Eating Disorder Awareness Week: Orthorexia – everything you need to know about the unhealthy obsession with healthy eating

    28
    0
    SHARE


    Orthorexia – everything you need to know about the unhealthy obsession with healthy eating
    There is such a thing as too healthy (Picture: Getty)

    You may think healthy eating is good but it can go too far.

    Orthorexia is an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating, which leads sufferers to eat only ‘good’ or ‘healthy’ foods and avoid ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’ foods.

    Binge Eating1-food-mmuffin.pngEating Disorders Awareness Week: What are they, why do people have them and how are they treated

    While orthorexia is not yet classified as an eating disorder in the DSM-5, a manual used by doctors to diagnose mental disorders, it can have serious health implications.

    One consequence of orthorexia is that it can make people more anxious about the food they are eating.

    Rigidly labelling foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ may encourage people to think in very black and white terms.

    Thing angel eating healthy, overweight devil eating junk food
    It’s not as clear-cut as good or bad (Picture: Getty)

    For instance, when perceived ‘bad’ foods are consumed, people can feel incredibly guilty and overwhelmed by a sense of failure.

    When people restrict certain foods, it is more likely that they will binge on forbidden foods.

    As humans, the more we deny ourselves something, the more we want it.

    I have seen many people who eat very ‘cleanly’ and ‘purely’ in public, and advertise their ‘perfect’ food on social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, yet may binge on ‘naughty’ and ‘dirty’ food in private.

    Woman cupping green apple above chocolate bars
    (Picture: Getty)

    This can lead them to feel ashamed and disgusted.

    While not everyone who eats extremely healthily have eating disorders, in my experience, there are links between eating disorders and orthorexia.

    With both anorexia nervosa and orthorexia, people aim to eat more ‘healthily’ and then over time eliminate more and more food groups.

    People with orthorexia and people with eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa tend to spend a long time thinking about, preparing and controlling food.

    While on the surface, the motivations for someone with orthorexia and someone with an eating disorder may be different (people with orthorexia tend to want to be ‘healthy’ whereas people with eating disorders are worried about their weight), the behaviours and consequences ie weight loss, nutritional deficits, avoiding social occasions where there may be food and obsessive thinking, are similar.

    Orthorexia – everything you need to know about the unhealthy obsession with healthy eating
    (Picture: Getty)

    In order to overcome orthorexia, it is important to stop thinking about foods in terms of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and instead think about food as a necessary means of relieving hunger and a source of enjoyment.

    Additionally, it is helpful to take the emphasis off food and pay attention to other areas of your life such as relationships and careers.

    MORE: Eating Disorders Awareness Week – how one consultation may have cost me 15 years of my life

    MORE: Everything you need to know about anorexia, from diagnosis to treatment

    MORE: Mukbangs show vloggers feasting on screen – but do they help or trigger people with eating problems?

    LEAVE A REPLY