Obsession with Healthy Eating May Make You Sick

Here’s alarming news for people who are increasingly switching to healthy eating in order to lose weight! An obsession with consuming nutritious food may end up putting your health in jeopardy, warns a psychologist.

A number of studies in the past have stressed upon the healthy side of eating clean, nutritious food. But the latest piece of information making round on the Internet casts doubt on this widespread notion, suggesting instead the practice of eating healthy can actually have catastrophic effects on human health.

Patrick Denoux, a professor in intercultural psychology at the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaures, believes that obsessively following a pure vegetarian diet can lead to B12 deficiency, which further can lead to numerous other health problems.

Vitamin B12 is an essential for good health. Unfortunately, this vital vitamin is not produced by our body and we need to get the required nutrient from animal products like eggs, dairy products, meat or fish.

People who are pure vegetarian, eating only a vegan diet and abstaining from gluten, dairy products, meat and fish, refined sugar, and processed foods, may not be getting enough of Vitamin B12. This deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to a number of medical conditions such as vision loss, weakness, heart palpitation, nerve problems, tiredness and lightheadedness, depression and memory loss.

Now experts believe an obsession with healthy eating could lead to orthorexia nervosa- an eating disorder characterized by an excessive obsession with eating healthy food. Orthorexia nervosa was coined in the 1990s by the then alternative medicine practitioner Steven Bratman, a San Francisco-based physician.

A person suffering from orthorexia is “imprisoned by a range of rules which they impose on themselves,” Paris nutritionist Sophie Ortega said. One example of obsessive clean eating she found in a client who gave herself a vitamin B12 deficiency due to which she was going blind. The patient even refused to take the supplements. “It was as if she preferred to lose her sight. Rather than betray her commitment to animals,” she said.

“We are living through a time of change in our food culture, which has led us to fundamentally doubt what we are eating,” said Denoux.

Health experts maintain that people suffering with this eating disorder could be treated with cognitive behavioural therapy, which may involve learning how to deal with situations that can lead to anxiety about eating, relaxation techniques and discussing beliefs about eating habits.

It is important to mention here that Orthorexia nervosa is not part of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, set down by the US mental health professionals.

“The term orthorexia was proposed as a commonly used term but it is not medically recognised,” said Pierre Dechelotte, head of nutrition at Rouen University Hospital in northern France.