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Questions about Orthorexia Answered

In today’s world, almost everyone is concerned about diet and exercise.  There is a lot of information floating around out there about how to be healthy, how to eat organic, and what you should and should not be putting into your body.  It feels as though studies come out daily about what is good for you and what is not.  All of this information that sometimes gives conflicting advice, can leave a person wondering what he or she should really be doing.  It can also leave a person with orthorexia.  Orthorexia is an eating disorder characterized by a person’s pursuit for the perfectly healthy diet.  This pursuit is taken on to the point of obsession. Learn everything you need to know about orthorexia – knowledge promotes prevention.

How Much Do You Know About Orthorexia?

Orthorexia is an eating disorder much like anorexia or bulimia.  Orthorexics often begin by simply trying to find the best way to eat and make the healthiest choices.  But eventually, they become obsessed with finding the perfect diet.  They are obsessed with making the ideal food choices rather than getting to an ideal weight or an idea body size which separates them from many of the other typical kinds of eating disorders.  People suffering from orthorexia will fixate on only eating foods that are completely health and completely pure.  For example, the typical orthorexic will stay away from:

  • Animal products of all kinds
  • Dairy products of all kinds
  • Fat
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Genetically modified foods
  • Product or grains where pesticide was used in the growing process
  • Artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives

Any and all of these items are considered taboo for an orthorexic.  Most would rather not eat than eat anything that is not what they would consider pure.  Because of this, sometimes orthorexics also develop anorexia.

What Are the Signs of Orothorexia?

One of the biggest changes when it comes to orthorexia is diet.  People with orthorexia will need to drastically reduce the amounts of different kinds of food they are eating in order to maintain a pure diet. They will also likely develop some kind of routine for cleaning and sanitizing the food that they are able to eat.  This drastic reduction in food choices and the concern over cleaning their food makes it hard for the sufferer to go anywhere other than his or her own home to consume food.  They will likely begin to beg off from social engagements that involve food and rarely eat in public.  Orthorexics may also take an increased amount of supplements or herbal remedies.  The theory behind this is that they are replacing any nutrients that they are not getting from food with supplements.  But since supplements are meant to enhance your diet rather than be a replacement for eating, eventually they will not be making much of a difference.

Does Orthorexia Cause the Same Emotional Difficulties as Other Eating Disorders?

Orthorexics do suffer emotional turmoil much in the same way that other eating disorder sufferers do.  The strict dietary rules can be isolating for an orthorexic as so much culture and society revolves around eating and drinking.  He or she may start to have anxiety or panic attacks as a result of the social isolation.  They will make judgments about people who are not complying with the rules that they have set up for themselves.  They will distance themselves from family members and friends because their eating is too restrictive.  They may lie and hide what is really going on.  Because of the lack of food, eventually an orthorexic can slip into an extreme depression.

How Does Orthorexia Effect the Body?

The effects of orthorexia on the body are consistent with those experienced in anorexia and characterized by a lack of nutrients.  Dehydration is a big concern with anorexia, but orthorexics tend to drink water.  Though in some cases even water is not pure enough and must be sterilized before being drunk.  Orthorexics can develop weakened muscles, impaired organ function, lowered heart rate, lowered blood pressure, heart disease, liver failure, kidney failure, and osteoporosis.  Eventually, his or her body will start to shut down if help is not received in a timely manner.

Orthorexia is considered an eating disorder, but since it has obsessive components, it can also come with obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms.  Orthorexia sufferers are sometimes diagnosed with co-occurring disorders that need to be treated simultaneously.