Healthy Food Doesn’t Equal Orthorexia

After Nigella spoke out about ‘orthorexia’ I keep reading articles about it. It feels to me that some of them are saying its bad to try and eat food which is better for you and be healthier. If you haven’t seen anything about this there is a suggestion that there is a new class of eating disorder ‘orthorexia’ where someone has a ‘excessive’ fixation with only eating healthy food.

If I was more cynical I might think the food giants were pushing this as PR to say it’s good to eat processed foods…. 

Yes eating disorders are a real thing. Yes you can have disordered eating without having a full blown eating disorder (I see it as a spectrum). Yes I’m sure sometimes a choice to ‘eat clean’ (whatever that means to you) can be used as a way of masking an eating disorder.

However, what I’m not sure about. In fact what I totally disagree with is that trying to avoid toxins and eat real food which nourished your body is an eating disorder. Who defines what is disproportionate when someone is choosing to only eat foods they deem to be healthy.

I would argue that a focus on healthy foods only becomes ‘excessive’ if the persons health is suffering i.e. if they are using this focus to hide disordered eating.  

It’s become so common to eat fast food and processed food. To fill our bodies with toxins and chemicals. But surely it’s not a bad thing to go back to the goodness of Mother Earth and eat more real food?

Yes I’m sure that there are people out there using diet choices to mask an eating disorder but I’m also sure that there are plenty of people making daily choices to improve their health.

Every single one of these diet choices can be contorted to be very healthy or very unhealthy.

For example you could eat tons of sugar, simple carbs and processed food and still be vegan. Or you could be paleo and have most of your diet consisting of bacon, butter and maple syrup. With both you can also be make choices that suit your body and give you sufficient nutritional benefit.

Bodies are very clever and good at dealing with toxins. It may be that some fast food and processed food won’t impact our health, but is it so bad to take steps to increase the amount of vegetables and nourishing food we’re eating?

Has it become so common for ‘food’ to be created in a lab that we find it odd to eat real food? 

For health reasons I’m unable to eat gluten and cows milk. In addition, I chose to avoid soya and high FODMAP foods. I also take steps to reduce the processed food I eat. This does mean restrictions to my diet, which I suppose I could hide behind if I wished to conceal an eating disorder, BUT it doesn’t automatically mean a slippery slope to disordered eating.

For me, I’m comfortable that my eating choices are not ‘disordered’ providing that: 

1. I eat in a way which makes by body feel good afterwards

2. The food I eat tastes delicious and I savour the tastes

3. Within whatever diet constraints I have, I chose to have occasional treats.

4. I prioritise foods with good nutritional value.

5. My body is healthy and strong.

What are your thoughts? Is clean eating, veganism, paleo etc a cover for disordered eating? Does it automatically make you too obsessed about food?


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