Healthy habits can go too far
'Chocolate, crisps, and all carbs were off the cards.'
present in complex and confusing ways and differ from individual to individual.However, there are a few stand-out warning signs to be aware of if you think you, or someone you know, may be suffering.1. Obsession with eating healthy foodSomeone with orthorexia will likely fixate or obsess over only eating food that they deem healthy, Rachel explains.
"There is stereotypically a sense of judgement or criticism about others who don't follow such a strict diet as them, which can damage close relationships. Often the sufferer will prioritise clean eating,and healthy living over their former hobbies or interests, and can be quite unaware or even defensive about their changes in behaviour," she shares.
2. Focus ononlyeating pure productsWhile food 'rules' will vary from person to person, many orthorexia sufferers will only eat pure or organic products, shares Isa.3. Severely restrictingOften, those suffering from orthorexia will opt for cutting out entire food groups."They'll sometimes continue to cut things out until their diet is severely restricted and only includes the 'healthiest' foods," she continues. headtopics.com
4. Strict eating rulesA big red flag for orthorexia? Having set rigid eating patterns that dictate your day-to-day life."People with orthorexia will do pretty much anything to avoid eating any foods they don't consider to be healthy," Isa emphasises.
Rhiannon shares an example: when she was unwell and friends chose to eat out at burger chain Five Guys, she immediately made excuses not to eat with them.5. Anxiety around breaking their food rulesIf you've ever felt guilt, stress or anxiety about breaking a food 'rule', you could be suffering.
"Remember that orthorexia is all about rule-following, so if any rule is broken, the sense of guilt in the sufferer can be overwhelming," Renee shares. Sometimes, the person will then try to right their wrongs, over-exercising or restricting.
6. Avoiding eating outTying in with the above, eating out or enjoying social situations can be extremely difficult for people suffering from the condition."You'll normally face difficulties eating in restaurants or having a meal prepared by someone else," Isa shares. Why? Because you'll feel a need to control the food, and perhaps the food preparation, too. headtopics.com
"Whether it’s the birthday cake at a family gathering, an ice cream on a trip to the beach or a three-course meal at a dinner party, those who suffer from eating disorders will avoid at all costs social situations that might involve the need to eat outside of their rules," Renee adds.
7. Low mood and health complicationsNaturally, if you're limiting what you eat, you're bound to experience low energy, mood swings,and physical health complications, shares Rachel."This can include a weakened immune system and hair loss as a result of eating a restrictive and often unbalanced diet," she explains.
8. Creating (or assuming) undiagnosed food allergiesWhether it's gluten-intolerance or dairy-free, regularly omitting certain food groups by creating or assuming undiagnosed food allergies is a big red flag, explains Renee."Individuals struggling not just with orthorexia but with any eating disorder may use this as an excuse to limit or control what they eat. If I told you I was gluten-intolerant, you would be far less likely to question why I refuse the bowl of pasta you've served me. Fabricating an allergy or intolerance enables sufferers to persist with the rules of their eating disorder, even when they are with other people," she shares.
Why does orthorexia manifest itself?As with anymental health disorder, it's different for everyone, and to truly get to the bottom of why you might be suffering, you'll need to visit your GP or a qualified eating disorder specialist.However, Renee makes an interesting point about any eating disorder being a means to control your life and current situation."That need for control is a key trigger for any eating disorder. It can manifest in food choices or set rules about food preparation, ingredients, or portions." headtopics.com
In short, the routine of your disorder can evoke a sense of control and calm. However, deviation from these 'rules' can create extreme anxiety and."These routines create a false sense of security. They're a fundamental method of denying your more difficult and uncomfortable emotions that you don't want - or know how - to cope with."
What should you do if you think you have orthorexia? Read more: Cosmopolitan UK »
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