DO YOU HAVE AN OBSESSION
TO EAT CLEAN?
I WANT TO GIVE ALL THE CREDIT TO THE AUTHORHOLLIE DEESE, FOR THE TENNESSEAN
(Photo: wildpixel, Getty Images/iStockphoto
If you remember in the past articles that I post we talk about the key word in Diet or Nutrition is BALANCE. But the question above it has to do that, yes is ok to have a goal to eat healthy or clean.
But the key word that we will refer to is OBSESSION. I will refer to a good source and see what you think and above all to see if it applies to you or any love ones or any person you know of and get help, let get stared.
Everyone knows that eating healthy foods and limiting unhealthy ones is best for optimum health, but what if you cross the line and it becomes an obsession?
If someone’s desire to eat clean gets to the point that they develop an actual fear of unhealthy foods it can lead to an eating disorder known as orthorexia.
According to the Eating Recovery Center, the national health care system dedicated to the treatment of serious eating disorders.
There are more than 30 million people in the Unites States struggling with controlled eating habits including anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and orthorexia.
“A focus on health and fitness can be taken to the extreme and can be deadly, so we as a society need to be more sensitive to the way we talk about health and fitness and how we message it,” said Beth Riley with the ERC.
While not all people who zero in on a healthier lifestyle develop an eating disorder, she said, “in susceptible individuals, the focus on health and fitness can transform into an eating disorder.”
Riley said orthorexia is not officially in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Illness (DSM-5) yet, but it’s being talked about.
“It really started becoming more problematic in the ’90s as people were becoming more focused on different ways to get healthy as an alternative to traditional medicine,” Riley said.
“Doctors and nutritionists were prescribing healthy diets, such as macrobiotics vegan, raw food vegan, the elimination diet, the Candida diet, the zone diet, the blood type diet, paleo.”
Signs of trouble
Jessica Bennett is a clinical dietitian for Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt Athletics whose specialty areas include weight management, sports nutrition, vegetarian nutrition and general health and wellness nutrition goals.
Bennett has treated a few patients who have been diagnosed with orthorexia and said it boils down to deciding when healthy eating has become a problem.
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to eat healthy and wanting to create a healthier diet pattern. But it’s a problem when people start becoming obsessed about it or when it starts interfering with their day-to-day life.
Not wanting to go to activities that they would normally go to, or avoiding eating out with friends or family because of the fear that there might not be something healthy available,” Bennett says.
Changing eating habits to a accommodate a healthier lifestyle is not an easy change to make, but a person who has made positive steps could be in trouble if he or she begins to restrict entire food groups such as fat or sugar.
Drastically increases cleanses and supplements, obsessively plans meals or refuses to eat foods made by others, or feels shame and guilt when eating a non-preferred food.
“They also might start developing a moral judgment of others based on their dietary choices,” Riley said. “They become more socially isolated or they only want to eat at home. Certain foods are idealized, such as kale or other super foods, while others are demonized.”
What initially starts as a choice becomes a compulsion, and a person with severe orthorexia might limit their list of acceptable foods to just a few — and only prepared the right way — which can result in malnourishment and other health problems.
Encouraged by social media
As opposed to bulimia, binge eating or anorexia, disorders in which people go to great lengths to hide and keep secret, orthorexia almost becomes something people in the midst of it are proud of.
Even though the disorder is driven by the same impulse to control the body through food, people with orthorexia might not hide and will even post their meals and workouts online for reassurances and recognition.
But, Bennett said, what is presented on Instagram and Facebook isn’t showing the complete picture.
“Most of the time people are not posting the not-so-healthy things they’re eating, they’re posting the picture-perfect things,” she said. “It sets up this fake reality that people try to obtain, but it’s not actually real.”
Sarah Hays Coomer is a Nashville-based personal trainer and self-proclaimed “diet abolitionist.” Her book “Lightness of Body and Mind: A Radical Approach to Weight and Wellness” (Rowman & Littlefield, May 2016), proposes that people will never be able to achieve a body they love by doing things they hate like food deprivation and limitation, punishing workouts and strict diets.
“Any way in which people are comparing their bodies to other people’s bodies, that removes us from how we actually feel in our bodies,” Coomer said.
“For me, it’s just not productive or helpful. If there’s not an enjoyment of living and a freedom in your relationship with food — which is so much of who we are —it’s removing yourself from your life and from your body in a way that would make those around you uncomfortable and social relationships would get in the way.”
Kids affected, too
Riley said young people who are looking for an identity turn to their peers on social media to help develop it, and seeing a barrage of unrealistic snapshots or hearing positive comments about their own can encourage healthy behaviors.
“It’s a vulnerable time in their lives, and their hormones are changing and their bodies are changing,” Riley said. “Kids today are under a lot of stress and this is a way of actually finding some control in their life, and also developing an identity.
Social media can certainly add the fuel to the fire.”
One of the problems is considering foods as “good” or “bad” in the first place. This can be a problem for parents who want to encourage healthy eating habits in children who can really take to heart what the adults in their life do and say.
“The best approach for parents is to model moderation,” Riley said. “We all know that certain foods are better for you, but if you have a child who is predisposed to developing an eating disorder.
You want to encourage them to eat everything in moderation and not to focus on the content in food. Children don’t need to be reading nutrition labels, they need to be able to eat what they enjoy.”
Riley said children predisposed to restrictive eating may have anxiety or depression, obsessive–compulsive disorder or a family history of an eating disorder. And orthorexia falls right into that, sometimes unknowingly encouraged by well-meaning parents, coaches and doctors.
“The focus on obesity and health and fitness is well-intended, however, the collateral damage is resulting in more children sicker,” Riley said.
“A lot of these kids are going under the radar, not getting diagnosed. They’ll go into a physician’s office and since they’re not obese, their BMI looks normal. Even if the child has lost a significant amount of weight, they’ll be congratulated.”
According to the ERC, the number of children under the age of 12 admitted to the hospital for eating disorders rose 119 percent in less than a decade.
Eating as a family is one way to encourage mindful eating habits that also keeps everyone eating socially instead of solo. With orthorexia, it can be up to loved ones to notice when there is a problem and intervene, especially as the disorder progresses and people become more isolated with their eating.
“It’s very important that families eat together,” Riley said. “This is one of the biggest measures that a family can take to prevent children from developing eating disorders, alcohol or substance abuse problems, or any number of mental health problems.”