Are “eating healthy” and “obsessed” synonymous? Part 3 of 3

If you feel you are annoying your family, go ahead and transfer their feelings to me if you want!

If it helps you, you can say,

“Green Smoothie Girl says my ‘obsession’ is normal and that it’s just a phase. She had that phase, too. The only way through it is THROUGH it! Now she’s way past it and doesn’t really even talk about food unless someone asks.”

Even when someone asked, back in my “OBSESSIVE” (read: hyper-learning) phase, I said too much. I overestimated people’s interest routinely. In fact, I remember one member of my former husband’s family asking me questions that I *knew* intuitively were really just bait. They were passive aggression, edged with sarcasm.

But I’d take the questions as legitimate, and I’d answer them at length, from my recently acquired knowledge. (Knowledge no one trusted yet, because just a month before, I ate just like they did!)

In my gut, I knew the “bait” questions were designed to be socially acceptable criticism, statements more than questions. But I purposefully ignored it to further my agenda. I think my agenda was pure: I wanted THEM to acquire the health benefits that were occurring for us. I wanted them to validate and enjoy the exciting things happening in my family. But my methods were suspect:

“Here, this is the path I’m on, so you better get on it, too! Let me ram some information down your throat! You can FEEL my disapproval as I change the rules we’ve always lived by!”

Well, hindsight is 20/20. I look back and feel pretty chagrined. I’ve learned (the hard way!) to answer questions briefly. Then wait for another question rather than deliver a long, unwanted lecture.

I’ve also learned that many folks who are “health nuts” are actually perennially obsessive people, and people who live in a place of fear. (They don’t do us any favors, trying to convert the world to whole foods.)

I know that if you’re living in the fear place, or you’re feeling like thoughts about food and food shopping/preparation have taken over your life, it might be time for a little introspection.

I *started* in the fear place. You may know my story: I thought my 18-month old son might die. I was having panic attacks and not sleeping, consequently.

I am in the OPPOSITE place now. I know that I’ve put building blocks in place that minimize my disease risk….so I do not worry and wring my hands about the health problems others my age are virtually all suffering from.

Am I immune from health problems? No. I’m just much less susceptible to them than everyone else around me, and there’s no need to fear, because I’m doing what I can reasonably do.

The meditations I’m working on will address these fears that, I’m afraid, attract a lot of people to this site and to my program. It’s natural that people suffering from anxiety will attach that anxiety to what goes in their mouth.

But it’s a MUCH nicer place to be to be ENJOYING the journey, doing it out of a positive love place rather than a dark fear place.

This is a good time to check yourself and ask, “Am I in a natural first part of a journey, where it’s natural to get a little out of balance because I’m gobbling up information and it’s blowing my mind? Or am I STUCK in food obsession and fear?”

Big, big difference.

Any thoughts about this, feel free to share!

Are “eating healthy” and “obsessed” synonymous? Part 2 of 3

Regarding faux diagnoses: I’m always frustrated when someone wants to create a pathology out of something healthy, as with this “orthorexia” thing that a number of readers wrote us about.

Fact is, before we had artificially-colored Cheez Whiz and a few generations of exposure to it, that kind of “food” would have been shunned. If you’d squirted a blob of it on a plate and put the can next to it, folks in 1875 would have skirted it, poked at it, maybe sniffed it…..but wouldn’t they have been terrified to actually eat it? They certainly would have never seen that color before. Imagine being at an 1875 farmhouse and explaining the ingredients of Cheez Whiz to the inhabitants.

If your senses weren’t dulled and changed by ubiquitous processed foods, wouldn’t Cheez Whiz seems like a really terrible, crazy idea? Yet now we are 180 degrees from there, where you have an eating disorder if you WON’T eat the Cheez Whiz.

So if we go back to eating the way people did for thousands of years–before cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases became common–now we are mentally ill.

I’m sure you’re not surprised to learn I reject coining the word “orthorexia.”

