A balanced approach to healthy eating
Updated: Apr 18, 2020
This piece was originally featured on a Newshub Tonight Story which looked at 'orthorexia', a worrying eating disorder characterised by an obsession with healthy eating.
So how do you maintain a healthy lifestyle without tipping the balance and entering the realms of obsession?
Here are five tips on following a good approach to healthy eating from clinical psychologist Dr Vicki Connop:
1. Watch out for warning signs that healthy eating may be getting out of control, such as when healthy eating is taking an inordinate amount of time and attention in your life, robbing your life of joy or spontaneity, interfering with your relationships, causing you to become socially isolated or when deviating from your diet plan generates guilt and self-loathing.
2. Let go of unrealistic expectations and all-or-nothing thinking. Many nutritional experts recommend an 80/20 approach to healthy eating. If you follow healthy eating guidelines 80 percent of the time, most people can allow themselves to eat as they please the remaining 20 percent without having a major impact on their health.
3. Practice mindful eating, savouring the flavours, colours and textures of your food and remembering that eating is a pleasurable and often social activity as well as a means of nourishing the body.
4. Practice self-kindness/self-acceptance. Many people have a little self-critical voice inside their head that judges them and beats them up, demanding they live up to perfectionistic standards. Learn to notice these thoughts without treating them as the truth and try to talk to yourself in the way you would address a good friend, with gentleness and kindness, allowing yourself to be human, which means not being perfect.
5. Recognise that the eating patterns may be serving as a distraction from other underlying issues, such as low self-worth, anxiety, depression, trauma, grief or loss. Consulting a registered therapist can be a good place to start to seek help in addressing these issues.