Hiram College

In a world so crazed with being “healthy” is there a possibility that being too healthy could actually lead to being unhealthy?

In a blog post found on eatingdisordersblogs.com, Andrea Wachter discusses the topic of how healthy eating can become unhealthy.  The author discusses that what can start as cutting out unhealthy foods can become an extreme obsession resulting into the disorder orthorexia.  “People who suffer from Orthorexia become obsessed with eating foods they deem healthy, safe or pure.”  While people who suffer from this disorder are trying to be healthy, the result can sometimes end in malnutrition due to the fact that so many things are cut out of the everyday diet.  In a world filled with low-fat, gluten free, and cutting out processed foods, this may simply seem like the thing that we are supposed to do.  When we become so obsessed with the types of food that we are actually consuming, it can become dangerous.  This type of disorder can become a replacement for dealing with certain feelings such as stress, anxiety, or grief.

The author does a good job of laying out signs and symptoms illustrating how a person’s “healthy” lifestyle may in fact be a disorder.  She describes, “When a slice of pizza with friends or an occasional piece of birthday cake is unthinkable, it might be time to take a closer look at your patterns.”  She states that if you suspect that you are suffering from this disorder, you must ask yourself when this activity started.  What things were going on in your life?  She states that for many people something painful has happened that makes a person feel out of control. In order to combat those feelings, the person turns to taking control of the food they eat, their weight, and how often they exercise.  She does a good job of describing the disorder as an iceberg, with the tip (the part you can see) being food, weight, and exercise.  People tend to focus on these things rather than the real issues, such as emotions, underneath the surface.  By recognizing this problem, a person can go through treatment to learn how to cope and deal with difficult feelings.  They can begin to slowly introduce foods back into their life and remove the focus from food to emotions.