Orthorexia

What is Orthorexia? 

The term 'Orthorexia' was coined by Steven Bratman, MD, an individual who has first hand experience with the disorder. Orthorexia is defined as an obsession with 'healthy or righteous eating.'


"The term is derived from the Greek “ortho,” which means “right,” or “correct,” and is intended as a parallel with anorexia nervosa....it has come to find a more significant place as a description for a type of obsession with healthy food that is psychologically or even physically unhealthy." 


“I pursued wellness through healthy eating for years, but gradually I began to sense that something was going wrong. The poetry of my life was disappearing. My ability to carry on normal conversations was hindered by intrusive thoughts of food. The need to obtain meals free of meat, fat, and artificial chemicals had put nearly all social forms of eating beyond my reach. I was lonely and obsessed. … I found it terribly difficult to free myself. I had been seduced by righteous eating. The problem of my life's meaning had been transferred inexorably to food, and I could not reclaim it.” -Steven Bratman, MD, author and creator of www.orthorexia.com.

At this time, the Eating Disorder, Orthorexia is not a recognized as a clinical diagnosis in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

"Eventually food choices become so restrictive, in both variety and calories, that health suffers – an ironic twist for a person so completely dedicated to healthy eating. Eventually, the obsession with healthy eating can crowd out other activities and interests, impair relationships, and become physically dangerous." - Karin Kratina, PhD, RD, LD/N

  


Note: This post is on MY battle. I do not believe that everyone on a restrictive diet has orthorexia nor do I think there is anything wrong with 'diets.' Though, this post may raise awareness that 'diets' can become an obsession. And can be a 'gateway.' Most of all... listen to your BODY. Always.


The consequences to this type of restrictive eating are massive.

The side-effects listed below are side-effects that I experienced. These are not researched and therefore I do not know if they apply to others with orthorexia/restrictive dieting. 

Physical Side-Effects:

  • Insufficient nutrients/ malnourished
  • Insufficient calories
  • Dangerous weight-loss / unhealthy BMI
  • Decrease in energy 
  • Dangerously low blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Loss of appetite
Emotional Side-Effects:
  • Anxiety 
  • Obsessive-Compulsive behavior (measuring food, listing out meals, only eating at certain times)
  • Fear (of food/ingredients)
  • Depression
  • Isolation/Social Anxiety


"The spirit cannot endure the body when overfed, but, if underfed, the body cannot endure the spirit."
~St Frances de Sales

Below are posts that I have written on my battle and journey with Orthorexia: 

Below are some great resources on Eating Disorders, Addictions and Recovery: 

"Addictions are not just to drugs or alcohol but to food, people, shopping, gambling 
and other compulsions and behaviors that distract ourselves from being with ourselves.


Books
www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
www.nedic.ca
www.anad.org

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. If you or someone you know is suffering from ED, please seek help now.

My love, you are never alone. 


Please feel free to contact me anytime if you need someone to to. <3

6 comments:

  1. Wow, Ok, hmm... wow! I've never heard of Orthorexia before. And the freaky thing is, I feel like I just read about myself. I've known for a while that I definitely am kind of OCD about health. And I really do try to balance it with living in the real world and not going crazy. I've just always justified it by saying, "at least now I'm addicted to health." Ya know? Like, I've come so far from starving myself and torturing myself. I don't think I'm to the point where it's impacting my health in a bad way. I do notice I stress about it. Sometimes it keeps me up at night. Everyday, I just try to see myself in a more positive way and have a better handle on things. BTW, would you mind if I reblogged this post? It's so informative, and I really think it could help people. If nothing else, just so they can be aware.

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    1. Hi sweets,

      It sounds like you are very aware of how a healthy eating obsession could effect your life. Awareness is key as now you have the ability to check in with yourself and seek guidance if it is disrupting your peace.

      Feel free to reblog with reference. It is my mission to raise awareness on this type of disordered eating.

      All the best to you and thank you for reaching out. xo

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    2. Hey, so I have officially reblogged you. Please check it out and make sure you've been referenced to your liking.

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    3. Thank you so much, I feel honored! Xo

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  2. Very beautifully done. I particularly appreciate the way you distinguish between the diet itself and the orthorexia that can develop in relation to the diet; a theory of healthy diet is the "gateway" to orthorexia, as you say, but is not orthorexia in itself. For example, ordinary "clean eating" will not cause physical side effects; it is only when orthorexia escalates clean eating to the point of malnutrition that these happen. The only exceptions would when the diet adopted is sufficiently extreme in itself to cause malnutrition, such as being a fruitarian, or being a raw foods vegan and not taking care to do it safely. Conversely, there are also people with orthorexia who have no physical side effects at all because the diet they eat is fine: and the problem they experience is social isolation, constriction of all other life interests etc. Anyway, this is a great series. Great work, and best of luck to you on your journey! S Bratman

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    1. Dr. Bratman, thank you very much for your kind words. I am honored to have you read and comment here on my site. You make an excellent point about malnutrition. In the past, describing Orthorexia to people and they have asked me: "well, what did you eat?" I would list off very healthy items and they would say something like "hmm.. that all sounds really good..." So I had to articulate to them that one of my biggest issues was the QUANTITY that I was (wasn't) eating. In the depths of my initial experience with Orthorexia, I wasn't getting nearly enough calories to sustain basic human functions. And, the foods that I was eating, were actually inhibiting the absorption of nutrients.

      Thank you again Dr. Bratman.

      Take care,

      Ashley

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