We all want to be healthy right? But believe it or not, there is a fine line between healthy and too healthy–trust me I would know. Over the past year, I struggled with Orthorexia, and I now want to share the dangers of obsessing too much about what you are eating.

Being too healthy may be a strange concept because of course, we all strive for optimal health, and the most common way to do this is watching the food we put into our body. However, health shouldn't be solely determined by the food you are consuming, there is so much more that contributes to your overall health and well-being.

What is Orthorexia?

Luna Zhang

By definition, Orthorexia is the obsession with foods that one considers healthy. It is an eating disorder that I dealt with during my senior year, back in 2017. I am sharing this and telling my story because I believe that eating disorders are too often pushed under the rug and not talked about. Yet they are so common among women in their teen and young adult years.

For me, personally, this meant that at every meal and every component of the dish I was eating had to be “clean” and made up of the perfect balance of nutrients for my body. There were no exceptions for late night treats, processed foods, and refined carbs. Because of these restricting boundaries I put around my eating habits, I began to fear foods that I considered “bad”. Therefore, almost every hour of the waking day I was thinking about food and what my next meal would consist of (and don't even get me started on the stress of going out to eat).

For a long time, before I came to the conclusion that there was something abnormal/obsessive around my eating habits, I considered myself so healthy and I was proud of myself after each healthy wholesome meal. What I wasn't taking into consideration was my mental health. Being truly healthy is achieved when the mind, body, and spirit are balanced and #thriving. Being stressed about food 24/7 stresses the mind out, which stresses the body out, which leads to lots of negative repercussions in the body.

Food is meant to be enjoyed. Food is fuel. Food is energy. Calories are simply a measure of the energy that is being put into your body, so they should never be feared!

After months of therapy trying to rewire my brain into losing the idea that there are “good” and “bad” foods, I can now say that I have a much more relaxed approach to food and a healthier relationship with it. Sometimes I eat a bunch of cookies, late night snack on Twizzlers, or eat a pint of ice cream in two days (whoops), and that's perfectly okay! The world is not going to come crashing down from the refined sugar rushing through me, and to my surprise, my body always looks the same the next morning.

If any of this resonates with you, I'd like to share some tips for building a healthier relationship with food.

1. Ditch counting calories

apple, juice, sweet, pasture
Santina Renzi

Listen to your bodies hunger cues, and stop eating when you are full. Your body always knows best!

2. Eat the damn cookie!

icing, cookie, chocolate, cookie sandwich, Chocolate chip, hand
Josi Miller

Seriously! Avoid the mental battle and dissatisfaction if you were to choose an apple over the cookie.

3. Give yourself the option when it comes to snacks

desk, library, student, College, stickers, studying, Book, Bowl, computer, snacks, crackers, glasses
Megan Japczyk

Have healthy snack options that you can turn to when you are in the mood for something that will make you feel good, but also don't restrict yourself from having a sleeve of Oreos in your room that you can grab at 12 o’clock mid-study sesh.

4. Enjoy food with friends!

salad, vegetable, lettuce, sauce, sandwich, ketchup, fries, avocado, avocado toast, meal spread, brunch, egg, lunch
Denise Uy

Food is something that brings people together and unites people, take advantage of this and really enjoy it!

5. Food is fuel

water, Ocean, Hiking, scenery, one hiker, Backpacking, Greece
Shelby Cohron

Remember that life's too short to worry about every single thing that you put in your body. Food is meant to FUEL you for all the amazing life experiences that life will throw your way so don't overthink it!

6. Explore new fun flavors and exciting restaurants

noodles, Asian, soup, takeout, vietnamese, Vietnam, pho, beef soup, noodle, neon, signage, Restaurant, restaurants, Asian restaurant
Denise Uy

Have fun with it! Try new restaurants and cook new recipes that you find on mid-study after scrolling for an hour.

This may spark some realizations in people regarding their own eating habits, or maybe will make you recognize abnormal habits in a friend. Either way, know that eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes, and they are far too common. If you notice something in yourself or someone else, seek help or ask how someone is doing.

It’s time we normalize the conversation of Orthorexia and other eating disorders. Once you start the journey to a healthy relationship with food, you'll be on your way to an overall healthier mind, body, and spirit.