buy farmed salmon instead of wild-caught rather than not at all and rarely say “no thanks” to cake but I do draw the line at sweets; I’m talking wine gums, mints etc. (Nutritionally void and sickly sweet, why would I?!)! So, whilst nothing is completely off-limits, of course, what I eat is important to me. But am I obsessed with my health?
Living with a public online presence does also mean that I do have a responsibility to uphold my values and live by the advice I offer. After all, if I want others to follow my healthy habits, I need to know that it is achievable and will not cause harm. I will never offer extreme advice because I simply can’t live that way myself. I love food and all that is associated with eating; the social aspect, the lifestyle that comes with seeking to be healthy and of course, how I feel day to day. It is this positive message that I love to share and it’s certainly not a case of all or nothing.
So, whilst this approach to me seems measured and reasonable, for many this may seem “obsessed”. Is there such as thing as too healthy? Has being healthy become an obsession?
There is indeed a term for this; Orthorexia (nervosa). This is an eating disorder that involves an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. It mostly focuses on the quality of food rather than quantity (unlike other eating disorders). The purity of that food and the health benefits are paramount.
Paradoxically, if not addressed, the consequences of orthorexia can be just as severe as those from other eating disorders.
How about you?
Have you fallen for the latest food fad or trend?
Eating healthy is about including a variety of foods to nurture your body and it’s rarely a case of eating any one food in excess, let alone in isolation. Eating healthy foods is not mutually exclusive with no room for flexibility. There are countless ways to eat to lose weight, to improve your skin, to promote your energy levels or frankly to achieve any health goal and eliminating one type of food or food group may not be the best way for you.
The anxiety and stress of sticking to a rigid food schedule in itself can trigger unhealthy eating patterns and an unhealthy approach to eating and your overall health. You may find yourself with no option but to eat the forbidden food; should you then miss that meal to ensure you don’t break the rules and then risk the consequences; low blood sugar, triggering cravings leaving you susceptible to grabbing an unhealthy quick fix. The dilemma in the first instance is likely to cause stress that can lead to the same outcome.
Are you constantly thinking about what you’re eating or what you’re going to order if you know you’re going out?
Obviously, if you have an allergy to a particular food or an intolerance, these are reasons why you should be avoiding them. However, if you’re worrying about what you’re eating because you think you’re going to put on weight or simply that it’s unhealthy, you may be causing yourself more stress and anxiety than you need.
Your body is incredibly resilient and eating unhealthy food or a food that is not strictly going to support your health goals will not register negatively if it’s a one-off. There is room for fluidity and flexibility and you will still achieve your goals despite this slight lapse. It’s important to understand this and you’ll find it much easier to achieve long term changes that are sustainable. In other words, you will simply eat well and your health will be supported naturally as a result. Your mindset is key here.
So, should you be obsessed with your health?
No, you shouldn’t be obsessed but neither should you be lax about the importance of staying well and healthy. But it’s about balance and more than just about what you’re eating. It’s about prioritising all the aspects that lead to a healthy you; sleep, exercise, meditation, relaxation as well as good nutrition. It’s about connecting with people who are likely to lift your spirits and surrounding yourself with people you learn from and people who encourage and support you.