Holiday Orthorexia Interrupting Your Weight Loss?

“Orthorexia is defined as an eating disorder characterized by having an unsafe obsession with healthy food.”  Yes, most of us may chuckle that we have the opposite problem but I want to make sure that over the holidays, we don’t fall into this trap and end up gaining weight. 

I’d like to describe both true orthorexia and for the vast majority of us, the mentality of orthorexia that leads us down a self-sabotaging weight gain cycle.  

Orthorexia is an eating disorder where one has an OBSESSION with eating only pure and clean food to the point that this interferes with daily life.  This can lead to severe health problems such as malnutrition, protein deficiency, kidney malfunction, etc.  If this is you, please get help right away.

For the rest of us who have the perfection eating mentality (especially during a diet) but don’t have a disorder, let’s change the way we view food so that we CAN lose weight.  For some, the holidays is a time they completely let go and for others, they have a lot of anxiety around food.  Let’s find peace with food.  Accept that the holiday is a time of joy, foods that remind us of traditions, and people.  Let go of your “perfect” eating enough to enjoy all foods.   But…don’t let go so much that you don’t listen to your body.  Here are some quick tips to help you enjoy all the foods yet lose weight:

  • Put everything on a plate.  Eating involves the eyes too.  Our brain/body gauges “enough” through all senses.
  • Slow it down.  Give yourself permission to eat your favorite foods.  It’s funny how having permission allows us to eat just the right amount and not stuff ourselves fearing someone (including ourselves) is judging. 
  • Mingle more.  Be the photographer, the greeter, the social butterfly.  Don’t plant yourself at the food table.
  • Daily movement.  You can always make time for daily exercise.  Don’t plan your calendar so there’s no time to smell the flowers. 
  • Mindful choices.  Fill your plate up with food that makes you feel good and leave room for less healthy options.  Not the other way around.
  • Alternate between water and alcohol. 
Mostly importantly, enjoy this time.  Food is medicine but perfection is impossible (and toxic).  I wish you the happiest of holidays and a very Happy New Year.  Please stay away from the holiday weight gain followed by the New Year’s Resolution cycle.  Treat your body well now.  You don’t have to do it all alone.  Get support!  Change isn’t easy but you can acquire the growth mindset for success.
If you need help understanding nutrition and all the mixed messages out there, give us a call. We will address your stress level, diet, exercise, cravings, emotional eating and overall health and happiness. Start with a free health consultation at or (619) 876-2655. See if this is the right match for you. I do things very differently to make health a natural lifestyle and this is not for everyone. Check out Yelp for other people’s opinion of Happy Food. 
~ Samantha Hua, Nutrition & Holistic Health Coach