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Orthorexia is an obsession with eating healthfully. People with this disorder develop such an obsession with eating healthy it leads to progressively rigid dieting that eliminates crucial food groups and nutrients .
If you spend excessive amounts of time thinking about how healthy the food you eat is and planning and preparing food becomes a dominant force in your life, or the quality of your diet has increased while the quality of your life decreased you could be a victim.
Orthorexia is considered an eating disorder, but is different than anorexia or bulimia. In those disorders people are more focused on the quantity of food, while those with orthorexia are strictly focused on the quality.
What to eat and the possible consequences of eating something considered "bad", or unhealthy, begin to dominate mental life. This obsession can become so bad the person suffering will chide him or her self for days if so much as a tablespoon of ice cream was consumed, or the broccoli they did eat was cooked and not raw as they believe raw is much better for you.
There are several reasons one develops orthorexia and they involve a complex combination of elements. The feeling that there is complete control over the prevention of illness becomes all consuming. The idea that eating perfectly healthy will ward off illness and increase life span is one force behind this disorder. Another force is macrobiotics, or the dietary philosophy involving rules and a significant attachment to every minute detail of eating. This is also referred to this as "kitchen spirituality".
Some "fashionable" food fads are also contributing to this development. Raw-foodism, lacto-ovo vegetarianism, fruitarianism and food allergy elimination cause those practicing these diet trends to lose sight of the obsessive behavior they are guilty of.
This fixation with eating healthy is now considered a disease in its own right. This condition is equally as detrimental as any other eating disorder and is worse then potential health problems victims feel they are warding off. It is better to live like a normal human being and strive to eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, raw and cooked.
Symptoms of Orthorexia
- Constantly becoming stricter with yourself in regards to the foods you eat
- Sacrificing things you enjoy so you eat the foods you believe are right
- An increased sense of self-esteem comes over you when you eat healthy foods
- You find yourself looking down on those who do not eat as you do
- Becoming socially isolated
- Planning the food you will eat days in advance
- While eating healthy, you feel a sense of peace and self-control
- You feel horrid guilt and self-loathing when you eat something considered "bad"
A yes to either one or two of these questions could mean you have a touch of orthorexia. Yes to four or more means you are in trouble. Yes to all means you need help.