A national awareness of eating disorders begins this week, and the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) leads the movement to provide information and referrals to anyone who struggles to establish and maintain healthy eating patterns. While disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia are well known and affect an estimated 8 million people in the U.S. alone, the numbers for another disorder, though not officially recognized, are still yet to be realized as the depth and breadth of nutritional information becomes greater and more widely disseminated. Dr. Steven Bratman created the term ‘orthorexia’ to describe his own obsession with refining his diet to eat only the healthiest and righteous foods, to the extent that he severely restricted his food intake; however, unlike a person with anorexia who limits overall food intake for fear of gaining weight, an orthorexic limits overall food intake for fear of becoming unhealthy due to eating less-than-optimal foods. Orthorexia may seem like an oxymoron to those who maintain a balanced diet and view eating as one of life’s many pleasures – eating healthily is good for you, right? Exercising and sleeping are also essential and beneficial in proper amounts, but too little or too much over time may run counter to a healthy lifestyle.
If you feel that your quest to eat well sometimes makes you feel anxious and confused, you are in good company. Changing old habits and creating new, improved ways of thinking is difficult for anyone, especially when those new habits involve something as ubiquitous as eating. A sense of being overwhelmed is your clue that you need to slow down or possibly take a small break from thinking about what and how much to eat. Taking deep breaths until that tightness in your chest disappears or even shedding a few tears may be appropriate to calm you down, and then it’s time to refocus on achievable goals. Rather than trying to overhaul your entire diet, instead make one meal your ‘test’ subject. Breakfast-time may be tricky for some people, but it is a good place to start because eating healthy foods during your first meal of the day may lead you to make good food choices throughout the remainder of your day. Here are a few breakfast ideas to get you on track:
Savory: Salmon, broccoli, and sweet potato
1 small sweet potato, baked
½ – 1 cup broccoli florets, steamed or raw, to your preference
½ cup wild salmon, either left over from previous night’s dinner or from a packet, such as Chicken of the Sea
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds, optional
Drizzle of olive oil
Dash of sea salt
Italian seasoning, to taste
This meal provides a happy balance of carbs, fats, and protein to satisfy your palate and to aid your digestion.
Sweet: Oatmeal ‘truffles’
3 cups whole oats
1 cup coconut oil/butter, softened
Stevia and honey, to taste and to provide adequate moisture
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 ¼ cup spelt flour (other flours are fine here, too, depending on your preference)
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
1 tsp salt
Mix together with your hands to best incorporate the coconut oil into the dry ingredients, adjusting honey ratio to achieve correct consistency. Form mixture into balls to create truffles and store in a container in the fridge. These little morsels can be a quick breakfast with a cup of tea, and may also serve well as a before or after workout snack, providing a nice blend of carbs, fat, and non-animal protein.
If you or someone you know would like more information regarding orthorexia or other eating disorders, please check out the resources below or contact someone at the NEDA who may assist you in finding the appropriate support for your individual needs.