Health Nut?

Are you an enthusiast for healthy food? Have you ever been called a Health Nut? If you’re reading my blog, I’m sure you can relate. I’ve been there…oh, who am I kidding? I’m there now! Haha, all joking aside and because I’m a Health & Wellness Coach, it’s easy for me, or anyone, to fall into this pattern of living. It’s healthy, right? Well…

For some people, interest in healthy food can transform into an eating disorder. The following self-test is designed to help you determine whether you have come close to, or have already crossed, that line.

  • Do you spend more than 3 hours a day thinking about your diet?
  • Do you plan your meals several days ahead?
  • Is the nutritional value of your meal more important than the pleasure of eating it?
  • Has the quality of your life decreased as the quality of your diet has increased?
  • Have you become stricter with yourself lately?
  • Does your self-esteem get a boost from eating healthily?
  • Have you given up foods you used to enjoy in order to eat the ‘right’ foods
  • Does your diet make it difficult for you to eat out, distancing you from family and friends?
  • Do you feel guilty when you stray from your diet?
  • Do you feel at peace with yourself and in total control when you eat healthily?

Today, I learned about a term called Orthorexia Nervosa, coined by Dr Steven Bratman, MD, MPH. Have you heard of it?

If you’re health focused like me, and according to Dr Steven Bratman, answered yes to at least 4-5 of the above questions, you may be developing Orthorexia Nervosa. Let’s take a look.

(1) I spend so much of my life thinking about, choosing and preparing healthy food that it interferes with other dimensions of my life, such as love, creativity, family, friendship, work and school.

(2) When I eat any food I regard to be unhealthy, I feel anxious, guilty, impure, unclean and/or defiled; even to be near such foods disturbs me, and I feel judgmental of others who eat such foods.

(3) My personal sense of peace, happiness, joy, safety and self-esteem is excessively dependent on the purity and rightness of what I eat.

(4) Sometimes I would like to relax my self-imposed “good food” rules for a special occasion, such as a wedding or a meal with family or friends, but I find that I cannot. (Note: If you have a medical condition in which it is unsafe for you to make ANY exception to your diet, then this item does not apply.)

(5) Over time, I have steadily eliminated more foods and expanded my list of food rules in an attempt to maintain or enhance health benefits; sometimes, I may take an existing food theory and add to it with beliefs of my own.

(6) Following my theory of healthy eating has caused me to lose more weight than most people would say is good for me, or has caused other signs of malnutrition such as hair loss, loss of menstruation or skin problems.

Dr Steven Bratman defines Orthorexia Nervosa as: an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food. The term is derived utilizing the Greek “orthos,” which means “right,” or “correct.” He believes very strongly that Orthorexia can be a debilitating behavior or way of life, especially if it gets in the way of the more important aspects of your life such as relationships, career, etc.

I’ve always taken the 90/10 approach. 90% of the time, I eat healthy foods and exercise.  I don’t like to live in a world of absolutes when it comes to my diet and I don’t think you should either. 10% of the time I eat french fries with mayo, spicy nacho Doritos…OMG, SO GOOD! and indulge in a cocktail or two. I believe we need to take care of our bodies but we also need to be kind and forgiving with ourselves, live life and enjoy every moment, indulge our cravings and just ‘let loose’ every now and then. Think about what you ate as a child, all the junk food you and I consumed…it didn’t kill us.

If you feel that you have an obsession with healthy eating and it has had a negative impact in your life, you may want to read Dr Steven Bratman’s book titled, ‘Health Food Junkies.’

And remember my approach; 90/10 rule – and enjoy life!

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