Are You Always Looking For Healthy Food? Beware, You Might Be Getting Orthorexic

By: Shubham Ghosh
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If one is unable to overcome the obsession with junk food, it is still understandable and there can be ways to address the problem by growing an alternative food habit; but what if someone is obsessed with a healthy diet?

The symptoms of obsessive behaviour for healthy diet come under the eating disorder called Orthorexia Nervosa.

A person who suffers from orthorexia is always in the lookout for a perfect diet and not things like proper weight.

Found specially in women who have crossed 30 years of age, orthorexia is a mental state of feeling pure and healthy by eating things that don't include fat, sugar, salt, artificial colours, etc.

Healthy diet obsession

Also Read: Superfoods To Fight Anemia

A person having orthorexia displays sudden behavioural changes like:

1. Getting too obsessed with the type of foods and how they affect health in terms of digestion, anxiety, allergies, low mood, etc.
2. A general habit of avoiding food to avoid ailments.
3. More inclination towards consuming herbal products.
4. Obsession with washing of food or sterilisation of utensils.
5. Becoming socially aloof. For too much obsession with healthy diet may see a person suffering from orthorexia avoid social gatherings to avoid 'unhealthy' food and that in turn can make them vulnerable to serious mental illnesses and complications.
6. Orthorexic people put in place their own dietary norms that they rigidly force on themselves and if ever the norms are violated, they grow a feeling of guilt. This in turn makes them more orthorexic.
7. Growing a sense of dissatisfaction with people who are not obsessed with healthy food.
8. Avoiding food made by others and getting insensitive towards friends and other near ones, harming relationships.

Healthy diet obsession

Effect Of Orthorexia:
Ironically though it may seem, but a person suffering from orthorexia can lose weight drastically because of rigid restrictions on calories; and that can put them at par with anorexics (a desire to lose weight by refusing to eat).

This over a period of time can lead to malnutrition and it may worsen into cardiac compulsions. And all this happens just because they want to eat healthy!

Also Read: Reason To Avoid Frozen Foods

Healthy diet obsession

Do You Have Orthorexia: Taking A Self-test:
Dr. Steven Bratman, who had coined the term Orthorexia Nervosa in 1997, has certain questions for us and if you answer four to five of those questions in the affirmative, then it is time to think less about food and if all of them get a 'yes', then you are actually making your life difficult.

Here are some of Dr. Bratman's questions to see whether you are an orthorexic or not:

1.  Do you spend over three hours daily thinking about your diet?
2.  Do you plan your meals several days ahead?
3.  Are you concerned more with the nutritional value of your meal than the pleasure of eating it?
4.  Does eating healthy give you a boost?
5.  Does a diversion from your diet make you feel guilty?
6.  Have you given up foods you enjoyed and replaced them with 'right' foods?
7.  Does your diet make it difficult for you to go out for eating, hence isolating you from your close friends and family?

Healthy diet obsession

Five Tips To Overcome Orthorexia:
1.  Be honest and assess your life: How much is really the concern for health, which is making you worried.
2.  Take a small step towards normalcy: Start taking foods that you dreaded as 'bad' in small quantity.
3.  Don't blame yourself for turning into an orthorexic.
4.  Don't be a fatalist, it's okay if you take some odd foods and then do enough exercise to avoid their bad effects.
5.  Go out with friends and family for eating. This can also be started and taken forward slowly.

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Read more about: healthy, food, obsession, disorder
Story first published: Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 16:30 [IST]
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