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Orthorexia, Obsession with Healthy Food

Eating healthy foods is very good for your health. However, for some people, being too focused on eating healthy can become obsessive and turn into an eating disorder known as orthorexia. Like other eating disorders, orthorexia has severe consequences for the audience. As dangerous as anorexia.

Unlike anorexia or bulimia, orthorexia or other names orthorexia nervosa is a disorder associated with food quality, not quantity. So, people with orthorexia are usually not associated with weight loss.

People who experience orthorexia usually pay close attention to the purity of the food they consume and the obsession with the benefits of healthy eating. For example, the condition of orthorexia had been in the spotlight a few years ago after Jordan Younger, a blogger, claimed to be obsessed with healthy food until he was malnourished.

The term orthorexia for people who are obsessed with healthy food was first created in 1997 by American doctor Steve Bratman. This term comes from "orthos" - which comes from Greek and means "right."

Loving healthy food is okay, but know the causes of this orthorexia disorder so you can be more vigilant.

Symptoms of Orthorexia Nerovosa

One of the things that can distinguish and recognize someone experiencing Orhtorexia nervosa is to look at the condition of the person while consuming 'healthy food'. If the person experiences stress or has a negative effect on his daily life, it can be said that he has Orthorexia nervosa.

For people affected by Orthorexia nervosa, they will be very worried about the food they will eat. Usually, they will prefer to eat at home where they can find out the origin and how to 'healthy food' is processed.

According to a survey conducted by an Italian researcher in 2005 by asking questions about diet such as "are you more than three hours a day often feeling worried about just thinking about food?" And "would you feel guilty when you violate healthy eating rules?" , said about 57.6% of people surveyed had Orthorexia nervosa with a ratio of two to 1 between women and men. As in Italy, this survey was also carried out in Turkey and Spain which stated that 45.4% of doctors, 56.4% of artists (81.8% of opera singers and 32.1% of ballet dancers), and 86% of yoga teachers suffered from this eating disorder.

Causes of orthorexia that you need to know

People with orthorexia usually start their healthy diet without strange tendencies. It's just that their obsession with healthy food can turn out to be extreme which leads to orthorexia.

Research on the causes of orthorexia is still rare, but obsessive-compulsive tendencies and other eating disorders are risk factors that contribute to this disorder.

Other risk factors include perfectionist tendencies, high anxiety, or the need to control something. Some studies also report that individuals who focus on health for their careers may have a higher risk of developing orthorexia.

Examples of jobs that can be affected by orthorexia are health workers, opera singers, ballet dancers, symphony orchestra musicians, and athletes. In some cases, orthorexia is difficult to distinguish from the preoccupation of eating healthy normally. For this reason, it is still difficult to classify people with orthorexia.

However, a person is said to be orthorexia when enthusiasm for healthy food turns into an obsession that negatively affects everyday life, such as extreme weight loss or refusal to eat with friends.

Diagnose orthorexia

To make the difference between eating healthier and orthorexia more clearly, Steve Bratman then proposed 2 parts of the diagnostic criteria as follows:

1. Focus obsessively on healthy eating

The first part is the obsessive focus on healthy eating which involves excessive emotional stress related to food choices. This includes:

  • Behavior or mind: compulsive behavior or too engrossed in food choices that are believed to improve optimal health.
  • Self-imposed anxiety: violates the rules of a diet that is forced itself to cause anxiety, shame, fear of illness, a sense of impurity, or negative physical sensation.
  • Severe restrictions: dietary restrictions that increase over time and can include the removal of the entire food group to increase efforts to "self-cleanse" such as fasting or only eating certain foods.

2. Appear behavior that interferes with daily life

The second part is forced behavior that prevents normal daily functions. This includes:

  • Medical problems: malnutrition, severe weight loss or other medical complications.
  • Lifestyle disorders: personal stress or difficult social functions due to beliefs or behaviors related to healthy eating.
  • Emotional dependence: it relates to body image, self-esteem, identity, or satisfaction, and is very dependent on adherence to the rules of the imposed diet.

Eating healthy foods is something you must do everyday. However, your interest in healthy food, should not turn into an obsession that actually endangers your own health.

Now you know that being too obsessed with healthy foods is actually a health disorder that is called orthorexia in the medical world. If you experience it, immediately seek help by going to the doctor and finding information about eating disorders that you experience, and tips on choosing good nutrition for the body.

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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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