Sunday, April 14, 2024

Healthy Eating Fixation: A food issue that’s not well-known, and some unintentionally support it

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Jason Wood was at a restaurant on vacation with his husband. He felt upset because he couldn’t switch pita for fresh veggies with his hummus plate.

Wood explained that his pain wasn’t exaggerated; it was 20 years of an eating issue and the stress that comes with it all happening at once. Wood has orthorexia, an eating problem not in the official guide for mental health issues.

Therapist Jennifer Rollin from The Eating Disorder Center in Maryland mentioned a rise in orthorexia among patients. Despite the lack of research, she hopes it gets recognized officially.

Orthorexia is being fixated on eating “clean” based on certain rules. A study found that about 3 in 10 people show signs of orthorexia. Wood, from the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, says it often goes unnoticed because it’s focused on healthy eating.

Eating healthy seems good, but it can turn into an obsession. Wood’s list of unhealthy foods grew, and he started leaving parties due to food anxiety. Orthorexia can lead to other disorders like bulimia or anorexia nervosa.

Orthorexia can be seen as a disguise for diet culture. It can be expensive and limit one’s goals. The difficulty in defining what’s healthy shows the problem isn’t just about health.

It’s important to listen to your body unless there’s a medical condition requiring a specific diet. Health isn’t just about nutrition; it includes social relationships, pursuing passions, and finding peace.

Treatment for orthorexia is similar to other eating disorders. Finding a specialist experienced with orthorexia is crucial. Therapy may involve unpacking the definition of health and reframing ideas around it.

Recovery can be challenging, but it’s rewarding. Wood, after almost four years, feels like he’s starting to live his life again, applying the time spent thinking about food to other aspects of his life.

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