In the online world, I’ve always felt like an outcast. Since I started blogging 3 years ago, I’ve been writing about my experience losing weight and maintaining my 80 pound weight loss. While I’m over here promoting calorie counting, monitoring portion sizes and balancing macros, healthy living bloggers everywhere are proclaiming eat whatever you want, eat in moderation, eat intuitively, don’t count calories because when a healthy habit becomes obsessive it’s unhealthy! Just eat!
While I agree with this, I know for a fact this doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, I absolutely know it didn’t work for me. Anytime anyone ever told me when I was fat to eat whatever I wanted “in moderation”, I continued chowing down on a bag of chips every night and pint of ice cream because that’s what I needed to feed empty emotions. To me, that was my interpretation of intuitive eating. Isn’t that the same as when a healthy habit becomes obsessive?
Intuitive eating is the ideal place everyone wants to achieve. But it’s not ideal for everyone out of the gate. 67% of Americans are obese, and I truly believe most of them have created behaviors dependent on food to soothe or fulfill an emotional need. Until their emotional needs are addressed, telling someone to eat intuitively means they’ll reciprocate those behaviors. Like me, I’m sure most Americans would continue eating chips and ice cream and call that intuitive eating.
Everyone is different and not everyone will develop an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise as a result of tracking food, counting calories and exercising. Gambling, drugs, alcohol are just as unhealthy habits as obsessing over every morsel of food you eat and how many calories you burned exercising. The key is discovering what works for you, and establishing an awareness within yourself to know when a habit has gone too far.
How Do You Know When A Healthy Habit Becomes Obsessive?
Not Allowing Yourself To Eat When Hungry
We like to believe our bodies need a set amount of calories every single day, however, this isn’t true. In fact, research has shown calorie requirements can fluctuate as much as daily making it difficult to predict exactly how many a person actually needs. Some days you may need more fuel than others.
While sleep, stress, hormones and exercise can influence these needs, not allowing yourself to eat outside of these factors because you have a set amount of food you’re allowed to eat and won’t allow yourself to go over that amount is a sign you’ve become obsessive. Regardless of what your food tracker says, if you’re truly hungry you should eat. Often a surge in fuel can be productive in confusing the body and getting it out of a plateau!
Obsessing Over Eating Out & Everything You Eat
Do you fear eating out because you don’t want to make the wrong choice? Or fear being tempted to eat something unhealthy? Obsessing over eating out, or opting to not go out because you can’t control your food is when a healthy habit has become obsessive.
You can’t live in a box your whole life. Learning how to deal with real-life situations and how to make healthy choices outside your controlled environment will help you get more comfortable with social situations. Also, learning to accept your decisions whether good or bad. A nutrition counselor can help you with this.
Trying to out exercise eating bad or exercise to burn more calories is another healthy habit gone unhealthy. In fact, many believe when it comes to weight management that exercise is a big factor when it really isn’t. It makes up a small portion of how you lose or maintain weight. Over exercising, places stress on the body raising cortisol levels which can lead to increased fat storage as well as other hormonal imbalances. Additionally, too much exercise can cause muscle breakdown. Losing muscle means reduced metabolism.
Exercise should always compliment a healthy diet with the healthy diet being the primary focus. If you’re exercising multiple times a day, exercising for long periods of time, or exercising to make up for poor eating then it’s time to cut back. It’s time to stop and reset. This is easer said then done, and where a nutrition counselor can help you.
What To Do When A Healthy Habit Becomes Obsessive?
If you believe you have a healthy habit has gone too far, then get help. Talk to a friend, parent, nutrition counselor, or someone you trust. In my experience, talking to someone who hasn’t been through it can be difficult. They often can’t relate to what you’re going through. I experienced this myself once when I saw an RD. If one person doesn’t work for you, don’t give up. Keep looking for the right person for you.
As a nutrition practitioner, I work with people to help them lose weight but also help them establish a healthy relationship with food and exercise so they can learn to live their life free of food jail.
Want to work with me? Sign up using the form below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s chat about what options would work best for you!
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