Orthorexia- When Healthy Eating Becomes an Obsession

Do you eat healthy? Great! Do whatever works for you and makes you feel good. Bamboo Nutrition in Columbia, MO is one place to look if you feel your healthy eating may becoming an unhealthy obsession.

Orethorexia is a termed coined by Steven Bratman. What began as an individual wanting to eat healthy for their own reasons (i.e. energy, longevity, activity, etc.) turned into an obsession. This obsession with healthy eating caused social anxiety, withdraw, irritability, poor sleep, and much more. The thought of food consumed this person’s thoughts all day and night. At this point, this individual may have orthorexia.

Steven Bratman’s definition of Orthorexia states: “Orthorexia is an emotionally disturbed, self-punishing relationship with food that involves a progressively shrinking universe of foods deemed acceptable. A gradual constriction of many other dimensions of life occurs so that thinking about healthy food can becomes the central theme of almost every moment of the day, the sword and shield against every kind of anxiety, and the primary source of self-esteem, value and meaning. This may result in social isolation, psychological disturbance and even, possibly, physical harm. “

In other words, When healthy eating becomes unhealthy.

Don’t get me wrong, just because a person eats healthy and likes to eat organic or follow the latest trends in the food industry does not mean they have orthorexia.

Steven Bratman’s self-test is a good place to start:

The Bratman Orthorexia Self-Test*

If you are a healthy-diet enthusiast, and you answer yes to any of the following questions, you may be developing orthorexia nervosa:

(1) I spend so much of my life thinking about, choosing and preparing healthy food that it interferes with other dimensions of my life, such as love, creativity, family, friendship, work and school.

(2) When I eat any food I regard to be unhealthy, I feel anxious, guilty, impure, unclean and/or defiled; even to be near such foods disturbs me, and I feel judgmental of others who eat such foods.

(3) My personal sense of peace, happiness, joy, safety and self-esteem is excessively dependent on the purity and rightness of what I eat.

(4) Sometimes I would like to relax my self-imposed “good food” rules for a special occasion, such as a wedding or a meal with family or friends, but I find that I cannot. (Note: If you have a medical condition in which it is unsafe for you to make ANY exception to your diet, then this item does not apply.)

(5) Over time, I have steadily eliminated more foods and expanded my list of food rules in an attempt to maintain or enhance health benefits; sometimes, I may take an existing food theory and add to it with beliefs of my own.

(6) Following my theory of healthy eating has caused me to lose more weight than most people would say is good for me, or has caused other signs of malnutrition such as hair loss, loss of menstruation or skin problems.

*There are many self-tests on the internet to use in determining if you may have orthorexia or be on the verge of developing orthorexia, however, this is the only self-test that Steven Bratman approves.