'Orthorexia' - Obsession With Healthy Eating

Posted on November 6, 2015

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Most doctors don’t yet recognize “orthorexia,” at least, not as an official diagnosis. But people who have spent hours looking at images of food online probably will. It’s a perfect explanation for the fixation on “clean eating” that exists offline but can be exacerbated by the food blogs, or the anxiety around health that exists just outside the frames of carefully-crafted Instagram shots of well-composed plates.

Steven Bratman, the doctor who coined the term, didn’t originally intend for orthorexia to become a diagnosis but used it for patients who kept coming to him with increasingly obsessive concerns about their diets. “I would tell them, ‘You’re addicted to health food.’ It was my way of having them not take themselves so seriously,” said Bratman, who published a book on the condition.

Orthorexia, as Bratman defines it, is a disorder distinct from anorexia or bulimia. It’s not the diet that’s the problem — it’s the obsession that accompanies it. And unlike most other eating disorders, the orthorexic’s objective isn’t weight loss. It’s purity.

Many psychiatrists believe that what some call orthorexia is really a form of anorexia or obsessive compulsive disorder, and studies have found that the symptoms of the former overlap significantly with the latter two. Like anorexics, people with orthorexia are preoccupied with food and the state of their bodies. Like people suffering from OCD, they are often searching for control. And, as with any eating disorder, orthorexia takes a mental and physical toll: the problem can be isolating and anxiety-inducing and often leads to unhealthy weight loss.

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Category(s):Eating Disorders, Health / Illness / Medical Issues, Obsessions & Compulsions (OCD)

Source material from Washington Post

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