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Why Taking Healthy Eating Too Far Can Become Unhealthy

upset woman contemplating to change into healthy eating habits

Healthy eating can provide us with many benefits, such as maintaining a healthy weight and preventing chronic illnesses. In fact, dietitians and healthcare professionals often recommend healthy diets to improve our overall health and live a long life.

At Z.E.N. Foods, we are also advocates of healthy diets. However, there are instances where taking healthy eating too far can cause negative side effects to our overall well-being.

In this article, we will elaborate further on what are the implications of overdoing a healthy diet.

Orthorexia: When Healthy Eating Becomes an Eating Disorder

Orthorexia is an eating disorder where people have an obsession with eating healthily. Unlike other eating disorders, most people with orthorexia don’t fixate on weight loss — they fixate on improving their health through their diet.

Eventually, people with orthorexia develop a distorted definition of what a healthy diet entails. Unfortunately, this eating disorder can interfere with a person’s life and health.

Signs You Are Taking Healthy Eating Too Far

Like other eating disorders, most people don’t notice when their eating habits start to be unhealthy. Here are the orthorexia warning signs to look out for:

  • Making a healthy eating lifestyle as your main personality trait.
  • Thinking poorly of others who don’t eat as healthy as you do.
  • Having feelings of remorse or guilt when breaking your diet. For example, feeling bad when engaging with emotional eating.
  • Taking restrictive eating too far and depriving your body of sufficient nutrients.
  • Overspending resources – such as time and money — on your healthy eating lifestyle.

Side Effects of Orthorexia

Orthorexia may cause health issues. For example, when people with orthorexia restrict food groups to an extreme, they can develop malnutrition. When malnutrition becomes severe, the risk of developing health issues— such as osteoporosis, infertility, and kidney failure — increases.

Orthorexia can also lead to mental health issues like anxiety, stress, and emotional instability. Furthermore, individuals with orthorexia are prone to turn to social isolation to avoid gathering where they feel they don’t have control over food.

What is the Difference Between Orthorexia and Healthy Eating?

The healthiest diets are those that allow you to have a healthy relationship with food in both body and mind. With a healthy eating regimen, you can have the freedom of indulging — with moderation — in your favorite treats without feeling guilty.

On the other hand, people with Orthorexia tend to label food into “good” and “bad” and follow it to the extreme – they only pursue the “good things” with zero tolerance for the “bad things.”

Why Labeling Foods Prevents a Healthy Relationship with Food?

Stripping the flexibility of occasionally enjoying favorite treats that are labeled as “bad” usually infuses the desire even more, and it could cause negative emotions such as guilt, self deprecating or despair from wanting the “band things” without even consuming them.

Furthermore, keep in mind that food science is always changing. For example, remember when egg yolks were “bad food” because of their high cholesterol levels? Well, now, new research states that eggs are one of the most nutritious foods you can have in your diet. In fact, even people at risk of developing heart disease or who already have it can consume eggs in moderation.

In a nutshell, nutrition science is very complex and ever changing. Therefore, it’s recommended to consult healthcare professionals who know your medical history and physiological needs before labeling any foods as good or bad. Discuss with your physicians and find out how flexible you can be with your favorite foods in order to improve your relationship with food in both body and mind.

Finding Balance and Making Peace With Food

Orthorexia is a serious eating disorder that requires treatment from a healthcare professional.

If you or one of your loved ones has orthorexia, we encourage you to talk to both a nutritionist and a therapist. A nutritionist can help you discard misconceptions about food that are contributing to your condition. Meanwhile, a therapist can help you address the cause behind why you have orthorexia.

Are you looking to develop a healthy relationship with food? We at Z.E.N. Foodsare here to help! We offer balanced meal plans that are both tasty and nutritious. Reach out to us today at (310) 205–9368.


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