You have read countless articles on what to eat and what not to eat and you pride yourself in being someone who takes good care of yourself. You have the strict resolve to eat healthy food and rarely ever slip off the health plateau. Raw fruits, Boiled veggies and Salads are your best friends. But did you know that your extreme awareness (read obsession) about eating healthy can lead to an eating disorder?

Orthorexia (used as a parallel with other eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa) is a fixation on eating only healthy or pure foods, or what an individual perceives as healthy or pure. Nutritionists and doctors have seen an increase in number of people who seem to have an obsession about eating only those food items which they feel are healthy for them.

Aarti Shah, a 26 year old is one such person. Being health conscious, Aarti decided to restrict the intake of salt and sugar in her diet. “My mom’s got diabetes and my dad suffers from high blood pressure. Over time as I read up and realised that I could too suffer from the same ailments. Hence, I decided to restrict my diet of sugar and salt. It wasn’t even difficult as my parents followed the same routine. In spite of optimizing my diet, I fell seriously ill last year. I used to feel exhausted and drained all the time even though I wasn’t doing anything strenuous. Through body check up I was surprised to learn that told I had some imbalance of sodium and potassium in my body. Basically the lack of essential minerals like sodium and glucose made me feel lethargic. It was then that I realised that one needs to have things in moderation and not completely cut out things from your diet without proper consultation from a doctor.”

Practising gynaecologist, Dr. Darshna Thakker, has often come across people who are obsessed on eating right and in turn end up harming themselves. “The problem is with so much awareness, there are number of people who get too obsessed on what they are eating but then in their effort to eat healthy and pure food they tend to miss out on a balanced diet. Also each body’s requirements are different at different age groups. Everything needs to be done in a balance.”

Even though Orthorexia is not yet an officially recognised eating disorder, there are signs that one can note of suffering from it.
– Being overly concerned with your eating habits.
– Feeling the guilt of deviating from strict diet guidelines.
– Having critical thoughts about others who do not adhere to rigorous diets.
– Distancing from friends or family members who do not share similar views about food.
– Avoiding eating food bought or prepared by others.
– Worsening depression, mood swings or anxiety regarding food matters and habits.

“Eating healthy is always a good choice, but not at the cost of health and that includes psychological health. Nutritional deficiency can make one irritable and depressed. So make sure you choose right and be wise,” adds Dr. Darshna.

Are you obsessed about healthy eating?

The vegetarian diet is commonly regarded as one of the healthiest diets for humanity. Many studies have found that vegetarian diets reduce the likelihood of prevalent diseases like heart disease and diabetes and improve health more than the average non-vegetarian diet. However, this doesn’t mean that the vegetarian diet is the best diet for everyone’s health.

The Ketogenic diet, for example, has been found to be more effective than the vegetarian diet for weight loss! And Just because you don’t eat meat doesn’t mean you can’t try this high-protein plan. Here’s how to turn the Keto diet vegetarian:

What is Keto diet?

With no carbs for fuel, the body produces ketones by breaking down fats in the liver. This helps burn excess fat and jump-start your metabolism, and it can lead to weight loss and increased energy. There is also an emphasis on whole foods with the Keto diet, which means that many types of processed foods are off-limits. 

The original Keto diet is extremely high in fatty meats, which is not good for our cardiovascular system, the vegetarian version eliminates these meats and allows for more plant-based options, such as avocado and nuts and seeds. In general, the population is going towards a more plant-based, whole-foods diet, which is why the Ketotarian diet is emerging.

Going Ketotarian:

The diet of the moment is the Ketogenic plan, people turn to it to lose weight, to manage chronic illness, or to find a healthier lifestyle. This high-protein plan focuses on meat, however. The goal is to eliminate carbs, jack up the protein, and force the body to burn fat for fuel (instead of its preferred source: carbohydrates). This phenomenon is called ketosis, but the meat focus prevents vegetarians from experimenting with the plan.

How does a vegetarian Keto diet works?

First, even non-vegetarian Keto eaters shouldn’t focus too much on meat: The misconception that Keto diets require huge amounts of meat or meat products may scare off vegetarians, those concerned about the environment, or people that want to eat healthier. A vegetarian version of the Ketogenic diet may be appealing for its weight loss and other health benefits.

