Is it possible to be addicted to healthy food? According to one Physician, the answer is “Yes.” I spoke about this subject on KTLA Channel 5 News Los Angeles, which can be viewed on my web site reel at http://www.sgabatherapy.com/Media.en.html. Dr. Steven Bratman, MD coined the word “orthorexia”. He defines orthorexia as being obsessed with eating healthy foods to improve your health and well- being.
Although I do not have an eating disorder, I do notice myself being careful of what I eat while filming Celebrity Rehab. I have been conscious of my weight because I know the camera makes you look 10 pounds heavier. I do not believe I am in any trouble, but it did remind me to be mindful of not becoming obsessed with my weight or diet. Instead, I try to pay attention to healthy food choices without being fixated with everything I put into my mouth; and besides, I love my Klondike bars too much to develop orthorexia.
The following are some questions you can ask yourself if you or somebody you know might be obsessing about a healthy food lifestyle. If you answer yes to two to three questions, you may have a hint of the disorder. Four or more means you need to be less stressed about food choices, and if you checked all of them, you have become obsessed with the healthy food you do or don’t eat.
· Are you spending more than three hours a day thinking about healthy food?
· Are you planning tomorrow’s menu today?
· Is the virtue you feel about what you eat more important than the pleasure you receive from eating it?
· Has the quality of your life decreased as the quality of your diet increased?
· Have you become stricter with yourself?
· Does your self-esteem get a boost from eating healthy? Do you look down on others who don’t eat this way?
· Do you skip foods you once enjoyed in order to eat the “right” foods?
· Does your diet make it difficult for you to eat anywhere but at home, distancing you from friends and family?
· Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet?
· When you eat the way you’re supposed to, do you feel in total control?
As Step 1 in the Big Book says “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” Replace alcohol with healthy eating and you have Step 1 of orthorexia.
An individual with orthorexia feels a sense of spirituality, he says. “You’re doing a good, virtuous thing. You also feel that because it’s difficult to do, it must be virtuous. The more extreme you are, the more virtuous you feel,” Bratman says. You spend a large amount of time obsessing about food and when you eat un-healthy food you feel guilt and shame. In fact, you may also be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder which is a medically diagnosable disorder unlike orthorexia. An orthorexia diet is limited in calories and the individual is fixated only on healthy food choices including no fat in their diet.
In my practice I have worked with individuals with all sorts of eating disorders including binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia. I have had some cases where parents are obsessed with exercise, eating healthy, being thin, and obsessed with how they look. Most likely they are struggling with their own eating disorder, but instead of focusing on that, they identify their teens as having the problem. Often these adolescents are only modeling after their own parent’s unrealistic eating habits. I don’t know if orthorexia is truly diagnosable or not, but what I do know is beware of your own eating patterns and how realistic it is. Also, be mindful if your children or teens are following in your foot steps to the extreme and developing their own eating disorder. If you believe you or your children might be struggling with an eating disorder, get assessed immediately by a doctor and psychotherapist that specialize in eating disorders.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach in Agoura Hills, CA. She does Life Coaching by phone. She is the author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery” and Psychotherapist on Celebrity Rehab on VH1.
On Air with Tony Sweet
Tony Sweet is the youngest son of four children in a very musical family. He grew up in Grenola, Kansas, and didn’t start singing publicly until the age of twenty-five. Tony sang in churches in Kansas and Missouri where he felt most at home.
From Kansas, Tony moved to Los Angeles where he was amazed at how diverse people were and felt increasingly comfortable with his own identity of being both Christian and gay. In LA he met people who had walked away from their faith because of the condemnations by people of faith. Tony committed himself to helping others find their way back to their faith and to give them the peace they need to understand God loves them as they are.
In 2008 Tony was a runner up in the Gospel Music Channel’s Gospel Dream, which is comparable to the American Idol of Gospel music. Tony’s dream is to change people’s life through his music, his words, his life experiences and his faith. Since then Tony has performed at the 4,000 member Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, TX and the Outfest Legacy Awards at the Director’s Guild in Hollywood.
