Obsession with Nutrition—When Healthy Eating is too Much.


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Have you ever heard about “Orthorexia Nervosa?”

It’s an obsession with healthy food that impacts the lives of those affected—theyquit going out to eat.

Instead, they stay at home, to prepare fresh food for every meal, because it distresses them if they cannot find what they classify as pure and healthy food. The tricky thing is that this eating disorder little-known.

In fact, healthy eating is instead, rewarded and reinforced by society.

About nine years ago I was 20 kg heavier than I am today. I got ill and slept for days. When I recovered, I decided to change my diet completely. It was my literal wake-up call.

So, I ate no more fried food, no soda and no junk food. Instead I consumed water, green tea, fresh food, fish, lean meat, and started to exercise regularly.

I started learning more about nutrition, read many books, articles and talked to quite a few people about it. I even tried several diets like high protein weeks, rice, fruit or soup days, no carbs or juicing. I tried everything.

Some of it showed results in one way or another. However, I knew this wasn’t anything for the long term, because it’s impossible to stick to meal plans like that forever and it simply isn’t good to deprive our bodies of certain food groups in the long run.

I started to wish I didn’t know so much about food?

I recently had an interesting talk with someone who is into food like me. We discussed “good and bad” foods, eating habits and trends. I caught myself saying out loud what I’ve been thinking for years now: “I wish I didn’t know so much about nutrition.”

And no, I didn’t want to show off. I meant it.

I went on to say: “Food would be more enjoyable if I didn’t know what’s actually in it and what it does to my body.” The person nodded and added that he feels bad after eating a “cheat meal,” not because of the calories, but because he knows that it wasn’t “good food” for his body.

That’s where we got with our “knowledge.”

We let it prevent us from truly enjoying a piece of delicious “bad” food. My big aha moment was a few days ago when I encountered yet another article saying that what we thought were “good foods” are actually “bad” for us.

So, I finally had it! Really!? Lemon water or green juices with kale are now bad for our bodies?

I decided to put a full stop to this.

No, I’m not trying to self-diagnose myself, but I do believe that it’s important to listen to opinions that might challenge my thinking help me reflect on my behavior. I’m still not a fan of lists of symptoms and questions to find out if “you have something” or not. It’s all about learning, self-reflecting and challenging deep-routed assumptions.

But isn’t “good food” healthy for us?

Of course it is! I won’t stop eating vegetables, fish, fruit and my beloved oatmeal in the morning, nor will I start going to fast food restaurants. But I will start re-introducing delicious “bad” foods into my diet occasionally again without feeling bad when I eat them. I do notice and appreciate what eating greens and whole grains, drinking water and green tea has done for me and my overall well-being. Yet, I do know that an apple turnover or piece of chocolate won’t “ruin” that.

There has been an increase in food allergies and food intolerance’s within the past several years. I’m wondering if we are truly physically “allergic” or “intolerant” to certain foods, or if it’s actually a psychological intolerance or allergy.

Our minds are incredibly persuasive.

The key to healthy eating is moderation and balance.

At the end, what it really comes down to is moderation and balance and listening to our bodies. Although our bodies generally have the same mechanisms, we are all still unique. What feels good to some people, doesn’t have to feel good to others and vice versa.

What makes you truly feel good? Happy? Nourished? Energized?

Think about how children eat: slowly, mindfully and simply stopping when they are full.

These are healthy behaviors we could indeed re-integrate into our lives. Also, pay attention to the skin, hair and nails. Our bodies will show us exactly when we’re missing certain nutrients.

Food is definitely our best doctor and medicine.

I’m now eating food and doing exercise that make me feel good physically and mentally—my favorite, most effective diet of all.



What is Orthorexia?The latest eating disorder everyone’s talking about: http://stylecaster.com/orthorexia-latest-eating-disorder-everyone-is-talking-about/

Health food junkies causing more ‘orthorexic eating disorders cases’http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/6038301/Rise-in-orthorexic-eating-disorders-sparked-by-healthy-food-obsession.html

Kale? Juicing? Trouble ahead! http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/01/kale-juicing-trouble-ahead/?src=me&ref=general&_r=1


Relephant Read:

Quotes and Mantras for Eating Disorder Awareness Week.


Author: Karen Naumann

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: pixoto, media library


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Karen Naumann

Karen Naumann earned her M.A. in Counseling & Organizational Psychology in Chicago, IL. After living in the USA for six years, she decided to move back home to Germany in 2012. She’s a strong believer in the mind-body connection and looks at each individual as being unique. Karen is a health-nut, and passionate about traveling, cultures, languages, healthy nutrition, as well as practicing yoga and Pilates. Her goal is to inspire others, and to share the importance and beauty of life with positive thinking even in difficult times.
Website: www.yogilation.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/yogilation
Twitter: www.twitter.com/yogilation


7 Responses to “Obsession with Nutrition—When Healthy Eating is too Much.”

  1. poetofacertainage says:

    Thanks for this. I want to use it for a program at my local TOPS group. Some of our members seem to be obsessed with eating or not eating certain foods. I don't think that's helpful for healthy living.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your feedback!I'm glad you liked it! What kind of program are you planning on doing? Feel free to use my article! I'm happy to raise awareness for this topic. All the best and good luck with the program!

  2. Meg says:

    Sorry, kids don't eat slowly or mindfully, unless you constantly tell them to slow down and chew well. Yes, they usually stop when full, but not always.

  3. anaguardia says:

    Karen, thank you for this article. I can certainly relate. It's like the more I read the more my relationship with food gets weird and makes me feel bad. I suspect that that is what it's not healthy, and the true path to eating, nourishing and caring for ourselves is another.

    If you haven't, I think you'd like to see this e-book and blog: http://www.stumptuous.com/fuck-calories

    • Karen says:

      Thanks a lot for your comment and feedback! I believe sharing our stories always shows that we are all in the same boat at the end, struggling with similar challenges and mostly asking ourselves the same questions. The factor that can make healthy eating unhealthy is actually the obsession about it itself. Thus, avoiding going out with friends or even to friends' houses, because they do not, or even only MIGHT not, cook according to the "healthy food standards" that affected people set for themselves. Thanks for suggesting the blog! I'll check it out 🙂

  4. Addison says:

    Thanks for sharing this knowledge. As we all know that nutrition is very important for our health.
    Old saying goes,
    "An apple a day keeps the doctor away"

  5. Jennie says:

    Hey Karen,

    Great article! I too have experienced the moment where you think 'I wish I didn’t know so much about nutrition.' and I think my friends wished I didn't also!

    My journey towards being meticulous with my diet started as a result of a health scare in my early 20's and it really became an obsession, to the point where my friends joked I was a 'Food Snob' and very occasionally a 'Food Nazi'. I was a real pain, commenting on how 'unhealthy' others meals were for them and trying to impose my own strict 'food regimes' on them and especially my boyfriend at the time. In hindsight I must have been a nightmare to eat with or cook for but I felt that NOT sharing my what I knew of nutrition would be to the detriment of my friends, essentially… I thought I was helping. Quite quickly I realised that I was enjoying food less and less, it was instead a painstaking (and expensive) full time job just to eat. I had to take a step back and now thoroughly enjoy/look forward to my 'cheat days'. Like you say it has to be about balance, moderation and (for me) tolerance. You can lead a horse to water but you can't force it to filter it and add a slice of lemon 🙂

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