Orthorexia: Don’t Become a Victim of Healthy Eating

Orthorexia is an incipient disorder of eating behavior that is marked by obtrusive intention to eat healthy, restricting diet and eliminating products considered to be improper.

Orthorexia is an incipient disorder of eating behavior that is marked by obtrusive intention to eat healthy, restricting diet and eliminating products considered to be improper.

Maniac following the rules of healthy nutrition was determined by the doctor Steven Bratman (who endenizened the term “orthorexia”) in the 70s in the commune where people consumed only ecologically-green products. Doctor Bratman started to pay more attention to his eating behavior when he noticed that he had become obsessed with the idea of healthy nutrition.

Obviously, it is essential to eliminate products and habits that destroy your health but there is something more covered behind simple food choices. Healthy lifestyle in general and proper eating as a crucial part of it have become popular recently which makes Bratman’s research even more present-day. The disorder starts from a harmless desire to change your diet and to eat more healthy products. But later a sort of fixation on proper food choices and overcoming slip-ups appear.

However, orthorexia is not included in the international classification of diseases and the diagnosis cannot be established officially.

Physical and Social Dangers of Orthorexia

In the majority of cases, people do not check the information they get about food carefully and this deceptive information dictates their nutrition. They start to eliminate groups of products (for example: meat, poultry, dairy, fish) that can end up with severe deficiency of nutrients in long-term perspective.

Rigid nutrition rules may result in unconscious protests that make a person consume more products “under ban”. As a result, a person feels guilty for eating improper food. This condition can cause serious depression and bulimia.

In many cases orthorexics make themselves isolated from their families, friends and other social contacts that suppose any sort of having meal together with people who do not follow healthy eating principles. Holidays and parties become inaccessible for sufferers from orthorexia because they can eat very few products or nothing there.

Moreover, people who choose more pure organic food and various sophisticated products are intent to put themselves in superior position in relation to others who consume ordinary food. Thus, orthorexics become arrogant and annoy surrounding people.

Who Is at Risk to Become Orthorexic?

  • Ladies playing around with diets. Generally, the desire to change body drives women to experiment with diets. When there are too many sources of controversial information about proper food, it is easy to get confused and nervous about what to eat eventually and healthy eating becomes a bee in the bonnet.
  • People who depend on outward appreciation. It is highly important for some people to get constant applause from others. That is why they try to arrange their lifestyle with “right” things including food and get social appreciation for their choices.
  • Healthy lifestyle perfectionists. If you generally cannot let yourself make a mistake, demand severe requirements and rigorously blame yourself for any fault, food choices are also significant for you. You are more likely to become orthorexic in case you strive to make your nutrition absolutely perfect.

The Signs of Orthorexia

  • Judgmental choice of products based on their characteristics, not on personal preferences.
  • Health benefit is a key factor to buy a product.
  • Excessive devotion to a certain diet (raw food diet, fruitarianism, etc.).
  • Fear of “harmful” food.
  • Punishment system in case of eating prohibited product.
  • Sophisticated methods of cooking and serving.
  • Thorough planning of meals for each day.
  • Rigid division of people into two groups: “insiders” who eat healthy food and “outsiders” who consume unsalutary products.

How to Escape Orthorexia?

  • Do not refuse any product steadfastly.
  • Allow yourself to eat something delicious sometimes even if it does not fit your current diet.
  • Listen to your body: if you do not like to eat a very healthy but disgusting product, do not torture yourself.
  • Do not get stuck on failures and create punishments. Accept this case and move on!
  • Devote your time to something that is not connected with nutrition like hobbies, education, sport activities, new career opportunities, entertainments, etc. Your healthy eating should not become the life purpose.
  • Filter and check all the information about any product or diet that you receive.
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