Monday, March 16, 2015

Should you think about food all the time?

Last week a client came in for her first follow-up session. She recapped her week and said, “I feel like I’m thinking about food all the time, should I be?” I have to say I hear this a lot. I dug a little and a lot of this client’s food thoughts were of the planning variety. She also had a little insecurity over whether she was doing all of this right. I reassured this client. “You’re learning a new language and it’s not second nature yet. Of course it’s taking up mind time.” And then the follow up “not to worry, over time I don’t want you thinking about food 24/7 but some degree of forethought is always good.”

Not all food thoughts are created equal.
I was sent this link about a disorder called Orthorexia. This article questions this diagnosis as being anti healthy, conscious eating. I feel differently. It’s one thing to vet the foods you put into your body. It’s another if situations where you cannot control food choices are completely avoided or if food concerns outweigh food pleasure. It’s a fine line. Even some of the criteria for orthorexia sound a lot like things I recommend…planning your food day etc. My advice is that the more on top of healthy eating you are, the less you should be thinking about food. I tend to think the most destructive food thoughts are when food is off.  I’d take deliberation over guilt any day. Only you know if your food thoughts are bringing you sanity or stress.
Would you say you think about food a lot? Are these thoughts generally positive or negative? What’s your feeling on the disorder orthorexia?


  1. I think about food ALL the time. It's usually the planning variety, as getting meals on the table for a family takes some planning. But some excitement as in, I can't wait for that dinner, or to try out that new recipe. I won't lie, there's some guilt too. But I think this is normal for anyone who truly enjoys food (and is a planner by nature). Ultimately it's a good thing - people who plan what to eat ahead of time can make better choices than those who get so hungry they have to eat whatever is in front of them at that moment.

  2. I plan quite a bit when it comes to food (weekly meal plan, lots of prep work on the weekend, etc.), and I think it's a good thing. If I do a fair amount of planning and prepping, I eat the way that makes me feel my best. And I agree with you that food thoughts are negative when things are off.

    I can see however that you can take healthy eating and focus on healthy eating - like anything - to the extreme where it's not healthy anymore...

  3. I really like your comparison to learning a new language, because changing a client's diet does take a long time to become second nature. I also agree that to some extent, it's necessary to think about food daily in order to properly plan, but there is a fine line between planning and becoming unhealthily obsessive.

  4. I was an orthorexic for five years and as it morphed into anorexia it almost killed me. For certain people with a history of obsessive thought patterns and type-a personalities, the drive to eat healthily can morph into something deadly.