The National Eating Disorder Association recognizes the warning signs & symptoms of orthorexic behavior as:
Understanding the nutritional quality of food isn’t a problem in and of itself, and the desire to be healthy usually brings about positive life experiences. The problem arises when people with orthorexia become so fixated with eating healthy that they actually harm their physical, mental, or emotional wellbeing.
“Like anorexia, orthorexia involves restriction of the amount and variety of foods eaten, making malnutrition likely. Therefore, the two disorders share many of the same physical consequences.” - National Eating Disorder Association
Restricting foods to the point of malnourishment denies us of essential nutrients we need to function normally. The body is forced to slow down all of its processes to conserve energy, which can result in many serious medical issues.
Orthorexic behaviour is often disguised as an innocent dedication to health, and the individual may not even realize that their eating is disordered. They may be receiving praise for their discipline, while privately experiencing fear, shame, or stress over their food choices. They might skip spontaneous meals with friends or family in order to eat privately, or meals might be entirely foregone if suitable options aren’t available to them. Body image issues are commonly associated with orthorexia, and can lead to an overall decrease in quality of life.
Anyone who struggles with an extreme health obsession will have a dysfunctional relationship with food, because they invest excessive mental and emotional energy in seeking what’s considered acceptable and avoiding what’s dangerous. Placing too much significance on something meant for sustenance takes away the natural satisfaction of eating, replacing it instead with fear.
The rigid, black-and-white rules that are soothing to someone experiencing orthorexia are, at the same time, holding them back from feeling comfortable around food. There is no room for fear and anxiety in a healthy relationship with food. In a culture that prioritizes health and beauty while vilifying unconventional bodies, changing how we relate to food can be a challenge.
Savor provides a safe space for you to embark upon this change. Because orthorexia so closely mirrors well-intentioned healthiness, it takes honest introspection about your personal relationship with food to make meaningful shifts. Taking a fresh look at your beliefs, emotions and behaviors can help you to differentiate between healthiness and orthorexia. You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. Our intentions, journal entries, and affirmations are designed to facilitate this process.