By Jessica Sepel

Do you view food as the enemy?

Is it on your mind all the time?

Do you feel anxious and guilty after eating?

Do you refuse to eat anything ‘bad’?

If so, you’ve developed a complicated relationship with food and you may have disordered eating to some degree.

When taken to the extreme, this is called “orthorexia,” and it’s far too common for my liking. It’s heartbreaking.

Orthorexia is an obsessive way of eating that involves only eating foods that one considers healthy. It’s a medical condition in which the sufferer avoids specific foods with the belief they are harmful.

Thanks to social media and the amount of information available to us, many young people I meet suffer from orthorexia. It’s a relatively new term that I think is the next big concern in the health world – especially amongst teenagers.

It seems like every second conversation I have or overhear is about food and fitness. When I’m out with friends, it’s the hot topic. When I’m sitting at my local café, it’s the subject of discussion at the next table.

Yes, we’re becoming more health-conscious, and that’s great. I’m a proud nutritionist, after all! But some people are taking it to the extreme.

I used to be one of them, so I recognise the signs. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being obsessive with food, being too careful, and literally being scared to eat unhealthy food.

My passion is to protect young people from being victims of this cycle. Why? Because it adds huge physical and emotional stress to the body and mind.

We have to try to heal this obsessive mentality around food early, before it controls our lives.

Food is fuel and nourishment – that’s all. It’s not the driver of our thoughts. There is SO MUCH more to life than worrying about what we’re eating.

This is why I encourage balance with food. It’s why I ask you to indulge occasionally. Perfect eating is not the goal; it doesn’t exist. Flexible eating is the aim.

My book, Living The Healthy Life, and online program contain all you need to know to guide you to healing this obsessive and exhausting relationship with food and your body. You can sign up today here!