How to Know if You’ve Taken Healthy Eating Too Far… : The Renegade Health Show #796

Tuesday Apr 5 | BY |
| Comments (42)

I know you’ve been there…

Maybe you still are.

There is a time when you realize you’ve taken the health food thing way to seriously. Today, I talk about this as well as answer questions about gaining weight on the raw food diet, if kids should take vitamin D and the role of exercise and adrenal stress.

Check it out…

Your question of the day: Do you think you have been orthorexic at times? Still are?

Click here, scroll down to the bottom of the page and leave your comments now!

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


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  1. Sandra says:

    Your transparency is really healthy. Good for you! You will help more people, keeping it real.

  2. Sheryl says:

    Like you said many things can cause a shift in weight – relationships, lifestyle, current changes you may be making in your Life. Weight gain or loss is more than just what we eat. I experienced where in two weeks I gained 20 plus pounds and my whole body swelled up. And the cause was because I was rebelling against moving to another city that Spirit was prompting me too. Once I gave in and moved to the prompted city immediately in one week without any effect the weight came off. And another instance is where I was holding on to a relationship that Spirit was wanting me to let go of and once I did the weight came off within a week. So realize that how we look is based on a lot of other things besides food.

  3. Melissa says:

    What is the raw foodist gaining weight is not eating enough calories and her body is in starvation mode?? This is precisely what has happened to me. I was eating lot of fruit, veg/greens and nuts and only eating about 1300 calories. I felt great and didn’t feel I needed more. Well, this has completely screwed up my metabolism and I am now overhauling what I eat and starting a lot at square one. Please advise people to eat an appropriate level of calories– give us the required range! I cannot plead enough. Thank you!

  4. DONAJI says:

    Loved this episode…you answered some stuff I’ve been wondering about. Thanks Kevin!

  5. casey says:

    I have not, growing up as a vegetarian i quickly had to develop a perspective of letting go of control of situations. If we are struggling with any emotional issue we have to see it from a 3rd perspective and step outside of it to understand why we are having such trouble, sometimes that in and of it self is enough, other times we have to work hard to emotionally evolve.

  6. Tara Burner says:

    I’ve gone through my phases
    from one realm to the other
    now I’m more balanced and found a happy medium 🙂

  7. Darilyn says:

    Gosh, What a concept, and maybe I am; glad to finally have a word for it! And this has been me all my life as I either got sick to my stomach or whatever, so I Never could eat fries, hamburger & coke @ MC etc. So What! But as I’m older now, most elders eat out, potlucks etc, all terribly unhealthy foods, in my opinion, so it IS affecting my social life greatly. Why can’t I meet real people like you discuss that are raw or vegan in real life? ……. And gosh, dirty restaurants (as I waitressed myself through college) no one understands my perspective, or they really don’t want to go there for sure in real life? OH WELL 🙂

  8. Coco says:

    I went totally crazy for a while, got rid of all the metal and plastic in our house, wouldn’t wear a watch, tried to make kitchen ware out of coconut shells, ha ha. I didn’t want to have essential oils, crystals and gems, candles, etc, nothing that used up resources that weren’t essential for survival. You can imagine what I was eating like.

    About Vit D for kids, that answer was fine and dandy for a mama who hasn’t stopped breastfeeding by then (most have). If you want to know how much to supplement a child ask a doctor, not a dude on the internet ;).

    Lots of raw foodist eat tonss of fat but just as many cut it out entirely. Neither is balanced and each will lead to issue. Avoid dogma, listen to what you’re body is telling you, research, and take care.

  9. SLS says:

    Great Episode Kevin! I wish I would have known you were in Flag! I live in Flag and would have loved to talk with you. I have been watching you since the beginning! Maybe next time…..

  10. I was gung ho for a while and lost 15 lbs.
    It all started because of a gallstone.
    I plan on being gung ho again though, just getting organized in a new city and finding new employment.

  11. Lori says:

    Yes, I am othorexic and it really is the only choice for me. I am a Type 1 diabetic so my life has been focused on insulin, meal schedules, counting carbs/protein grams and checking blood sugars for 30 years. It has made me aware of healthy eating, nothing prepackaged, only whole foods, mostly raw, very low carb. I even take most of my own food to eat out. Usually avocado, nuts, seeds and a healthy oil dressing to enjoy on top of a salad. It can be difficult, stressfull and sometimes I feel to hard on myself, but I am healthy and have normal blood sugar levels so I guess it pays off in the long run.

  12. Rebecca Cody says:

    Another possibility for gaining 15 pounds quickly – and I hope this isn’t it – is congestive heart failure. This happened to a friend. She hadn’t changed anything in her diet or lifestyle, and didn’t have any new emotional issues to deal with. She didn’t learn what caused this weight gain for a couple of years, when the problem became worse and she began chronic coughing that nothing resolved. Eventually she had to have heart valve replacement. Now she weighs every morning and if she gains two or three pounds she must take extra diuretics. When you have congestive heart failure your heart cannot pump sufficiently and you retain lots of water. There are many other symptoms. It’s worth checking out because it is so serious.

  13. Maria Louisa says:

    Hi, thank you for your much needed inquiry. Because a lack of health is such a prominent feature in our society, obsession with health can be overlooked. I have and maybe still have a degree of orthorexia. I became vegan at age 16 and shortly thereafter became interested in fasting and cleansing, moving from that to striving to be 100% raw. All of these things are fine in and of themselves, but I was coming from a place of inner deficiency. I was trying to fix the lack I felt about myself through perfecting my diet and my body. It has led to great pain. I am now more balanced, but I try to honestly access my motivations for what I do, because I have harmed my body (particularly my teeth) from going too far to the extreme. Thank you for shedding light on this issue.

  14. silvia says:

    I have been arguing with some friends a while ago about orthorexia because I feel it’s just another “trendy” disease to have nowadays …like ADD. Most of the medical community does not recognize orthorexia as an actual eating disorder.
    I’m not arguing that there are some people out there obsessed with healthy …anything. And it IS affecting their lives. But if you look closely this is just a manifestation of some other disorders they may be facing, such as OCD, anorexia, thanatophobia, paranoia or worse.
    My point is … all you people that never had any food disorders and mental issues so far, need not worry to much you are getting obsessed about health foods. It’s better to be a little on the “health-nut” side than to be eating burgers and fries all day and congratulating yourself that you are definitely not an orthorexic.
    I sure hope my strong opinions don’t bother anyone, I am most definitely NOT diminishing the severity of food or mental disorders, but let’s just not make a lot of fuss about this orthorexia thing as it is not even acknowledged by most doctors as a real disease.

  15. Mary says:

    First, I do want to say that I was put off by the obvious propaganda of the video… JS didn’t really have a clue about raw and healthy life styles……..that having been said, I was orthorexic for about 8 years when my Guru dictated my every move, including my diet; and I was very strict (Natural Hygiene) and did 4 long fasts a year.
    However, I would never have known of the utter joy and feeling of aliveness that being really clean inside can bring.

    When I left my guru I began to remember terrible abuse from my childhood. It was clear to me that I needed to honor my inner child and she definitely wanted to eat more “normally” – comfort food. I completely understood and did this for my over all healing; which at the time was (and still is sometimes)the most important thing. As a matter of fact, when I healed the bulk of this childhood trauma I found that I could tolerate bad food like sugar much better with very little side effects.

    We have 4 bodies and they all need attention and healing; Emotional (the most neglected), Mental, Spiritual and Physical.

    And I’ve known raw foodists who definitely are that to avoid the terrible feelings that unhealed emotions can bring up.

    Now my real problem is staying on a raw food diet as I am an empath to an extent most people will never know.

    So for me it’s been a very difficult and fine dance! But I wouldn’t trade the knowledge that I have for all the junk foodists in the world.
    And I follow Spirit (my Soul and God) first and foremost, and that’s the real test if you ask me!

  16. Matt from FL says:

    Gotta love a real, down to earth person! Thanks for the personal enlightenment, Kevin! Keep on keepin on man!

  17. errrr… yeah, probably lots of times, but I’m learning to relax a bit. Helped when I got my bf who is totally opposite of me in that way 🙂

  18. Season Naify says:

    Unfortunately, the line is oh so delicate, and so is the balance. Having found myself in the health food movement originally due to health issues, I had to pay very close attention to food in order to maintain physical health and quality of life. The price was high if I “messed up” for a long time, until the healing was well under way. It can be a massive doorway to eating disordered mentality and subsequent behavior if one is not very, very careful.

    It really does boil down to exactly what you said, Kevin, which is backing off. I am probably still overly preoccupied, but a heck of a lot less neurotic and dogmatic than I was at first. Of course, I think a lot of that is normal, getting excited about something new that helps us. But again, it’s all about the balance. I’m a lot healthier now, and therefore not as fear driver, and so much happier. It’s constant awareness of that line, though, in order to maintain the balance. I am not always successful, but I’m grateful for the progress.

    Thank you for your transparency and honesty. And thank you for asking this very important question. It is a serious issue and can lead to very damaging behavior. I’m glad there is loving consciousness around it, being brought to the forefront.

  19. Selina says:

    Hah 🙂 I went a little health nuts when I tried out raw food for a few months. Then the same thing happened when I went vegan.

    Now, I eat quite healthily and I’m still vegan but less strict. I can for instance eat some popcorn and even drink a soda once in a while without getting stressed about it. I also don’t preach about food anymore to anyone.

  20. Nadine Vorster says:

    Very good article Kevin you explained very well. One thing I am still wondering about is why one cannot cure ‘HOT FLUSHES’ with healthful eating or something healthy? I am not over weight and exercise by walking 5km every second day which incidently is suppose to help towards it. I don’t care to use something that takes 6 months to have effect, it must work immediately.

  21. shine says:

    yes definatly had my times with this and probaly now still a tendancy towards seems though like half the raw food teachers hav it too ( not kev and ann and certainly not jonny five!)

  22. ruby says:

    i used a couple of herbal remedies for hot flushes i got in the health shop which worked within days. can’t remember what they were called but they are well known.

  23. oreganol says:

    I hadn’t heard of this term before you mentioned it, but I can see how the dividing line can be very thin. So if you want to eat healthy and all your friends want to eat junk food, how do you resolve the problem? It can be difficult.

  24. Yamina says:

    My husband told me he sees more and more babies with Vit D deficiencies borned with yellow faces. They are supplemented because their mother’s milk is poor in this vitamin. After a few weeks, they recover and their skin become normal. Without this supplementation, he says that they may have serious growth’ problems because of the importance of Vit D in density of bones. Otherwise, for adults rebells to supplementation, he says that most of them recover after having raw butter and milk.
    Concerning orthorexy, I am nowadays a dramatic one ! For the great amusement of my dear husband ! “Don’t think that I don’t know you are trying to convert me to your new religion, with all this raw food you serve !”

  25. Toni Kaste says:

    Someone had told me about orthorexia as a joke (a friend kidding me) because I have Lupus and Hashimoto’s I try to eat VERY healthy…I think the distinction for me that I am not and would NEVER be an orthorexic because I want the foods that I want I eat when I want them. I eat lots of healthy foods but have no issue having something like a piece of gluten free vegan cake (I have to eat gluten free vegan cakes because of blood tested food allergies if I eat gluten/dairy eggs I get joint pains and headaches and tummy troubles..). I think the line gets crossed when you won’t touch a food because you think one bite will physically harm you or kill you. Then you are right Kevin your lifestyle would also suffer. Stress in your brain, work and relationship issues etc.

  26. Yamina says:

    Rectification : I am not sure about Vit D and yellow babies ! But raw butter and cream for adults yes ! The fault is on fruits ! They give me so much energy and so much enthousiasm that… I should eat more greens… and being as quiet as a cow.

  27. Cindy says:

    In the past, I went crazy every time I read a new health book that had different advice than what I was following. The authors always had a way of making sense about what they were trying to promote. So, of course, I would constantly change my diet & drive my family crazy also. It got to a point where I was hardly eating anything because I was afraid of everything. As you can imagine, I soon developed health problems. I now eat a varied diet of every food group, but I stick to organic as much as possible & avoid junk food as much as possible. I’ve slowly regained my health back, but it has taken many years to do so.

  28. Carolyn says:

    I have switched to a low fat raw food diet (mostly raw) and find that I feel so much better! I used to eat a high fat raw food diet and often had fluctuations with my hormones and weight. I ate a lot of olive oil , nuts/seeds and plant fats. I am naturally thin, and I think any weight fluctuations were caused by bloating etc… from the excess fats. Especially olive oil. I am also trying to beat a candida problem so I am very careful to stick with the low fat raw diet for now. It has helped me a whole lot!
    Since I am trying to cure an illness, I have to be extreme at the moment. But… if I had to eat a cooked vegan meal every now and then, it is not a problem. May actually be healthier. I’m still trying to figure that part out.

  29. Gordy says:

    Right on Kevin! This is all you have to be! Honest, transparent and reveal what everyone else is experiencing! It is a relief and certainly empowering for all to take personal responsibility for our thoughts and actions. Find that daily balance and follow thru by demonstrating what works best for YOUR life! These kinds of episodes are well supported by the community.

    Thanks for sharing again!

  30. Michelle says:

    In reference to the Vit D question, some women cannot breastfeed or have weaned by age 1.
    Also, purportedly, only small amounts of vitamin D are transferred in breast milk. It is recommended to even give breastfed babies a supplement of 400 IU per day. Of course, this is up to the parents, but that is the general recommendation.

