In a nutshell, orthorexia is a fixation on righteous eating. Although a strict diet plan sounds like the route to a healthy lifestyle, orthorexia can lead to devastating repercussions. Let’s explore the difference between a healthy diet plan and orthorexia nervosa.
A healthy, balanced diet means eating the right amount of each of the five food groups regularly. There is nothing wrong with cutting down on carbs, fats and sugar or counting your calories according to your body type and physical activities. There is also nothing wrong with going on the occasional detox or following a short-term, strict diet plan for optimal physical benefits.
Following a healthy diet plan is a personal choice, not an incontrollable compulsion. But becoming obsessed with the health status of your food consumption up to a point that it controls your every thought is where you start putting your physical and mental well-being at high risk.
Orthorexianervosa has not yet been classified as an eating disorder in the DSM-5, though the fact that it is an unhealthy obsession that leads to nutritional deficits and exaggerated emotional distress means that it should be treated as such. The mental fixation and emotional torment that stems from orthorexia nervosa includes:
- Cutting out entire food groups from diet plans, followed by a continuous escalation of dietary restrictions.
- Feeling extreme sensations of anxiety, shamefulness and impurity when breaking these dietary restrictions.
- Self-worth, self-esteem, body-image and personal identity becoming excessively reliant on an unnatural understanding of a healthy diet.
- The destruction of social, academic or job-related functioning.
- Obsessive compulsiveness regarding an eating routine which leads to feeling lonely, unfulfilled, misunderstood and separated from the world.
- An overwhelming and unexplained consumption of supplements, herbal remedies or probiotics.
It is important that victims of Orthorexia Nervosa understand that health obsession does not lead to spiritual fulfilment. There is a fine line between a healthy body and a destructive mind; one should always be careful that overstepping this fine line doesn’t leave you falling through the cracks. The minute that a ‘healthy lifestyle’ leads to co-occurring psychiatric or addictive disorders, significant weight loss or dietary imbalance, orthorexia nervosa may be underway.
You may want to start following a program or seeking advice that willhelp you track your healthy lifestyle in a safe, nutritious and beneficial way.