orthorexiaLet’s face it, these days, we can’t browse through social media without hearing about some new diet fad or super food that’s going to help us look younger and live longer, while also issuing stern warnings about the foods we need to avoid which might kill us, or, even scarier to some people, make us gain weight.

We are inspired by people who live healthy lifestyles, and yet we don’t always understand what that means. Why do we assume that the thinnest person in the room is the fittest and the one with the most muscles is the strongest? It’s not how our bodies look that define our health, but how they work, and that’s confusing to many people.

Orthorexia is a term very few people are familiar with, yet more and more people are struggling against. The definition of Orthorexia is: A fixation on healthy eating. While eating healthy food is a good thing, it can be surprisingly easy to cross the line from fit to fanatical. It’s easy to understand the dangers that can come from eating too much of the wrong types of food, but it can be much harder to grasp how too much of a good thing can also put your health at risk. It’s true that a nutritionally void diet can make you sick, but so can an extreme preoccupation with eating healthy. With such a strong focus being put on obesity, and our society’s intense and unreasonable fear of fat, our perception of fitness has become so twisted that no amount of dieting seems too extreme.

What are some symptoms of Orthorexia?

1. A diet that becomes increasingly more restrictive, sometimes cutting out entire food groups and sticking to a limited variety of foods that seem “Pure”.

2. Anxiety around food that hasn’t been prepared by your own hands. Choosing to skip social situations where the food will be cooked by someone other than yourself.

3. Connecting physical ailments to food, that eventually leads to them being cut out of your diet completely. example, “I ate cheese, I feel tired. Cheese makes me tired. No more cheese.”

4. Judging and criticizing the diet choices of friends and relatives, giving off an attitude of superiority, which can result in broken friendships and relationships.

5. Feelings of intense shame if a food rule had been broken and “bad” food has been eaten.

While Orthorexia is not currently recognized as an eating disorder, it’s only a matter of time.

Self-deprivation, when it comes to food, is often perceived as a sign of dedication; a testament to strong willpower, when in reality, it’s actually a sign of fear and anxiety. Eating a diet motivated by balance and moderation is far healthier than one motivated by the pressure to be perfect.

Tips for recovery:

Recovery from Orthorexia is challenging because of all the “Eat Clean!” messages we’re being bombarded with these days. It’s hard to wrap our heads around the idea that we may actually need to ADD foods back into our diets that aren’t pure or considered clean, even when doing so is the healthiest thing we can do.

1. Acknowledging the problem is a huge first step to recovery. Once a person starts to understand that their behavior is unhealthy, they can begin make the changes that are necessary.

2. Many people will need help from a nutritionist, as well as an anxiety and eating disorder specialist to help figure out the motivation behind their disorder (is there a fear of getting sick? A need for control?) and provide a plan of action for recovery.

3. Having a strong support system of friends and family will help keep the focus on getting better.

4. It can be helpful to list the physical damage that can be caused from restricting food groups and not giving their body the nutrients it needs.

5. It can also be helpful to write down how their friends and family are being negatively impacted by their restrictive lifestyle and how it’s affecting these relationships.

6. Think about life goals. Listing all personal and professional goals and evaluating whether their overly restrictive diet will help or hinder the chances of reaching these goals..

7. Slowly add a previously banned food back into the diet and get comfortable with it before adding another.

Remember, food isn’t “clean” or dirty, it’s just food and it should be enjoyed instead of feared. Eat up!

For more information, check out Marci’s website:  fitvsfiction.com

Orthorexia: Do You Know Someone With A Fixation On Healthy Eating? was last modified: by

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