Sunday, 8 July 2012

Orthorexia & My Nutrition Philosophy

Excerpt from a conversation between a raw food preparation instructor (R) and one of my classmates (C) at the end of the 7-hour class.I'm behind my classmate in line at the cash waiting to pay for my goji berries.

C: Wow, that lunch was so filling!

I, on the other hand, had just been thinking how this little omnivore burned through her five bites of zucchini with a side of salad long, long ago. 

This is the lunch in question.

R: I know! I ate only a third of what you guys ate, and I am stuffed!

My classmate briefly looks stunned then just smiles awkwardly and thanks the instructor for an enjoyable day.
The instructor looks pleased with herself.
I am debating whether eating chicken for dinner after spending the day at a raw food class is somehow sacrilegious. My belly is grumbling.

The whole conversation stuck with me because it is so typical of the way women interact when food is involved. What made this conversation especially ridiculous is that despite very different approaches to diet, my classmate (vegetarian), my instructor (raw vegan), and I (loosely paleo) all have a BMI very squarely in the healthy range. The instructor had already shared with us earlier in the day how stuffed she is after eating two almonds and that she just can't swallow any non-vegan foods. I don't really understand why nutrition has to be some sort of competition - whether qualitative or quantitative.

This brings us to the concept of orthorexia. When I first heard about orthorexia, I was at a nutrition conference. The term was defined as an unhealthy obsession with what you eat - a great fear of eating the wrong thing. With all the conflicting information about nutrition out there, I'm sure I met criteria for orthorexia on a number of occasions over the last few years. In recent months, I have finally settled on a set of guidelines that seem to be working well for me:

1. Eat an abundance of things that look the way Mother Nature made them. Choose organic and/or local when possible.
2. Fill at least three quarters of my plate with vegetables. Eat veggies and greens raw when possible.
3. Variety is a good thing. So is moderation. If I don't buy it, I'm not going to eat it.
4. Try to minimize and/or eliminate from my diet things that do not occur in nature. These things are not food (ie. food dyes, preservatives, artificial colourings, artificial sweeteners).
5. No gluten. Minimal dairy and grain consumption. Note: #5 has nothing to do with my opinion on nutritional ideology in general, but more with how strongly my body reacts to these things. I actually love bread and yoghourt. A lot.

That's about it. I don't count calories or fat grams. I eat when I am hungry, and stop when I am full. It's a pretty simple system.

No comments:

Post a Comment