Do you worry about how much healthy food you’re eating?
Yes, you read that correctly!
Not bad food, good food!
My relationship with food is far from healthy but as I sat reading yet another magazine article that warned me of the dangers of my tuna pasta salad and skinny latte, I realised that I was feeling stressed about some of the choices I make.
It didn’t then surprise me to read that there’s been a significant rise in a new eating phobia.
A phobia of not eating healthily enough. It’s called orthorexia.
Yes, Eating healthily can actually be bad for you (mentally that is)!
Eating the right foods is important to me, we have three meals a day, but I also have a terribly sweet tooth and turn to sugary snacks for both comfort and a treat. I’m constantly worrying about foods we do and do not eat.
Since we lost Abi in 2013, and then having a baby a year later, my diet (as in food intake, not diet plan) has been all over the place. It’s frustrating, as in 2012 I’d got to the best place in my fitness and health, and had finally developed good habits, but when a tragedy took the rug from under me I crawled back under the comfort-eating blanket (when your healthy child dies suddenly, you kind of stop giving a stuff about restricting yourself!).
I want to get back on track with healthy eating but battling grief emotions and with so much conflicting advice in the press, I get easily confused what to do for the best. Then I read about orthorexia and it made perfect sense to me.
We are born worriers
Worrying is what we do. In ages gone by we were quite rightly scared of big threats to our lives – sabre tooth tigers, famine or the plague – except these days the reality of the fear isn’t quite the same as the very real fears of the past. It seems there is always something to be afraid of, and this isn’t helped by consumerism or clever media tactics.
I’ve found I’ve been stressing about food in a way I never used to before. I stand in the supermarket and am overwhelmed by the choice. Hmm, didn’t I read an article that too much fruit sugar is bad for you? Better not go crazy on the smoothies then, but what else will the kids eat? And, apparently fats are good for you now, so should I buy butter instead of this low-fat spread?
My seven-year-old son is a typical fruit-phobic boy – he’ll eat a banana but that’s it (and that’s despite me feeding him fresh food concoctions from weaning). So I buy him fruit smoothies as a way to get something into him that’s half healthy, but apparently they are so ‘bad’ for him that I might as well feed him full fat cola!
Are we over-juicing the issue?
The buzzwords at the moment are ‘eating clean’ and ‘juicing’. Juicing sounds ideal. Simply blitz up all those fruits and vegetables into one big drink to get your healthy food fix. Pictures of delicious-looking juices are all over social media and many of my friends swear by it. But what’s happening is that people are doing it a bit too much which means they are missing out on the important fibre intake.
Is there any way to eat right these days?!
I try to buy fairly healthy foods, we have basic meals of meat and veg, but I have this feeling that I’m not doing enough, that I should be doing more – mushing funny seeds into their foods, trying exotic dishes or forcefeeding them pulp! My children are fussy in different ways, so cooking one balanced meal we all like is near impossible unless it’s a roast dinner.
Even though we all eat well and are healthy, I’m left feeling a bit of a crap parent and probably a bit orthorexic! It might sound extreme but that’s how my over-anxious brain works at times and with the constant steam of information online and in the news, I know I’m not the only one.
The scares don’t end with food…
I read an article the other day which claimed that Wi-Fi was being banned in schools as it was making the kids ill and potentially killing them!
Wi-Fi is pretty much as important as food in our house (yes, a sorry state to be in, I agree. It was when we had a power cut a few months ago and my children were complaining about not being able to get on Instagram or watch TV – rather than eat dinner – that I realised just how so!).
Wi-Fi is everywhere! My children are going to get brain tumours because I let them use tablets or phones, or do their homework online. I’ve breastfed my baby for 14 months browsing on my phone half of the time. Help! They will need to invent a new phobia for this one – wifiobia. Where mothers are sending their children to school in lead helmets and breastfeeding in lead aprons.
Surely it’s all about balance…?
I sent my hubby to the shop at the weekend to buy ingredients for a roast dinner. He chose the meat okay, but apart from potatoes, he bought carrots. Carrots! I complained and told him he’d get scurvy if he didn’t eat more veg.
“I haven’t had scurvy yet have I?”
I couldn’t argue with him. In 40 years he has done very well on some basic fruit and veg in his diet – no weird seeds or spreads or liquids. He definitely does not have five a day. But he’s not an overeater, likes an occasional beer and has a liking for Kettle crisps, he doesn’t exercise much these days, but he’s pretty fit and healthy, and ultimately happy in his own skin.
I know eating healthily is a big concern as the nation’s waistlines increase and pressures on our NHS rise dealing with related problems. It’s a big issue that won’t go away on its own. Sugar is a big problem for me, and I know I’d feel much better (and have fewer fillings) if I didn’t eat so much of it … but, like salt, it’s in everything so I find it very hard to cut out.
I can’t help thinking we need to have simpler messages, clearer labelling and more wholesome food which is affordable – rather than creating new fads and introducing new fears.
Many people need to follow certain diets to help control various conditions, but all of us are just looking to feed our families a tasty, balanced meal in between juggling a million other things.
An apple still costs as much as a chocolate bar, and people on tight budgets opt for processed foods because they are so cheap or quick to cook. We also should focus on our mental wellbeing more, as half the problem stems around the need to fill a void when we are struggling to keep on top of things.
Life is too short to live on extreme diets, stressing about every morsel, but then life really will be short if we don’t look after ourselves!
What do you think? Are you a clean eater? Do you worry that your diet isn’t good enough? Or do you eat what you want when you want? I’d love to know.
If you enjoyed this post, why not see what else I’m twittering on about: