The Truth Behind Protein Diets: Could Healthy Habits Cause an Eating Disorder?

A Pile of Healthy Food

A Pile of Healthy FoodHealthy food trends emerge every couple of years. Back in the 1980s, for instance, fat-free food was all the rage. People turned to low-fat yogurt and cheese in an attempt to eat healthier and achieve slimmer waistlines. Even if dairy products had fat-free ingredients, however, it still wasn’t the healthiest food option. Manufacturers used sugar to substitute fat, and this resulted in troubling levels of sugar in the body.

This was not the last time a well-meaning food trend was taken to the extreme. Protein shakes and bars have recently become popular, especially among gym-goers, the same way the fat-free diet once held sway a couple of decades ago. While not a bad thing on its own, there is a growing issue wherein dieters took the trend to the extreme and developed an unhealthy fixation on living exclusively on a protein diet. Experts are calling it “protorexia.”

Protein: The New Name of the Diet Game

Protein is an essential nutrient for the body — as a filling type of food, a high-protein diet could aid in weight loss. On Instagram, there are over 27 million posts with the #CleanEating hashtag, and high-protein food is a part of that category. While the protein diet encourages people to avoid processed food, obsessing over protein-rich products and avoiding consumption of other food groups could point to a possible eating disorder.

The Clean Trend Could Promote Eating Healthy Food Obsessively

There is a fine line between being vigilant about eating “clean” and an eating disorder. While eating healthy food does give a person the opportunity to be the healthiest versions of themselves, it could also create a mindset that revolves around food. When a person becomes too stringent with what they can or can’t eat, it could limit one’s food choices and lead to Orthorexia Nervosa, an obsession with healthy food.

The Importance of Having a Balanced Diet

The restriction of certain food groups is indicative of disordered eating habits. Thinking about dietary choices even when it isn’t mealtime is a sign that a person’s eating cognition has become unhealthy. Treatment centers like EDCare that help patients recover from eating disorders recommend following a balanced diet instead of focusing solely on a single food group for nutrition. Carbohydrates and fiber-rich food are also essential to one’s diet, after all.

A balanced and healthy approach to eating hinges on maintaining the nutritional benefits from all the major food groups. Other food groups are also valuable sources of energy and vitamins as well.