RadioMD: Naturally Savvy

Orthorexia: When Healthy Becomes Harmful

October 11, 201622 min
Orthorexia is a new term to describe the obsession with maintaining a healthy diet.When you've made the decision to get healthy, it's easy to get wrapped up in all your new habits.But, most people learn to back off and create balance.Certainly there's no such thing as being too healthy, right?Wrong.Orthorexia is a new term to describe the obsession with maintaining a healthy diet. While it hasn't been clinically diagnosed yet as an eating disorder, it has the markers of one. Those who struggle with orthorexia are determined to eat clean. The initial goal may have started out to eat healthy and natural, but the obsession can lead to unhealthy behavior. For example, these individuals become fearful of eating anything they don't prepare themselves. They may cut out complete food groups or eat the same thing every day. Concern develops around the connection of certain foods and negative health effects. "I ate grains and I'm tired, so it must be the grains making me tired." This is a way to validate cutting out foods.
Feelings of shame and self-loathing bubble to the surface if they "mess up."Sufferers of orthorexia also want others to eat clean. This can create rifts in families and relationships. Even if someone with orthorexia doesn't intend it or is not conscious of it, she may give off a sense of superiority and appear judgmental of others' choices. Marci Warhaft-Nadler, body image advocate and eating disorder survivor, joins hosts Andrea and Lisa to explain what orthorexia is and what steps you can take if you or a loved one is suffering from this disorder or any other disorder.She is also the founder of the Fit vs. Fiction body image workshops for schools. In the workshops, Marci uses images and real-life stories to break down the dangerous myths related to beauty and fitness in an image obsessed world. "An eating disorder is a horrible thing to live with; it does not mean you're a horrible person for battling it," says Marci.

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