Her day is consumed by caloric intake. She obsesses about the content of her meals and where it comes from. She spends 30 hours per week planning her meals. She creates spreadsheets where she carefully logs what she consumes by gram, calorie, and fat content. She avoids having coffee with friends and the biweekly team meetings at work where without a doubt pizza will be served. Her void of social gatherings is tied to her fear of the unknown. The unknown food additives. The unknown shelf life. The unknown processes by which the food is prepared. Thus she avoids all of these seemingly unpleasant traditions because the fear grips her. The fear of taking something into her body that is not healthy grips her. It grips her so tightly that she becomes hyper-focused on settling this anxiety through a serious of ritualistic eating behaviors. Pleasure is replaced by a perceived health benefit. When is healthy too healthy?
Being conscious about what goes in our bodies leads to a magnitude of positive changes which have been well researched. Exercising and eating healthy can help sustain a positive mood, decrease risk of certain chronic illnesses, helps manage our weight, and in some cases healthy eating is linked to longevity. With all these amazing benefits it no wonder why so many people are drawn to living a healthy life style but is there a point where one can be “too healthy”.
Although not formally recognized by the DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition), Orthorexia is defined as an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food (Bratman, 2014).Orthorexia was first termed in 1996 by Dr. Steven Bratman. Someone living with Orthorexia may possibly have strict dietary beliefs whereas any deviations from these practices may signal anxiety. These beliefs simply go beyond adhering to Vegan or Paleo diet. Diet, for someone with Orthorexia may solely be based on ritualistic eating behaviors to such an extent interpersonal relationships are difficult to maintain. Food becomes all consuming, erasing any joy connected with dinning.
What are the warning sings.
- Are you or someone you know avoiding social situations due to choices of food served?
- Have you or someone you know spends prolonged hours on planning and creating meals that are well outside of the typical Sunday meal prep.
- Logging and maintaining a record of foods consumed and intake takes prolonged periods of time and requires constant reworking.
- Has anyone made any comments about your lack of participation and involvement in social gatherings and functions?
- Have your food restriction and consumption habits negatively impacted your performance at work, in academics, or within your interpersonal relationships.
If you have answered yes, to these questions you may want to seek professional help. Please visit http://www.orthorexia.com/ for more information.
BY: Priscilla Wright,M.Ed,LPC,NCC
Doctoral Candidate in Counseling Psychology
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