Thursday, April 23, 2015

Unhealthy Foods and Orthorexia : The Choose Your Poison #AtoZChallenge

     Most of us strive to eat a healthy diet. So it seems counterintuitive to consider that behavior as problematic. But there are those who cross the line and become obsessive.
     When unhealthy foods are viewed as poison, when one's life is consumed with draconian food restrictions, when social life is narrowed or disappears altogether, then orthorexia nervosa may have come into play.
     Orthorexia nervosa is not a recognized disorder in the DSM-V, but falls into the same category as anorexia nervosa and bulemia. One of the differences, however, is that orthorexics aren't generally attempting to lose or control weight; they are simply consumed with eating only what they consider to be "pure" or healthy foods. This type of eating behavior becomes a disorder when it interferes with a person's ability to function on a daily basis. For example, an orthorexic may decline to eat anywhere outside the home and only what they themselves have chosen and prepared. They may agonize over every single food item; where it came from, whether or not it is currently considered a "superfood", whether or not it should be cooked and by what method. They may spend hours poring over books and internet sites, searching for information on what they should be eating, and when. "Slipping up" and eating something unhealthy may send them into a spiral of depression and self-loathing, with the added consequence of making them even more rigid about their diet.
     And while eating pure and healthy foods may sound like it's good for you, unless it is carefully done you can still end up with unmet nutritional needs and deficiencies. That can result in osteoporosis, hormone problems, gastrointestinal problems, even cardiac issues.
     Like just about everything in life, it all comes down to balance. If you have food allergies or diseases such as celiac, diabetes or IBS, then of course diet is more critical to you then most. But for the average person with no known food issues, eating should be just a part of life - and a pleasurable part. Be smart about it. Portion control, a wide variety of fruits and veggies, lots of whole grains - these will help you stay on track to meet your nutritional needs. Don't forget, your body also needs a small amount of fat in the diet to function properly. Fat is a component of myelin, the protective sheath around nerve cells; it's also necessary to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like A, E, and K.

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     Couldn't come up with a poison for letter U (other than uranium).
    I was going to do "unhealthy foods are like poison to your system" but there's so much information on foods that are bad for you. (And it keeps changing.) So I chose to highlight orthorexia, which I think is a lesser known (but increasingly common) disorder. A bit of a stretch for letter U but...it's my blog and I'll fudge if I want to.
    

12 comments:

  1. Go ahead and fudge - I'm fudging on "X." I think this topic is quite interesting. It's a disorder I've never heard of.
    ~Visiting from AtoZ

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    1. I ran across a mention in a magazine several months ago. I was flabbergasted - I knew that many people were seeking better diets through "clean eating" and "raw food" movements, but I had no idea that there were people ending up with severe deficiencies and health problems. I guess there are always people who take things to the extreme.

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  2. Really interesting once more. i am enjoying your sries of posts so much. Anne Stenhouse, novels now.

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  3. Well said! It's all about balance.
    I think people who only eat raw foods or juiced foods fall into that category.

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    1. I highlighted the crucial sentence; it becomes a disorder when it interferes with health and the normal functions of everyday life. Eating raw foods is great as long as you do it carefully, make sure you get enough calories and the right nutrients, and don't become obsessive about it.

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  4. This is an interesting topic I've never heard of but orthorexia nervos sounds like a very difficult disease to deal with.

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    1. Like other eating disorders, orthorexia is more about psychological issues - obsessive/compulsive behavior, excessive need for control, viewing food as a tool to attain something else, etc. - than about eating.

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  5. Good post. This is becoming a problem in today's society. I have a vegetarian friend who won't go to any place that serves meat, and another friend with a medical issue that prevents her from eating acidic foods (tomato, lemon, orange, etc). Between the two of them the only place we can go is Starbucks!

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    1. I know! I want to honor other people's dietary needs, but when you get a group together, sometimes it seems impossible to find a place that suits everyone.

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  6. Wow. Talk about interesting. I'm glad I ascribe to the see food diet. I see food and eat it. be it a salad, fruit or even that yummy piece of cake staring at me from the table. All in moderation of course.

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  7. Not a stretch for 'U' at all... With the amount of pesticides and fertilizers being used in agriculture, some of them are bound to enter our bodies (and cause harm) when that food is consumed.. Enjoining reading your posts on this theme... :)

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