  31. Jen says:

    I think I have definitely had moments of orthorexicia. However, I have almost used it to my own advantage in terms of healing myself physically, mentally and spiritually. Initially, my obsession with eating healthy was stemming from an unhealthy place- a FEAR of becoming over weight like my parents and having health issues similar to theirs. Then I started to acknowledge that I AM healthy, and that I should be enjoying these healthy foods, and not stressing out about whether or not I eat a French fry once a month. Now looking more on the positive side of my healthy eating “obsession” I think that my focus on healthy eating and living has, in a way, caused me to reassess the essence of my relationships with certain people. I had friends that totally understood my way of life, even if they didn’t choose it themselves, and they were always willing to compromise with me or try some of my novel healthier foods… and those friends are definitely keepers. Not superficially because they ate what I dubbed healthy, but because they value my life and my choices. Then there are some of those friends I had who would continually take stabs at my healthy eating and “yogic” lifestyle, and it made me realize it was stemming from a place of suffering within them, which in turn has helped me better understand them and what they are going through. I approach each of my relationships differently now, I as silly as it may seem, I think my orthorexic ways are to blame!!!!

  32. Suzanne says:

    Nadine, for hot flashes I have had success for yrs. with a product called PhytoB by Bezwellen. It is a mix of plant progesterone and estrogen. Talked with my naturopath about it. Will work within one week to a month. I have gone off of it and tried herbal tinctures and maca. Did not work for me. Life would be very difficult for me without PhytoB. Someday my hormones will stabilize and I won’t need it. Harmless supplemt. that does the trick. Find it online for about $32 a month.

    Orthorexia – yes my daughter had this and I would agree that it is just another manifestation of OCD, etc. No matter what she tried in her diet she was still left w/digestive issues. After years of research, doc visits, diets, etc. she has finally resigned herself to the belief that it is all stress related (in her mind). So she is working on that with a therapist (on her fears) and finally feeling better.

  33. Cali_Newbie says:

    I’m not clear on why other people can dictate what I eat? I don’t feel the need to tell them what they should eat so why do they have that say over me? If I took a green smoothie to work it would gross everyone out but I enjoy them immensely. The problem is that others are judgmental while I don’t feel the need to judge the dead flesh that they are eating. Anyone else feel this way?

  34. kathy says:

    I have a beautiful 2 yr old and when it comes to him, and myself, it is VERY important to be vegan, high raw.
    The other day, his grandpa & dad began to make a sandwich at his house, and I flipped out (verbally with a tone, NO, not that -, look at the ingredients) when I saw the bread they were feeding him. I chuckle now when I write this.
    My hubby says I am a fanatic- I feel I am only committed to sons health.
    So, orthorexia, you tell me!?

  35. tboi says:

    O boy I’ve been like this about all my life …i grew-up on organic gardening… to eat well…dress rite…should mean , good shoes proper dress for conditions of weather so on… it would be likely for myself to make statements about food not just health wise but preparations…but im to open..because i will say you gonna eat that ,it WIIL KILL YOU…or one heart attack on a plate for you sir… funny but true…while i go back to kitchen sip some kombucha tea and munch on veggies…im the sort that was called a earthy…we thought and called our selves FREAKS…it was 1970’s high school …know its just hippie…and i often still comment on things people eat and do … its a much bigger pitcher but not broader strokes… its like someone sayen GOD won’t like that…hey i am god,so are youall lets get it rite this time… ups to late earth mother is dieing…remishion…and get this i was a monk eastern orthodox fath..we learn…peace LOVE joy tboi out

  36. tboi says:

    wow i … forgot my manners kev & annmarie thanks .. your both vary special… your vibe is comfort…dont stop believing…rember GOD wont like that….lol tboi..(0)(-)…

  37. Trish says:

    Interesting thoughts about “orthorexia”- something I’ve never heard of before. Of course, anything can become an addiction if your free will has gone out the window!
    I’m also choosing to reply to your other post about “what to say to people who question your health food craze” because I think there may be a 99 comment max? I just didn’t see a space for it…so and this goes with this post too…

    I tell people what is my highest truth about how I eat and right now that is: I eat this way because I feel good eating this way. I’ve tried going back to eating bread and other baked foods and I just realize that I like eating live, organic, fresh plant food best as often as I can. I know other people are in their own journeys with their health and what feels right and tastes good to them. I love and honor them in their journey and honor myself by making my highest choice.

    I could go on, but this is long enough I think!

  38. Eve says:

    Another great show!

    But didn’t the woman who wrote in about 15 pounds in 2 months say she was 5 years into menopause??!!

