The Pursuit of “Perfect” Eating

As informed consumers, we strive to eat a balanced, nutritious and health-promoting diet. Local, organic fruits and veggies? Check. A variety of plant-based proteins? Check. Avoiding trans fats? Check. Limiting added sugar? Check. (This list could go on and on.)

But, what happens when our good intentions go too far? Can the goal of healthy eating become unhealthy? The answer is a resounding yes.

The pursuit of nutrition perfection is fraught with perils, as evidenced by a rise in the incidence of ‘orthorexia,’ a term coined in the late 1990s that refers to an obsession with “proper” or “healthful” eating. In these cases, a person who had been making changes to improve their diet can become so fixated on this goal that they can actually cause damage. Orthorexia has been linked to health-related consequences (including malnutrition), social impacts (isolation) and psychological strain.

If thoughts about healthful or ‘clean’ eating are preventing you from typical daily interactions or if these beliefs are interfering with relationships, please talk with your doctor to get more information about treatment options.

—Kristen N. Smith, PhD, RDN, EN Editor

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