Orthorexia Nervosa - Are You a Health Food Junkie?

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
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    Too Much of a Good Thing

    At some point in time we took a collective step back, did a quick turnaround to inspect ourselves from all sides, and were aghast to discover that we had raced beyond chubby, made a quick right at overweight, and landed right smack in the middle of obese. As waistlines spread, so did the word. It has been noted, reported, diagnosed, and waved as a bright red flag: Americans have ballooned, and that ain’t good.

    We have become the desk-set culture, rooted to a chair while staring into the glow of a computer screen. Exercise and general physical activity seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur. We eat mounds of unhealthy foods, and as a result 69% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese with over 78 million of these adults meeting the criteria for obesity

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    We now are subject to the health problems that accompany obesity. Being overweight or obese puts us at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

    We are frequently advised to eat a more healthy diet and, to the credit of many, we often comply. And that’s a good thing, right? Well yes, usually it is. But not always.

    Orthorexia Nervosa

    Orthorexia was first recognized and defined as an eating disorder in the 1990’s and is attracting more attention with the passing of time. It is not yet the stuff of the DSM, and it is not an official medical condition. This may be subject to change, but at least for now it is not a clinical term.

    Orthorexia is a disorder characterized by an obsession to maintain a pure diet that is free of foods that have artificial colors, flavors or preservatives,  unhealthy fats, added sugar or salt, and genetic modifications.

    Those who have orthorexia are obsessed with the perfect diet rather than the ideal weight and are fixated on eating foods that provide the feeling of being pure and healthy. 

    Symptoms of Orthorexia

    Symptoms of orthorexia are plentiful. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have the following:

    Obsessive worry over the connection between food choices and health issues

    Avoiding certain foods because of food allergies without seeking a medical opinion

    Reduction of food choices that are believed acceptable until those choices may become less than ten foods

    Irrational worry over how food is prepared, specifically the washing of food or the sterilization of the eating utensils

    Feelings of guilt if the guidelines of the diet are breeched

    Planning in advance meals for the following day

    Critical thinking of other people who do not maintain a strict diet

    A fear of eating away from home because it will not be possible to maintain the regulated diet

    Avoiding family and friends who do not have similar opinions about food

    Avoiding foods that are purchased and prepared by other people


    Effects of Orthorexia

    Orthorexia and its obsessive characteristics can lead to severely diminished interest in all other activities so that it relationships become impaired. Relationships can also become strained because the person with orthotexia believes she is superior to others. Dietary patterns take precedent over interpersonal connections.

  • The self-imposed dietary restrictions can also lead to weight loss, malnutrition, and restrictive caloric intake.

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    Living life well-fed,



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    Greatist - http://greatist.com/health/orthorexia-healthy-eating-addiction/
    National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute - http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/wecan/healthy-weight-basics/obesity.htm
    Timberline Knolls - http://www.timberlineknolls.com/eating-disorder/orthorexia/signs-effects

Published On: February 11, 2013