At what stage does healthy eating become a health hazard? We are all familiar with binge eating disorder, bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. However, the society’s health obsession led to orthorexia nervosa, a serious eating disorder. It is a fixation on righteous eating, so severe that it becomes all-consuming.
A person with orthorexia is obsessed with raw, clean, organic and fresh food that is GMO-free. Before long, they exclude essential nutrients, damaging physical and mental health.
Signs of obsessive healthy eating taking over
Body image concerns may trigger the fixation and obsessive following of healthy lifestyle news and blogs on social media. You may compulsively check nutritional labels on food products — even when you are an invited dinner guest. The limited group of foods that you allow yourself to eat can cause distress when none of them is available.
Cutting out entire food groups like all sugars, carbs, meat, dairy and animal products is dangerous. Your body needs energy from all food groups to keep vital organs going. You may even start judging friends and family by the foods they eat. Orthorexia will prevent you from engaging in any social eating events.
In the time leading up to prom, Kaitlin’s friends talked about nothing but losing weight. Although she didn’t need to lose weight, their chatter stuck in her brain. She says healthy eating became her religion and her way of life. Before long, she began avoiding entire food groups and limiting her portions to almost nothing. Her hair fell out, her skin had a sickly gray color and her energy plummeted. Her orthorexia ultimately became anorexia, and a six-year battle to overcome her obsession.
Her fixation on healthy eating started when she was studying at a business school. She was unhappy about her career choice and found that focusing on something else took her mind off her studies. Instead of studying, she spent her time reading everything she found about good and bad foods, pesticides and organic foods. She, too, began cutting out anything she deemed unhealthy. Anna says her self-esteem became nonexistent, and she lost her identity. It was only when her body became completely deprived of essential nutrients that she admitted to being orthorexic. Her health took a turn for the worst, and recovery was a slow process.
Ana’s desire to have her peers perceive her as a “healthy’ individual drove her obsession with healthy eating and clean foods. How others saw her became the most important thing. Before long, she eliminated most food groups, which led to a reverse of what she intended. Eventually, the lack of essential nutrients caused exhaustion that exceeded her motivation to continue with her impractical methodology.
This young man’s desire to have healthier skin and hair led to his fixation on healthy eating. He wanted to be more attractive. Research on the subject led him to the only solution — a change in diet. Healthwise, he lost more than what he gained. Recovery took a long time. Only when he changed the way he looked at food was he able to overcome orthorexia.
Isaac’s conclusion might be a healthy eating lesson
Isaac says he discovered that it is a person’s character and not his looks that matter. Your character is what makes others enjoy your company. Furthermore, while food provides energy through nutrients, it is a tremendous way to bring communities and people together.