Too Much of a Good Thing
For as long as we have heard about the obesity epidemic we have heard the suggestions to eat more healthy. To our credit we have listened, and obesity rates have begun to level off. It is true we are eating more healthy, but even good intentions can go too far. When the push for healthy eating becomes an obsession, we might develop a “fixation on righteous eating” or orthorexia nervosa.
Otrhorexia is a term introduced by Dr. Steven Bratman in 1996 to define some of his patients who took healthy eating to an extreme. It was not meant to be a diagnosis and will not be found in the DSM, although it is an actual eating problem.
Orthorexia begins as a good intentioned effort to eat healthy but degrades into a compulsion for absolute control, a tool to escape from fears, a wanting to be thin and improve self-esteem, a spiritual search through food, and using food to develop an identity.
Orthorexia restricts foods that is not clean, healthy or wholesome to the point of rigidity. Foods that have artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, unhealthy fats, added sugar or salt, and genetic modifications are obsessively avoided.
People who have orthorexia ate fixated on the perfect diet rather than an ideal weight and only eat foods that provide them with a feeling of being healthy and pure.
The symptoms of orthorexia are as follows:
* obessive worry over the connection between food choices and health issues
* avoiding certain foods because of food allergies without seeking a medical opinion
* reducing foods choices that are believed as acceptable until those choices number less than ten
* irrational worry over how food is prepared, specifically the washing of food or the sterilization of eating utensils
* feelings of guilt if the guidelines of the diet are breached
* advanced planning of meals for the following day
* critical thinking about people who do not maintain a strict diet
* avoiding family and friends who do not have similar opinions about food
Effects of Orthorexia
Orthorexia can lead to severly diminished interest in all other activities until relationships become impaired. Relationships can also become strained because the person with orthorexia believes she is superior to others. Diet will take precedent over interpersonal connections.
The self-imposed dietary restrictions can lead to weight loss, malnutrition, and restrictive caloric intake.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life