Where is the line between dieting and obsessive behaviour


So wanted to gauge your opinions on where you think the line is for you between being good with your diet/exercise and getting obsessive and unhealthy about food/exercise?



  • mscottnolan
    mscottnolan Posts: 2 Member
    In a perfect world you'd eat clean and healthy all week, maybe have a cheat day or a beer day once a week or so, birthday cake, etc....and still lose a couple of pounds. But we don't live in a perfect world and we all have our own reasons for losing weight and motivating ourselves to stay on track. Sure, that slice of cake is not going to kill a good diet but in our own mind we know that slice could lead to greater cheating. Your own version of being obsessive is where your own line is. I don't weigh everything although I count everything in the app. If weighing everything and obsessing over every macro nutrient works for you then do it. If that's the case look at it like your hobby; your learning about yourself and nutrition and it's working for you. If that's what it takes for you, embrace the process and own it!
  • rsclause
    rsclause Posts: 3,103 Member
    I always say "you know you are logging correctly when you drive everybody crazy at the table". When I saw that my weight loss was real and possible I went at it like I was on a mission. Always in deficit, running 30 miles a week, planks daily, and weights every other day. A ten mile run each weekend too. I ended up going about ten pounds below my goal thinking I needed a cushion. After losing 50 pounds and my huge beer gut I slacked off and managed to put 35 pounds back on. Now I am working on getting my running back to 20 miles a week and playing around with a Keto diet. So far I am down 8 pounds and not logging food. I feel that I am fairly in touch with my calorie intake so I plan on staying the course for now.
  • livingleanlivingclean
    livingleanlivingclean Posts: 11,755 Member
    My line (that I've crossed and took a long time to get back over) led me to obsess over every thing I put in my mouth. It was more than just calories - I would stress about additives, preservatives, hormones, "Chemicals", antibiotics, source of ingredients, how it had been produced/made, what it was packaged in.

    I couldn't eat out (restaurants or friends houses), and even thinking about enjoying food that wasn't on my "safe" list made me feel guilty.
  • Diatonic12
    Diatonic12 Posts: 32,344 Member
    I draw the line in the sand when everything about weight loss, food protocols and dieting becomes assigning moral judgment to foods. Good or Bad. Naughty or Nice. Clean or Dirty. All or Nothing.

    The very premise of dieting promotes All or Nothing Thinking. Research it. All or Nothing Thinking is a thing. When it no longer serves you and you end up in a dieting and exercise loop it may be time to sit down with someone. Face-to-Face.

    Food gurus and all kinds of books actually encourage All or Nothing Thinking. It's not healthy. We can learn to moderate ourselves and moderate food/exercise choices. Moderation is real and it works.
  • peaceout_aly
    peaceout_aly Posts: 2,018 Member
    I have questioned this before as well. I'm definitely over the line and into the obsessive mark - I literally count my food as I eat it and essentially have the MFP database stored in my head...everyone always has fun asking me what the macros are in certain food items to see how accurate I am. I can eye out grams of shredded cheese and ounces of cooked meat almost to a T every time. It's bad.

    I think that the line between dieting and obsessive behavior is marked when someone has difficulty going out to eat, to social events or taking a "bite" of something in fear of not being able to log it, or going over macros for the day. I've been there. It's not fun.
  • noodlesno
    noodlesno Posts: 68 Member
    joemac1988 wrote: »
    I believe that in order to accomplish extraordinary results in ANY field, you have to be slightly obsessed. Health, Finance, whatever. If it's something you really want, quit putting a negative connotation on the word "obsessed".

    It's all about priorities.

    To be honest I think that there is a difference between obsessed and determined (although I am still trying to find that line). To be determined is amazing but prolonged obsessive behaviour is not great for my mental health (probably not anyone's). Being healthy is something I really want but I want to be physically and mentally healthy not just 'fit'. Personally, I know I have to work on both which is why I wanted to ask the question, in the same way, I would ask what makes a good bench press compared to a bad one.

  • 88olds
    88olds Posts: 4,253 Member
    That’s up to you to decide for you.

    A Trainer at the gym is a competitive bikini model.
    She works out every day and counts macros, every single bite. Seems to enjoy it. Seems like very few people would be happy doing that.

    I think you could say the same thing about a lot of people pushing the excellence envelope. Musicians, artists, even scientists. No body’s business but their own.

    Are they secretly miserable? No body’s business but theirs.
  • mbaker566
    mbaker566 Posts: 11,234 Member
    when you can NOT not do it.
    when it makes you miserable. not "i wish i could eat that brownie" but rather if "if i eat that brownie, my weight loss is ruined and i'm a disgusting person"
  • AnnPT77
    AnnPT77 Posts: 26,255 Member
    edited July 2018
    Stress is the line. Disrupting overall good life balance is the line. Exactly which things are on which side of the line is very subjective, though.

