We are exposed to an abundance of clean eating food blogs on instagram today.
The voices behind the accounts encourage treating your body ‘like a temple’ and nourishing with every mouthful.
However, the fine line between the healthy living lifestyle and a healthy eating obsession is no longer unclear.
Orthorexia Nervosa is a type of eating disorder coined in 1996 by Bratman, a physician.
With ortho meaning straight, proper or correct, it indicates an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy, pure food.
Although orthorexia isn’t recognized as a clinical disorder in the DSM-5 (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it is becoming more and more prevalent in our society, particularly among Millennials.
It’s sometimes recognized as a form of OCD, or categorized among other DSM-identified eating disorders, like restrictive food intake disorder or eating disorder not otherwise specified.
Unlike more traditional eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, orthorexia sufferers aren’t trying to change their body images to be thinner.
It’s more about the exclusion of many food groups and achieving a physical form of spiritual perfection.
Orthorexics’ thoughts revolve around eating clean and pure, and they become obsessed with maintaining that consistently.
How is it different from clean eating?
It may sound familiar in an era of paleo, raw food and clean eating, but the difference between someone adopting a healthy diet and orthorexia is when it begins harming other dimensions of your life.
Sondra Kronberg, a clinical nutrition therapist who specializes in eating disorders, National Eating Disorder Association spokesperson and director of the Eating a Disorder Treatment Collaborative in Jericho, N.Y., says “What makes it an eating disorder is the degree to which your thoughts around clean eating interfere with the quality of your life, thwart socializations and can become fatal.”
Imagine skipping your friend’s birthday dinner and staying home on a Friday night for fear of not having full control over how the food is prepared.
Imagine avoiding your mom’s cooking because there may be one or two ingredients that don’t sit well with you.
Imagine having panic attacks in grocery stores because you’re not sure which lettuce is the cleanest.
That’s when clean eating crosses the line and becomes orthorexia.
Ultimately, many who suffer from orthorexia need to get help from eating disorder specialists.