In recent years, people have become more cautious about what they consume on a daily basis. The increasing awareness is due to the fact that a healthy diet is indeed the key to overall well-being and of course, weight loss.
There’s no shortage of eating styles to choose from as people go vegan, try paleo, test out raw, gluten-free, grain-free, or sugar-free. But delving too deeply into a restrictive diet can be a signal that the desire to eat healthy foods has gone too far and is now considered to be an eating disorder.
And like almost everything, there’s a word for that: “orthorexia”.
Coined by Dr. Steven Bratman back in the late ’90s, orthorexia simply means “correct appetite.” And though orthorexia isn’t clinically classified as an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, it is a type of disordered eating that describes what happens when a desire to eat pure foods becomes an unhealthy obsession.
According to the counsellor of the Women’s Health Clinic in Winnipeg, US, Lisa Naylor, what sets orthorexia apart is that the initial motivation isn’t necessarily about losing weight.
“Those who struggle with orthorexia become really preoccupied with food quality instead of food quantity,” she explained to CBC News. “And food rules begin to take up a great deal of time and energy exactly like they do for people with other disordered eating like bulimia or anorexia, but the rules may vary a little bit.”
Added Naylor, orthorexia shares similarities with other eating disorders which isn’t really about the food per se, but tends to mask underlying issues. While the average person may be able to alter their diet to eat a little healthier without any problem, someone with high anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) might start with a similar motivation but not be able to stop.
While it’s good to eat a healthy eating plan that included some very nutrient dense foods, it can’t be all the foods you’re consuming.
In this case, variation is key to any diet. We shouldn’t be missing out on all kinds of nutrients that aren’t in our weekly intake because eventually, our health will deteriorate due to lack of proper nutrition.
Finding out about the food we eat has never been easier. But for people with orthorexia, a few simple Google searches can lead them down a research rabbit hole.
Nowadays, the craze just got more overwhelming as the source of food you eat is also judged.
Taking steps to make healthy food choices doesn’t always signal a potential issue with an eating disorder, but only becomes a problem when it becomes an obsession and that initial motivation to be healthier is no longer part of the story.
But you shouldn’t let yourself compromise on eating less while not getting all the nutrients your body needs.
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