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Orthorexia nervosa: when healthy eating is bad for health

Orthorexia nervosa: when healthy eating is bad for health

Initially, the movement that preaches consumption of fresh and healthy food seems like a healthy and balanced lifestyle, is not it? However, with a closer look, it may be realized that some individuals who follow these new lines may present an imbalance in thinking and behavior.

The World Health Organization defines health as being "the state of complete well-being physical, mental and social "and not just as an absence of disease. This definition is of great value to the food problems we see today, reflections of the ambivalent society and divided into poles we live in.

Today there is a division of food into prohibited versus allowed, good food versus food which may influence the behavior of people who already have a tendency to obsessive behavior.

What is ortorexia nervosa?

Orthorexia nervosa is defined as an eating disorder characterized by a restrictive diet pure, clean, healthy, natural, free of pesticides and any chemicals where food groups such as grains, sugars, animal products and genetically modified products are excluded from food. The term orthorexia nervosa was created in 1997 by Steven Bratman, an American physician who described this disorder as a new disordered eating behavior. ¹.

Although motivation is different, both anorexic and orthorexic subjects restrict their eating too much. The difference is that in orthorexia there is a "healthy" bias that ends up disguising and makes it difficult to diagnose the disease.

Isolation is part of the symptoms of orthorexia: individuals spend much of the day thinking and planning about eating and feel, in counterpart, contempt for those who can not follow a "perfect" diet. This contributes to these people becoming more and more isolated to groups of people who also have obsessive and compulsive characteristics for food.

Individuals with perfectionist personality, rigidity, extreme need for life control, and strong beliefs attached to food, as well as health professionals such as doctors, nutritionists and others, are more vulnerable to the disorder. Since in order to maintain an "organic" lifestyle one needs high purchasing power, the less favored classes would not be able to maintain this type of diet, and orthorexia would be restricted to privileged classes. Finally, women are the most vulnerable, since they are constantly searching for the perfect diet.

How to know if I have orthorexia nervosa?

Today this picture is not described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) the diagnosis is not yet fully defined. However, if we are to think of how we can differentiate someone with orthorexia nervosa from a more rigorous person with food, the main symptom is the "compulsive obsession" they have in relation to eating: they spend hours thinking about what they will eat, spent a lot of time shopping and planning all the food, starts to isolate because it is "more prepared, disciplined, controlled and superior" in relation to those who do not follow the same "pure" food. The whole routine of the person is focused on "eating pure, clean and healthy."

In this context, eating fried foods and having ice cream are points out of the question, since these foods would certainly not be "selected" by these people unless the ice cream is made by them with pure foods, such as the mature banana frozen organic beaten with 100% organic cocoa and fried only if made in coconut oil or other of natureba, with 100% organic potatoes and without being genetically modified. The pans can not be nonstick and no plastic is used to store food. Do you see the obsession?

How is orthorexia nervosa treated?

Treatment should be done by skilled professionals since orthorexia, as well as other eating disorders, are psychiatric illness. The best treatment is the multidisciplinary, in which several health professionals must follow the treatment. These patients need highly specialized follow-up because of possible comorbidities. The best prevention is the change in eating behavior, change in the overvaluation of aesthetics and the perfect body.


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