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Are You Making Yourself Sick Trying to be Healthy?

By Debbie Mandel

The quest for health could be a full-time occupation. Eat this, drink that or take this pill. In fact Dr. Steven Bratman coined a term for the obsession with healthy eating - orthorexia. Some people are so stressed about living healthy that they forget to live. Psychiatrists havenít made up their minds if this is an official illness. Can something good for you really be bad?

Medical studies periodically change their minds, like eat broccoli and you wonít get cancer and while itís great to eat broccoli, it doesnít seem to ward off cancer. Or severely restricting calories will help you live longer. However, contradictory studies claim that when you age, if you weigh too little as a senior, your risk for illness increases.

Here are some seemingly healthy actions which could actually turn out to be unhealthy:
  • You want to lose weight because obesity can drive metabolic syndrome. So, you eat sweet diet foods to cut calories. These foods often have artificial sugars which actually create sugar cravings triggering a hunger for more calories. You are better off having naturally sweet foods without the deprivation that fuels bingeing.
  • Exercise is great for mind and body. So, if an hour is good, three or four must be better. Wrong! This sets you up for depression, fatigue, overworked muscles and joints ripe for injury and you might end up looking flabbier!
  • Sleeping is good for vitality, appetite suppression, repairing cells and learning new material. Therefore getting more sleep must be better. However, too much sleep could be a sign of depression and some studies claim that it predisposes some people to diabetes, heart disease and an increased risk of death.
  • Water is great, so drinking a lot of water flushes out toxins. However, imbibing too much water and not eating can set you up for fainting/dizziness, a cardiovascular episode, even death. If you are drinking a lot of water because you are exercising in the heat, include a sports drink to replenish electrolytes.
  • All red meat is bad. Actually, lean red meat can provide people with high quality protein, iron, zinc, Vitamin B 12, phosphorus, energy and satiety to prevent hunger and those munchies. Processed red meats like deli and hot dogs are unhealthy - all meats are not created equal.
  • Cleaning your house with anti-bacterial cleansers. Some doctors prophesy super- resistant bacteria because of the casual use of antibacterial products. A little dirt is good for you Ė it wakes up the immune system.
  • Vitamins and supplements help you live longer. In fact, some supplements have toxic lead in them or can cause an anti-oxidant overdose, increasing your risk for mortality. Get your nutrition from fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and take a supplement if your doctor has tested you and found you to be deficient. Vitamin D is popular now. Did you know that exposing some skin to the sun is the most efficient way to get D at least in the summer? In the winter get tested if you live in colder Northern regions.
Stress in itself is an inflammatory process. Stressing about healthy living is self-defeating.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul, a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com