‘No soda consumption. I don’t use sugar or salt. I don’t drink milk. I left red meat, eggs and chicken. I am seeking organic vegetables. I only eat seasonal fruits. I hate family meetings because there is always something to eat. I avoid lunches with friends. If I eat a cookie, I clean my body fasting and detox. I plan strictly everything I eat. The truth is that many people do not see how foods harm their bodies, but I do... ‘. This thinking is part of the decisions a person that suffers orthorexia nervosa, an eating behavior disorder that constitutes a healthy eating obsession.
The ortorexia nervosa consists on an eating behavior disorder that implies an obsession of clean foods consumption. As all extremes, it can also be harmful.
Steven Bratman, the American doctor who in 1997 coined the term product of the union of Greek prefix ortho (straight, right) and the word orexia (appetite), offers this explanation: ‘According to the World Health Organization, there are 700 million obese people in the world, so, can healthy eating be negative? The answer is ‘yes’, being the obsessive attitude dividing line trace an obsessive attitude that alters individual routines and focuses on food’s purity the limit’, he states.
‘The orthorexia begins innocently as a desire to improve health. But this requires a significant effort to adopt a completely different diet to the usual eating habits, being few the ones who achieve this change. The majority recurs to ‘iron self-discipline’ reinforced by a strong sense of superiority over those who eat junk food’, Bratman said.
The ortorexia nervosa consists on an eating behavior disorder that implies an obsession of clean foods consumption. As all extremes, it can also be harmful
The beliefs about healthiness vary, but orthorexians often remove red meat, dairy, sugar and fat from their diet and seek food without additives or chemicals, says the diet nutritionist Alicia Cleves Huergo.
Currently, orthorexia has no a recognized clinical diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5 in English acronym). However, Bratman clarifies that the process can start every time that, in the United States, one of every three patients treated for eating disorders reflects the pattern of orthorexia, often combined with anorexia.
Although she doesn’t have statistical data about Colombia, Cleves Huergo adds that this disorder prevails in adolescents, women and men obsessed with extreme diets and showing their muscles.
Interpersonal relationships and thinking patterns are the first aspects affected in orthorexian people’ lives. The orthorexia patient places itself in a superior moral stage: according to his thinking, healthiness ‘justifies’ his obsessive-compulsive behavior. Nevertheless, this disorder generates also biological changes as anemias, bone problems and malnutrition. The medical approach must be done with a multidisciplinary team of psychologists, psychiatrists and nutritionists.
Consequently, in the era of "healthy living" trends, it seems necessary to remind that health eating involves the balance of all macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that any human being requires according to his physiological, age, activity and health situation. You are what you eat and also what you not eat.
Answer the following questions:
- Do you spend more than three hours a day thinking about your diet?
- Do you plan your meals several days ahead?
- Do you consider that the nutritional value of a meal is more important than the pleasure of eating it?
- Has your life quality decreased at the same time that your diet quality increases?
- Did you become stricter with yourself?
- Has your self-esteem improved eating healthier?
- Have you given up eating foods you liked to eat "good food”?
- Is your diet a problem when you eat out putting you away from your family and friends?
- Do you feel guilty when you skip your diet?
- Do you feel in peace with yourself and believe that everything is under control when you eat healthily?