Orthorexia: The obsession to eat in a healthy way that ends up becoming an eating disorder

Genetic engineering, food handling … are some of the maxims that prevail in the current diet. Almost all the foods that we consume have some variation or manipulation, since to obtain a greater production or a more perfected food it is necessary to subject them to this manipulation. This fact has generated a concern to consume foods as natural as possible, obsession is known as orthorexia and we want to analyze below.

First of all it is necessary to take into account that orthorexia is considered an eating disorder. Specifically, it was cataloged as such in the year 2000 by Steven Bratman. According to this scientist, this disorder is characterized by a pathological obsession with the consumption of totally natural foods, from an organic crop. Leaving aside the transgenic foods, treated with herbicides, hormones … are some of the characteristic features of orthorexic people.

An approach to orthorexia

This growing obsession means that in most cases these people leave out foods such as meat or fat . Any food whose provenance is suspect is no longer part of the diet of these people. The food over which there is control over its production, cultivation, processing and marketing process will always prevail. Everything that escapes this control will be left out, which causes the nutritional spectrum of an orthodox person to be greatly reduced.

This obsession is based above all on achieving a healthy diet in which we improve health through food. The end of orthorexic people is good, since they seek physical well-being, the problem is when it becomes an obsession and ends up marking the way to eat and live to the point of becoming a doctrine of life that can not be exit certain parameters.

Any food suspected of not having a natural provenance is discarded from the diet by orthorexics

Keep in mind that usually behind orthorexia, as with most eating disorders , there is another set of psychological problems that can be treated. In fact, this disorder is already cataloged as a psychological disorder . Therefore we want to delve more into its characteristic features, the consequences it can have on our health and the factors that can lead to it.

In the first place it is necessary to be very clear that with orthorexia there is a clear difference with respect to the rest of the eating disorders . In the case of bulimia and anorexia, the concern of those affected is in the amounts of food consumed. In the case of orthorexia, it resides in its quality . This characteristic feature of this disorder makes it overlooked in most cases, because those affected do not stop eating or binge, just do not eat anything.

General features of people affected by orthorexia

  • Those affected by this disorder have a series of characteristic features. One of the main ones is to dedicate a large part of your daily time to thinking about a healthy diet . It is estimated at an average of three hours a day to think about the origin of the food, the traceability of the same, the preparation …
  • The psychological connection with the food is close , that is, if the established diet is not respected and understood as healthy, the state of mind suffers. The feeling of guilt will be high and everything will go to the background against food.
  • Viewing food simply as a way to stay healthy , stop enjoying its taste, and make the fact that it is natural predominate is a clear sign of orthorexia. We prioritize its origin against the flavor, which goes to the background and stops us from importing.
Healthy diet is more important than general well-being and social life itself. Diet is the axis of everything
  • The quality of life is linked to the quality of food . If the quality of the food decreases, it will do so as regards the quality of life, since the person suffering from orthorexia has a really bad time and his life has no sense, to a certain extent.
  • Making food a priority over our lives is another trait, and that is because of the simple fact of eating healthy, we stop going out to dinner, to share family meals …
  • Preparing food in a certain way can be another sign of orthorexia. For example, cut vegetables in a certain way so that they do not lose, supposedly, properties. Prepare the food in containers considered ecological as mud instead of metal … Keeping these behaviors as if it were a ritual can be another sign to be taken into account.

Effects of this disorder in the medium and long term

Logically this type of behavior can end up having a series of results in our health in the medium and long term. Of course, people suffering from orthorexia often develop health problems , otherwise it would not be classified as an eating disorder. Contrary to what people who suffer from it think, eating only food that is free of doubt can be harmful to health and we can cause disorders in our body that will eventually take their toll.

A priori we can think that orthorexia is even healthy because it induces us to consume totally natural foods, but in the long run it is not like that , since the spectrum of food options ends up being reduced so much that we will hardly have alternatives to take to the mouth. This food monotony and this lack of different types of food will make us run the risk of being undernourished and malnourished.

The amount of food we can eat is greatly reduced, limiting the possibilities we have

Some of the consequences that can lead to poor diet are often anemia, hypovitaminosis or hypervitaminosis, lack of trace elements, osteoporosis, hypotension … The lack of vitamin B12 in these people is usually another point to consider. This causes psychological disorders such as depression, obsession, anxiety … For this reason we need to know that the damage can be high if we do not eat properly.

Common traits in people suffering from orthorexia

It is true that anyone can suffer from this eating disorder, but we are going to dwell on the most common traits in people who suffer from it, since there is a common denominator among almost all affected:

  • Above all they tend to be controlling and perfectionist people who want to have everything under control. This leads them to want to control everything in the food. If something escapes that control, they prefer to stop using it.
  • The social group in which these disorders are usually detected are usually the middle classes with economic solvency to face what it means to buy this type of products, since they are much more expensive than the normal ones that we can find in any establishment. That is why this disorder is always associated with the affluent classes.
  • To this we must add that the usual profiles are usually people who practice sports and pretend to lead a healthy lifestyle . Young people also tend to be more affected and women tend to suffer from it much more than men.
  • This type of disorder could also occur in people who have been previously affected by anorexia or bulimia . Adopt a type of food that they consider healthy as a counterpoint to feed more. Basically they think they are doing things right, when in the background they are changing one disorder for another.

Some general considerations about orthorexia

Once we have a more detailed vision of orthorexia, we do not want to ignore some considerations that, at a general level, will help us to better understand this disorder that affects more and more people:

  • First of all we must bear in mind that we currently have more food available to us than in the entire history of mankind. Infinity of varieties, flavors … To this we must add the amount of nutritional information we have at our disposal and that makes us all become mini experts in nutrition. This is why many people decide to adopt this lifestyle that can end up obsessing us and commit serious food errors.
  • The influence of celebrities . Currently many stars of the show business show their eating habits as if it were a showcase. All of them become experts in nutrition to convey a message of healthy lifestyle based on the purity of food. This unconditional follow-up and this desire to be a reflection of your star can be the germ of orthorexia and what it means. A very criticized case is that experienced by actress Ghyneth Paltrow , who due to her obsession with healthy eating has triggered a series of deficiencies and disorders.
  • The fashion of alkaline foods, detox, ying-yang … makes many people adopt a radical face to the origin of food. It is true that we should not consume only foods prepared and treated in a laboratory, but it is necessary that we provide the body with the nutrients necessary to function properly.

Worrying about maintaining a healthy life and a balanced diet does not have to trigger a disorder such as orthorexia . As we have seen, this goes beyond worrying about eating healthy and nutritious, it is about making all of life revolve around this. Therefore, it is good that we bear in mind the existence of a disorderof these characteristics that appears as a healthy behavior, and little by little it becomes an obsession . We must never lose the north in this of food. In the end we must eat as healthy as possible and giving the body what it needs to cope with our type of life.

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