Go Kaleo’s frequently used term “Dietary Dogma” has to be one of my favorite’s this year. Love, love, love it.
Personally, I don’t care which lifestyle diet you choose, so long as it actually benefits your health (lifestyle = set of principles that you choose to live by. Not being on A diet). If it includes lots of fresh veggies, enough protein, is mostly clean, allows for occasional treats and makes your BODY feel AWESOME, you get high fives from me. And if it doesn’t, hopefully you’ll make healthier changes over time that suit you.
But… feeling awesome is about how your BODY responds to your diet. Not how superior YOU FEEL because you follow it. That’s where dietary dogma can get tricky and MAY cross over into orthorexia: a growing problem in the fitness & health community.
Orthorexia is an unhealthy fixation on healthy foods. Unlike anorexia, the goal is not to be thin, but rather to be as healthy as possible. While that may not SEEM all that bad, there is a VERY big difference between someone making healthy lifestyle choices to ENHANCE their life, versus someone who’s healthy choices ARE their life.
Most simply, the difference can be seen in how two individuals handle a situation like hunger….
When faced with the option to either A. starve or B. eat McDonald’s, a person with a healthy relationship with food will choose McDonald’s. They know their body needs food, even if it’s not the kind of food they’d regularly have. They know that the only thing WORSE than eating McDonald’s is starving their bodies.
A person with orthorexic tendencies, on the other hand, would rather starve than eat unhealthy OR will experience SEVERE feelings of guilt, self-loathing and anxiety should they eat the undesirable food. Even when the alternative was starving.
See the difference?
**UPDATE: Just a little add on, since some people seem to be going NUTS over the idea of eating McDonald’s in the example above. I don’t want McHate to cloud the points being made.
I’m not talking about having to wait an hour before you can find yourself something healthy to eat. In the extreme example below (which, by the way would probably never happen in real life. Figured that most people would ‘get’ that, but hey), I’m talking about a hypothetical life or death situation that highlights the thought process of someone who might suffer from orthorexia.
Someone who would rather starve to death than eat McDonald’s HAS ISSUES (considering that most of these people avoid McDonald’s in order to be healthier, it seems funny that they would choose ‘death’ over it. If anything could be considered unhealthier than McDonald’s, it’s starving or dying. Hands down). That’s all I’m sayin’. I am not, nor have I ever, encouraged people to eat McDonald’s, lol. But if the thought of eating McDonald’s versus starving (not just for an hour or two) actually makes you anxious, stressed, or ________, you MAY want to look into that. That kind of thinking crosses over into MANY behaviors (and most don’t have anything to do with McDonald’s).
Like all eating disorders, it’s about your relationship with food AND there’s a scale. You may have some orthorexic tendencies, without it having a SERIOUS impact on your health (though it may cause you more stress than you’re aware of). The biggest concerns with orthorexics involve the anxiety & stress they experience surrounding food (and meal planning), a decrease in quality of life with increased focus on diet ‘perfection’, ignoring warning signs from the body and potential malnourishment/health problems pertaining to dietary restrictions (very severe at that point. Ortho-anorexia)
Some Signs You May Have Orthorexic Tendencies