Problematically, the signs of orthorexia might go unnoticed unless they become extreme. “Clean eating” is a trending diet and fitness trend, particularly on social media apps like Instagram. Research has found that nearly half of people who follow “healthy food” instagram accounts have orthorexia. If you feel that your clean eating habits are becoming too rigorous and out of control, it is time to seek help.
- You avoid going to restaurants or shopping in places where the ingredients do not meet your strict dietary requirements: It is true that the modern American diet is riddled with unhealthy ingredients, modified organisms, and hidden sugar which threatens health. People who eat healthy or eat “clean” do their best to avoid these ingredients or issues, but have flexibility when it does happen. Orthorexia replaces flexibility with rigidity. The possibility of “tainted” food entering the body is enough to induce anxiety and a need to be intensely in control. If you do not feel you can bend the rules even a slight amount due to your dietary preferences, you might be in the throes of an unhealthy obsession, which has consequences. The body needs the occasional unhealthy fat or bit of sugar- which can come from various sources; for example, natural sugars from fruit is more important than refined sugars from candy. Too much dietary restriction starts to cost the body rather than benefit the body. Though a “clean eating” lifestyle tends to be full of nutritious foods and “superfoods” it can become too obsessive and start depleting the body rather than nourishing it. As a result, the body breaks down or suffers in different ways.
- Your obsession isn’t necessarily about weight or external appearance. Instead, you worry excessively about your internal health: What stands out about orthorexia is the lack of concentration on weight or body image. Other eating disorders tend to have a strong element of body image insecurities. Orthorexia is primarily focused on internal health and ‘appearance’, not wanting to infringe upon the ‘purity’ created by clean eating. Packaging, preparation, ethics, and other circumstances might come into the obsession.
- You have become socially withdrawn due to your anxiety around food: Once upon a time, going out to eat with friends wasn’t an issue. Before you developed an obsession with clean eating, you didn’t pay too much attention to the menu or the kitchen of a restaurant. Now, you feel the pain of anxiety when you think about having to eat food out of your control. Consequently, you’ve become socially withdrawn. Not only do you refuse to go out to eat at restaurants, you won’t attend gatherings where food is involved, unless you can bring your own meals. Isolation and loneliness are catalysts to mental illness, worsening the condition and inspiring it to grow. Feeling more out of control of your life, you will continue to seek problematic behaviors like those associated with orthorexia.
Each person experiences eating disorders differently. O’Connor Professional Group offers concierge behavioral services for individuals struggling with eating disorders. Trust in the knowledge and experience of our team who custom curates a plan of treatment designed for success. Call us today for information: 617.910.3940