But. The way folks have made a healthy idea pathological is through “guilt by association.” Fact is, a lot of people who are really healthy eaters are ….. no offense if this hits close to home for anyone …… kinda neurotic people in general. In fact, their healthy eating comes from being a rather paranoid, fear-based person.

So, because some people who eat all-raw are, um, kinda “weird,” by mainstream America’s standards ….. then eating high-raw, by association, is weird. So goes the logic. And bam, we’ve got ourselves a new diagnostic label to toss around the internet.

Okay, so this is a tricky subject. I’m not naming any names. But just by nature of the subject matter on this site, I get TONS of email from people who sound like they’re losing a lot of sleep, over food. Lots of regular people read this blog, but some folks struggle with excesses of uptightness. They worry about all kinds of details, trying to find the “right” diet.

An older reader recently mentioned on this blog that her new learning curve about health and nutrition has resulted in family members calling her “obsessed.”

I replied that I think that’s what it looks like, when your eyes first open. It’s pretty natural to upset the equilibriums in your life initially, when you learn truths that you may have known nothing about for 50 years. You’re shocked, you’re excited, you feel like the scales have fallen from your eyes and everyone else around you is still in the dark!

You overachievers don’t do things in a small way. So suddenly you are voraciously reading everything you can get your hands on. You read all 12 steps in my course and try to do it all overnight. You listen to the audio files from 12 Steps in your car (for the 4th time) and feel resentful when a family member makes a snide comment. You carry your high-lighted, battered manual in your purse for when you get a spare 10 minutes to plan your groceries. You find yourself having a conversation with a stranger in the grocery store line about The China Study.

Sound familiar? (If so, it’s because I’m not making this stuff up. I’m taking it as examples from things y’all have told me, at classes or in emails.) More tomorrow about how “weird” I was when I started on this journey and what a healthier place looks like, once all the pieces settle into awesome habits.

Are “eating healthy” and “obsessed” synonymous?” [part 1 of 3]

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl (from Linda):

“I just received an e-mail earlier today from a friend who considers herself a very healthy eater (she’s a nurse) with a link to the following article “New Eating Disorders: Are They For Real?” about newly discovered or classified eating disorder, Orthorexia.

“It says: ‘Orthorexia is Latin for ‘correct eating.’’ Here, too, the focus isn’t on losing weight. Instead, sufferers increasingly restrict their diets to foods they consider pure, natural and healthful. Some researchers say that Orthorexia may combine a touch of obsessive compulsive disorder with anxiety and warn that severely limited “healthy” diets may be a stepping stone to anorexia nervosa, the most severe – and potentially life-threatening – eating disorder.’

“Linda continues: Okay, I say, but I am not “severely limiting” my healthful foods, I eat quite a variety, probably more than the average adult. My weight is well within normal limits, and I do not worry too much about calories or restrictions, other than making a clear attempt to eat unprocessed whole natural foods, as much raw as I can.

“So, this doesn’t seem to apply to me…. But then the article goes on to say…”Orthorexics: Those affected may start by eliminating processed foods, anything with artificial colorings or flavorings as well as foods that have come into contact with pesticides. Beyond that, orthorexics may also shun caffeine, alcohol, sugar, salt, wheat and dairy foods. Some limit themselves to raw foods.”

“Hmmmm, like that is something bad, say, compared to eating unlimited junk food, highly processed food and foods with pesticides? But that was not enough: the article goes on to describe the TREATMENT the newly classified Orthorexic needs in order to be “cured”, I guess, of their disease/condition! Wow, this is the kind of stuff that I find myself running up against since I took up a whole foods, high raw diet just over two years ago.

“I say very little at this point to anyone about what I choose to eat or not, and this is very sad to me, since I am trying to just be the example of what good fitness/nutrition can be. This just seems to put the ultimate stamp of “disapproval” on the way many of us are choosing to eat to circumvent GMO, pesticides, processed foods and additives. Robyn, I have to give you credit that you can keep up the good fight despite resistance, but would love to know what you do when confronted with this type of information?

“This is the link: http://health.yahoo.net/experts/dayinhealth/new-eating-disorders-are-they-real.”

Robyn’s answer: in my next post!