Orthorexia May Be The Latest Eating Disorder Of The Digital Age

Orthorexia May Be The Latest Eating Disorder Of The Digital AgeOrthorexia May Be The Latest Eating Disorder Of The Digital Age

An orthorexia test will reveal your level of obsession with eating 'clean,' and 'healthy' foods and why it may not be as good as you thought

Flip through the glossies you're bound to encounter a celebrity endorsing a 'clean diet.'

They'll share that their food has no dairy, processed foods, sugars, carbohydrates, or meat. That it's 'healthy' and 'good for keeping excess weight off,' and 'a part of their life now.' 

Cut to reality and you'll find many impressionable millennials following suit. Their diets are either 'keto-friendly,' or natural drink-based, or gluten-free, or 'clean.' And while the food on their plates look Instagrammable, and relatively healthier than our meat ball subs, they point to an addiction. Yes!

In their effort to chase a lean figure and cut down fats and carbohydrates from their food, most young millennials are falling into the trap of orthorexia—an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy. 

Yes, there is such a thing and its very much a reality of our generation.

What Is Orthorexia? How Do You Take An Orthorexia Test? 

The word 'orthorexia' was coined in 1997 by Colorado physician Steven Bratman, M.D. While 'orthorexia' is Greek for 'correct appetite,' nervosa is Latin for 'nervous.'

Unlike most other eating disorder, this is an unhealthy obsession with healthy food. It focuses on the quality rather than the quantity. 

And this rather odd eating disorder often begins with the urge to eat 'clean.'

How Does Orthorexia Begin? 

It typically begins with you being mindful of what you eat. You might prefer to ingest whole foods in their natural state. But it soon progresses to a rigid diet that eliminates everything that has even an once of fat. 

Unfortunately, while it sounds pretty healthy, an orthorexia test will reveal that it has quite the opposite affect on your body. This type of obsessive eating can affect your activities, make you slower and less energetic, and even hamper your relationships in the process. 

That's because your body is unable to get enough vitamins and proteins to generate energy from the 'clean' food you so love. As a result, your body begins to lose its strength and for some people this may even affect their skin. 

Why Are Millennials Becoming Orthorexic?

Relatively new, at the moment it is defined only in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a handbook used by doctors. And, an orthorexia test is done only post recommendation. So while its difficult to say how many people are affected by this disorder, the numbers are only likely to go up.

As Paula Quatromoni, D.Sc., associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Boston University, US, tells Vogue, “It’s probably just a matter of time. This is affecting a huge segment of the population.”

Do Millennials Love Eating 'Healthy'?

In all fairness, you cannot blame them from wanting to eat healthy given the amount of additives, modified crops and confusing food studies. Plus, social media is also to be blamed, especially Instagram. 

Did you know that there are over 41 million plus hashtags that read "#cleaneating?" Pictures of smoothies and protein bowls and green plates move more than a million users to like, share and then follow the fad.

This, both virtually and in reality. But it really becomes a problem when this way of living is your life's ultimate goal. 

How To Take An Orthorexia Test? 

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, orthorexia usually begins when you start exhibiting the following symptoms:

  • You start cutting down entire food groups from your meals
  • There is a compulsive need to check ingredients 
  • You panic when you don't find your unalloyed foods
  • Your daily meals also include large amounts of protein and other supplements 
  • You stop going to social events and vacations because 'your type of food' is not available
  • Keep a tab on other diets 

So if you want to take a self orthorexia test, check if you often do these aforementioned. If so, you should ideally consult with a doctor or a nutritionist.

How To Cure Orthorexia? 

Many specialists recommend an exposure and response prevention (ERP),which is a common prescription for several obsessive compulsive disorders.

Some even recommend cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that is combined with a nutritionist-approved eating regimen. If this is too serious, you may even be given medications. But it all depends on the level of this disorder and it is best diagnosed by a doctor. 

While orthorexia is not as serious an eating disorder as anorexia or bulimia, it is still a disorder—primarily fuelled by social media. And even though healthy eating is important, it shouldn't be the reason you eliminate essential nutrients and minerals from your meals. 

Also read: Here's Why Millennials Are Using Beauty Products Infused With Kale

(All images courtesy: Pixabay)

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Written by

Deepshikha Punj