Orthorexia

Ember, John, and Clara A4

Overview

  1. An unhealthy habit of eating only healthy and pure foods. It typically starts out as just the strong desire to eat healthy but then later develops into an extreme habit of feeling the need to eat healthy. Orthorexia typically does not involve the fear of getting fat like anorexia. The most common way for it to start is by slowly eliminating food groups such as maybe dairy and then grains and so on.

Etiology

    1. Some reasons that an individual develop Orthorexia are a need to be safe from from poor health, compulsion to be in control of something, searching for spirituality through food, the constant want to be thin, and wanting to create an identity through food.

    2. The following are questions asked to individuals who are thought to be suffering from Orthorexia:

      1. Does it seem beyond your ability to eat a meal prepared with love by someone else – one single meal – and not try to control what is served?

      2. Are you constantly looking for ways foods are unhealthy for you?

      3. Do you feel guilt or self-loathing when you stray from your diet?

      4. Do you feel in control when you stick to the “correct” diet?

      5. Have you put yourself on a nutritional pedestal and wonder how others can possibly eat the foods they eat?

Symptoms

  1. Obsessive concern about the effects and health of certain food choices.

  2. Avoiding foods due to the fear of allergies even though you are not allergic.

  3. Typically an increase in the consumption of supplements.

  4. Large decrease in the acceptance to eat certain foods. Could eventually get down to the point of 10 or less foods.

  5. Unnecessary concern about the cleanliness of foods.

  6. Constant critical thinking about how others prepare their diets.

Prevalence

    1. There was a study done in Turkey that found that among medical students, 43.6% showed a preoccupation with healthy foods. Another study was conducted with 810 university students. It was found that 89.4% of women were found to have orthorexic tendencies and among American students it was 69%-82.8%.

      1. http://www.jeatdisord.com/content/3/1/2

      2. Brytek-Matera, A., Donini, L., Krupa, M., & Hay, P. (2015, February 24). Orthorexia nervosa and self-attitudinal aspects of body image in female and male university students. Retrieved October 8, 2015.

Treatment Methods

    1. The first step to treating orthorexia nervosa is the individual admitting that they have a problem. Treatment after this step involves restoring balance in the person’s diet through education on the basics of food consumption such as eating enough calories and proteins. An individual might also receive a diet plan from a dietitian that is more appropriate and balanced. After this a professional will help the person with the underlying psychological problem like anxiety or perfectionism.

      1. http://www.mirror-mirror.org/orthorexia-nervosa.htm

      2. Bratman, D. (2015). Orthorexia Nervosa. Retrieved October 8, 2015.

Reference to findings from a related study

There was a study done in 2012, by Marta Varga, Szilvia Dukay-Szabo, Ferenc Tury, and F. van Furth Eric. Their aim was to review the literature on the prevalence, risk groups and risk factors of the alleged eating disorder orthorexia nervosa. In their study they found that many suffer with this disorder due to the change in culture, towards a more healthier “green” society. They researched the increase in diets, to see if this was a real disorder. It was. “usually begins as an innocent habit used to overcome physical diseases or to improve one’s health. Sufferers are characterized by high self-discipline and a sense of moral superiority over those who eat junk food, resulting in concern about eating more healthy food more and more often, and spending more and more time planning, purchasing and consuming food that is thought to be healthy. After a period of time the strict control of eating comes to fruit and sufferers feel light, clear, energetic and strong and develop a lecturing attitude towards family and friends and anybody who does not follow the given diet.” (Marta Varga, Szilvia Dukay-Szabo, Ferenc Tury, and F. van Furth Eric)

Connections to CLOA

  1. Human beings are information processors and that mental representations guide behaviour- When a person suffering from orthorexia thinks about the body standard that they want, the behaviour in their eating habits is altered to get to that standard.

  2. Mental processes can and should be studied scientifically by developing theories and by using a variety of research methods- There are studies dedicated to finding out more about this disorder and the treatment methods of it.

  3. Social and cultural factors affect cognitive processes- With society leaning towards a fit and lean body standard, the thinking of how to obtain that is impacted in order to fit the individual.