With the recent deaths of Corey Haim, Brittany Murphy, and Michael Jackson, most psychotherapists and physicians, who may not necessarily work in addictions, are becoming more mindful of this growing epidemic of pain medication addiction. Yesterday the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office determined that Simon Monjack, the husband of Brittany Murphy, died from acute pneumonia and severe anemia, which were the same two conditions that caused his wife, Brittany Murphy’s death. Although no illegal drugs were found in Brittany’s system, she had elevated levels of Vicoden and drugs from over-the-counter cold medicine in her system. In her husband’s case, they found some prescription drugs in his system, as well.
Was this another case of multiple doctor shopping? There are many doctors abusing the system by prescribing painkillers rather than referring clients to pain clinics, not initiating drug histories, or finding alternative treatments. This, of course, can lead to addiction if these painkillers get into the wrong hands. The other danger is mixing painkillers with psychotropic medications. The combination can be lethal.
As a psychotherapist who specializes in addictions, I have been aware of this pervasive problem for years. In most cases, I tend to believe my clients are exhibiting “drug seeking behavior” when they are visiting doctors or emergency rooms more often. Overmedicating can also bring on the addiction for someone who has been clean and sober for many years. There are too many abuses of the system both by doctors and their patients, which is obvious as seen by the recent deaths of celebrities from this fatal disease. Working on Celebrity Rehab again is another reminder for me of the pervasive problem of addiction in our society. These celebrities are getting the treatment they need, but what about the countless others who are not celebrities that are in the grips of their disease and are not seeking help?
If you think someone is abusing the system and is showing signs of drug seeking behavior, start noticing if he or she is making decisions that don’t align with his usual behavior and is using the medication to deal with emotional pain or to cope with stress. Notice if he or she is not taking the medication as prescribed. Is he or she less present in their relationships at home or at work? Are you seeing this person putting him or herself in situations that can cause danger to others such as driving when medicated? Be aware if this person is suddenly seeing new doctors or visiting multiple pharmacies and finally, is this person needing refills way before the prescription is up? Look for the signs and symptoms and perhaps you can be an advocate for him or her in receiving the proper treatment and saving someone’s life or perhaps your own if you can relate to this blog.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach and author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.” will be out. She is the Life Coach and Psychotherapist on Celebrity Rehab on VH1 and presently is filming Celebrity Rehab 4.
As I go back and forth from the set of Celebrity Rehab, seeing clients, spending time with family and friends, and making time for me, I remember some advise a Life Design Life Coach, Leslie Gail, best selling author of Life Simplified: A weekly Guide to Creating a Life you Love, gave me a while back. She reminded me “you simply can’t be everything to everyone and do everything for everyone, something has to give and it isn’t time. She had me look at questions such as “Do you feel there is enough time in the day?”, “Do you feel as if there are enough hours to get everything done?” These were great questions to reflect upon.
One of the lessons I learned was to try to simplify my life and reprioritize. For example, I just won’t be able to get to my emails as often during this busy time or spend as much time on my Facebook and Twitter. I have learned to take the “should be doing this” out of my vocabularly and I have learned to do what I truly want to do. I also have learned to delegate delegate delegate. I have hired a virtual assistant to help me with computer issues which has been vital for the building of my business. I hired someone to help clean my house every two weeks, which is a God send. I have had to let go of being all things to all people. I just put one foot in front of the other as the 12 step program has taught me.
Here are some suggestions regarding time management:
1. Log a week
Before you can find time when there isn’t any, you need to take a look at where you are currently spending your time. Take a typical week and journal how much time you are devoting to each activity. For ex. work, commute, childcare, exercise
2. What do you value
Next make a list of everything you value in your life from the most to the least. Do your weekly tasks parallel what you value the most or things of little value to you? Begin creating a life that resembles what your top priorities are.
3. 3 Questions
Instead of focusing on all the minute tasks you feel you need to accomplish every day, refocus your time. Ask yourself these three questions every night: 1. What is important about tomorrow 2. What must get done tomorrow 3. What is coming up in the future that I can begin preparing for.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW, is a Psychotherapist specializing in addictions. Sherry is the Psychotherapist on Celebrity Rehab on VH1 and author of “The Law of Sobriety: Attracting Positive Energy for a Powerful Recovery.”