About 30 million Americans will meet the criteria for at least one eating disorder at some point throughout their lives. Eating disorders are pervasive and often hard to spot. One of the more difficult-to-spot ones is Orthorexia.
But what is orthorexia? How would you know if you or a loved one had it? What can it do to your overall health?
Read on to learn all about this condition.
First: What Is Orthorexia Really?
Orthorexia is a type of eating disorder that may look, to outsiders, just like healthy eating. It's one of the more common eating disorders, but it's less obvious than other disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia.
When someone has orthorexia, they have an unhealthy obsession with healthy food or a healthy lifestyle in general. People with orthorexia also often have other mental health concerns, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and compulsive exercise problems, but the disorder can also stand alone.
To outsiders, this doesn't look like a bad thing on the surface. Eating healthy is good for you, but only to a point. When it becomes an obsession, it also becomes an eating disorder.
Because it's so difficult to spot, it's often hard to get help for orthorexia.
Signs of Orthorexia
So how do you know if you or a loved one has orthorexia? As we mentioned, the signs seem subtle at first.
Someone with orthorexia may go on an extreme elimination diet. They may exclude all fat, carbs, and sugar from their diet unnecessarily. They may also cut out entire food types, like meat, dairy, and so on. Not everyone who limits their diet has orthorexia, but if you notice that more and more food types are being eliminated and not replaced, it's a sign that something is amiss.
People with orthorexia fixate on food. They may worry for hours about what foods will be available at a restaurant or party. They may bring their own healthy alternatives. They will express distress if there are no healthy options available.
They will check nutrition labels to an unhealthy extent and may look for nutrition information from restaurants online before ordering.
People with orthorexia may or may not display body image issues. For some, health is the main factor, not appearance.
Health Consequences of Orthorexia
While orthorexia is a fixation on "healthy" eating, it can have unhealthy consequences. The human body needs a wide variety of foods and nutrients to remain healthy. In their quest for healthy eating, people with orthorexia can do serious damage.
They may struggle with nutrient deficiencies, extreme weight loss, and more. They will also struggle with anxiety due to their constant fixation on food.
Are You Ready to Heal from Orthorexia?
So what is orthorexia? It's more than just "eating healthy." It's an obsession and an eating disorder, and if it sounds familiar, it's time to take back control of your life.
At RecoveredNow, I aim to help people heal from their disordered eating and other mental health struggles. Learn more about my programs and book a free discovery call today so we can start working together.