When ‘Being Healthy' Becomes Unhealthy
Lose It!|Volume 37
Reading food labels, scrutinising ingredient lists, avoiding junk food and even cutting out grains, seed oils and sugar are all health-promoting habits. Those serious about wellness strive to get it right because they just feel better when they do. This is what keeps people making good food choices.
Nicky Perks

But there are some who become obsessed and have an irrational need to eat ‘clean’ and ‘pure’ foods, which are the characteristics of the eating disorder Orthorexia Nervosa. Sufferers, struggling with the desire to have a perfect diet, can end up socially isolated, malnourished and distressed.

What starts out as eating more healthily to feel better escalates to a quest for perfect health that, ironically, results in a decline of physical, emotional and mental health.

LIVING WITH ORTHOREXIA

Beth’s story: ‘My plan to follow a healthier diet began as a new year’s goal. As the days, weeks and months progressed, I was spending all my time devouring blogs about which foods were “good” and “bad” for your body, buying books about nutrition, and eliminating all foods from my diet that I was convinced were “unhealthy” and “toxic”. I thought about food all the time. Grocery shopping took ages ... I had to first check all the product ingredients before putting an item in my trolley.

At social events or when I was visiting friends, I would politely decline the food they had prepared. It felt like I was in a downward spiral that I couldn’t pull myself out of. I withdrew socially as it was just easier that way. Friends or relatives who ate badly seemed inferior and weak. I became very critical, although I rarely voiced my opinion. I felt in control and empowered by my clean eating practices.

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