Although eating healthy is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, for some people this preoccupation with healthy eating can become physically and socially impairing.
When it becomes a pathological obsession with healthy eating or consuming only a limited range of food it is known as known as orthorexia nervosa
healthcare providers as well as members of the public should recognise … that so-called healthy eating can, in fact, be unhealthy. It can lead to malnourishment or make it very difficult to socialize with people in settings that involve eating. It can also be expensive and time-consuming.”Jennifer Mills, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and senior author on the study
“When taken to the extreme, an obsession with clean eating can be a sign that the person is struggling to manage their mental health.”
Previous research has shown that unlike individuals with anorexia nervosa who restrict calories to maintain very low body weight, people who have the condition have a fixation with the quality of food eaten and its preparation rather than the number of calories.
Over time, people with orthorexia nervosa spend increasing amounts of time and effort purchasing, planning, and preparing pure and healthy meals.
Eventually this planning and obsessing becomes all-consuming that interferes with other areas of life and results in weight loss.
Other eating habits such as being a vegetarian or vegan also put individuals at higher risk for developing orthorexia nervosa. Lacto-vegetarians were at highest risk for developing orthorexia nervosa and people who are on a strict eating schedule, spending large amounts of time preparing meals, were also at greater risk.
“In our research, we found equal rates of men and women who struggle with symptoms of orthorexia nervosa,” said Mills. “We still think of eating disorders as being a problem that affects mostly young women. Because of that assumption, the symptoms and negative consequences of orthorexia nervosa can fly under the radar and not be noticed or taken seriously.”
In short, it’s good to be careful about what you eat.
But also take care about being too careful!
Source: Materials provided by York University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.