By Dr. G Prakash
To protect themselves from serious health issues, people are forming new habits or adopting healthier lifestyle choices such as going vegan, cutting sugar, or eating organic. This has received a lot more attention since the COVID-19 pandemic, which made people realise how important it is to live a healthy lifestyle and eat well.
Obsession with good lifestyle choices or healthy eating, on the other hand, can have serious physical and emotional consequences. Eating healthy, nutritious food is beneficial to the body, but for those suffering from orthorexia, the harm outweighs the benefit (a term used to define an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating).
It’s like pushing healthy eating to the point where it causes problems in everyday life, and the situation spirals out of control. One of the most important aspects of recovering from an eating disorder is learning to better manage one’s overall health, which is where alternative therapies can help.
Obsession with Healthy Eating
Smart food choices can obviously benefit the body in a variety of ways, but problems arise when someone becomes overly obsessed with restrictions. When a person’s behaviour becomes too disruptive as a result of such constraints, it can interfere with personal and professional relationships, eventually leading to psychological disorders.
Furthermore, people with orthorexia frequently avoid social invitations and interactions, fearing that they will have to compromise their healthy eating habits. Even if they engage in social interactions, they will refuse to eat, even if they are hungry. Some people may also spend hours shopping for specific groceries or conceal their habits from friends and family.
How Alternative or Complementary Therapies Help with Obsessive Health Consciousness
Alternative and complementary medicine’s basic philosophy includes a holistic approach to care that focuses on a person’s health as a whole rather than focusing on one organ or bodily system. These systems are based on the belief that the human body is capable of self-healing. Healing frequently entails a combination of techniques involving the mind, body, and spirit. The goal is to achieve balance, as imbalance frequently leads to disease. Here are some complementary therapies to help you cope with a healthy or good eating obsession.
Yoga is about developing inner awareness and focusing on the present moment, not just physical poses to increase strength and flexibility. According to surveys and studies, regular yoga practitioners are less critical of their bodies and more satisfied with them. That is also why yoga is an essential component of eating disorder treatment and programmes that promote body positivity and self-esteem.
Additionally, because yoga cultivates mindfulness in a person, yoga practitioners are more mindful eaters. Yoga practise makes one more aware of how their body feels. This increased awareness can be carried over to mealtime by savouring each bite and paying attention to how food tastes, smells, and feels in the mouth.
The perception of one’s own body can elicit a variety of feelings and thoughts that can occupy one’s mind. However, for the majority of people, the critical lens through which they view themselves is not an exact reflection of how everyone else sees them. Meditation is the way to open the mind and navigate negative, judgmental thoughts about body image while remaining comfortable.
Feelings and thoughts, especially negative ones, are the most difficult obstacles to overcome in life. Meditation practitioners are able to see beyond the nature of thought entirely. It is a natural human tendency to become engrossed in negative conversation. People give weight and meaning to their thoughts, and meditation teaches how to let thoughts come and go without becoming entangled in self-created storylines. Meditation teaches people to be kind to themselves rather than judge them.
When their eating habits are disrupted, people with orthorexia may experience intense anxiety or frustration. Furthermore, any disruption in their self-imposed dietary habits is likely to result in self-loathing or guilt. Such issues, if left untreated, can cause irreversible damage to a person’s health.
Acupuncture, depending on the placement of the needles, can produce painkilling chemicals and jump-start the body’s natural ability to heal itself, or it can stimulate the part of the brain that controls emotions, including anxiety. All of these can help people maintain a healthy balance and treat various illnesses. The therapy can significantly reduce worries about things over which a person has no control.
A health-conscious person is concerned about his or her body, whereas a health-obsessed person is obsessed with it. It is critical to ensure that the diet does not cause anxiety. While some foods are healthier than others, no food can kill you if you eat it once or twice.
Living a healthy life does not mean rejecting people and experiences, but rather embracing life as a whole while constantly working to maintain physical and mental health.
(The authoris Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute, Bengaluru)