You may have heard of anorexia, but what is orthorexia and should you be worried about it? They say that too much of a good thing is never a good thing and orthorexia is proof of that. Keep reading to find out more about this nutritional disorder.
Orthorexia – Humble Beginnings
Let’s look at this scenario. You are looking to change your eating habits. Weight loss or just lack of feeling good may be the driving force. In your attempt at finding the right foods, you hit upon what works to help you achieve your goals. Unfortunately, the more you read about food and nutrition, the more you think about food – all the time.
Now, you worry about putting anything in your body that doesn’t conform to certain criteria. It has to be all-natural, no preservatives, no unhealthy fats or oils and the like. It takes you longer and longer to shop because you have to read every ingredient on the label and reject most of them. Eating becomes a chore but you can’t seem to stop yourself from obsessing over what might be lurking in your meat or vegetables.
This is a snapshot of what life might be like for an orthorexic. Unlike anorexia which means “no appetite,” orthorexia means “straight appetite.” When you add “nervosa,” you get “fixation on straight appetite” or “fixation on healthy eating.”
It doesn’t sound like a big problem on the surface, but deeper down you hit the issues.
What Does It Mean?
Orthorexia is not officially classified as a mental disorder like anorexia, but there is growing concern over the issue. Those who exhibit it so obsess over food choice and preparation that they can’t eat out. All food must be prepared by hand and strictly examined to be sure that it is free from chemicals, unwanted fats and the like.
Along with this is the intolerance of others who do not eat their food in the same fashion. It appears to be an obsessive-compulsive type disorder that can affect the daily lives of its sufferers. Attending social activities that surround food could be out of the question.
It is believed that orthorexics are of a certain type. Those in professions which depend on size and weight, like dancing, sports and fitness instructors, have experienced this disorder – along with those who deal with health, like medical students, nutritionists, dietitians and others. There is no evidence that this population is any more affected than society as a whole.
Are You Orthorexic?
It all depends on your perception of food. Are you constantly obsessed with preparation? Do you refuse to eat anything not prepared a certain way? Has your diet become extremely limited in what you can eat? Do you think about food all the time in this way? You could be orthorexic.
Consult your doctor or a therapist about your misgivings. It may not be classified as a true disorder yet, but that doesn’t mean you are not experiencing it right now.