In today’s society, advertisements and advice on how to eat healthy cannot be avoided. Healthy eating choices are beyond encouraged; they are nearly required, as advertisements push for a surge in pure and organic products in diets. As a result of this dedication from popular culture, a new eating disorder has developed, according to an article recently completed by The Times.
At the start of orthorexia nervosa, a change in eating habits is pursued. An individual sees the pressure to eat healthier and vows to veer towards pure and organic foods. At first, this is a healthy choice, as a healthier diet is always a good thing. However, with time, this choice can develop into an obsession and a disorder, as the sufferer stops to think obsessively on the ingredients of every meal prior to consumption. With time, the sufferer will start to eat less and less, as they amend their requirements for foods to become even stricter and find fewer foods that meet said requirements; essentially, eventually all foods that are not deemed pure enough are purged from the diet. What started as a healthy choice becomes an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy.
The danger of the disorder, according to psychologist Karin Kratina, is when the food choices become so restrictive in variety and calories that the health of the sufferer starts to suffer. The condition is relatively new, but gaining attention; popular food blogger Jordan Young brought the disorder to the attention of the public, as she spoke of her own obsession with eating healthy. Young spoke of the obsession’s role in going from a healthy eater to unhealthy in physique.
While little is known about the condition thus far, the United States’ Eating Disorder Association does acknowledge some possible causes for the condition. It is believed that orthorexia stems from any combination of the following factors—a compulsion for complete control, a need to escape one’s fears, a desire to be thin, a pursuit to improve self-esteem, a search for spirituality through food or the inclination to use food as a means of creating an identity.