Having Fun with Food (it’s the right thing to do…)
I am a foodie who prefers homegrown organic vegetables and wild caught fish, but I also like to have fun with food. I often eat with my fingers, and create weird combinations of ingredients. I never thought that having fun with food could be a protective factor until I heard about “Orthorexia” last week from Sean, one of my recovery coaching students. It turns out that healthy eating can become a deadly obsession.
“Ortho” is Latin for “right,” and Orthorexia Nervosa describes an extreme pattern of classifying foods as ‘good” or “bad,” as “pure” or “impure,” as “clean” or “dirty.” Classifying food as good or bad results in food restrictions and the obsession to eat right—to eat only those foods that are good, pure, and clean and on ones current diet. Eating the right foods each day becomes a source of pride while eating the wrong foods becomes a source of distress. Each day is a new chance to be good and pure through proper food choices and some orthorexics experience nausea or stomach pain at the mere thought of eating something they consider bad or unhealthy. For orthorexics, the right foods are regarded as a source of health rather than as a source of pleasure.
Eating wrong foods means one is bad or dirty and likely to get sick. Eating the wrong food means being weak, means failing to use strength and willpower to eat right. Violations of diet require fasting and cleansing in order to become healthy and pure again. Over time diets tend to become increasingly restrictive (for example, no dairy, no meats, no grains, only raw foods), and harder and harder to follow. As self-punishment for dietary transgressions increase, self-esteem declines, and enthusiasm for healthy eating becomes an obsession that leads to isolation, malnutrition, and sometimes death. My plan as a foodie who wants to avoid Orthorexia is to have fun with food and to experience eating as a source of pleasure.
For me there are various ways of experiencing pleasure from food. My favorites include eating delicious food with friends, letting myself eat weird things, and eating with my fingers. Yesterday for lunch, I combined honey and coconut oil and briefly heated that in a microwave, then mixed in breakfast cereal, cashews, salt, raisins, and potato chips. I ate it with my fingers. It was crunchy and tasty and my body liked it just fine. Today I will eat something different (my body wants some vegetables) and take the time to enjoy it. Here is a recipe from my foodie friend Kris. We have enjoyed this as desert after a healthy meal.
Heat and mix very dark chocolate with butter or coconut oil, add some honey and a few drops of vanilla extract. Stir, then lick off fingers.
And talk and laugh. Have fun with food. It’s the right thing to do.