“Many of the most unbalanced people I have ever met are those who have devoted themselves to healthy eating.”
– Dr. Steven Bratman
I got my phD before enrolling in the Google University continuing education program. If there were a “Hello, I am Dr. K, and I am a google-holic” group, I’d have to join up. I can’t go two days…one day? 12 hours? without googling or searching up something. I fixate on information, searching or researching for info, in order to equip me to make the “best decisions.”
A lot of the time, such fixations are about “health” food, exercise, wellbeing. Yep, confession time…I may be a wee bit obsessed with being “healthy.”
I am a label lover (is there HFCS in here?) a mile manager, a power-of-now priestess. I am flax follower, a green guru, an activity addict. I am a resveratol reveler, a yoga yeti, and a library lingerer.
All in the name of living a healthy “balanced” life…and for the most part, I lead an enriched existence. The problem arises when I feel GUILTY when I fall short of “health perfection.”
I think we need to be aware of when our pursuits for health detract from our sense of self-worth…when we start defining our “goodness” by health behaviors. Dr. Steven Bratman warms that the desire to overcome chronic illness or to improve general health, can sometimes led to a disorder of “orthexia:” a health obsession that is “unhealthy.” It depends on an iron will to change habits ingrained in childhood and reinforced by a fast-food-driven culture, but is overly rigid and inflexible.
One study on food preoccupation showed that people with no disorder spend 15-20 percent of their day thinking about food, while dieters, 20-65 percent; people with bulimia, 70-90%; and those who struggle with anorexia, 90-110 percent (Healthy Weight Journal, 1998).
Bratman warns on his website that the motivation behind the disorder “is a health food theory, such as rawfoodism, macrobiotics, veganism (and) that, in most cases, the underlying diet is reasonably healthy (if unreasonably specific). It’s in the obsessive approach to diet taken by an orthorexic that the disorder lies.”
More information about this intriguing disorder is available at www.orthorexia.com, and Bratman has written a book on the subject, Health Food Junkies: Orthorexia Nervosa – the Health Food Eating Disorder
What happens to you when you don’t meet you own high standards of health? Are you a perefectionist? Do you call yourself “weak” or “bad” or “unbalanced” Do you then put yourself on a newly revised, and stricter, “health plan?”
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