Did someone say there’s no such thing as too healthy ? Well, they are wrong. In the book Health Food Junkies, Dr Steven Bratman says, “For some people, eating ‘correctly’ has become an equally harmful preoccupation, one that causes them to adopt progressively more rigid diets that not only eliminate crucial nutrients and food groups, but ultimately cost them their overall health, personal relationships and emotional well-being.” Bratman is credited with coining the term “orthorexia nervosa”- a disease in which people view their diet as a way to fell clean and spiritual.
Healthy isn’t always a good word
A study at the University of Rome reported that out of 400 students surveyed, nearly 7% more than the percentages of anorexia and bulimic students combined- suffered from orthorexia. “Orthorexia begins, innocently enough, as a desire to overcome chronic illness or to improve general health. Over time, these people start to blacklist certain foods. What to eat and how much, and the consequences of dietary imprudence come to occupy a greater proportion of their day,” says Bratman.
When orthorexia slip up r deviate from their diet- devour anything from a single piece of chocolate to a bowlful of ice cream or a pizza- they experience a fall form grace and feel guilty and shameful says nutritionist Dr Shraddha Gadit. To make up for the binge, the perform numerous acts of repentance and self punishment that involve over exercising and adhering to stricter diets and fasts. It doesn’t take long for this behavior to develop into a cycle.
In a way, the act of eating ‘pure’ food begins to carry pseudo-spiritual connotations. People suffering from orthorexia often prefer to starve themselves rather than eat food they consider impure and harmful to their health.
Apart from affecting your health and mental well-being, orthorexia causes dysfunction in your social life. “People who are constantly concerned about what they eat, plan their life around their diet. They shop at organic food stores and avoid eating at restaurants because they are always worried about how the food is cooked and the quality of ingredients used in cooking.” says nutritionist. Since they only prefer only eating home-made food, they decline the opportunity to meet friends and family while, in some cases, people avoid inviting them to parties and social gatherings with the fear of ‘eating right and healthy’ becoming a dominating topic of conversation with them around.