There is a new eating disorder that is becoming more and more present in our society. It isn’t focused on weight loss or body image like anorexia or bulimia. This eating disorder is called orthorexia. It may only affect about 1% of the population though it may be hard to diagnose. Orthorexia is when there is an obsession with eating healthy. It only becomes a disorder when the obsession with eating healthy affects you negatively. Such as affecting you negatively in regards to your physical, social or mental health. This can be extreme weight loss or refusing to even eat out.
Orthorexia can start just as normal changes in your diet to try and eat healthier, it becomes a problem when the change becomes an extreme focus. This eating disorder focuses more on food quality instead of food quantity like other eating disorders do. The disorder can start with just making sure your food is “clean” and then manifest into when you are consumed with only eating foods that are “clean.” This can mean you only start to eat things that are organic, but turn into where you keep restricting your diet down to where you get to where you don’t eat much of anything. This can cause you to stop eating out or even eating foods that other people prepare. Exact cause of getting this disorder is unknown but there are some people that are at higher risk. It shows that people that are more focused on health in their career can be more susceptible to getting orthorexia. Other people that are at risk are people who show signs of perfectionism, high anxiety, or the need of control.
There are some warning signs that you can be aware of:
**One of the main ones to look out for is the obsession with healthy eating. Again this obsession can start with just trying to improve your diet and health and then take over every thought and even affect your feelings. That’s when you know the eating has taken over.
**Another warning sign can be when your diet controls your emotions. Meaning that you can have self doubt, or anxiety if there aren’t “clean” foods available to eat. But it can also mean that you only feel happy when you stick exactly to your diet and eat the foods that you are ok with.
**Orthorexia can affect your friendships or relationships with others. You may start to judge other people when they don’t follow the same healthy eating that you are. It can lead to where you won’t go out to eat or even eat foods that other people prepare. This can cause you to start isolating yourself from your friends or family for fear of not having healthy options to eat.
**Another thing to watch out for is excessive amounts of food research. This can be following health influencers on social media, or watching health videos on Youtube. You may start thinking about food constantly where it consumes your every thought.
**You should also watch out for obsession with unrealistic expectations from your food, malnutrition due to restrictions from your diet, and fear of being unhealthy. These can all be signs of you becoming overly obsessed with food that it is controlling your life.
What to do if you think you need help:
When you feel as though the obsession with healthy foods has taken over you, you can speak with your physician. Your physician may suggest that you meet with a nutritionist. A nutritionist can help you learn how to eat healthy that is still good for your body and not too restrictive. Your physician may also suggest you meet with a psychologist to help with your emotions. A psychologist may help be able to help you find ways to control your anxiety and fear of not eating healthy. It will take time to help decrease your fixation on food and retrain your thinking to what truly is healthy for your body.
Just like any disorder you will never be completely healed. You will live with this your whole life but with the right help you will be able to manage the anxiety and fear that goes along with it. You will also learn how to eat healthy but not let it take over your life. This disorder can have life threatening effects if you don’t seek help. Having help in any way is strongly recommended.
Beware of being overly obsessed with food even if it's healthy! Learn about Orthorexia here. #HealthStatus
A nutritionist can help you learn how to eat healthy that is still good for your body and not too restrictive.
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