"Healthy" Habits Can Go Too Far

Diet and exercise. Doctors, nutritionists, and health experts have been telling us that these two things are central to a healthy lifestyle. And, in general, this is true – healthy eating and physical fitness have been shown to reduce all kinds of risks, from heart disease to diabetes and more. But it is also possible to take these “healthy” habits too far.

“Healthy eating” does not always mean “eating less.” While managing caloric intake is important, there is so much more to healthy, nutritional eating than that. A good diet typically includes a variety of foods, consumed in moderation. Unfortunately, some people are unable to control their diets or eating habits, often resulting in a true eating disorder. In many other cases, a person may decide to stop eating (or eat very little) in order to lose weight quickly. These crash diets and weight cycles can have profound harmful effects, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Another habit that can actually be unhealthy is exercising too much. Again, the rule of thumb is to exercise a moderate amount, ideally tailored to your own individual circumstances. However, many people begin to crave the feeling of happiness and euphoria caused by the release of endorphins during and after physical exertion. In order to experience that “high,” some people devote too much time to exercise. This can result in behavior almost identical to an addiction: exercising to the point of injury, missing family or work obligations, even incurring financial ruin just to take the exercise to the next level.

Being healthy is a worthwhile goal. But when healthy behaviors cross the line, they can be just as harmful as any other obsession.

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