Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Healthy living vs. Orthorexia

I have been meaning to write this post for awhile now, as I have time and time again come across this assumption from others that my diet is perfect. I strive to be healthy. I alter recipes to include healthier choices and more nutrients. I share Facebook posts about my smoothies and juices, and yummy snacks (mmmm black bean brownies). There are certain foods I refuse to buy such as pop, cookies, processed crackers, juices etc. I read nutrition books for fun. I have multiple boards on Pinterest related to Holistic Nutrition, Alternative Health and Fitness. I go to the market every Saturday morning, giddy when I see fresh batches of kale and juicy honey crisp apples. Yes, this is the picture you all have of me, and it isn't an untrue one.

Let me now paint for you the other side of my life. Before I do though, let me bring up a new buzz word you may have been hearing lately: orthorexia. Huh?? Orthorexia, as defined by Wikipedia, is "a proposed eating disorder or mental disorder characterized by an extreme or excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy"

Last year I was with a group of people talking about chocolate bars, when I piped up that Wunderbar was one of my favourites. The shocked look on one girl's face took me by surprise, and she quickly exclaimed "YOU know what a Wunderbar tastes like??" I'm not sure I even found the opportunity to answer, but my thought was "ugh yeah, of course I do!" When I was pregnant with my third child, I confessed to a group that I had been eating a lot of crap, and her response was "yeah but your definition of crap isn't really crap."

I suppose my Facebook following only has access to the events and moments I post. I run a health and wellness business, of course I'm not going to post the indulgences I have or what I consume when I'm hangry and not prepared. I want the focus to be on health and nutrition and motivation, but I certainly don't want people to think I am perfect (we all know the word perfect is just a subjective term that nobody can ever attain anyway)

If you run into me at the grocery store, yes, my cart is full of organic produce, natural organic foods, grains, natural nut butters, raw nuts, wild caught salmon and so on. BUT I don't eat this way ALL the time. I know what chocolate tastes like, I know what Doritos taste like. I consume these things on occasion and don't feel guilty about it at all! Well...there was that time I was pregnant with my third and went to Burger King, immediately followed by Dairy Queen - a royal feast. Yes, I felt guilty about that one, and the thought today makes me grimace. I love pizza. It doesn't love me, but I eat it, dripping grease, processed white crust and all. I eat Timbits and cheese popcorn. I've gone weeks without working out. I've had moments I just want to go out and buy a giant chocolate chip cookie to enjoy with hot chocolate - regular, processed, crap filled hot chocolate. I am a sucker for cupcakes. I have eaten to the point of feeling awful. I have binged on junk food. I have eaten an entire pizza on my own. I have polished off my kid's Halloween treats. I am human after all.

I eat really healthy at least 80% of the time, and definitely allow for junk. I do think my definition of unhealthy differs from others, but all the same I do indulge. Sometimes that indulgence includes a square of dark chocolate, sometimes it's a bowl of sprouted grain cereal topped with unsweetened almond milk, sprinkled with hemp seeds, and sometimes it's a cheese/tomato/green olive pizza from Pizza Hut.


I don't believe in extremes. I don't believe in restrictions (unless it's for something such as an allergy). I don't believe in guilt after indulging. I don't believe in strict dieting. I believe in freedom and choice and a guilt free lifestyle as far as diet goes. If you spend the majority of your day filling your body with nutrients and the things it needs to run smoothly, eat that cookie you desperately want, and ENJOY it. Don't make it your norm, but there is NOTHING wrong with straying from the path you have carved out for yourself. There is no need to follow an all or nothing plan.

Everything in moderation, that's my motto. For me, guilt leads to unhealthy habits and a self worth that is tied into food, and I know better than that. So I take care of my health and pride myself in that, but also allow for extras. Life is all about balance, and I hope you are able to find that freedom in the balance of your diet as well.

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