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Orthorexia is a Dangerous Obsession With “Healthy” Eating

It is great to eat healthy and most of people will benefit greatly by paying more attention to what they eat.

However, some people get so involved with focusing on their food that it becomes an obsession. This obsession with “healthy” eating can override people’s other interests in life, impair their relationships, replace their love and joy in life and cause other mental and physical problems.

Too much of “healthy” eating can easily turn into an eating disorder that is called orthorexia. Health food junkies are more at risk of developing orthorexia than balanced eaters. The sufferers avoid certain foods such as things with preservatives, fatty foods, animal products, sugar and others.

Many of them get obsessed with raw foods. Sometimes this obsession goes so far that the person lives just on raw green leafs for weeks or months. This results in malnutrition, starvation and even death.

Orthorexia often begins with a desire to overcome a chronic illness or to improve general health so people start watching what they eat. Unlike anorexics who want to just lose weight; othorexics have different motives for their behaviour.

People with orthorexia strive to be pure, healthy and back to what they call nature. This kind of motivation creates lots of confusion about their diagnosis amongst health workers. Many doctors diagnose anorexia in patients who actually have orthorexia.

The term orthorexia is coined by a doctor from Colorado Steven Bratman MD. What does it mean? The Greek word “ortho” means “correct or right” and “orexis” means “appetite”

There is an element of obsessive – compulsiveness in orthorexia and people who have obsessive personalities develop orthorexia much easier than people who don’t have these traits.

The Statistics on orthorexia show that it is much more common than anorexia and even bulimia. Many more people describe just the orthorexic traits in research questions, not anorexic or bulimic ones, these people may already have a fully developed disease.

What are the criteria for someone who may have orthorexia?

– Exaggerated concerns about healthy eating
– Avoiding social events because they may be connected to unhealthy eating
– Feeling of isolation from people because of the “food” matter
– Visiting health food stores every day for the reason of finding “healthy” products
– Loss of weight and emaciation
– Starving because they are afraid of eating “unhealthy” food
– Describing some foods as dangerous
– Attaching too much emotions to food
– Constantly making “next day” diet plan
– Strong uncontrollable desire to eat when feeling nervous, excited, happy or guilty.
– Spending too much time shopping for “healthy” food
– Obsession with different diets (trying new diets all the time)

In conclusion it is worth noting that moderation and balance is still the key to everything especially concerning food and eating. Dieting can be a great tool to improve some health problems but when taken to the extreme a diet can turn into an obsession that can completely distort the person’s rationality when it comes to food.

Before people start on a diet they should understand both sides of their actions: the negative and positive side of the diet. The mechanism for developing obsessions should also be taken into consideration.

When a person knows how their brain works and how it is possible to get hooked on things, especially if you are prone to obsessive behaviour. Knowledge of what can happen to them should be taken into their dieting plans at the beginning, not waiting until it is too late to change their eating habits.

Dr Irina Webster MD is the Director of Eating Disorder Institute. She is an author of many books and a public speaker. To learn more about eating disorders go to http://www.eatingdisorder-institute.com

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