A large part of the population today seems to be on a diet, for better or for worse. It has become a normal monthly ritual for many. But, when does it become harmful? If you have an unhealthy obsession with otherwise “healthy eating”, you may be suffering from orthorexia. It isn’t recognized as an official eating disorder yet. But, it can definitely ruin your life. Instead of enjoying the food you have in front of you, your mind will be preoccupied with fat grams, protein, and carbohydrates. Look out for these signs to decide whether you are taking your healthy eating too far.
1. You Develop Your Own Diet Pattern
People with orthorexia categorize foods into good and bad. A green salad is good whereas white bread is bad. Processed meat is unhealthy whereas salmon is healthy. And then you develop your own diet plans without consulting a nutritionist. For you, what matters more is the connection between foods and any health concerns associated with them. You are obsessed with following that diet, which looks perfect to you.
2. You Eliminate Entire Food Groups
This is a common practice nowadays. By cutting out whole food groups, you deny your body the required micronutrients. While you plan a perfect diet, there is no place for creativity or love for your body. You try to avoid foods that are termed as unhealthy such as processed, refined, or sugary foods. In the process, your body will be deprived of macronutrients such as protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. It is, of course, healthy to control the intake of these damaging foods. But leaving out an entire food group is not a good idea.
3. Food Controls Your Life
Are you obsessed with cooking shows, food blogs, or recipe books? Do you try to follow diet tips available on the internet? Do you spend hours planning your diet? Then, realize that your life revolves around food. If your life is controlled by food, it is time for you to do something about it. Your mental well-being is also vital for health. So, if you don’t live your life and spend the entire time focusing on foods, then you may end up with orthorexia.
4. You Never Eat Out
When your health obsession rules your life, you may miss out on social interactions. Eating out becomes a scary thing for you as it derails your diet. You keep too many restrictions on yourself. When you look through the menu, you look for gluten-free, organic, and chemical-free foods. Well, this is an alarming sign. There is no harm in eating out once in a while. Counting the grams of healthy nutrients in the food should not be your priority every time.
5. You Are Conscious Of Eating Patterns Of Others
Unhealthy eating practices do not make a person bad. Food choices are not a yardstick to judge people. If someone eats pizza, that does not mean he is a bad guy. So, do not consider yourself as the good person in the gang.
6. You Are Isolated Due To Your Dietary Practices
People suffering from orthorexia may find it tough to participate in social events. You tend to develop irrational behaviors when it comes to food preparation. Bringing your own food for parties is one such behavior. You don’t eat out with family at all. You avoid parties with your friends. To make it worse, you make attempts to popularize your healthy eating habits among your friends circle. The end result? You will be isolated due to your dietary practices.
7. You Are Scale Obsessed
An increased desire to look young, especially among women is a wrong trend that we see today. The number of pictures that people post on Instagram and Facebook boasting of their low weight is astronomical. This makes most of them scale obsessed, thus, developing weird food habits. More than staying young at heart, low weight is what’s important for them. Thus, your body’s demands do not dictate your eating habits, instead, your desires to stay fit dictate them.
8. You Feel Guilty When You Don’t Follow A Diet
Do you experience internal turmoil when you stray from your diet? When you plan your life around food, it is natural for you to feel low. If you go through such depressive feelings over your eating lifestyle, then you may have orthorexia. Feeling depressed and guilty is one of the prominent signs of orthorexia.
How do you get out of this? The first step is to admit that there is a problem. Then, analyze the reason behind your obsession. Something must have prompted you to follow such strict diet plans. Do not hesitate to seek professional help if you find it terribly difficult to free yourself from the shackles of a strict diet.