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Orthorexia Nervosa: Obsession with food

Even though many of you would not be aware of the term, “Orthorexia Nervosa”, some would have definitely either seen someone practicing this behavior. Orthorexia refers to being overly obsessed with the quality of your food, whether it is healthy or not, what its quality index is, and if it is suitable or not.

Excess to everything is bad, even if it's healthy food. When one keeps on obsessing over all this, you miss out on enjoying the true essence of life. They experience a severe fear that things will go badly wrong if they do not strictly control what they eat. Despite not having any health issues, no mental disorders, they still keep on cutting the essential daily nutrients from their body. Orthorexic people cut carbohydrates, fats, and animal products from their diet too due to anxiety.

An optimal behavior is what leads you to success in the long run, not an obsessive one. Orthorexia is similar to OCD, but it is not synonymous with it. It can be diagnosed by tests like ORTO-R, ORTO-15, etc. However, if not treated on time by seeing a psychotherapist & a nutritionist, things can go out of hand and orthorexia can eventually lead to severe anxiety and stress disorders, nutritional deficiencies, and ultimately diseases like osteoporosis and goiter which occur due to lack of sufficient nutrients in the body. It weakens the immune system and makes you vulnerable to so many diseases. At times orthorexic people prefer to starve themselves rather than eat food that has a lower quality index. This behavior often leads to malnutrition because they keep on starving themselves.

Starvation is yet another major issue faced by our youth. People have this mythical mindset that starving themselves will reduce their weight, and they will be able to achieve their target weight. Starvation includes skipping meals, and not taking sufficient nutrients for the body to function properly. In the beginning, it seems as if starvation is a good thing as it makes you weak, you look slimmer but from within, your body is shattering, crying for help. Starvation puts the body in a mode of emergency and it starts saving whichever nutrients are left which leads to fat deposition.

What happens is that our body is made in a way that it knows how to deal with all kinds of situations. We, being overly obsessed with unhealthy ways of weight loss, mess up our body’s natural systems. Naturally, if a body does not get enough food it conserves what it already has and deposits it in the form of fat. That fat is to be used slowly and gradually as per the needs of the body. What we do is play with this system and put our body in starvation mode which leads to abnormal amounts of fat deposits as our body itself cannot differentiate between actual starvation and the one which we do by ourselves. In addition to this, starvation also puts our body under massive stress which eventually results in the release of steroid hormones. One of the major side effects of steroids is weight gain, the complete opposite of what you want! Skipping meals also increases all the cravings as our body is deprived.

In conclusion, any behavior which is not in collaboration with the body’s normal system, whether it is being obsessive about healthy food or skipping meals, is injurious and traumatic for anybody. Starvation or orthorexia, both are harmful to you, so stay healthy and live an optimal life.

- Aditya Saxena

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