If you’re a health-minded person, you probably opt to eat as clean as possible and exercise regularly. Sharing workout tips with friends, wearing fitness tracking technology and searching for healthy recipes are likely also par for course. Conversation, too, is probably often fueled with the latest health trends, superfoods, fitness moves and upcoming half marathons.
These are all good things, right?
Well, yes and no.
The importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle
It’s certainly important to be health-conscious. After all, making unhealthy choices such as rarely exercising and eating endless amounts of bacon are clearly not doing your body any favors.
When it comes to bacon and other processed meats, a division of the World Health Organization declared that they’re “carcinogenic to humans.” As such, they say that “reducing consumption of these products can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.” Therefore, it’s wise to be up on your health, from lessening your processed meat consumption to adhering to fitness regimens; just walking 30 minutes daily has been shown to boost a person’s mental and physical health.
Whatever your reason for living a healthy lifestyle—from weight loss (or maintenance) to training for a race or trying to reduce inflammation in your body—keeping physical and mental well-being in mind is important. You know what kinds of fats to have and which ones to avoid, how long you should work out to obtain optimal benefits, and you opt for wild-caught salmon versus farm-raised fish; in other words, you’re dedicated to your good health, and that’s a good thing.
Being too health-conscious can backfire
However, it’s necessary to be careful that you’re not overly health-conscious as everything you’re striving for may actually backfire. Focusing too much on health may mean you’re taking extreme measures which can ultimately jeopardize your overall well-being and even your relationships with others.
In fact, experts have a term for those who are consumed, to the point of obsession, with good health and who may realize ill effects—mentally and physically—as a result. Back in 1997, a Colorado alternative medicine specialist, Steven Bratman, developed the term “orthorexia” to describe a person who is so dedicated to a healthy lifestyle that they are extremely strict with what they eat. Such a person also tends to be obsessed with other ways of achieving good health, although the emphasis is often on food consumption.
The word is still popular today, with many health professionals noting that such people are often so focused on health and purity, they even critically assess foods right down to vitamin intake. While some experts go so far as to say such rigidity teeters dangerously close to eating disordered behaviors like anorexia, those in the throes of the lifestyle typically maintain that it’s all in the name of cleansing their body and staying on top of their health.
3 signs you’re focusing too much on ‘good’ health
1. You’re preoccupied with foods, anxious about get-togethers
If you’re preoccupied with gatherings not because you’re excited to see people you haven’t in a while, but because you’re anxious about whether or not the day ahead will include enough exercise or the right kinds of superfoods, then you’re probably taking thoughts about good health a bit too far. “If your focus on healthy eating is interfering with your happiness and social life,” says Bratman, "you might have a problem."
Try to focus on enjoying your time with family and friends rather than obsessing over the fact that you haven’t had a wheatgrass-infused juice all day. Thinking too much about health-related topics instead of having fun in the moment with loved ones can consume you. Trust me, I know. I used to be this way not too long ago, often becoming very anxious about get-togethers. My sole focus was on what foods would be served, rather than visiting with friends and having a nice time. Admittedly, I was obsessed after losing a significant amount of weight, yet I told myself it was all in the name of healthy living. Thankfully, I’ve eased up on my ways, still living healthfully minus the obsessions.
2. You never indulge, ever
Eating healthy foods and living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to never enjoy a slice of pizza again in your life. Sure, it’s not good for your health to over-indulge in the likes of ice cream and chips, but at the same time, it’s not the end of the world to occasionally give in to a coffee shop muffin or small slice of caramel-drizzled apple pie. Chances are, you’re already a gym-going person who obtains a decent balance of fats, carbs, and proteins, so having a bite of a chocolate bar won’t destroy your healthy living ways. Indulge every so often; you’ll still be a health-conscious person dedicated to your mental and physical well-being.
3. You don’t have any non-health related interests
If you find that you primarily live for the gym and talk incessantly about your love of chia seeds without paying attention to the non-health related activities you used to enjoy, that’s likely another sign you may have traded your past interests for one that focuses strictly on your morning runs and afternoon protein powder habit. Try to find a better balance that incorporates both your love of health as well as say, your love of DIY crafts or reading.
Of course, this isn’t to say that if you’re big into health, you’re suffering from orthorexia or other issues. Sure, that may be the case, but the more likely situation is that you simply enjoy feeling and looking your best.
There’s nothing wrong with making a place in your life for good eating and fitness habits, just be sure your focus the lifestyle isn’t interfering with your relationships or personal well-being.
©Copyright 2011-2017, Jennifer Lea Reynolds, FlabbyRoad.com, Flabby Road and Flabby Road: Moving on & Leaving the Elastic Waistbands Behind. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jennifer Lea Reynolds and Flabby Road with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Jennifer Lea Reynolds
U.Jennifer Lea Reynolds is a weight loss success story who enjoys living a healthy lifestyle. A fan of the elliptical, roasted asparagus and remembering to put the lid on the blender, she’s appeared in many national and local print publications. She lives in New England where she writes professionally about health and wellness in online publications including U.S. News & World Report, Reader's Digest, Woman's Day, The Huffington Post, and more.