    I can count and log and track pretty meticulously, and feel no stress doing it. In fact, doing it reduces my stress by making things transparent and manageable. But if I need to estimate, or skip a day of logging because I'm too busy to parse out an estimate for what I ate at that potluck dinner get-together, I don't stress about that, either.

    I weigh myself daily, and think it's interesting when my weight goes up "for no reason". I recognize that it'll soon drop again. It's an interesting puzzle to consider the potential causes, so I can learn more. It's not stressful.

    I love being active, but if I miss a workout day for some reason, it doesn't freak me out; I know I can just eat a little less that day and that my fitness doesn't disappear in a day (or even a few).

    If I felt like I could never eat in a restaurant, or offended and drove away my friends by taking my own food with me when they invite me over for dinner (or by cross-examining them about ingredients and portions), that would be disrupting my life balance.

    If I felt like I needed to work out so much that it was causing friction with my family, or neglect of my job, or driving away friends because I had zero time for them, or even cutting too much into things that feed my intellect, creativity, and other good stuff, then I'd be disrupting my life balance.

    If I felt like I needed to eat only "healthy" foods, and never "bad" foods, or that I could never eat birthday cake again, or spent most of my calories on foods I don't find tasty and enjoyable, that would be disrupting good life balance.

    It's not the behaviors per se that make something "over the line". It's how those behaviors make us feel, what our attitudes toward them are (something we have some control over, BTW), and how those behaviors fit into a happy, satisfying, effective, productive life.
  • gsnapmccool
    gsnapmccool Posts: 30 Member
    My coworker is always trying to get me to stop walking so much. (I only walk 1-3 miles a day.) She says I’ve become obsessed because I have a schedule, have goals, log my food, follow my plans, etc. However, it’s not affecting things or people around me, I am losing weight, I still go out with friends. I ate pizza last night with no regrets because, hey, I walked 3 miles yesterday. I think it depends on the person. My coworker says “oh I could never adhere to a schedule, making goals overwhelms me”. But for me, they spur me on. Everyone’s different. As long as you are doing things the healthy way, not withdrawing from friends/family, and not hurting yourself, you’re good. :)
  • Lounmoun
    Lounmoun Posts: 8,427 Member
    I think when you start being afraid to eat and restrict your diet to very few foods, when you punish yourself or feel despair if you can't stick to your resrrictive plan, when you feel like you are a bad person if you eat xyz or if you don't exrecise a certain amount it is unhealthy. If you start obsessing about a certain body part and calling your body gross or disgusting you are probably not being healthy. A healthy diet and exercise plan should be sustainable, realistic for your life, enjoyable, not cause you to feel like a failure or disgusting or afraid.
  • cwolfman13
    cwolfman13 Posts: 41,191 Member
    When it's anxiety inducing, it's crossed the line. When you punish yourself with unplanned exercise because you had a cookie, I'd say that crosses the line. When you flip out because life happened and you missed your workout, I'd say that crosses the line. When you have something that is maybe not the healthiest thing in the world and you live in unwarranted guilt, that crosses the line.
  • kami3006
    kami3006 Posts: 4,978 Member
    cwolfman13 wrote: »
    When it's anxiety inducing, it's crossed the line. When you punish yourself with unplanned exercise because you had a cookie, I'd say that crosses the line. When you flip out because life happened and you missed your workout, I'd say that crosses the line. When you have something that is maybe not the healthiest thing in the world and you live in unwarranted guilt, that crosses the line.

    Pretty much this. As others said, it's about your anxiety level around the activities and your ability or inability to adapt when you need to.
  • cammiecane
    cammiecane Posts: 62 Member
    For me, the line is mental. I know when I’m getting close by my self talk. Some examples.

    “I’m so excited! I’m losing weight and getting healthy” turns into “No matter how much weight I lose, i just look fatter! I’m disgusting!”

    “Im going to plan treats into my calories so I don’t feel deprived” turns into “ I can save even more calories if I don’t ever have treats. I don’t need them anyway. I’m fat enough as it is.”

    “I’m loving getting in a workout or two everyday and feel so much more energized” turns into “ I will not eat until I do a workout. I need to work for each meal”

    Obviously, this leads to “obsessive” behaviors, fear of going out to eat, fear of food in general, etc, but those are just the results of my mental state at the time. I always pay attention to my self talk now and if it is changing from positive to negative, then I know a problem is starting.
  • gia_incognito
    gia_incognito Posts: 103 Member
    I'm so glad someone asked this! I was going to post something similar until my connection timed out.

    I feel that tracking calories using apps is a VERY slippery slope. And though I am using MFP I give myself "grace" by simply not telling the app everything. Like yesterday I had a banana (among other things) and I didn't log it. And I just had to be okay with that. It was like a willful decision to lie to the app. But somehow in that act of resistance it allows me to mentally still be free enough that I don't feel like I'm getting obsessed.