As society becomes increasingly concerned with healthy, or “pure” eating, psychologists and nutritionists say this fascination can all too easily become a fixation that results in disordered eating.
An unhealthy focus on eating healthfully and anxiety over food are key components of an eating disorder called orthorexia. While this disease is not officially recognized in the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual as a mental illness, mental health professionals are calling more attention to this increasingly common disorder.
Orthorexia, like any other eating disorder, causes severe medical and psychological symptoms. Mental health professionals and dietitians state many reasons why orthorexic eating can occur. Reasons range from previous psychological illnesses to incorrect ideas portrayed in the media.
Other experts claim that this unhealthy eating results from using food to feel worthy about themselves. They will turn to food in order to show that they are a good person. With the media constantly spreading the lie of "sinful foods" and "angelic foods," people are buying in to the myth.
Other causes of orthorexia stem from people turning to information sources that aren’t credible, both through the media and the Internet, which are full of information touting foods that will boost metabolism and assist with weight loss or warning about food groups to avoid.
Some reliable sources include dietitians or nutritionists or science-backed websites such as eatright.org or the National Eating Disorder website.
Recovering from orthorexia can be a long process, and mental health professionals say friends and family are essential in the recovery process for those dealing with it.
For those struggling to overcome orthorexia, experts agree they first need to find somebody they can trust and talk to throughout the various stages of their recovery. They also need to learn what resources are available to help.