Olivia had always wanted to be healthier. Last month she decided to take action and announced her life-changing intentions: She was going to get eight hours of sleep every night, study harder in school, eat better, and work out every day. While writing up her meal plan for the week, she started doing some research. “Oh gosh… There are so many empty calories in this soda… I’m not going to drink it ever again!” That was a month ago. First, it was soda. Then it was chips. Chocolate, donuts, bread, pasta, starchy vegetables, and candy soon followed. Then nuts. Avocados. Fish. Meat. Dairy. Gluten. Olivia sat at her dorm room desk and looked at her dinner: A sliced and skinned apple, ice water, and a celery stick. “I’m so proud of how healthy I’ve become…” she thought as she brought the glass of water to her lips.
What is Orthorexia?
Orthorexia Nervosa is the unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. It comes from the Greek “orthos,“ meaning ‘right’ or ‘correct’ and “orexis,” ‘appetite.’ While it is not a disorder recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (The DSM-IV), many psychologists believe it’s about time it was.
How can someone be unhealthy if they’re obsessed with healthy foods?
Orthorexia begins as an innocent attempt at improving one’s lifestyle, achieving health, and preventing illness.
People suffering from an Orthorexic mentality have a variety of foods they deem pure and acceptable. While at first they may cut out truly less healthy foods such as soda, their list becomes smaller and smaller until the individual is at a high risk for developing Anorexia Nervosa.
If an individual is less informed about nutrition and dietetics, their “safe list” may severely limit macronutrients (protein, fats, carbs) or calories. The individual develops an extreme fear of what they deem to be unhealthy, whether it’s traditionally considered unhealthy or not.
Wait, I don’t get that last part?
The interesting thing about Orthorexia is that the disorder exists completely by the individual’s standards of what is healthy. For example, the individual may refuse avocado because it is high in fat but accept a 100-calorie snack pack of processed food because it’s low in calories.
Is Orthorexia like Anorexia?
Orthorexics can be (but they’re usually not) physically healthy. Mentally, their sense of self and food is warped, but physically they can be in a normal body weight range, have an adequate intake of a variety of foods, and not suffer from any nutritional deficiencies. Anorexia is characterized by the extreme restricting of food and it is nearly impossible to be healthy under such circumstances. Anorexia is quantity of food, Orthorexia is quality.
Orthorexia can turn into anorexia if what they individual deems healthy only includes one or two foods, or less. The disorder usually begins with good intentions (“I want to be healthier,” “I want to lose weight,” etc.) but the mind is soon consumed with calorie counting, label reading, and the pursuit of unachievable perfection.
Both Orthorexia and Anorexia often bring with them the comorbidities of anxiety and/or OCD. Both disorders involve one spending a large portion of their day avoiding food and planning meals.
Who can suffer from Orthorexia?
Literally anyone can have an Orthorexic mentality. Those most at risk are medical students, nutrition students, and adolescents. Type A personalities, perfectionists, and overachievers are always at a higher risk of developing eating disorders.
What do I do if I have an eating disorder?
Get help immediately. Talk with a trusted adult (or if you are an adult seek a physician or therapist, whichever you’re more comfortable with) and plan steps for action. Medical or professional help may save your life.
Eating Disorder Help & Support: X
i’m not even sure how i still have followers on this tumblr cause i always forget about it
but thank you for sticking around, i’m coming back. :)
What is Orthorexia?
A term created by medical specialist Steven Bratman, MD in the late 90′s, orthorexia describes an eating disorder in which individuals obsess over healthy eating to an unhealthy degree. Orthorexics may be obsessed with the cleanliness and purity of their food, and on such a regimented diet that it consumes much of their day. In extreme cases, orthorexics may succumb to malnourishment and even death because of strict food limitations.
Those who suffer from orthorexia may exhibit the following behaviors:
- a fixation on the quality of the foods they consume
- remove “unsafe” food groups from the diet to the point of malnutrition, which may include the complete avoidance of fats, grains, preservatives or man-made chemical additives, animal products to an obsessive degree
- spend all day planning or shopping for meals
- may be overly body and health-conscious
- refuse to ever eat food at restaurants or social gatherings
- spend more than 3 hours per day researching or thinking about health food
- become anxious or fearful thinking about food
- become socially isolated because they won’t eat anywhere but home or food they prepared themselves
What’s Wrong With Caring About What I Eat?
