Excessive healthiness can be unhealthy too

Written by: Libby Thoma | Staff Writer

Content warning: This article contains mentions of eating disorders

Health influencers and gurus have flooded social media exponentially over time, and an obsession with an ill-defined idea of physical health has been promoted to many consumers on a daily basis. These influencers give supposed “hacks,” ideas and even inspiration to lead a physically healthy lifestyle. This obsession with health and being perfect has caused some people to take it too far. 

Where do we draw the line when dealing with health? Too far, as described in this article, is any situation taken far enough to be considered an eating disorder. According to the National Institute of Health, an eating disorder can include any preoccupation — or obsession — with food, body weight or body shape. This leads to the conclusion that those who are extremely obsessed with being physically healthy, which includes the realm of food and usually weight as well, have an eating disorder.  

There are many examples of said preoccupation, and some include obsessing over natural foods. A person could scrutinize the correct amount of healthy calories and refuse, no matter the situation, to nourish their body properly. One could obsess over exercise — which tends to be one of the more problematic and more noticeable obsessions. 

Anything that gets in the way of daily tasks and enjoying daily life should be considered a disorder. While it is of utmost importance to be healthy, it is important to maintain that and not go overboard. Ideas of going overboard could include purposefully and drastically hurting one’s body and/or brain to exercise, including in sports. This could include an inability to go anywhere where a person is unfamiliar with the food served out of fear for eating something unhealthy. This could include refusing to go see one’s parents due to fear of losing out on time to exercise — the list goes on. 

9% of the U.S. population has an eating disorder according to ANAD, and if people with obsessions regarding exercise, being healthy or fit are included, as they should be, the statistic would rise.

If the reader feels that they are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to realize these feelings are valid and to seek help. If any of this sounds familiar, contact the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders at 888-375-7767.

Contact the author at ethoma@mail.wou.edu