Time to Change Your Perception of Wellness?
Clean eating (because the opposite is what… filthy dirty?), paleo perfect, devil – I mean sugar – free and Jamie Oliver approved, quinoa-infused, chia seed studded, organically unrefined and proud, cold pressed, raw and absolutely raving about it.
If your daily mantra features more than one of the above, the chances are you could be Orthorexic.
What’s one of those?
Nope. It’s not the latest enzyme fueled spirulina smoothie topped with cashew nut butter. Orthorexia is actually a slightly startling condition and its seemingly innocent raspberry ripple is fast turning into a Mexican wave of Manuka honey madness.
An Orthorexic is one who has become, for want of a better word, unhealthily obsessed with eating ‘healthy.’
And my goodness how the Orthorexics love to preach to US about it. I mean By George. Or even By Gwynnie. Actually, I mean all of YOU who revel in getting up on your kitchen pedastals dishing out your flavoursome advice.
These un-sugar coated, guilt-induced musings about the absolute ‘sin’ of ingesting even a morsel of less than 85% organic cocoa solids are fruitless. You’re wasting your hemp seeded, yeast-free, garlicky breath.
Because some of us stand tall and perfunctorily proud as the peaks of a pavlova in our belief that food is life, love and everything else in between. And actually, the more you insist we bake solely with agave syrup and spelt flour, drink green tea half an hour before mealtimes and un-dirty our Danish pastries, the more determined YOU make US to prove that balance can be achieved. Sugar, salt, saturated fat and all of their cousins aren’t the enemy. The war you are waging is self-imposed. And it’s a war of the mind.
IT’S MIND OVER PLATTER.
You see, it’s our thoughts that determine whether the glucose in the Mars bar effects us negatively or positively. And quite frankly, if you guzzle your beetroot and apple juice in a hellbent fury, you can discount your cells imbibing any goodness. At all.
Which sounds crazy. Until you understand The Science Bit.
I talk A LOT about food and the insanity of our angelic and satanic labels for it. But with good reason. It has been scientifically proven over and over and over and over that it’s not what we eat, but how we feel when we eat it… and directly after. It is this and this alone that determines HOW our body uses that food: for us or against us. So Goop’s, Deliciously Ella’s, nutritionists’ and heck, even your doctor’s own views can only become ‘Captain of your ship’ – aka. your mind’s beliefs IF you are prepared to let them. It is YOU who gets to decide. Every time. Every bite and every crumb.
Which means Orthorexia only works…
If we hand on heart never feel deprived. And how many of us can honestly say that as we ‘resist’ the New York cheesecake and opt for the organic watermelon, feigning delight as everyone else tucks into dessert? Any time we resist anything – in edible or inedible form – we set in motion powerful forces within the body taking our cells out of alignment. And then chaos, to whatever degree, ensues.
This quote by Keanu Reeves, posted on his Facebook page, says it perfectly:
“My friend’s mom has eaten healthy all her life. Never ever consumed alcohol or any ‘bad’ food, exercised every day, very limber, very active, took all supplements suggested by her doctor, never went in the sun without sunscreen and when she did it was for as short a period as possible – so pretty much she protected her health with the utmost that anyone could. She is now 76 and has skin cancer, bone marrow cancer and extreme osteoporosis.
My friend’s father eats bacon on top of bacon, butter on top of butter, fat on top of fat, never and I mean never exercised, was out in the sun burnt to a crisp every summer, he basically took the approach to live life to his fullest and not as others suggest. He is 81 and the doctors say his health is that of a young person.
People you cannot hide from your poison. It’s out there and it will find you, so in the words of my friend’s still living mother: ‘if I would have known my life would end this way I would have lived it more to the fullest enjoying everything I was told not to!’”
And you have to admit… you’ll probably be able to reel off any number of smiley happy people who buck the trend and are able to eat whatever they desire, yet stay perfectly (enviously) healthy. Whilst at the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll be able to think of a similar number whose pantry resembles a health food store, who wouldn’t dream of missing their pilates class, yet they are continuously being struck down by X,Y or Z.
So the next time you offer your veins up a la Gwyneth for your vitamin injection, ask yourself this: are you really enjoying yourself? Or have you taken your lifestyle to the outer parameters of extreme?
Is your seaweed detox wrap an activity rooted in fear (of not shedding those ‘pesky toxins’) or an act steeped in love… and the (presumably) wonderful feeling your body is tin-foiled in before, during and after the event?
Herein lies the answer as to whether your Orthorexic tendencies are a good or a bad thing.
Now excuse me while I re-energise myself with chocolate encrusted honeycomb balls washed down with my Pink Himalayan sole. Both of which, incidentally, I adore.
As I said, it’s all about balance.
And if that doesn’t convince you to be kinder to yourself, to eat with your heart and not your head; if that doesn’t inspire you to deviate from the denial, and divert from the deprivation, then let The Danes wrap it up for you instead. Because the people consistently voted the happiest nation on earth might just have a thing or two to impart to the Orthorexic among us.
Helen Russell, author of ‘The Year of Living Danishly’, says it best:
“But Danes are pros at making the best of things… (they) know how to have a nice time without punishing themselves or denying themselves anything – very useful come January when everyone in Britain is on diets, manically exercising, abstaining from alcohol or subsisting on kale. Danes don’t binge or purge and there’s not much yo-yo dieting in Denmark. Instead, people are kind to themselves. This, in turn, makes them happier, and so nicer to each other.”
So, you see, it IS okay to have your cake and eat it.