© Five Daughter’s Bakery
Finding balance in the well-connected, over-messaged world isn’t easy. We ask Health Coach Mel Wells to share why over-thinking your healthy choices can actually be the unhealthiest thing you can do.
In the last year, a disconnect between what’s healthy and healthy living has emerged. Somehow we’ve arrived at place where we think we need to only eat plants, mainline super greens and sprinkle goji berries on every dish imaginable. If we’re not picking chia seeds from our teeth at least once a day, well, we might as well shut down the Instagram account and gorge on burgers immediately.
Don’t get me wrong: I celebrate and wholeheartedly back the number of people now paying more attention to healthy eating, however I’m also conscious that people are becoming borderline obsessed with what’s ‘clean’ and what’s not.
Orthorexia, the condition characterised by an obsession with healthy eating and coined by Californian doctor Steven Bratman in 1997, could affect just under 60 percent of women according to Italian researchers. Plus, we’re twice as likely to suffer from the condition as men.
We’ve become too scared to inhale a crumb of gluten or freak out about dairy in our dishes and end up with virtually nothing on our plates.
As a result, you’re not living rich and happy lives.
7 Signs of Orthorexia to look out for
We need to remind ourselves that food is not supposed to be the enemy – food is there to be enjoyed and loved.
In many ways, the food blogging world has become a religion and we have made gluten, sugar and dairy our sworn enemies. There’s so much pressure to live a ‘healthy’ lifestyle, that while we say we’ve ditched faddy diets, in reality we’ve replaced them with a new set of rules to follow, all under the guise of ‘clean eating’.
I believe that the stress of forced perfectionism isn’t helped by our fascination with taking foodie photos: perfectly decorated acai bowls and avo-on-toast-a-grams account for many of the 31 million images hashtagged #eatclean.
We’ve all heard of the 80-20 rule but I think we could live a bit more in the 20 percent, doing it with gusto and ownership, losing the judgement and fear.
They say, ‘everything in moderation’, but as far as I’m concerned that includes our own obsession with what is healthy and what is not.
I believe in cooking from scratch, using natural ingredients and embracing new superfoods; it’s incredible how many tasty recipes we can make from using vegetables alone. But honestly, will I still cook hot cross buns using regular self-raising flour and chocolate next Easter? Absolutely!
I don’t want to enforce ‘health’ rules on my children that mean they can only bake using raw cacao, a base of medjool dates or cashews, and that they can only have rice if it’s made from cauliflower and not rice at all. I want to make pasta. Yes, actual pasta, not a substitute of spiralized vegetables. I don’t care if this falls into the ‘perfect health rules’ or not.
We are so caught up in what’s healthy or not that we’re forgetting the all important part that’s missing: having a healthy relationship with food.
A healthy body starts with a healthy mindset and attitude. Balance begins with our mind.
You can eat all the kale, quinoa and hemp protein in the world, and drink green juice ’til it comes out of your nostrils, but if you’re still obsessing over that non-gluten-free cupcake [or bag of mini eggs] you ate last weekend? That’s not healthy.
Please, don’t miss out on the family celebrations, the Christmases, the Netflix-and-chills, the fancy date nights, all because you’re too consumed about what rule you’re breaking, or the calories in champagne.
Be present at these occasions, not lost in your own thoughts about how you’re going to ‘work off’ the food tomorrow, or punish yourself in the gym.
Create a lifestyle that nourishes your body, but also one that feeds your soul and makes you happy. And remember, perfectionism is the thief of joy!
When your mind, body and soul are satisfied and you’re leading a flexible lifestyle that doesn’t feel like a drag, well, that’s what I call finding your balance.
Health Coach, founder of The Green Goddess Life and author of ‘The Goddess Revolution, Make Peace with Food, Love Your Body and Reclaim Your Life’ (Hay House) out now.