what is orthorexia?
Although not formally recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the term orthorexia refers to an obsession with proper or ‘healthful’ eating that interferes with normal life.
signs of orthorexia can include:
- Compulsive checking of ingredient lists and nutritional labels
- An increase in concern about the health of ingredients
- Cutting out an increasing number of food groups (all sugar, all carbs, all dairy, all meat, all animal products)
- An inability to eat anything but a narrow group of foods that are deemed ‘healthy’ or ‘pure’
- Unusual interest in the health of what others are eating
- Spending hours per day thinking about what food might be served at upcoming events
- Showing high levels of distress when ‘safe’ or ‘healthy’ foods aren’t available
- Obsessive following of food and ‘healthy lifestyle’ blogs on Twitter and Instagram
- Body image concerns may or may not be present
health consequences of orthorexia
Like anorexia, orthorexia involves restriction of the amount and variety of foods eaten, making malnutrition likely. Therefore, the two disorders share many of the same physical consequences, such as:
- Abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, which mean that the heart muscle is changing. The risk for heart failure rises as heart rate and blood pressure levels sink lower and lower.
- Reduction of bone density (osteoporosis), which results in dry, brittle bones.
- Muscle loss and weakness.
- Severe dehydration, which can result in kidney failure.
- Fainting, fatigue, and overall weakness.
facts about orthorexia
- Studies have shown that many individuals with orthorexia also have obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- The term ‘orthorexia’ was coined in 1998.
- Without formal diagnostic criteria, it’s difficult to get an estimate on precisely how many people have orthorexia, but experts believe it is on the rise.