Many people suffer from eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia, obsessing over the quantity of food intake. Recently, mental health experts and medical studies have confirmed there is a new type of eating disorder caused by the obsession of food quality – orthorexia nervosa.
The term “orthorexia” is not new, however.
In 1997, Dr. Steven Bratman from San Francisco officially coined the name for this health obsession from his own eating experience. It did not make news until this past summer when vegan blogger Jordan Younger opened up about her struggle with orthorexia.
According to The Huffington Post, Younger said, “I had known in the back of my mind for a while that I had developed many fears surrounding food, and it was clear to me that I was becoming more and more limited in what I was comfortable eating.”
Brooke Albert, a registered dietitian, issued a statement on what she considers an eating disorder. “When it gets to the point where you are unable to make a choice and you choose not to eat because of it or you obsess over your choices. That is when it becomes disordered eating,” said Albert.
According to ABC News, orthorexia is when people are obsessed with only eating foods considered as “pure.” If not practiced correctly, current eating trends and diets such as the Paleo, straw food, veganism and vegetarianism leave people at risk for developing this disorder.
“It [orthorexia] is different than going overboard because you want to be skinny,” said Thomas Dunn, a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado. “Rather, it’s linked to people who are trying to be as healthy as they can be.”
A few JCU students shared their thoughts on what they consider as healthy eating.
Student-athlete and sophomore Amber Guizzotti weighed in, saying, “As an athlete, I think that healthy eating is consuming enough calories to give you the amount of energy you need to do your sport or workout,” explained Guizzotti. “It’s finding the right balance of protein to carbs, and making sure you get enough of essential vitamins and minerals.”
Freshman Jake Dwierza said, “I think that eating healthy food is important, as long as you don’t spend every waking hour eating or thinking about food you should have in the future.”
Freshman Jake Rayl, who is a vegetarian, said, “When you feel guilty if you accidentally break one of the restrictions. Like if you were to feel guilty after eating meat. I think dietary restrictions are more dangerous psychologically rather than physically.”
Although orthorexia has been proven to be an eating disorder, it is currently not listed in the “American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”
Editor’s Note: Information from ABC7News, CNN, The Huffington Post and StyleCaster was used in this article.