Is “The Eating Healthy Disorder” The New OCD?

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Orthorexia Nervosa is a disorder that rejects unhealthy or impure foods, discovered 22 years ago. The aim is to have proper nutrition for optimum health and long life. It doesn’t sound so bad, isn’t it? 

At first sight, women seem to struggle more with the extreme diets, but the study revealed that an equal number of men face the same problem. Nowadays,the hundreds of diets and the access to a wide variety of food can trigger the obsession for a healthy lifestyle in some individuals.

The desire to eat healthily is present in most of us. For some, it seems that the nutrition principles went in the wrong direction, consisting of restrictive diet, ritualized pattern of eating, avoidance of specific ailments, etc. The negative side of the disorder is that these struggles don’t make any improvement in their general health, quite the contrary. Orthorexia comes together with nutritional deficiencies, medical problems, isolation, and a poor quality of life.

If you want to know which are the most vulnerable categories for developing this disorder, read on.

The Victims of Healthy Diets

There are a few categories that can easily fall into the trap of Orthorexia. The obsession is more likely to be carried by people with a poor body image, vegetarians, vegans, individuals with past eating disorders or with obsessive-compulsive characteristics. Lacto-vegetarians may also be included in the category of extreme dieters. The preoccupation for eating healthy can consume most of their time and affect other life aspects, like the time spent with family or friends.

“For people who are vulnerable, they may latch onto (the clean eating trend) and then take it to the extreme, to the point where they’re spending a lot of time researching and a lot of time purchasing food (and) preparing food.” The study’s senior author Jennifer Mills, an associate professor in York University’s department of psychology also stated that “it makes it difficult to eat with other people, it makes it difficult to go out to eat, and it can be distressing.”

Orthorexia Vs Anorexia

While anorexia nervosa keeps a vigilant eye on the number of calories, the Orthorexia is not worried for calories, but rather for the quality of foods, the way it was prepared, the purchasing, etc. The worry grows into an “all-consuming obsession.”

Orthorexia is nowadays not recognized as a disorder in the standard psychiatric manuals, which is a surprising fact. The disease has the potential of a life-threatening condition in the most severe forms. The team of researchers from the York University’s department of psychology opened the doors for more specialized studies on the Orthorexia behaviors and the psychological factors that push people to the brink. The study will also provide proper treatment and ways of detecting the mental disorder.


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