Orthorexia is NOT the same as what one might call a health food nut, nor is anyone who eliminates a food group like grains or meat (Paleo or vegan diets, for example). The difference between someone who cares about the quality of their food and orthorexia is the obsession that accompanies it, to the point of taking over their life. Where someone who is a healthy eater may occasionally eat a piece of cake that may or may not contain an artificial color, even though they know it isn’t ideal, the orthorexic may refuse even if it’s his own birthday cake. It’s an extreme form of living that can become not only mentally unhealthy because of the amount of anxiety and isolation it causes, but can also become physically unhealthy when the person’s diet becomes so restricted that they are only allowing themselves 3 or 4 foods and become malnourished.
Dr. Bratman suggests asking yourself these two questions if you think you may be suffering from orthorexia:
- Do you care more about the virtue of what you eat than the pleasure you receive from eating it?
- Does your diet socially isolate you?
For the majority of people, striving for a healthy, clean diet is completely normal when it is accompanied by a sense of balance. Food is one of the great pleasures of life and should not provoke anxiety or stress in any form. Obsessing over what you eat is a red flag and should be brought up to a professional who can help.
Staying Healthy Without Obsessing
It’s important to make the best decisions you can make for yourself. Of course if you feel better removing grains from your diet, avoiding produce treated with pesticides, or removing processed foods from your diet, there is nothing wrong with this. Striving to be healthy is a great thing, especially considering the unhealthy state of the western population right now. Make sure that your healthy choices are just that: choices, and not obsessions. I believe strongly in avoiding processed foods for my health, but every now and then I’m not going to die from a little hydrogenated oil if I eat a cookie or two.
Also, try to avoid labeling foods as “good” and “bad”. Instead, you could categorize healthier, nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables as “all the time” foods, and less healthy, low nutrient ones as “every now and then” foods. This helps you to mentally avoid the trap of connecting emotions to food, and also promotes a sense of balance rather than extremism.
If you are concerned that you or someone you love may be suffering from orthorexia, please contact a professional who can help.
guys, take this seriously. my cousin has/had this and she has been getting better but she still looks terribly skinny and its terrifying. she probably should have gone inpatient but they let her just see a therapist and have a dietitian.
You have permission to eat. Even if you:
- haven’t exercised
- eaten too much yesterday
- eaten too much today
- don’t know the exact nutritional value of the meal
- have gained weight
- aren’t feeling hungry ‘enough’
- feel like you don’t deserve it
I earned 179 points for my workout on Fitocracy!
Running +179 pts
- 0:26:28 || 1.9 mi || 13:49 min/mi || steep hills (+179 pts)
Think you can beat me, or want to comment?
every single girl should hear this.
yay this came back
I don’t know about the rest of you but this was literally painful to hear, and I don’t mean that sarcastically or in the sense that this was a terrible post. It’s a beautiful thing, but it literally hurt me to listen to it because it really hit home.
anyone with social anxiety will understand this
in like ohhh 8 hours i am supposed to be meeting my coworker friends for dinner then going out afterwards
the process of now feeling sick has begun where i get all nervous about being around that many people and my actions and everything else that comes with it
i wont back out. a few years ago i would’ve come up with some bullshit text about how i’m sick or something but i’ve gotten much better and now i push myself to do things because in the past i have regretted not going to things because of my anxiety and i’m not letting it control my life anymore.
i haven’t had fast food for two weeks. i have had maybe four sodas in that time, but considering i used to have like three sodas per DAY, it’s saying a lot. i have been drinking some water, but i’m not the biggest fan of water so that’s been hard. but that’s what i’ve been drinking at work instead of soda. and right now i’m drinking a naked juice smoothie. i LOVE these things. i almost want to buy a juicer because i’m pretty big into juices. because in addition to not really enjoying water i also don’t really like milk… at all. but i have switched to lactose free skim milk for my coffee drinks and i like it okay, so i’ll probably just quit buying 1% all together. except chocolate milk. gotta have that.
so now that i think my eating has been kinda formed into a habit, i need to start working out. the plan is to start up using my nike+ kinect get lean program. then the get toned program. and some running as well. and once i kinda have a working out habit formed, i think i may go on over to anytime fitness and get a membership.
i’m just so tired of feeling disgusted with myself and i know one of these days my metabolism is gonna slow down and i just want to feel good.
I earned 105 points for my workout on Fitocracy!
Running +105 pts
- 0:15:23 || 1.4 mi || flat (+105 pts)
- i need to steady my running so i’ve got a good pace but also take less walking breaks. right now this is the first time i’ve run in a month so it’s pretty good but hopefully i’ll keep…