Mireille's Journey To Health

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Am I Too Obsessed With Healthy Living? Is It Black And White? – Updated

black and white

I originally shared this published this post yesterday, 7/19/2015.  However, I really loved and appreciated this comment from Steven Bratman MD (@StevenBratman) and wanted to add it to the top of this post.  He commented on my post, and I love how he explains how it’s not about what you eat, it’s about your reasons for eating that way, and the way it impacts your life.  It is OK to be passionate about healthy eating.  I want to thank Dr. Bratman again for taking the time to read my post and helping to clarify this “grey” area for me.

July 20, 2015

Edit

Really nice post on the gray areas around orthorexia. Basically the dividing line is when interest in healthy food significantly impairs other major dimensions of life. The impairment can be physical (if you’re restricting so much you are making yourself ill), psychological (for example, if your sense of identity and well-being have become too food-centric), emotional (for example, if you are too often anxious about food), social (for example, if your interest in certain food choices has led you to signficantly isolate), or perhaps even spiritual (if food has become a sort of pseudo-spirituality) In other words, food should serve you and not impair you. That’s the rule of thumb!

S Bratman, inventor of “orthorexia”

There is something that has been on my mind for quite some time now.  The more I learn about Orthorexia and disordered eating, the more I question where the line should be drawn.  Orthorexia is an unhealthy obsession with health.  I actually have a really great post on the topic from Bodhi Life on my blog.  You can read it, here.

Lately, I see so many posts and articles covering these two topics.  According to eatright.org, disordered eating covers a wide range of irregular eating behaviors.  Orthorexia is the unhealthy obsession with healthy food.

So, here I am, and I am very passionate about healthy living and healthy eating.  Where does that leave me?  As many of my blog followers are aware, I do have a history of disordered eating.  You can read more about my struggle with that, here.  When I read about orthorexia and disordered eating, I sometimes wonder if I’ve crossed the line.  How can I know?  Where do you draw the line?  How can a healthy living enthusiast avoid crossing the line?  I’ve spent a significant amount of time considering where that line should be drawn.  I want to share with you my resulting thoughts, thus far.

I’m Happy with myself. I think this is a huge factor in deciding which side of the line I am on.  I don’t feel that I need to prove anything.  I don’t feel stressed or burdened by my eating habits.  I enjoy making and eating clean foods.  In fact, sometimes, I think of things I’d like to make, how they can be made, and I just can’t wait to get started.  It’s fun to me.  It brings me joy!

It has a small impact on my social life.  I do like a certain control over my food.  I do.  However, to my defense, I have legitimate reason to want control.  I have celiac disease.  I have food allergies.  I have food sensitivities.  I spent most of my life experiencing stomach discomforts.  I almost always wore a tummy ache on the outside.  I kind of thought it was normal.  I’m just now learning how to eat so that I don’t have that discomfort and outward belly ache.  As I learn more and more what foods trigger my “issues,” I try to eat in a way that I can avoid them.  I must say that to me, that is hardly irrational.  After all, no one wants a belly ache.  However, a lot of popular foods from eateries or that are present at get-togethers are problematic for me.  Therefore, it does make social events with food a little difficult.

I don’t allow myself to go broke buying specialty health foods.  For the most part, I buy whole foods and make things myself.  I only treat myself to specialty health foods from time to time.  I can’t afford to buy all specialty health foods.  I know that.  I’m ok with that.  I don’t mind putting in extra time in the kitchen to prep things.  It’s actually enjoyable to me.

I honestly feel like I am passionate about healthy eating, and not unhealthily obsessed.  In a world where it’s so normal to have little to no concern with healthy eating, it’s hard to find people with healthy perspective with which you can compare yourself.  Just because it’s normal for everyone at the office to eat a donut for breakfast, does not mean you have a problem because you choose to drink a green smoothie.  Sure, they’re all looking at you like you’re crazy.  That doesn’t mean you should start eating donuts like them.  Your green smoothie is an excellent breakfast.

You can see how it’s so hard to draw the line.  There are things to watch for.  You have to be mindful of yourself.  For example, are you always on a special “diet?”  Are you constantly eliminating foods from your diet without any allergies, diseases, or sensitivities requiring you to do so?  Are you constantly participating in strict diet challenges?  Is your diet so strict it causes you stress?  Have you lost pleasure in eating?  Do you feel guilty or ashamed when you deviate from your “diet?”

As you can see, the concern isn’t so much about how healthy you are eating.  It’s more so in your attitude towards your eating and towards your food.  Two people can eat the exact same things, at the exact same times.  One may struggle with disordered eating, while the other does not.  You have to be self-aware.  The goal should be to fuel your body in the best possible way, for life.  If you can honestly say you are eating to nurture your body, then you’re doing great.

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8 comments on “Am I Too Obsessed With Healthy Living? Is It Black And White? – Updated

  1. Really nice post on the gray areas around orthorexia. Basically the dividing line is when interest in healthy food significantly impairs other major dimensions of life. The impairment can be physical (if you’re restricting so much you are making yourself ill), psychological (for example, if your sense of identity and well-being have become too food-centric), emotional (for example, if you are too often anxious about food), social (for example, if your interest in certain food choices has led you to signficantly isolate), or perhaps even spiritual (if food has become a sort of pseudo-spirituality) In other words, food should serve you and not impair you. That’s the rule of thumb!

    S Bratman, inventor of “orthorexia”

    Liked by 1 person

    • mireillesjourneytohealth
      July 20, 2015

      Thank you! That comment is so helpful, as I feel many of us who are passionate about eating healthy have questioned where we stood.

      Like

    • mireillesjourneytohealth
      July 20, 2015

      Dr. Bratman, I know I already replied to your comment. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciated it so much, I added it to the top of my post. I feel that many people who are passionate about healthy living would appreciate your comment. I wanted to make sure it would be seen by as many people as possible. Thank you, again!

      Like

  2. ranu802
    July 20, 2015

    I understand your concern, my feeling is if certain foods cause you problems why eat it. i think you are doing the right thing.I know you are eating healthy and to feel better, nothing wrong with it, Mireille, do what makes you feel good. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ashley
    July 21, 2015

    The most important thing is that you have this awareness. That is key. Namaste my love. xo

    Like

    • mireillesjourneytohealth
      July 21, 2015

      Thank you, Ashley! I appreciate that, as I did think of you when I wrote this post and looked forward to your feedback.

      Like

  4. Pingback: Week 1 Of My 21 Day Sugar Detox – The Ups And Downs | Mireille's Journey To Health

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