Orthorexia: The New Monster Behind Healthy Eating Obsession

The current generation has become quite aware of the importance of healthy eating. People all over the world ranging from children to the senior citizens are following strict diets to stay healthy. It all started way back in the early 20th century when organic food movements started to generate in Europe. People shifted to healthy eating and whole grains became popular.

Nowadays, people have come to exclude a lot of food items from their diet in the quest to attain fitness. Although it may seem good, an addiction to eating healthy all the time can have an adverse effect on you. This article intends to discuss the topic of Orthorexia: An obsession with healthy eating.  

About Orthorexia

The term Orthorexia was coined by an American Physician Steven Bradman in the year 1997. By this term, he indicated a person suffering from an eating disorder, who is extremely preoccupied with eating healthy food items. This habit leads to the skipping of a number of foods considered unhealthy. Proven to have ill consequences, an obsession with healthy eating can prove to be detrimental for the human body in the long run.

Hence, it is a rear disorder in which the sufferer fixates on eating healthy at all costs. Their entire life begins to revolve around this topic, thereby depriving their attention of the necessary tasks of life.

Causes of Orthorexia

Those who are addicted to healthy eating attach their happiness with it. They do not seem to feel content and worthy enough if they indulge in as much as rare unhealthy eating. Thus, this leads to anxiousness to eat healthy at all times. It is considered to be the only route to clean eating and a way to gain purity in life.

Apart from the anxiousness, people may become too occupied with how others perceive themselves. In order to look their best selves, healthy eating becomes a core part of the lifestyle and the mind remains inhabited with this concern round the clock. Eating unhealthy even for a meal does not give them enough mental satisfaction to feel up and about. They end up sulking and depressed when they are not able to eat as per their restrictive diet schedule.


Signs of Orthorexia

A person suffering from orthorexia shows certain signs that make this eating disorder quite evident. They avoid foods that contain fats, sugar, salt, gluten, oil, dairy products in them and the list continues. Being overly engrossed with only consuming foods that provide certain nutrients robs them of a wholesome diet.

A sense of guilt occupies the sufferer’s mind even when they eat small quantities of pleasure foods. Hence, they start planning their meals for the future beforehand. A significant increase in the amount of time they think about eating healthy takes place, thereby influencing their lifestyle. People going through Orthorexia also begin to deplore those who indulge in eating fast foods and junk foods.

Those who avoid going out of their homes for a longer period of time in order to avoid unhealthy eating can also be put under this category. They not only avoid eating at restaurants but also keep away from preparations of their friends and relatives. Such preoccupation plays the role of degrading their life and significantly affects their self-confidence.


Effects of Orthorexia

People who become addicted to healthy eating remain so inhabited by it, such that they value relationships lesser. Not only do they look down on their friends and relatives who eat all kinds of foods, but also start feeling superior to them. Soon, the avoiding of social events start taking place, thereby causing a rift with others eventually.

Since the sufferers of orthorexia partake in selective eating, they lose out important nutrients like carbohydrates and fats. These nutrients facilitate the production of energy in the body. Avoiding them from the diet for a long stretch of periods denudes the body of activeness. The body starts to lose weight over the course of time and thus comes the stage where the person is affected by malnutrition.

Even staying in the proximity starts to bring about disgust among the patients. They begin to have a distorted belief that only healthy eating is going to make their life fulfilled and delightful.

Orthorexia if not checked at the right time can even convert to serious diseases like anorexia and bulimia. The sufferers can also become victims of a psychological ailment called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  Such disorders are very difficult to come over once they make a home in your psyche and lifestyle. Hence, it becomes imperative to take certain steps in order to beat the food disorder of orthorexia.


Treatment of Orthorexia

The ones who are going through the disorder can seek the help of health professions, medical practitioners, therapists, and psychologists at licensed medical centres. Having the required number of sessions with these experts shall go a long way in ensuring that the sufferer leaves behind them the compulsive habits.

One of the most important requirements for our body to remain nourished is to have a wholesome and balanced diet. Selective diet does exactly opposite and ends up harming our body than causing it any good. Hence, it is absolutely paramount to indulge in all kinds of foods on a regular basis.

The patients with Orthorexia can slowly start to eat those foods that they avoided earlier because of apprehensions about them. It is not exactly right to expect them to eat the unhealthiest of foods immediately. They should rather be encouraged to feed themselves with averagely healthy foods at first, such as nuts, seeds, salmon, sardines and mackerels. Doing this shall eventually open them up about quitting their obsession with healthy eating. This shall not only promote their health but also will enable them to extend their focus on a range of other necessities of life.

A significant number of people nowadays are falling prey to orthorexia. The numbers of cases reported are extremely low as compared to the actual count of sufferers. Hence, it is vital that we identify our friends, relatives or peers going through this food disorder and encourage them to come out of it. We should extend our help to the patients of orthorexia to the maximum extent, which will enable them to fall into the pit of obsession. This shall facilitate a healthy environment as a whole. Although eating a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals is cardinal for a fit and strong body, it should not become an obsession so as to derive you a happy lifestyle. Hence, indulge in that cake or pastry you have been eyeing for a while to please your taste buds and enjoy the journey of a healthy living along with it.


About the Author:

Jessica, a registered dietitian, a wellness guru that loves to read, research and write. A fitness freak who believes in healthy living and doesn’t like to miss her yoga. When not reading she can be found relishing her favorite foods transforming leftovers into makeovers.

Location: Bristol, United Kingdom


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