We have all seen the latest healthy eating craze - there are new ones coming up all the time. Some of them can be extreme, but for the most part they give us guidelines to help us work out what might be best for our bodies. At LIVEmpowered, we believe that we are all unique and this applies to our bodies, too, so what works for one of us may not work for someone else and so it is all about gently testing these things and working out the foods that make you flourish. However, for some, eating the right things can become something they use to deal with their emotional pain.
Orthorexia was a term created by Dr Stephen Bratman in 1997 to refer to those who develop an unhealthy obsession with eating “pure” foods to make their diet more healthy. They may start with an established eating plan or food philosophy, but over time will add more and more of their own rules so orthorexia will look very different from person to person. Unlike other eating disorders, the individual is likely to evangelize about their way of eating because they believe it is the “most pure” way of eating and may even be judgmental towards others about their choices.
This is not to be confused with sticking to a diet or healthy eating plan, their food rules are to cope with negative thoughts or emotions. For some, it may start as a healthy focus on changing the way they eat and then, due to stress and other factors, their rules become more extreme and obsessive. They often experience huge guilt and anxiety when they eat something outside of their rules. For some, they end up cutting out so much they can become extremely malnourished, which can be fatal.
With any eating disorder, the key to healing is getting to the heart of the issues underneath - what is causing the emotions that they are struggling to cope with? The individual needs professional support to address the mental, physical and emotional impacts of the disorder. Recovery may be a long process but it is possible and there is hope.
We have only scratched the surface of this huge topic, so if you would like more information or know someone who may be struggling with this issue, contact us or visit https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/ - you can access their helpline there or by calling (800) 931-2237.
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