Healthy habits can turn deadly.
Orthorexia nervosa is an obsession with healthy eating. Although it’s not an officially recognized eating disorder, many people are suffering from its effects.
Oftentimes, orthorexia starts out with the best of intentions. People should exercise and eat right. But these routines can become addicting. They fixate on what to eat, feeling guilt like anorexics after diverting from healthy habits.
When exercise becomes a chore and healthy eating becomes restrictive, that’s when the problem transforms into a disorder.
Not everyone who eats good food is at risk, so how do you know when healthy habits are no longer healthy?
-Do you think about food quality and quantity so much that you wish you didn’t?
-Do your food choices prevent you from spending time with friends and family?
-Do you feel out of control when presented with food you didn’t prepare or allocate for yourself?
-Do you feel guilt after eating something “unhealthy”?
-Do you spend hours thinking about what or when to eat?
-Is the nutrition of what you eat more important than the pleasure of eating it?
Society encourages healthy eating, condemning everything from sugary desserts to white bread to any form of carbs. Falling into orthorexia is so much easier when we’re bombarded with the latest diets online or see what others are eating on Instagram.
Food isn’t the problem with orthorexia. It’s the perfectionism and criticism that develop from such strict self-imposed rules.
Food isn’t just for nutrition. We can eat for enjoyment.
We can have that slice of cake, even when we’re full, simply because our sister baked it. We can order the newest item on the menu, and not think about calorie content or whether it was prepared “correctly.”
As with anything, battling orthorexia requires a change of mindset. It’s not easy. But food is nourishment for both the body and soul.
Fuel for Thought: Why or why not should orthorexia be considered an eating disorder? How do you balance “health” and a healthy mindset? Where do you struggle?