The Dr. is in????

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“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?”

Share your thoughts here by Monday and email this post to a friend be entered to win Dr. Kracker Cherry Seminola!

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12 thoughts on “The Dr. is in????

  1. i am SUCH a perfectionist / type A it isn’t even funny. i tend to get caught up in having everything right and “just so”. in everything: school, running, fueling, working. luckily i have really great friends who knock me on my ass and put life in perspective 🙂

  2. i definitely hold myself to high standards, but not necessarily with respect to health. more with . . . work, running, following through with what i’ve planned, etc.

    i’m curious about the 110% figure noted in the anorexic group! was that because their dreams were about food as well?

  3. I try really hard to just live moment by moment. I used to beat myself up by exercising a lot or eating less days after I ate “too much”, but now I’ve noticed that if I eat “too much” one day, I automatically have less of an appetite the next day. I try not to think about it, and eat like I did when I was a kid.
    Those statistics were very interesting, and so sad. I can’t imagine thinking about food 100% of the day, but I guess when I was anorexic (in high school and parts of college) I was in that category. Sad.

  4. i hold myself to high standards but i think its a good thing (for me). i think it can become overbearing.

    and honestly, i think most americans need to think about it a little bit more — or a LOT MORE.

    i worry too much about getting sick though! like mysterious cancers.

    • You’re right…most Americans say “I shouldn’t” eat this or “I should go to the gym,” but then have too much to deal with in their day to change habits. Isn’t it funny that Americans want a ONE method, sure-fire approach to “health”… we can generalize advice to us sometimes that is not the best. Some of us need to hear “relax and live a little” and some of us need to hear “you need to be more aware of your health”

  5. Perfectionist…me? Nah. 😉

    I am way to hard on myself when it comes to being healthy – a bit obsessive about it in fact, I won’t lie. However, I’ve been overweight, and I don’t ever want to go there again. I love knowing that my chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes are much lower. I want to live a long life.

    The joy of eating a bit of chocolate cake lasts about 30 seconds. Knowing what sugar does to me is not worth it in my opinion.

    I’m also totally vain, and I would die if I could no longer fit into my favorite pair of jeans.

    I’m always revising my eating plan, and I’ll be the first to admit that I am too hard on myself sometimes. However, which do you think is worse? Pushing myself to eating a healthy diet…or being a 100 pounds overweight. I’ve experienced both, and I think I’ll stick with being hard on myself.

    • I am the same way! I’d rather push myself then feel “lazy” and I evaluate and scruntinze “is this worth it?” my food choices…but food is ALWAYS a brief pleasure. And there is no “good” food or bad food CHOICE when done with intentionality and awareness. If I have trouble feeling ashamed because of one brownie, something is wrong!

  6. I am the same way girl — so Type A about everything! It’s torture really.. setting such high expectations for ourselves to be perfect in every aspect of our lives.. to eat perfectly, to have the perfect workout regime, to get perfect grades.. chello, no ones perfect! I have to keep reminding myself of this and stop setting unrealistic goals for myself! Thanks for the reminder, sweetheart 🙂

  7. Well said, K! I find from time and time again that this is a huge issue here in the blogosphere. People are just getting too obsessed over their eating and nutrition to the point of borderline orthorexia.

    I certainly used to be like that. I would FREAK OUT if anything was made with unrefined flour, and kill me before I’ll ever eat a McDonald’s burger. I even thought abt doing the raw food thing.

    Some people have no choice but to follow strict diets because of their allergies and stuff, but other normal people like us should learn to loosen up some. Of course we have the responsibility of taking care of our own bodies…but not to the extent of severely limiting and restricting our intake and lifestyle and social life.

    You know, a wise man once said: “Diet is a way of starving yourself to death in order to live longer.” Hmm….

  8. I check labels for HFCS or mainly ingredients that I don’t recognize. I guess for the most part I just stick to whole foods or all-natural things. Buuut I try not to get too hung up on it. It’s weird though because since I like makings things from scratch.. most of what I buy doesn’t have an ingredient list because it’s just simple foods. Anyway, if I’m on a road trip, I’ll pack some snacks but I’ll make a stop somewhere most likely. It’s not like going to a fast food place is going to kill you. Dairy Queen blizzards are the bomb when you’re sitting in a warm car with the sun beating down on your feet resting on the dashboard lol. Besides, since I know that I mostly eat nutritive foods, the inside of my body is lookin’ pretty good and can withstand lots of things. In the end, I don’t want to give food the power to make me feel guilty or less-worthy.

    This is an interesting posts, much like all of your posts 🙂

    http://www.ohonemorething.wordpress.com

  9. Awesome post — I definitely tend to label myself as “good” or “bad” — it’s a hard habit to break. Especially since my blog is a recovery blog (from disordered eating) my vulnerabilities are on display every day. Sometimes it’s hard to be so honest. No one’s judging me but me; I could omit certain facts but then who would I be? A fraud. This road is messy, bumpy … that’s the reality. I definitely used to border orthorexia but lately I’ve been able to let that go. Health is a holistic notion — not just one thing.

    So how healthy am I if I eat “well” but then spend 3 hrs “working off” an indulgence? Not so much!

  10. this is a great post, K! I think many of us have some kind of obsession for being healthy all the time and it’s dangerous as anything else when it takes to the extreme.
    thanks for reminding us! 🙂

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