What can you eat as a Ketotarian?

The vegetarian Keto diet menu will include leafy greens and aboveground vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, and green beans, as well as high-fat dairy, nuts, seeds, avocados, berries, sweeteners, oils, and fats. Ketotarians should ensure that they fit plenty of nuts, seeds (including flax and chia), tofu, eggs, cheese, cream, vegetables, avocados, olives, olive oil, canola oil, and butter into their diets for optimal results. You can make “treats” to help cravings, like chocolate avocado ice cream, from compliant ingredients.

What to avoid?

The list is very similar to the regular Keto diet (except you’re avoiding meat): Be sure to steer clear of grains, sugar, fruit (except for occasional berries), and tubers, like yams and sweet potatoes, while following the vegetarian Keto diet.

What are the benefits of vegetarian Keto diet?

One of the most beneficial things about the vegetarian Keto diet is that it incorporates fresh foods and eliminates many processed foods. The parameters of a Ketogenic diet are simply grams of macronutrients—protein, fat, carbs. The vegetarian Ketogenic diet tries to also focus on the quality of foods eaten, increasing the micronutrient content of the diet.

How challenging is it?

Those who are doing the vegetarian Keto diet will have to pay extra attention to what they are putting in their mouths. It can be harder to manage your diet because you might have to spend more time calculating your carbohydrate intake and spend a lot of time planning meals and considering the foods you are eating. Many plant foods contain carbs so it could be challenging to stay balanced, satisfied, and achieve Ketosis. Another challenge is not falling into the trap of eating foods that may be compliant but aren’t actually healthy. As with any diet, the label itself does not make it healthy. The labels of ‘vegan,’ ‘vegetarian,’ ‘Keto,’ ‘gluten-free,’ and many others include a range of food choices that fit the standards of the diet but aren’t necessarily healthy. This is especially true of processed foods that may carry these labels.

Consulting a doctor or a dietician is the smartest way of losing weight to achieve the proper and RIGHT guidance towards your goal weight. But often 20-30 minutes of meeting isn’t adequate enough to know everything there’s to know about losing weight. We asked doctors, dietitians, therapists, and other weight loss experts the key facts their clients most often miss. Make sure to master these often misunderstood facts if you’re looking to shed a few pounds.

1)    Food that seem healthy may also make you gain weight 

Many people think if it’s healthy, you can eat as much as you want, but it’s important to limit ‘recreational’ eating, no matter how healthy the snack is. When you do snack, make sure you’re choosing the right kind.

2)    WHEN you eat is as important as WHAT you eat

When you eat is important for weight loss. Starving all day and eating a big meal at the end of the day is counterproductive. No matter how nutritious a meal is, if eaten too late in the day, one does not have the time to burn it off and use it for fuel for the day. It ends up being stored in a body gas tank (the fat cells) you can’t readily access.

3)    Reaching your goal end isn’t the end

It takes fewer calories and more energy expenditure to maintain weight loss than it takes to initiate weight loss. So if you let up once you start losing weight, you will gain it all back and then some! The good news is that when you start losing weight, it becomes easier to do more things like spending extra time on the treadmill or doing more resistance training reps. The idea is to continuously challenge yourself.

4)    The right thyroid test

If you’re having a hard time losing weight, get a proper thyroid assessment. Most people need a test that goes above the standard medical thyroid profile. A standard thyroid test reads as ‘normal’ in 80 percent of overweight individuals, which is incorrect. A proper thyroid assessment includes checking eight different parameters of thyroid function and comparing them to optimal, not normal, values. Evaluated this way, over 80 percent of overweight individuals will actually be properly identified as being hypothyroid. This is a key contributor to overweight.

5)    Alcohol prevents weight loss

Alcohol does not only empty calories but also has a huge effect on the weight loss process. It can interrupt and inhibit fat metabolism, making it harder to lose weight. Alcoholic drinks also contain a lot of added calories and carbs that will make it harder to lose weight even when you’re reducing your caloric intake. At the very least, order something you sip slowly, such as wine, rather than something you may drink larger amounts of such as beer.