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Too Healthy Diet: Facts You Should Know About Orthorexia Nervosa

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There is nothing wrong with the desire to maintain a healthy diet and exercising. But sometimes it goes beyond all bounds, especially if a person refuses to eat something outside the house or talks about the benefits of a keto diet three hours a day. These symptoms may indicate orthorexia Nervosa. Below we describe reasons why it appears, how it threatens your body, and how to cope with this condition.

What Is Orthorexia Nervosa and Its Symptoms?

Orthorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder when a person is obsessed with eating exclusively “healthy food”. The term was coined by Stephen Bratman in 1997. The doctor lived for a long time in a community with strict rules to eat only organic food and later became obsessed with the idea of a healthy diet.

Orthorexia is not considered a disease, so it cannot be officially diagnosed. The main difference between anorexia or bulimia and orthorexia that rather than decreasing the amount of food, people with orthorexia are concerned with the food quality. Here's how you can identify a person with orthorexia:

Making a nutrition plan in advance

A person with orthorexia Nervosa makes a nutrition plan at least one day in advance. At the same time, planning sometimes can take several hours.

Frequently shorting the list of allowed products

Such foods like nuts, honey or citrus are the first which fall into the list of forbidden products, then foods high in carbohydrates like sweets, cereals, and pastries. Over time, a person with orthorexia can stop eating smoked meats, salty foods, and other meals that are out of the concept of “healthy eating”. Often a person with orthorexia can stop eating their favorite treats, considering them to be unhealthy.

Reducing social activity

Often the only appropriate food for a person with orthorexia is considered to be food cooked at home. For this reason, a person with orthorexia may stop visiting restaurants and meet friends in coffee houses, arguing that there will be nothing to eat.

Who Is at a Risk Group?

According to sports medicine specialist Elizabeth Barchi, nervous orthorexia most often arises from the desire to improve the wellbeing which goes out of control. Once the desire to eat healthy food becomes an obsession it turns into a condition called orthorexia. It leads to anxiety and stress due to non-compliance with the rules invented by the person himself. Over time, strict dietary habits can lead to other eating disorders and negative for health consequences.

People who want to lose weight, follow a healthy lifestyle, and are perfectionists are also at risk of getting orthorexia Nervosa.

How Orthorexia Nervosa Affects Health?

Due to the fact that information about food properties is often taken from unverified sources, this can lead to misinformation, which can be bad for human health. People with orthorexia are often a risk group for different gastrointestinal conditions like ulcer, gastritis, constipation and rectal bleeding as a result.

Strict dietary regulations can also cause an unconscious protest when a person begins to consume “prohibited foods”, which may ultimately lead to bulimia. In some severe cases, strict exclusion of any food group from the diet can lead to depletion.

Strict nutritional restrictions can lead to the social blockade. People with orthorexia limit the range of social contacts and poorly find a common language with relatives and friends who do not share their food beliefs.

The most famous person with orthorexia was  Adolf Hitler. The Fuhrer ate vegetables that were grown on special plots of land. They were fumigated to kill bacteria, and fertilized with especially clean manure from clean animals. At the same time, Hitler was a vegetarian and did not smoke.

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