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Orthorexia Nervosa

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While many people have heard of eating disorders, it seems these illnesses are not always simple to recognize, either within ourselves or others. One particular eating disorder called Orthorexia Nervosa can appear very innocent until health problems begin to present themselves. In all cases of eating disorders and other disorders, such as anorexia athletica, it is important to remember that any habit taken to an unreasonable or an unhealthy degree is one which needs to be reconsidered. In the case of orthorexia nervosa, a person might seem to have the healthiest lifestyle of anyone you know, but they actually may need help.

 

Symptoms of Orthorexia Nervosa

Orthorexia nervosa is an eating disorder that is characterized by an obsession with healthy eating. Weight loss may not be the reason why one would become orthorexic, but it is often the result of this eating disorder. Just as people who suffer from anorexia nervosa begin to restrict their eating more and more despite unhealthy weight loss, people with orthorexia nervosa do as well.

 

What many people don’t realize is that striving to be too healthy when it comes to the foods we eat can be just as harmful as an unhealthy diet. In the case of Orthorexia Nervosa, a person will fixate on the nutritional content of every food they eat. Although this behavior often appears at first as just making healthy diet changes, it quickly escalates into diet habits that are extremely restrictive. People with this eating disorder might avoid certain meals altogether if they feel the meal does not fit into their particular parameters – calories, ingredients, preservatives, etc.

 

What Causes Orthorexia Nervosa?

Orthorexia nervosa can manifest in people for many different reasons. Some people become obsessed with healthy eating because they are trying to fight the aging process, are afraid of pre-mature death or are trying to avoid certain diseases, such as cancer. Orthorexia nervosa may also become a disorder in people who struggle with their desire to lose weight or be a particular body weight.

 

Orthorexia Nervosa Warning Signs

Despite the fact that people who suffer from orthorexia nervosa are obsessed with eating healthy, severe diet restrictions associated with this disorder often results in very poor nutrition. Symptoms of malnutrition will often begin to present themselves in extreme cases of this disorder, such as thinning hair or hair loss, brittle nails, anemia, emaciation and loss of muscle mass. Internal organs, such as the kidneys, heart and immune system will also begin to weaken and health problems will begin to present themselves.

 

Orthorexia Nervosa Treatment

As with any eating disorder, orthorexia nervosa can be treated with therapy. In this treatment, the reasoning behind the eating habits will be explored and patients will learn how to eat balanced and healthy diets again.


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