Are we too obsessed with being healthy?

Over the past five years or so there has been a massive push in society for more healthy eating and exercise. While both are vital in maintaining a sound body and mind, I have to say I think being healthy has become more of an obsession rather than a lifestyle choice.

Not a day goes by where I see some other food has been deemed “bad” for us, whether it be gluten, dairy or sugar. Just yesterday a study was published showing that going gluten free unnecessarily is actually depriving you of whole grains which can result in you being more likely to develop heart disease. So buying into this whole idea that cutting out certain foods is good for you is actually making you unhealthy, how ironic.

To illustrate my point further, a new eating disorder has developed out of this obsession with healthy eating. Orthorexia nervosa can develop in a person who is obsessed with eating healthy food, whether it be eating only organic products or “eating clean”. Because the diet becomes severely restricted, severe weight loss and health problems can occur. If a person becomes thin enough, their organs can fail, leading to death. I cannot understate how dangerous eating disorders are.

This also relates to this new trend of getting fit. I don’t mean going to the gym and doing some cardio-vascular training, I am talking about the image-conscious gym goer. These people aspire to have a very low percentage of body fat and emphasise gaining muscle. I am not trying to insult people who go to the gym and body build, I admire your dedication. But at what point does it become too much- is it natural to adding protein to your body using supplements? What are the long-term health risks? There is literally no reason for any to have that amount of muscle unless you’re The Rock. Being “built” has become another pressure on people (especially men) to look a certain way. A new term has been developed, “bigorexia”, when a person obsessed with going to the gym cannot see how much muscle they have gained and still see themselves as weak or scrawny.

The central question is why do people want to get healthy? If it is for themselves, fair play. What worries me is that it isn’t about health or even people’s own personal bodies anymore- they have lost control of their body image completely. How sad is it that we have managed to create a new social problem (fitness obsession) while attempting to fix another social problem (obesity)?

To all the people who are reading this (while lifting weights simultaneously) thinking “she’s probably never off that laptop, her sedentary lifestyle will kill her in 30 years”, perhaps you’re right. There isn’t anything wrong with being healthy. I am not saying we should be celebrating unhealthy lifestyles. All I am saying is that being healthy has turned into an obsession for some people, which is worrying. It isn’t about health, it is abut image, self-esteem, and control. So, why don’t we all just relax and go get a McFlurry in McDonalds?

If you have been affected by the contents of this blog post:

Bodywhys can be contacted on: 1890 200 444 and found at: http://www.bodywhys.ie/

National Eating Disorder Association can be found at: https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/

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