Health Conscious or Eating Disorder? What is Orthorexia?

Are you obsessed with healthy eating? How do you know whether you are health conscious, or whether you are eating is disordered?  If you are facing problem to know exactly what it is, Relax, this article is going to help you out.

Food is a given way more power than it deserves, which makes it easy for a seemingly innocent interest in food and nutrition to spin out of control and become an obsession. Putting nutrition up on a pedestal creates stress, anxiety and confusion around food and eating which ironically more often leads to eating less healthy-fully.

When you are obsessed with healthy eating: What is Orthorexia?

Okay, let us be honest  ‘What image do we form about eating disorder?’ At time most people had a very narrow image of what an eating disorder looks like-a skeleton young woman, wasting away food.  Not at all a happy ( according to her instagram pictures) and athletic appearing woman who gleefully shared pictures of her bright and colourful salads and green juice for the world to look at.

But behind the scenes she had restricted her food to vegetables, fruits, green juices and occasionally whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds and thought about food constantly. Yet her obsession was not about getting thin but instead it was about ‘health’ only!

At time, clean eating was at it’s height of popularity as was considered the epitome of health. But on the other hand, it comparatively ‘abundant’ next to the crab and calorie restricted diets that were previously much more popular.  You cannot even imagine that you could become obsessed with healthy eating, and that the obsession could rise to the level of eating disorder! It’s really horrible and terrifying both. That is the day when you come to know about what orthorexia is.

Orthorexia is an eating disorder in which one becomes obsessed with healthful or pure eating, rather than weight loss. Rather than the brain getting fixated on calories, it gets fixated on ‘cleanliness’, often leading to cutting out an increasing number of food groups. The malnutrition and medical consequences of orthorexia can be just as \medically severe as anorexia.

Okay, now if you are still feeling confused from the above conversation, what is orthorexia, take up this quiz.

Health conscious or Disordered eating? Face the quiz.

Worried your interest in healthy eating may be more of an obsession? Face this quiz, to find out if there may be a problem.

  1. Do you spend 3 or more hours a day thinking or talking about food?  It is quite normal to thing about food, but when thinking about food sucks up valuable headspace and interests, that is when problem arises.
  2. Do you always plan your meals in advance?  There is nothing wrong in planning your meals in advance. But planning becomes a big problem when it comes from a place of control and turns into an exercise in crafting the so called ‘perfect diet’
  3. Does your self -esteem get boosted by eating healthy-fully?  Do you feel get boosted because of the way you eat? Being healthy eater is considered a positive attribute that is often praised but when this praise is internalized and your self-esteem is boosted, yes that is a problem.
  4. Do you ever feel guilty when you stray from your diet? Unless you stole food from someone, there is no reason to feel guilty. But if so, please have look, it’s very problematic.
  5. Do you face mood swings due to foods?  Mood swings are common for various reasons but if you face mood swings for food- it is something that is to be looked up on and not just ignored.

If all these questions regarding orthorexia, is true for you, then there may be some food issues going on. Give it a deep thought. Or rather better, work with a non-diet dietitian or therapist on if it is available to you.

Most people with eating disorder do not fit into a neat little box! Understanding the difference between being health conscious and having an eating may feel blurry. But do not get me wrong, there is absolute nothing wrong with valuing nutrition.

Where it veers into problem territory is when those efforts are detracting from your physical and mental health and quality of life. If you are facing such issues, give a deep thought in it or rather consult a good dietitian.

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