A new term that many of us would not have seen before is starting to hit the headlines.
Not yet considered an official ‘eating disorder’, Orthorexia is characterised by an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating and, usually with the consumption of only ‘pure foods’.
Public health messages around healthy eating are incredibly important as they help to ensure that people have the right ideas around how to improve their health, lose weight and minimise risk of poor health.
However, in Orthorexia, ideas around ‘healthy eating’ or ‘clean eating’ become extreme and result in a very restricted diet, putting those following it at risk of nutrition deficiencies and extreme weight-loss.
Orthorexia often occurs in people who are overly health conscious and additionally, those who suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorders. However, because it is a relatively new condition or concept, we know very little about it.
So how do we distinguish someone with Orthorexia from someone who just want to eat well and live a healthy lifestyle?
Here are some of the characteristics associated with Orthorexia to help you decide:
– An excessive obsession with eating healthy foods
– Constantly worrying about food and nutrition and the content of foods
– A fear and need to control food and what you are eating/preparing at all times
– Extreme relationships with certain foods e.g. organic, fresh or pure
– Extreme behaviour around exercising
– Feeling extreme guilt when you consume ‘unhealthy’ or ‘non-pure’ foods
The irony is that healthy eating is all about VARIETY, therefore anything extreme, which eliminates a large range of foods, is by definition NOT healthy.
Healthy eating shouldn’t be difficult, a challenge or take over your life.
It’s simply about balance – eating well the majority of the time whilst always remembering that a little of what you fancy does you good 😉
For more information on Orthorexia see the Eating Disorder websites below or get in touch with the man who originally defined Orthorexia here.