Be Healthy: But Don’t Overdo It (Yes, It Is Possible To Be TOO Healthy)

Be Healthy... but not Too Healthy (Orthorexia)

Of course, we want you to be healthy. But did you know it’s possible to be too healthy?
Too Healthy?

How can one be too healthy? Surely, if healthy is good and very healthy is very good then too healthy is …

… not the right thing for your body AT ALL!!!

I came across the term orthorexia in a newspaper article quite recently. Orthorexia is the name of the disease people have when they want to eat only healthy food to the point of depriving themselves and malnourishing themselves.

It’s ironic indeed that by wanting super good nutrition some people end up with malnutrition!

Here’s Why Being Too Healthy Leads To Illness

Orthorexic people are obsessed with eating pure food. It might start because of family habits, social trends, recent illness or reading/hearing something negative about such and such food. It might start slowly by eliminating just one type of food, then another, feeling better, more energised, then eliminating yet more food until the food specifications list gets quite long indeed:

  • – organic
  • – no added sugar
  • – no artificial additives
  • – no GM
  • – no unhealthy ingredients (hydrogenated fat, caffeine, sweeteners, corn syrup, invert sugar, antioxydants, salt,..)
  • – no undesirable ingredients (lactose, gluten, …)
  • – low in saturated fats
  • – high in essential fatty acids
  • – locally produced
  • – …

There is some underlying truth in this list and some good advice – some of it you’ll find in this very website – but imagine ONLY buying food that fits ALL these criteria. You’ll be left with very little choice. Taken to its extreme, orthorexic people will lose weight (not because they want to lose weight but because they just don’t eat enough), may suffer malnutrition and even die.

Another issue I have with this list is the ban on food groups like salt, undesirable ingredients, sugar rather than a reduction of consumption. If you are not lactose intolerant, why ban lactose?

Enjoy Good Food

You see, I love the whole ‘You are what you eat’ idea. I want healthy food for me and my family. But, being French, you won’t stop me frying my eggs in butter (shallow frying that is). It tastes sooooo good.

What is desirable is a healthy body, energy, vitality, good skin but you don’t have to go over the top to achieve it. Improve your diet by all means, get healthier ingredients, watch the quantities, exercise but remember moderation, remember to break your rules once in a while and, above all, take the time to enjoy good food.

In all things, I try to remember Voltaire: The Best is the enemy of the Good (le mieux est l’ennemi du bien).

Moderation

Again, Be Healthy. take advice and put it into action, but don’t go over the top. Good health is often about doing things in moderation. Doing things in the extremes or to excess is often a recipe for disaster. Be healthy, observe good health practices (check out the health section of our site here: Improve Your Health or our 10-Point Health Plan for some great free advice) but remember to be realistic.

If you liked this article please share it or let us know in the comments below.


Comments

Be Healthy: But Don’t Overdo It (Yes, It Is Possible To Be TOO Healthy) — 20 Comments

  1. this is happening to me at the moment didn’t realize it can lead to unhealthy but I feel better eating healthy I see benefits, but it is making me feel abit depressed having to.keep out a look out but seeing the benefits it does makes me want to carry on. I still eat some unhealthy food at times but I am cutting it out more and more each day …

    • Hello B,
      When you say this is happening to me, do you mean orthorexia?
      It’s very commendable to want to improve your diet and eat healthily, especially if you’re starting to see the benefits.
      But don’t push it so far that it makes you depressed to have to check everything out.
      Food is also about pleasure: pleasure to cook, to eat, to discover new tastes, to enjoy company around a good meal. Sometimes, it might mean that you need to relax your rules a bit but that’s not the end of the world if, most of the time you stick to eating healthily.
      I hope you find a balance that suits you.
      Best wishes
      Isabelle

  2. Hi Isabelle,
    I too have gone overboard with my food and drink choices and it is too limiting. Sometimes I eat pizza or other foods that aren’t so great and then I will balance it out later by having a garden salad or a green smoothie.

  3. Yes! Good post. I know too many people that are at the point of psychotic about eating healthy. They spend money they do not have on this obsession, as meanwhile other things of importance go by the wayside. One of the most vital attributes that we can have is moderation/balance in everything that we do. Thanks for drawing attention to this important topic.

    • I couldn’t agree more – moderation is a real watchword for me. The problems always start when we introduce excess – even things that should be good for you will hurt you if taken to extremes…

  4. Wow! I never thought an illness like this existed. Such obsessions could not only hurt your health but potentially relationships one is in. I feel sad for people in this situation.

    • Me neither but when Isabelle pointed it out to me it does make sense. I have seen a few obsessive health nuts who look borderline unhealthy to me (a little like Everton’s point below but I’m talking about anyone too obsessed with health, not just veggies). The great news for me is that I am highly unlikely to ever suffer from this particular disease πŸ˜‰

  5. This kind of reminds me of how far I took my eating habits a few years ago. I tried to cut out saturated fats, salt and sugar mostly but I ended up cutting out more foods than I was expecting. Eventually I found my list of things I could eat getting smaller and smaller. I didn’t realize that it could make you sicker in the end though. I’m glad I didn’t do it for too long.

  6. Great, I often say the sight of a vegiterian is no advert for being a vegiterian. Also issue when take drinking alot of water people messing up potassium levels.

    • ah – possibly a little controversial with that one my friend. I know some very fit looking vegetarians, the point perhaps is that a lot of vegetarians just cut out a lot of the nutrients they would be getting if they weren’t vegetarians and don’t replace them with anything.

      That being said, I also know a LOT of ex-vegetarians and more cases of women who became meat eaters during and following pregnancy and then never went back to being vegetarian.

      Interesting point.

      • I think my comment and my own resent personal experience supports your argument. I have high cholesterol(of course more complex than we thought light and heavy cholesterol has muddied the water also looks like the scientist are learning more about this every day invalidating what knew yesterday) and big blood pressure. We tend to see things in black and white. So Salt is bad lets not eat any, sugar is bad, lets not eat any, fats are bad lets not any. We forget that we do need these ‘nutrients’. I suspect that many vegetarian are not critical enough to make sure week by week they have correct nutrients in their ‘limited’ diet. (limited because it for sure does not include that super food, meat).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *