Orthorexia is an eating disorder characterized by an extreme obsession with eating foods considered healthy.
Unlike other eating conditions, such as anorexia or bulimia, orthorexia does not focus on the quantity of food consumed, but on the quality.
People with orthorexia can spend hours researching the quality and origin of food, as well as the way it is cooked. They may exclude certain food groups from their diet, such as processed foods, foods with preservatives, fatty foods, or foods that contain gluten, even if these foods do not cause any health problems.
Although it is not officially recognized as an eating disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, many people experience negative effects on their lives due to this obsession.
Orthorexia can affect a person's physical and mental health, as well as their social and work life.
What are your symptoms
Its symptoms vary from person to person, but usually some patterns can be identified.
Some of the more common symptoms include:
- Obsession with the quality and purity of food
- Exclusion of entire food groups from the diet, such as processed foods or those containing gluten
- Fear of eating foods that are considered "unhealthy"
- Excessive concern with the way food is cooked
- Excessive concern for food hygiene
- Difficulty eating away from home or in social situations
- Weight loss or change in eating patterns that lead to health problems
¿What causes it?
Although it is not known exactly why some people develop orthorexia, some factors have been identified that may contribute to its development.
Some of these factors include:
- Peer pressure: Peer pressure to eat healthy foods can lead some people to develop an obsession with food quality.
- Anxiety: People who experience anxiety may feel like they have more control over their lives by controlling their diet.
- Perfectionism: People who have a need for perfectionism may feel that they need to control all aspects of their diet in order to feel good about themselves.
- Trauma: Some people can develop orthorexia after experiencing a traumatic event, such as an illness or health problem.
Diagnosis and treatment
The diagnosis of orthorexia can be difficult, since it is not officially recognized as an eating disorder.
However, health professionals can perform a full evaluation to determine if a person has orthorexia or any other eating disorder.
The treatment of orthorexia is usually carried out with a combination of psychological therapy and nutritional treatment.
Psychological therapy helps to understand the underlying causes of your obsession with food and to develop strategies to control it.
Nutritional treatment may involve working with a nutritionist to develop a balanced diet that is appropriate for each person.