Developing Orthorexia Nervosa
Orthorexia develops along different paths. Some people develop orthorexia to cover up anorexia, but some people develop orthorexia on its own. No matter which path it takes, orthorexia remains a dangerous eating disorder that should be taken seriously.
Just like other eating disorders, orthorexia is a mental health problem and should be addressed as such. People suffering from orthorexia often have underlying issues with obsessive compulsive disorder which leads to controlling food behaviors. Unlike other eating disorders, orthorexics aren’t overly concerned with their weight and the quantity of their food; rather, they focus on the quality of their food. Orthorexics take healthy eating to the extreme, which can lead to malnutrition among other problems.
Orthorexia and Anorexia
Anorexics often starve themselves as a way to control their bodies and to control their weight. As society has increasingly become aware of the prevalence and the dangers of anorexia , more and more pressure is put on people struggling with the disorder to get healthy. Treatment centers focus on proper nutrition and healthy eating habits, which informs patients that healthy eating is good eating. Anorexia can turn to orthorexia as people who struggle with the former disease begin to restrict arbitrarily “unhealthy” foods from their diets. Someone who is not eating is much different than someone who is eating healthy. But orthorexics often have subjective reasons for excluding otherwise beneficial foods from their diets. CNN reports that one woman cut out carbs, farmed fish, and tropical fruits because meat and non-local produce were “evil”.
Some people develop orthorexia after a health scare, such as digestive problems or the diagnosis of a food allergy. They are warned to avoid certain food groups, but their food avoidance spins wildly out of control. Obsessed with the quality of what they are allowed to eat, orthorexics will cut out things like farmed fish (as mentioned above) and processed foods. They also tend to avoid restaurants or meals cooked by friends because they don’t know how the food was prepared.
Orthorexia leads to a very restrictive lifestyle that has serious implications for the patient’s health and social life. Healthy eating is normally a good thing, but it can get out of control.