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Health and wellbeing | 28.07.2014

Do you have an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating?

Spending a lot of time at home in your organic underwear drinking green smoothies? You could have an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating . . . 

You want to be fit and healthy and have great skin, right? That means you probably eat a pretty good diet based on fresh, living, nutritious food. Props for taking care of yourself.

But what happens when you take healthy eating to the extreme?

What happens when green smoothies, activated almonds, gluten-free food, organic diets, raw food diets, chia seeds, paleo diets, sugar-free diets, grain-free eating or whatever turns you on in the healthy eating department begins to take over your life?

Well Houston, we have a problem.

On the one hand we have a growing obesity epidemic that's far from healthy. But there are also more and more people developing an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating.

Don't laugh: it's a potentially serious health disorder.

'Orthorexia nervosa' — a term coined by Dr Steven Bratman in 1997 — is a an unhealthy obsession with healthy or 'righteous' eating.

It can start out with the best intentions — to be healthy.

But pretty soon, you find yourself obsessively checking the ingredients labels on everything you eat and obsessing over the quality and purity of every tiny morsel of food that passes your lips.

You might decline invitations to parties or restaurants because you can't control the menu. BORING!

You might annoy the crap out of your family and friends with your incessant lecturing about food.

You almost certainly have wrapped your identity around being 'THAT PERSON WITH THE EXCEPTIONALLY HEALTHY DIET'.

Important conversations might go in one ear and out the other, because you're too busy thinking about what you just ate, what you're planning to eat later, and perhaps even feeling superior to others who don't follow a diet as squeaky clean as your own.

Sound familiar?

How to tell if you have an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating:

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, the more of the following questions you answer 'yes' to, the more likely you are to have orthorexia:

What can you do?

If an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating is taking up too much of your time and attention, leaving you feeling guilty and down on yourself when you break your diet, and you're feeling increasingly isolated, it might be time to get some help.

A therapist who deals with eating disorders is your best bet.

With help you can get some normality and balance back into your life and begin to see that while eating healthy food is important, it's not the be all and end all.

If you eat well 80-90 percent of the time, you can afford to indulge in some deliciously naughty and decadent gastronomic pleasures occasionally.

Because hey — life's short. So give yourself a break.

Do you think healthy eating obsessions are becoming more prevalent? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

@bymukti

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