Orthorexia nervosa is an obsession with healthy eating. Unlike people with Anorexia-Bulimia Nervosa, people with Orthorexia focus on the quality of food rather than losing weight or being thin.
Fear of consuming “unhealthy” foods.
Having an obsession or preoccupation with healthy foods, nutrition, and eating.
Inability to give up a certain eating style and diet cycle without worry.
Obsessively checking the nutritional content/labels of consumed foods.
To impose food bans even if there is no health problem. (For example; gluten, sugar, carbohydrates, fats)
Refrain from consuming food prepared by others.
Taking food prepared by others on the grounds that it will not meet their own “healthy” standards.
Spending too much time reviewing menus or thinking about the foods served at events.
Disordered eating and eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of gender identity, race, age, or socioeconomic status.
It can be tempting to try to “do it right” when it comes to nutrition, but it can backfire. If you are obsessed with your weight, feel guilty about your food choices, or routinely follow restrictive diets, consider consulting a specialist.
Risk Factors for the Development of Orthorexia
Research on the exact causes of orthorexia is scarce. However, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, perfectionism tendencies, high anxiety and need for control can be counted as risk factors.
Social factors such as nutritional knowledge, high income, access to “clean” foods (organic products, etc.), social media use, and the prejudice of being overweight are also associated with orthorexia-related behaviors.
The rapid increase in the promotion of “clean eating” lifestyles on social media may also play a role in the development of orthorexia. Clean eating encourages adherents to consume “healthy and minimally processed” foods. But the phrase “clean eating” defines other foods as “unsuitable” or “undesirable.”
Negative Effects of Orthorexia on Health
Adverse health effects associated with orthorexia usually fall into one of the following 3 categories:
While studies on orthorexia are limited, it is likely to cause the same medical complications as other eating disorders.
For example; Lack of essential nutrients caused by restrictive diets can result in anemia.
severe malnutrition; It can cause digestive problems, electrolyte and hormonal imbalances, metabolic acidosis, general weakness, and a weakened immune system. These physical complications are very serious and should not be taken lightly.
Breaking dietary guidelines for orthorexic individuals; results in guilt, self-hatred, and individuals resort to potentially “dangerous” ways for purification. (For example, fasts, detoxes etc.)
Additionally, people with orthorexia spend a lot of time examining whether specific foods are “clean” or “pure.” This; exposure of vegetables to pesticides, hormones used in milk production, artificial flavors or preservatives may involve concerns. This preoccupation with nutrition greatly limits one’s daily life. It can lead to a decrease in productivity, social life, activities and enjoyment.
People with orthorexia follow strict rules that determine what foods can be eaten at certain times of the day. Such rigid eating habits can make it difficult to participate in social activities revolving around food, such as dinner parties or eating out. This can lead to social isolation.
The first step in overcoming orthorexia is to identify its presence. Acknowledging the problem can be difficult. Because people with this disorder are less likely to notice the negative effects on their health and social functioning. In fact, many believe that their behavior promotes health rather than harms it.
For eating disorders; Remember that help is available and eating disorders can be treated. You can get help from your doctor, dietitian, psychologist for treatment.