by Lisa Breitenwischer, CHHC
When Healthy Eating Becomes Unhealthy Obsession.
The term Orthorexia was coined by Steven Bratman, MD. in 1997. He started using it with patients that were overly obsessed with healthy eating. The word Orthorexia is derived from anorexia and “ortho” meaning straight or right. But unlike anorexia, which focuses on restricting food intake in order to become thin, orthorexia restricts foods that are insufficiently clean, healthy or wholesome.
Currently, the most popular dietary theories associated with orthorexia are clean eating, paleo, vegan, raw foods and elimination diets. The problem for some people going down the path of a restrictive diet in search of health, is that it can escalate into dietary perfectionism.
This extreme form of dieting can lead to social problems too, as Orthorexics often become isolated as they plan their life around food, leaving no time to interact with friends, or family. This rigidity with meal planning and how much food to eat can also impair their ability to eat intuitively.
The first step in overcoming orthorexia involves acknowledging that a problem exists. Treatment for orthorexia nervosa involves restoring balance and moderation to life. Learning the fundamental basics of proper nutrition is required. (In situations where true malnutrition is involved, balanced nutrition must be carefully restored, and any medical conditions that have developed as a result of the malnutrition must be treated by a professional).
The next step of treatment is that the person with orthorexia comes to understand the psychological factors that have caused healthy eating to become an obsession. This might involve uncovering anxieties, self-esteem issues and/or perfectionism.
Professionals that can help create a more balanced diet based on the individuals needs include dietitians and certified health coaches, and psychologists and psychotherapists that are knowledgeable and have experience working with underlying psychological factors that fuel orthorexia. With proper help, it is definitely possible to develop a healthy relationship with food.
If you or someone you know is suffering from orthorexia nervousa, get help today.
Lisa Breitenwischer is a Certified Health Coach and has been empowering people to make changes in their life over the last 4 years. If you are looking for change with your diet and in need of finding balance in your life contact her today. To learn more about Lisa click here.