Are you in a toxic relationship with food?

Toxic relationship with food

Let’s get real for a moment. Being in a toxic relationship with food is a lot more common than you might think. In modern times we live in, self-worth and self-esteem have become major players in the game of what we call “being successful”. People, especially women, associate outer beauty with success and status and it has caused many women to become resentful, bitter, self-conscious and downright obsessive over what they eat.

What is Orthorexia?

Orthorexia refers to an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food. If you have just started a new diet and become a little obsessed over following it religiously, that is a whole other story. It is totally normal to start fixating on your diet if you have certain healthy, realistic goals in mind that you have listed and planned along with your trainer at Fitness Fables. However, orthorexia is a much more dangerous obsession where the individual is compromising their health. 

Our previous Miss South Africa, Dr Ade van Heerden has shared a candid post about this popular eating disorder on Instagram. Having a medical degree, Ade has spoken up about what it is like to have an unhealthy, orthorexic relationship with food.

You might be suffering from orthorexia if you are experiencing any of the following signs:

  • Spending an excessive amount of time planning meals 
  • Obsessing over an extremely restrictive diet 
  • Eliminating categories of food from a diet 
  • Linking self-esteem with adherence to a diet 
  • Hiding or concealing food from others 
  • Refusing to eat with others, or avoiding food in public 
  • Being critical of others’ eating habits 
  • Having anxiety when thinking of certain foods
  • Feeling guilty about failing to meet own dietary restrictions 
  • Obsessing over nutrition labels 
  • Significant weight changes 
  • Lower body temperature 
  • Sleep problems 

At Fitness Fables we do not condone any diets or habits that may be harmful to our clients’ health. See one of our professional trainers if you feel like you might be suffering from orthorexia for us to help you get your goals realistic, healthy and back on track with our standard of maintaining a healthy and balanced life. 

What is the difference between orthorexia, anorexia and bulimia?

Orthorexia - Orthorexia Nervosa, is an eating disorder that involves an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. Here, the individual focuses on the quality of food rather than the quantity. Orthorexic people might not even be bothered by weight-loss but have an obsession with healthy foods.

Anorexia - Anorexia is an eating disorder causing people to obsess about weight and what they eat. Anorexia is characterised by a distorted body image, with an unwarranted fear of being overweight. Anorexic people tend to go as far as to starve themselves in order to lose more weight.

Bulemia - A serious eating disorder marked by binge eating followed by methods to avoid weight gain such as purging. Bulimia is a  life-threatening eating disorder. People with this condition binge eat or over-eat then take steps to avoid weight gain. Most commonly, this means vomiting (purging).

4 Ways to ensure a healthy relationship with food

Set realistic goals

One of the ways people tend to get obsessed with food is when they set unrealistic standards and goals for themselves. We see many women who may be a bit taller than others, wanting to weigh far less than what is considered “normal” for their length who then obsess over what they eat and how they exercise that they start to slowly deteriorate their health to dangerous levels. Remember to set realistic goals for yourself. Talk to your trainer at Fitness Fables about what a realistic weight goal or fitness level would be for your age, gender, body-shape and length. If we could all look like victoria Secret angels, don’t you think it would be easier to achieve? Those are all genetics anyway. So stay level-headed and set realistic goals. 

Remember why we eat

Food gives us energy. Period. In primal times, people consumed food in order to have enough energy to gather and hunt for more food. That was the goal of food, and it should be no different today. Remember that the reason you consume food is so that it can provide you with enough energy to go about your day. Food is fuel and it’s the only function should be to keep you moving. Nowadays, we have the luxury to choose what we eat, to make amazing food and to feed our developed palettes with the food we enjoy. Although we are very blessed with rich, flavouring foods, we have become more and more obsessed with it and fail to recognise that the only reason we need it is to keep us moving. Remember - You have control over what you eat, food should not have control over you. 

Don’t deprive yourself

Instead of eliminating sugar from your diet completely, consider enjoying it in moderation. For instance, try to have one sugar in your coffee instead of two. Depriving yourself of enjoying certain foods may be the reason why you over-indulge and lose focus. Depriving yourself of certain foods like carbs are not advisable. Like we mentioned before, at Fitness Fables we believe in balance. Restricting yourself when it comes to your diet is almost guaranteed to leave you feeling guilty when you deviate from it even once. When this happens, then the food is controlling you, not the other way around. Bottom-line is: Keep it balanced and live a little.


Stop obsessing

If your day revolves around the food you eat, then you are on the wrong path. Waking up and thinking of your food for the day is a warning sign that you might be too obsessed. Food should be a secondary “by the way” thought in your mind as you go about your day. If your friends from work ask you to join them for a beer after work, you need to be able to say “sure” without experiencing crippling anxiety over the extra calories you will be drinking. Take it in your stride, compensate for it somewhere else like jogging a bit further tomorrow morning and stop obsessing. 

Having a toxic relationship with food can be extremely dangerous and if you have ever experienced this or are experiencing it now, you would agree with us when we say it steals way too many of life’s pleasures and joy. Talk to your trainer at Fitness Fables to help you with a diet that will ensure a healthy and happy lifestyle.

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