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Orthorexia Nervosa- Fear of Eating Unhealthy

It is always good to want to eat healthily. But, it is never good to be obsessed with healthy eating. By knowing the signs of Orthorexia Nervosa, you can prevent this unhealthy addiction and learn to still eat healthy without any negative feelings associated with it.

How Orthorexia Nervosa is Different From Other Eating Disorders

Eating disorders that we know of like anorexia or bulimia is about quantity. Orthorexia Nervosa is about quality. Losing weight is normally not the objective when you develop this particular eating disorder. This is when you have an obsession with eating foods that have the highest “purity” or the most healthy. This eating disorder was made aware when Jordan Younger, a successful blogger, spoke about how her obsession with healthy eating led her to suffer malnutrition. While Orthorexia Nervosa is recognized in the medical community, it still is not associated with the American Psychiatric Association or the DSM-5. 

The Causes of Orthorexia

It may have started where you wanted to go on a diet to improve your health, only to let your healthy eating habits grow out of control. Obsessive-compulsive disorders, as well as former or current eating disorders, can be factors for Orthorexia Nervosa. It can also be if you have a tendency towards perfectionism, high anxiety, or a need for control. You may also feel pressure to be healthy for your career where picking the right foods becomes a necessity. It can be jobs like healthcare workers, musicians, ballet dancers, and athletes. 

The Two Stages of Orthorexia Nervosa

The first stage of Orthorexia Nervosa is your obsessive thoughts of healthy eating. You feel emotional stress in relation to certain food choices. This can mean having compulsive thoughts on dietary choices that you believe will make you the most healthy. You do not want to break any part of your diet or you may experience anxiety, shame, fear of developing a disease, feeling impure, or how you will perceive your physical health. If you keep up with these dietary restrictions, it can lead to leaving out entire food groups as well as cleanses, fasts, or both.

The second stage of Orthorexia Nervosa is when this eating disorder prevents normal functioning. You could experience malnutrition, severe weight loss, and other complications. You could also have trouble functioning socially where your friends are not fond of your obsessive eating habits or academically where you do not have the energy to do your work. You could also feel like the way you see yourself all depends on how well you do on your diet. For example, eating one piece of candy can already make you feel like you are doing a lousy job at feeling healthy instead of thinking of everything in moderation.

Physical Effects

It is important to realize that true health is eating all of the essential food groups. A shortage of essential nutrients can lead to malnutrition, anemia, or a slow heart rate. You could also experience electrolyte and hormonal imbalances, metabolic acidosis, and bad bone health. Do not underestimate any of these health problems and see a doctor for them before your life is threatened by this eating disorder.

Emotional Effects

If a person with Orthorexia Nervosa has their eating habits disrupted, it can lead them to extreme frustration. You could end up feeling guilty and hating yourself if you deviate from the diet. One deviation can lead you to say to yourself you will not eat anything the next day or go on a cleansing. A large amount of your time is spent deciding on which foods are “pure” enough for you. You could be concerned about pesticides in vegetables, dairy with hormones, artificial flavors, or preservatives. Besides eating, you could also be spending your time researching, weighing, or measuring food or planning future meals. 

Social Effects

Orthorexia Nervosa can cause your friends to withdraw from you if you are spending all of your time talking about what foods you plan on eating, searching for the calories and ingredients more than eating, or are thinking out what to put in their food diary. Your friends will feel like you are not focusing on them. You may also feel like you can only eat at certain times and cannot take part in activities that involve food like going out to eat or dinner parties. You will feel like the food there does not fit into your dietary restrictions and choose to miss out on it completely. You could also be isolating yourself from people because you know that what you are doing is not safe and you do not want the judgment.

Treatment For Orthorexia Nervosa

If you do not treat Orthorexia Nervosa soon, you could be suffering from irreversible damage to your body. You first need to identify that you have it. This is the hardest part because people with any eating disorder fail to recognize it under something bad happens to them. Once you realize that you fit into the symptoms of this eating disorder, you should seek help from a doctor, nutritionist, and psychologist. There is also exposure therapy, behavior modification therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and relaxation techniques. Lastly, it is important to do your own research about necessary food habits everyone should have to be healthy to avoid any false beliefs. Being in control of Orthorexia Nervosa can allow you to enjoy food again as well as your life. 

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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