Somebody asked me last week what the difference between healthy eating and Orthorexia is.
It was a great question because how do we identify a person who is suffering with an eating disorder or who is just truly chasing health?
Everywhere we look there are messages on how to be healthy, what constitutes health and who you are meant to be. The last one being a very precarious message to base your personal food and activity choices on.
On the flip side this means we also have a lot of messages out there which tell us how bad we are as people or how wrong we are if we don't meet certain expectations of 'health'. These messages are unhelpful and they can be stigmatising.
I speak to a lot of people who are confused, because they really are trying hard to be healthy and they are taking note of all of these messages out there on social media, in the press and on TV. And what happens is they can get caught in a never ending spiral of food rules.
I want you to ask yourself - WHAT ARE MY FOOD RULES?
It can be something as simple as having protein with every meal or it can be complicated like only eating certain things at certain times of day.
Food rules can be based on cutting things out or adding things in. They can be how you combine foods or how you count what you are eating.
Maybe you allow yourself a 'cheat meal' for 'being good'?
Sometimes food rules will be short lived or are hard to stick to and may not become a problem, they might also allow you to reach a goal you have then not be required, they may become part of your life..... but I now want you to ask yourself -
What are your thoughts when you break a food rule?
How does this affect your behaviour?
What effect does it have on your emotional state?
The healthy attitude to breaking a rule which you set for yourself is to get over it and move on. Not by making great waves trying to overcome it by doing a 20 mile run or only eating lettuce leaves for the rest of the day. Not by beating yourself up then demolishing a whole packet of jaffa cakes then beating yourself up some more because you don't understand why you binged.
If you find that breaking a rule which you set for yourself results in intrusive thoughts or intense emotions which drive difficult behaviours then this is where help is needed and it's where the fine line of being healthy becomes having an eating disorder.
It is not the food rules that are healthy or unhealthy - it is the resulting behaviour and emotions associated with a rule being broken.
We all have our rules and funny ways, but they just make us who we are. When who we are becomes a battle on a daily basis then it's not healthy (no matter how much healthy food you eat or how many runs you do).
Healthy bodies can overcome your perceived 'mistakes' if you learn how to listen to them and understand what the thoughts and emotions are trying to tell you. Wouldn't it be better if you learned that instead of relying on external rules and cues?
If you feel like you have troublesome food rules and would like a chat to find out how to start fixing them, then just book a free call with me here and I'll be happy to chat to you and point you in the right direction.