28 June 2024

Orthorexia – what is it and how to recognize and treat it?


A healthy lifestyle allows you to be beautiful and full of energy. As it turns out, you can go overboard with taking care of yourself. Some people think of nothing other than living a healthy life. When obsessed with diet, a big problem arises. Eliminating unhealthy dishes from the menu allows you to improve the appearance of the figure and cleanse the body. However, when the diet is strict it can do more harm than good. People who reach for healthy products only may have a serious disease. What is orthorexia and how to cure it?

Orthorexia – what is it?

Recently, more and more people pay attention to what they eat. Eating lots of vegetables and cutting down on fatty meat are healthy habits, however to a certain extent. Obsession with diet has been proven to be a disorder that can lead to serious consequences. Constant counting of calories consumed, giving up meat or time-consuming composing meals is precisely orthorexia. The new diagnosis is of great concern because its effects on the body are sometimes irreversible. Orthorexia nervosa (this is what the disorder is called) can lead to extreme exhaustion. People who consume only products they consider to be healthy are exposed to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. In order not to get sick, orthorexia needs to be dealt with.

Orthorexia – the menu of people with the disorder is often undifferentiated

People suffering from orthorexia use an unbalanced diet. This means that they do not provide the body with the nutrients it needs to function properly. To stay healthy, you should compose your meals so that they contain both sugars, proteins and fats. People struggling with orthorexia they eat a lot of carbohydrates because they eat lots of fruit and vegetables every day. The fruit and vegetable diet allows you to lose weight and cleanse the body. However, long-term use of it leads to the destruction of the body. Vegetables and fruits are a great source of vitamins. Few vegetables, however, contain protein. Vegetarians who give up meat on a daily basis provide the body with protein by eating beans or soy. As you know, legumes are bloating, which is why Orthorexics also give up on them. A diet low in proteins and fats can lead to muscle and joint weakness and trouble concentrating over time.

orthorexia - test

Orthorexia – a new eating disorder and well-being

Mood swings, nervousness, sleepiness, and difficulty concentrating. Many of us regularly suffer from such ailments. Not everyone is aware that eating disorders may be the cause of malaise. Orthorexia is one of the many conditions that can worsen your mood. For the proper functioning of the nervous system, B vitamins, amino acids such as phenylalanine, omega-3 acids and various elements are necessary. People who do not eat meat are exposed to deficiencies of iron, zinc and magnesium. Therefore, it is not difficult for orthorexic people to suffer from diseases of the nervous system. For symptoms accompanying orthorexia you can include general weakness, problems with memory and concentration, mood swings or depression. If left untreated, an eating disorder can even lead to depression in extreme cases.

Orthorexia – symptoms of the disorder

The way we eat affects the work of all organs. Therefore, the use of an inadequate diet gives symptoms for the entire body. Obsession with what we eat is the primary symptom of the disease. The remaining ones include constant thinking about healthy eating, long-term preparation of meals or precise measuring of individual ingredients of dishes. Orthorectic diets are usually very poor. Therefore, over time, instead of getting better, their health deteriorates. Vitamin deficiency manifests itself not only in malaise but also in headaches. An unbalanced diet can also lead to problems with the digestive system. Orthorexic patients relatively often deal with nausea, abdominal pain or diarrhea. In women, menstruation may stop sometimes as a result of an upset organism. In people Orthorexic people have problems with their immunity, which means they constantly struggle with colds.

Orthorexia – the test allows you to recognize the disease

The eating disorder orthorexia was first recognized by Steve Bratman. The doctor himself struggled with the disease, which allowed him to accurately describe it. In order to diagnose orthorexia, it is worth taking a test. The survey, consisting of several questions, allows you to determine whether we are dealing with a disorder or not. Below are some examples of questions to help diagnose orthorexia nervosa.

  • Do you accurately calculate the amount of calories consumed each day?
  • Do you collect books on healthy diets?
  • Do you have caloric tables at home?
  • During the day, do you think about what you will eat / eat tomorrow?
  • Do you know where organic food stores are located in your area? Do you visit them often and buy expensive products from them?
  • Do you like to have everything under control?
  • Does meditating on food take more than three hours a day?
  • Is it more important to you what quality are the products you eat than whether they taste good to you?
  • Do you feel guilty when you eat something unhealthy?
  • Do you feel better about eating healthily?
  • Do you avoid going out to parties so that you don’t have to eat unhealthy snacks there?

People who answer yes to most of the questions may experience orthorexia. When you get sick, treatment is a must. When, as a result of a disorder, the health begins to deteriorate, you must not delay the visit to a specialist. The faster the patient’s reaction, the less negative effects the disorder will have.

Orthorexia – treatment of the disorder

A diet low in high-calorie and highly processed products seems to be extremely healthy. In practice, however, the complete abandonment of meat, dairy products or hard-to-digest vegetables leads to the destruction of the body. Orthorexics need to be treated. The basic form of therapy in people with eating disorders is diet change. This includes increasing the amount of calories consumed, introducing certain types of meat and healthy fat. The menu of sick people should be compiled by a specialist. Before that, it is worth doing tests that will help you assess what elements and vitamins the body lacks the most. A serious problem arises when an orthorectic, despite being aware of the disease, does not want to change his diet. In this case, the patient should go to a psychotherapist. Orthorexia , like anorexia or bulimia, requires constant specialist care. Comprehensive treatment of the disorder may take up to several months.

orthorexia in children

Orthorexia – health effects

People struggling with orthorexia complain of severe headaches. As a result of an improperly composed diet, patients experience a weakening of the body, which may be accompanied by dizziness. Eating plenty of fiber-rich vegetables puts a strain on the digestive system. For this reason, people with orthorexia nervosa have regular abdominal pain and even diarrhea. As a result of protein, vitamin and element deficiencies, orthorectic people may develop diseases such as anemia, hypertension, osteoporosis or the aforementioned depression. Supplying insufficient amounts of nutrients translates into the malfunction of many organs. In extreme cases, orthorectics experience serious changes in the organ system. To prevent the further development of the disease, people struggling with the disorder must make up for any deficiencies.

Orthorexia in adolescents

A healthy lifestyle has become fashionable some time ago. No wonder that more and more people pay attention to what they eat. Young people are particularly vulnerable to orthorexia. Why? Youth is more easily influenced. Conformity is nothing bad as long as it doesn’t lead to obsession. Young people who follow a healthy diet often feel better than their peers. Over time, composing a diet becomes the most important task in life for them. The constant striving for perfection makes orthorexics constantly think about what to eat to make it healthy. Composing a diet is sometimes so time-consuming that young people give up meetings with their peers for its sake. Parents who see that their child is constantly counting calories and consuming only healthy meals should pay attention to his behavior.

Orthorexia – how to deal with the disease?

Many people, when they are aware of their problem, do not know how to deal with it. What to do when orthorexia rules life? The online forum is a place where people with the disorder share their treatment experience. Among the forum members’ entries, you can find many interesting tips. Successfully cured orthorexics advise others to see a psychotherapist. According to patients, therapy sessions help to best understand the mistakes made. In the opinion of many people, consultation with a nutritionist is necessary in the treatment of the disorder. In the case of such a serious disease, only a specialist is able to compose a diet that will supply the body with the necessary nutrients. In order to supplement the deficiencies, some forum users recommend purchasing dietary supplements. Capsules rich in omega-3 acids, minerals or vitamins are a good solution. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that supplements should not be an alternative to a varied diet.

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