When does “healthy eating” become unhealthy? Orthorexia is a term used when dedication to healthy eating turns into a pathological obsession with “clean food” that begins to interfere with an individual’s daily life. An official definition is lacking, but it may be defined as a “pathological fixation with righteous and healthy eating.” Orthorexia goes beyond an emphasis on healthful and nutritious foods. It often turns into a debilitating belief that only the foods that fall within carefully prescribed rules—often self-created—are suitable for consumption.

Treating Orthorexia Nervosa requires far more than a physician or nutritionist/dietitian explaining the merits of consuming a wide variety of foods (although that is undoubtedly an important aspect). Orthorexic individuals require counseling and guidance from mental health professionals trained to address this type of behavior. While learning and applying guidelines for healthy eating is essential for health, it is also important to recognize when it is becoming a problem, possibly detrimental to health.

How Healthy Eating Becomes an Obsession

It is not surprising that an obsession with healthy eating exists. There are many myths about food and nutrition on the internet. It is essential to know that good nutrition requires three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrate, and fat. Never eliminate any of these from your diet since all are needed for a well-functioning body. However, research shows that a diet that helps one person get healthy may not be effective for another. This is mainly due to individual differences in genetics and lifestyle. Dietary programs can range from very low carbohydrate to high protein and high carbohydrate. The current trend is high fat, which may not be appropriate for some people. We must learn what macronutrient ratios work best in our bodies – for optimal energy, weight management, and overall health.

Some with health conditions such as cancer, autoimmune disease, and Lyme disease often find a diet online, in a book, or from a naturopath. However, that does not mean it will be the best approach for everyone with that condition. Working with a nutritionist who understands the importance of food nutrients is essential. An approach based on an assessment of your condition and lifestyle is critical. Strict dietary approaches can often create unintended imbalances in the body.

What is a Healthy Diet?

Recent research compared every diet, and the winner is real food. Diets that were compared included Mediterranean, low carb, low fat, low glycemic, Paleolithic, vegan, and elements of other diets. Most scientists support the idea that diet is vital to health, but many argue about the best diet. Common aspects of various eating patterns are proven beneficial to health. This study concluded, “A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants, is associated with health promotion and disease prevention.”

Lastly, it is important to recognize that while diet can provide an excellent foundation for healing, it is not the only factor affecting the process. Be sure to consider other factors such as emotions, attitudes, physical environment, sleep habits, structural abnormalities, and dental problems, all of which can affect overall health.

At Sanoviv Medical Institute, we offer customized dietary guidance with each program. This helps you discover the healthiest eating plan for you.