We all know someone (or allotta someone’s) that eat too much junk food. They constantly eat cakes, cookies, fast food, and other non-nutritive food – and that results in bad health, obesity, and other issues.
That’s well and good – and doesn’t shock anyone – but the truth is there are two sides to this coin. So what’s the other side?
Orthorexia. A lot of people have never heard of this condition – and until a while back I hadn’t heard of it either. It’s basically an obsession with eating healthy food. While on the surface this seems harmless – it can be a big problem.
First of all there are no bad foods. One could argue that Trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, and sugar are bad foods…but the truth of the matter is that moderation is the key. In small amounts these media labeled “poisons” cause little if any issues.
In my opinion the reason these “little devils” are singled out one at a time is to avoid the giant (and real) monster that is attacking us every day. The monster we should worry about is over consumption – and a better word for it is gluttony. In order to avoid being guilty of gluttony we will push the blame off on just about anything.
“I’m overweight because of high fructose corn syrup.”
“I’m fat because aspartame really isn’t calorie free.”
“Trans Fats are killing us.”
This is all well and good – but weighing in 50lbs or more overweight (I’ve been there) might have a little to do with those health issues and mortality rates as well. The fact is that everything is killing us. Too much of everything. Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup – all of them. They are all killing us daily – because we eat enough of them to sustain 2 people on average.
That’s right, on average in the USA we eat enough food to sustain at least 1 ½ adults. 2800 calories/day is about the average, and most people need no more than 2000 calories (many might not need that many every single day). A big percentage of Americans consume even more than this. Gives a new meaning to the term “eating for two” huh?
Until we admit that we are eating too much – little can be done in the way of improving health and obesity. But let’s face it – it’s not fun to admit you are committing one of the seven deadly sins – gluttony- on a daily basis. Admit it anyway, and fix it. I admit I’m a glutton right now – but I don’t allow myself to give into the temptation (at least the majority of the time).
OK, so back to obsession with healthy food. I have known many people who eat pristine diets – organic this, no pesticide that – whole grains, legumes, leafy greens and gluten free – but still are overweight. What gives?
Well, these people are eating too many calories to sustain their bodies. Regardless of the source of the calories – if you eat too many of them you will wear them as adipose tissue. In other words you’ll carry the extra calories (fat) from steel cut oats and egg whites around just like the extra calories (fat) from Trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. I’ve heard the following many times:
“I can eat as much of this as I want – it’s low carb.”
“These can’t be making me overweight – they have Omega 3’s.”
We have to watch the overall amount of fuel going into our bodies – and there is absolutely no substitute for that. We can’t eat as much as we want of anything – no matter how healthy or “clean” it may be. A love handle made from super healthy food looks exactly like a love handle made from Mars Bars. Trust me on that – there’s no such thing as an attractive love handle. So problem number 1 from Orthorexia is the that it promotes gluttony because it’s deemed “healthy”.
Problem number 2 is that nothing taken to the extreme is healthy. Depriving yourself of good tasting foods is a recipe for disaster. If you eat nothing but plain rice, chicken breasts, and tuna in water then what kind of life is that?
Food is one of the great pleasures in life – and if you deprive yourself of tasty treats now and then you aren’t really experiencing life to its fullest. I really don’t know of anyone who doesn’t like a good brownie or a piece of cake – so if you like it – have it now and then!
The problem in America isn’t that cake or brownies exist – or even that people eat them – it’s that they eat them too often and in too big of portions!
I’ve been Orthorexic – and I’ve been completely in the opposite direction – GLUTTONOUS – and let me tell you, neither extreme is where you want to be. One direction has hunger, deprivation, and constant watching of the food network (maybe that was just me) – the other direction has indigestion, high blood pressure, a 44 inch waist (that was just me) and huffing and puffing up 6 stairs.
Fall in the middle. Have some treats now and then and keep things under control at the same time. Just because Dairy Queen has 2 for 1 blizzards doesn’t mean you have to have one every day this week. Eat within your limits all week and go get one on Saturday.
That way when you walk in DQ, you’ll be doing so with a tight, trim body and a feeling that you “deserve” a treat. There is nothing better than accomplishing your goals for the week and taking yourself out for a treat as a reward.
Trust me if you are wearing size 32 waist pants or a size 6-8 (for the ladies) clothing size and you are eating a blizzard – you ain’t doing nothin’ wrong. You deserve it.
In this age of gluttony and plenty, keeping things under control and staying lean is quite the triumph – and when you triumph you deserve a reward. Don’t deprive yourself…let moderation be your calling card – just like it is for CE-Fitness.
Jay Scott is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, NPC National Level Bodybuilder, Fitness Model, Author and Nutrition Coach. Jay owns CE-Fitness, a Personal Training business in Lexington, KY. Jay has been helping people lose weight and transform their bodies since 1998. Contact him at email@example.com or visit his site at www.cefitness.net for books, products, training options and more.