One of the most common New Year’s resolutions people make centres around food. After a holiday season of (often) over-indulging at what can seem like an endless rotation of work parties, family gatherings and time with friends, our culture views it as a normal reaction to start the new year with a clean plate, so to speak.
In Squamish, many food-related events cater to dietary restrictions, featuring gluten-free, vegan or vegetarian options. Then there are the diets, some that stick around, others that appear and vanish like a flash in the pan.
When these food restrictions aren’t because of allergies, there’s a danger of veering into the extreme, even with good intentions.
Vegans and vegetarians learn how to balance their intake to make sure they are receiving the nourishment they need. But many of us have — or are — a friend who talks maybe too much about what they don’t eat.
As food becomes the focus of attention, perhaps instead of watching what we eat, we should watch our relationship with food.
While orthorexia is not a clinically diagnosable condition, it has received recognition from the National Eating Disorders Association, and some may relate to its definition. Not quite an eating disorder, orthorexia is an obsession with healthy eating that can have similar detrimental effects without using methods associated with anorexia or bulimia.
Malnutrition is common for those who have a long list of foods they say they can’t eat. Often orthorexia involves compulsive checking of ingredients, prolonged worry about what will be served at an upcoming event or becoming distressed over food options available. It can be masked by a desire to eat healthy, which many of us strive for, but is taken to an unhealthy level.
Do you find yourself isolated from social situations because of food? Do you spend hours thinking about what you’re putting in your body? Did a diet or guideline become so ingrained in your routine that it seems like a fact of life?
Food is incredibly personal. As the saying goes, we are what we eat. But maybe, instead of sticking to that old, rather judgemental mantra, we should just give ourselves a break. We are so much more than what we eat. We are more than our bodies. Each of us has something more to offer.
If you’re struggling with your relationship with food, just remember that you don’t need to have an eating disorder to seek help. We all need a little support now
Take care of yourself, Squamish.