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Orthorexia: Can eating healthy become a health hazard?

Maria de Piña
5 min read
Orthorexia: Can eating healthy become a health hazard?

It is valid to think that there is nothing wrong with eating fruits and vegetables, or with becoming vegan, but orthorexia is an extreme that, although it seems healthy, is unhealthy.

The term is used to identify a disorder that obsesses people with healthy food.

Just as eating junk food can affect us, orthorexia also causes great complications, so here we will show you everything you need to know about it.

What is orthorexia?

It is defined as an ED (eating behavior disorder) and consists of the obsession with only consuming healthy food. This leads the person to carry out excessive diets, and to maintain strict control over everything they eat and the amounts they eat.

Those who suffer from orthorexia reject any food that is not considered healthy and organic, but do not replace it with another that supplies its nutrients. This means that your intake of protein elements necessary for the body, greatly decreases.

Eating in this way brings with it the loss of vitamins, weight, energy and the necessary strength that a balanced diet provides. On the other hand, the behavior of the orthorexic is not normal, having an obsessive picture with food.

She spends much of her time organizing her eating routine, evaluating the quality of her food, shopping, and cooking what she eats. It is a remarkable obsession that causes physical and psychological conflicts when it is in an acute phase.

Obvious symptoms of Orthorexia

An orthorexic is easily recognized by seeing his attitude towards food, he has a marked obsession with only eating healthy food. He spends much of his day focused on his diets and how to care for, improve and maintain his eating routine.

Contrary to anorexia, he is not ashamed or hides his obsession, but rather shows off his way of eating with pride. He tends to feel rejection and belittle those who do not feel the same care as him about food intake and questions those who do not diet.

Their control when eating is strict, to the point of becoming depressed if they don't succeed and punish themselves with stronger fasts and deprivation. Their obsession is such that there comes a point where they can lose the ability to recognize when they are hungry and when they are full.

In the physical aspect, they suffer a notable weight loss, this is accompanied by the lack of energy due to the lack of vitamins and nutrients. They may also find themselves with low defenses and quite anxious behavior.

Causes and origin of orthorexia

Bad food experiences can trigger orthorexia

The causes are not clear, some studies suggest that the conflict is linked to other compulsive disorders such as perfectionism. What is notorious is that most cases start as healthy nutritional practices and become obsession.

The evaluation of different cases also suggests that orthorexia develops as a response to dislike for some foods or excessive concern for staying healthy, this may be motivated by some bad experience caused by food.

conflicts it causes

Leaving aside the health problems that we have already addressed above, we must also emphasize that any obsessive behavior brings conflicts with it. Proof of this is isolation, which is a problem frequently experienced by orthorexics.

Seeing that others do not share his same lifestyle, he tends to stay away from people, thus making interpersonal relationships difficult. On the other hand, people close to him may also feel rejection towards him, not understanding that he has a problem.

Depression is another problem that will not take long to appear, since being subjected to such strict controls and not being able to comply with them as desired, this will cause depressive symptoms. This is a very common conflict in any type of obsession.

Finally, they also come to neglect important aspects of their lives by staying focused most of the time on their diet. This leads them to limit and neglect the development of projects, ventures, love relationships, among others.

Detection and treatment

There is a very fine line between health care and food obsession, which makes it not so easy to identify the disorder. To diagnose, a professional consultation must be carried out where the psychological state will be evaluated through some questions.

The physical state is the complement of the diagnosis that helps to validate that it is indeed a disorder. To treat the conflict, psychological help is required, which is normally applied through therapies and the help of medications if required.

But in addition, an orientation consultation with a nutritionist is also required to help the patient put their diet in order and make them lose their fear of eating other foods. It is a joint work that requires supervision and support.

Eating healthy is one of the best practices that any human being can develop, but there is nothing healthy about obsessing about it. Never forget that eating is a pleasure that should be enjoyed and should be a pleasure, not an obligation.


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