    Some women do have such hormone swings for awhile that they can have that kind of weight gain from it. Once the body stabilizes a little, it stops, and she’ll be able to gradually lose the weight. But it might be a good idea to run some thyroid tests now.

    I think it’s a myth that we can outsmart menopause and prevent every unpleasant effect. Some women are hit harder by it than others, sure, but it dosn’t mean the women who are hit hardest are doing something wrong.

    Altho’ – any health situation will be made better by good nutrition. If she’s on a good eating plan, sure the weight gain is unpleasant, but my guess is she’d be going thru far worse if she was eating the S.A.D.

    Orthorexia – what a great warning!

    Don’t know if I was ever quite there, since at my highest raw I still had two meals a week of “anything goes”. But I was extremely strict the rest of the time.

    I definitely knew people who became raw food orthorexics and they suffered for it. There was even a percentage of raw foodists who seemed to aspire to breatharianism, seeing raw food as a step along the way, and they were very proud of “how little” food they felt their new, cleansed bodies needed.

    Also I can say that making raw food consumed an inordinate amount of my time, and did interfere with participation in social events. I think I put non-raw people off by talking like a raw food evangelist. I lost 40 pounds and loved it, but a couple people said I was looking gaunt.

    When I stopped high raw, it was supposed to be only for the month of December (holiday cooking and all), But when I tried to go back to it, the raw community I’d been a part of was falling apart. They were very exclusionist, so the month I was eating “normally” I did not feel welcome in that group. When I started hanging around raw foodists again, I was hyper-aware of how much time the conversation was focused on how great raw food is, everyone sort of sharing their spontaneous testimonials over and over, and also how terrible the rest of the world’s eating was. I realized getting back to 90% meant I would be isolating myself socially – couldn’t go out to eat with non-raw friends, and the raw people started sounding like a cult. I never got back to 90% high raw after that.

    So today, I eat healthier a-la a Mercola sort of eating plan. I would like to be eating more raw foods, and strive to increase that, but with the social divisiveness involved, it’s a real challenge. Cooked food is comfort food, and without a strong supportive social network, it can feel orthorexic.

    So, thanks for the word!

  39. Anjhai says:

    @ Nadine- Motherwort tincture could possibly help with the hot flashes (or power surges). @Kevin- I have been a raw foodist, vegan for many years, presently just a vegetarian, and transisting can be hard, either direction. But when I was at my worst(I thought I was at my best) it was when I tortured myself over everything I ate that wasn’t raw. It took me a while to realize that it is the energy as much as the food that I put into it that mattered, and killing myself over it wasn’t healthy. I have finally found a balance, and feel grounded.

  40. Barb says:

    Goes back to – everything in moderation. My husband eats all the bad stuff-chicken wings, broasted chicken with the potatoes- bar food. He loves it and ya know what-that’s ok for him. We do go out to a restaurant that I feel good eating at-or you can always get a salad at the chicken wings bars.Or – you probably won’t drop dead if you eat a chicken wing.Once again-everything in moderation. 99% of the time us food freaks eat what we should. 1% – so what. The woman who can’t loose weight- I maintain-stop eating the white stuff. I dropped 25 lbs. in no time by doing that. And – I wasn’t concerned with my weight at that time-cut gluten out too, which kind of goes along with the white stuff.
    Stay happy, Barb

  41. Dina says:

    We eat umprocessed food and we are very healthy and really enjoy the taste of our unprocessed fresh food. We do not like junk food.
    I think that if they want to call us orthorexic we would feel that they are threatening our healty living and health freedom. We walk a lot and we are very healthy so we must be doing something right!!

    I wonder why they do not invent a name for the addiction to junk food?

  42. Rachel says:

    Wow, and now there’s a name for it….
    It’s already several days since Kevin’s video-article, but my first post failed. Nevertheless, I am compelled to write it again at least for my own, releasing benefit.
    My food & diet & bodyimage journey has taken me to peaks of feeling fabulous but being very controlling of my environment to the point where I was very difficult company for my immediate family, no fun for them, and honestly, marginal fun for me: I’d feel in control but deep down felt deprived. i would justify it with infallible logic about eating more healthfully, and therefore “walking my talk”
    The journey has also had its valleys, where I let go of so much control in the face of near mutiny from my family relationships. Then I felt the release of so much control, but I gained weight, as I ‘indulged’ in foods hitherto ‘forbidden’ — even though they were still Raw foods! Just so caloric I had previously been abstaining.
    The whole journey has been invaluable, though, because now I am living with Moderation.
    I have learned that Fundamentalist anything is never a good thing, and Moderation in every instance is always a good thing.
    Now I just have to deal with the bodyimage part….!
    Eat Well.

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