We live in a society that praises business and productivity. In the health world this looks like the people we refer to as "health nuts" or "endurance junkies"... but what happens when our affinity for health is fueled by a self-deprecating mentality?
Orthorexia, although not formally recognized by the DSM-5... is on the rise. This illness is often overlooked and without diagnostic criteria or formal recognition it can be pretty difficult to treat recovery or even get true statistics on those struggling.
Orthorexia is an obsession with "proper, pure or clean eating". While being concerned with your nutrition CAN be healthy, those who suffer from Orthorexia take it to the point where it is actually harmful to their well-being. Many studies show that Orthorexia often comes along with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and high functioning anxiety.
The consequences of Orthorexia or obsessive health habits:
Orthorexia if left untreated can have overwhelming and long term consequences. It can also be a gateway to other eating disorders such as Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, Anorexia Nervosa or Other specified feeding or eating disorders.
Decline in performance
Decreased Bone Mineral Density
Lack of social life
Extreme weight loss
Poor body image
Poor relationship to food
Here are some quick warning signs that health concerns might be heading into dangerous territory and bordering on obsession:
Compulsive checking of labels and ingredient lists
Obsessive logging in MyFitnessPal or other diet tracker
Cutting out certain foods/groups (i.e carbs or fats)
High levels of distress when "safe (healthy)" foods aren't available
Labeling of foods good vs. bad, or forbidden
Exercising through pain, injury or extreme cold/heat
Strained body image
Pre-occupation with food- (blogs, websites, what others are doing, what they "should" be doing
Chronic Calorie Restriction
Extreme Fatigue and poor workout recovery
Multiple workouts per day
Obsession with clean eating