After successfully overcoming the depression, co-dependency and bulimia I struggled with in my 20s, I thought I had figured out the perfect lifestyle when I was in my early 30s.
Not only had I learned valuable life lessons through my own healing journey, I had also become a nutritionist and certified mindfulness coach additionally trained in homeopathy and herbal medicine.
Preventing disease by cutting out foods and habits which did not live up to my standards, as well as providing my body with only the best nutrients had become very important to me.
A little too important.
Since vitamin cures are one of my special fields, I spent hours putting together supplementation profiles.
Meals were planned meticulously to make sure everybody in my family would always get everything they needed every single day.
I didn't really mind that my grocery shopping was starting to take a toll on my bank account due to the fortune I spent on superfoods, supplements and organic products.
I also didn't care about all the weeks and months I put into finding a healthy DIY alternative for just about anything.
Until it hit me one day.
Just like I had been obsessed with controlling my weight when I was still bulimic, or controlling my relationships when I was still co-dependent, I had started to become obsessed with my health (a behavior pattern which is often described as orthorexic).
Now, I'm not a person who thinks there should be a name for every phenomenon and I definitely don't like to label or be labeled.
Having a history of obsessive behavior myself, however, I do agree that there is a tipping point when your desire to be healthy can actually become counter-productive.
These are 9 warning signs that you might have come close or already past this point:
1. You're fixated on eating the best and ONLY the best quality foods. Having to eat something which contains unhealthy ingredients such as artificial colors, preservatives, pesticides, etc. makes you uncomfortable.
2. You meticulously plan your daily meals and get panicky when you don't reach your "nutritional goal."
3. You obsess about the link between your food choices and any health irregularities you might experience.
4. You avoid eating meals you haven't prepared yourself because you want to control what's on your plate (and you feel the need to also control what your loved ones eat).
5. You feel guilty about slip-ups and compelled to compensate.
6. You spend an increasing amount of money on supplements and other health-promoting products.
7. You try to proselytize to others and find less healthy food choices hard to understand. You might even feel superior to people whose diet is less rigidly healthy.
8. Your self-esteem and happiness are directly linked to achieving your healthy lifestyle targets.
9. Your social life is starting to suffer because your desire to eat and live as healthily as possible leaves no room for anything else.
Orthorexia is not an officially recognized eating disorder but studies prove that this phenomenon is real. Ironically, especially healthcare professionals are at high risk, with a prevalence rate of 35% to almost 58%.
As with everything else in life, balance is key. If you feel you've lost yours, find a professional to help you live and eat with genuine pleasure again.