500 Words on Orthorexia
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Health and Wellness

500 Words on Orthorexia

It may not have formal diagnostic criteria just yet, but yes, it exists.

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500 Words on Orthorexia

Since joining the foodie community this past summer, I am in awe at the creativity and awe-inspiring content I see on my feed each and every day. However, while the good definitely outweighs the bad, there are a few red flags I've seen on many accounts. There's a strong difference between healthy eating habits and obsessive eating habits.

When you think of eating disorders, you likely think of the big ones, like anorexia and bulimia. There are others that are less discussed, but can lead to destructive behaviors and more mental and physical issues down the road. One of these is orthorexia nervosa.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, orthorexia nervosa is defined as an obsession with proper or "healthful" eating. It's categorized as an obsessive-compulsive disorder, or an anxiety disorder. People with orthorexia become so consumed by so-called "healthy eating" that they are actually doing damage to their own well-being. It is not yet recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual, but let me tell you, it is out there.

Some warning signs and symptoms of orthorexia, again referencing the National Eating Disorders Association, include obsessively checking ingredient lists and nutritional labels, cutting out an increasing number of food groups, spending hours of each day thinking about what food will be served at upcoming events, body image concerns, and showing high levels of distress when "safe" or "unhealthy" foods aren't available. The results of this thinking in excess can lead to malnutrition, which can wreak havoc on your body and mind.

The truth is, eating in this manner can really affect your enjoyment of life. I've spoken to a few foodie friends who often say, "I don't eat this", or "I can't go to that restaurant because there's nothing there I can eat". Telling yourself things like this can negatively impact your relationship with yourself and others, your social activities, and so much more. What if instead of posing statements such as the previous ones, your mind shifted to "I can eat this burger, and I'll be okay" or, "It's okay to try something at this restaurant, even if it costs me more calories than I usually consume". I mean, imagine being at your dad's 50th birthday dinner at a steakhouse, and watching your family enjoy a meal together because nothing on the menu was "healthy enough" for you.

I'm by no way saying that eating healthy is a bad thing. It's a wonderful thing; those are the foods your body truly needs and craves to function at its best. However, there is a mighty difference between restrictive eating habits and healthy eating habits. It must be understood that eating your "fear foods" won't take away from your overall health. Everyone deserves a greasy, delicious pizza or a big bowl of ice cream every so often. It's okay to order a big, juicy steak instead of your usual salad.

The bottom line is, once you allow yourself food freedom, your relationship with not only food, but with your body, will undoubtedly improve. It takes a lifetime to perfect your relationship with food. I myself am still learning, each and every day.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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