Orthorexic-CarolynO'Neil0217By Carolyn O’Neil MS, RD

Can you be too obsessed with eating a healthy diet? While most Americans struggle daily with efforts to follow nutrition advice outlined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines—such as eating fewer total calories and more vegetables; there’s a mindful minority who take healthy eating habits a bit too seriously. The excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy has been classified as an eating disorder called orthorexia nervosa. The term orthorexia comes from the Greek words for “right” and “appetite.” Coined by physician Steven Bratman, orthorexia nervosa is not officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association but is getting more attention from nutrition professionals who observe this behavior in clients. “They are afraid of food,” says registered dietitian Jim White, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. White says, “I’m concerned because they’re so obsessive. They’ll eat nothing that comes in a box or has more than five ingredients.” Types of foods and drinks avoided might include those containing sugar, fat, gluten, wheat, meat, or dairy.

Unintended Consequences

What divides a commitment to healthy eating and orthorexia is the extreme limitation in food selection. While it’s a good thing to choose carrots over cookies at snack time, there are potential downsides to cutting out whole food groups from your diet. Going “gluten free” may mean avoiding enriched whole grains that contain folic acid, an important nutrient for women of childbearing years because it helps reduce the incidence of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.

Vegans, who shun all animal products, may be at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency unless their diets are planned very carefully.

Avoiding dairy can cut out a key source of calcium and vitamin D. Then there’s the mental strain of orthorexia with its demands to obsessively police food choices.

Who’s Orthorexic? 

Behavioral issues associated with orthorexia include the following: Do you look down on others who don’t eat this way? Do you skip foods once enjoyed in order to eat the “right” foods? Does your diet make it difficult to eat anywhere but at home, distancing you from family and friends? Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet rules?

Real Measures of Health

Rather than focusing on a checklist of foods to avoid, White guides clients to eat a wide variety of healthful foods. From there, he gauges the physical and mental conditions that develop with healthy eating habits. “We rate energy level, mood, quality of sleep and stress levels,” White says. “After three months (of eating a well-balanced diet) they’ll see changes and listen to what works for the long run.”

To learn more about the difference between a healthy appreciation of good foods and obsessing over food choices, enlist the help of a registered dietitian nutritionist to find the best eating plans customized to your lifestyle, fitness goals and taste preferences.

Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian, cookbook author, journalist, and blogger. Learn more at carolynoneil.com 

Details: eatrightgeorgia.org 

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COLOURAs a busy former corporate attorney, journalist, wife and mother, Atlanta resident Debra Shigley found she just didn’t have time to spend the day waiting around at her favorite salon to receive a blow out. So, she decided to bring the salon to her and created COLOUR, a free phone app that provides styling services to women of color with relaxed or natural hair wherever and whenever they want. There’s even an option to join the Colour Club and receive unlimited hairstyling appointments month-to-month.

Details: getcolour.io

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Dr. Dana Neacsu

“Most of us have a hard time getting the recommended nutrition from foods we eat each day, so a multivitamin makes sense to fill in any gaps. For best absorption, choose a powdered or gel form without sugar, preservatives or artificial coloring, and split the daily dose to take half in the morning and half in the evening. Take your multivitamin with a fat-containing meal, too, to maximize absorption and minimize any stomach discomfort,” says Dana Neacsu, MD, Medical Creations Integrative Medicine.

Details: 4840 Roswell Rd., Atlanta; creationsintegrativemedicine.com

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Not a risk-taker but still drawn to the sky? Slow down the pace and float in a hot-air balloon over the scenic outskirts or the busy streets of Atlanta. Balloons Over Georgia has been safely drifting over southern treasures such as Lake Lanier, Kennesaw Mountain, and the beginnings of the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountain ranges for years, creating special moments for couples, work groups, and friends.

Details: balloonsovergeorgia.com

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Spend an afternoon soaring over the bustling city of Atlanta in the comfort and coziness of a biplane with Biplane Rides Over Atlanta, Inc. Whether you’re setting up your trip for a perfect date or as a unique way to entertain out-of-towners, these biplane tours are sure to wow anyone. Cruise all over Atlanta and see Downtown, Buckhead and Stone Mountain within minutes. Ask your captain about flying over specific sights and cater your tour as you wish. After the ride, grab a bite at The Downwind Restaurant & Lounge, which is located right on the landing strip of the DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. Watch planes land and takeoff as you enjoy one of the eatery’s delicious, fresh salads or juicy burgers.

Details: biplaneridesoveratlanta.com

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There’s a simple solution that could save the lives of the 5,171 Georgians currently waiting for a kidney transplant: living organ donation. In an effort to raise awareness regarding this issue, Megan Parker, RN, BSN, of Piedmont Transplant Institute, debunks myths about living organ donation.

green ribbon

Myth #1: If I donate a kidney, I’m at increased risk for health issues later in life.

False. A living donor’s risk of developing kidney failure following donation is less than 1 percent. Living kidney donors typically follow up with a primary care physician yearly to maintain good health.

Myth #2: I’m not a match. There’s nothing I can do to help my loved one get a transplant.

False. If you’re not a match for a loved one, you can participate in paired exchange. This allows you to donate a kidney to someone else who has a living organ donor that would, in turn, donate a kidney to your loved one. Even if you’re not a candidate for kidney donation, you can help your loved one spread the word.

Myth #3: I can only donate a kidney to someone who is the same ethnicity as me.

False. It doesn’t matter what gender, race or ethnicity you are. What matters is blood type.

Details: piedmont.org

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For more than four decades, the Atlanta Film Festival (AFF) has been bringing cutting edge films to its annual festival. The AFF also offers festivalgoers a chance to interact with filmmakers and actors. Past guests have included  Ray McKinnon of “The Blind Side” and Margaret Cho of “Drop Dead Diva.” Film buffs can check out the 2017 festival March 24-April 2.

Details: atlantafilmfestival.com

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Awa Diop, a local Sandy Springs mother of twins with autism knows how demanding special-needs parenting can be. That is why she created Original Shea Butter House, to offer toxin-free body care products for easy at-home pampering and relaxation. Keep your skin sealed with moisture with their raw shea butter soaps and creams or help pesky dark spots fade with a little Moringa oil.

Details: 7875 Roswell Rd., Sandy Springs; atlantasheabutter.com

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Catch media personality Dana Barrett on March 11 as she hosts The Pink Affair at The Westin Atlanta Perimeter North. The annual TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehabilitation fundraising event includes dinner and silent and live auctions.“There will be lots of dancing. It’s going to be a really fun event but also for a great cause,” Barrett says. “What really resonated for me was that they are helping people who are going through breast cancer right now,” says the breast cancer survivor.

Details: myturningpoint.org/the-pink-affair

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An Atlanta-based startup created by three millennials wants to make it easier to request health care services. The LocateYourCare iOS app offers chiropractic, dentistry and massage services on demand. Users can enjoy transparency through upfront pricing, which includes multiple price levels, and peer-reviewed providers. Those without an iPhone can still book services online.

Details: locateyourcare.com

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