Next thing you know, you are stuffing food down your throat just because you can. You eat until you feel “satisfied” because you didn’t eat the slice of pizza that all your friends ate for lunch that day. You didn’t eat it because you thought it was “unhealthy” for you. Even worse, you believed that one slice of pizza would make you fat.
Everything counts right?
These are the mental games that normally go through a person’s head when dealing with Orthorexia Nervosa. Orthorexia Nervosa is described as an extreme or excessive preoccupation with avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy. This mental eating disorder is one that many people have, but don’t realize it. There are signs that can indicate if one is going through this or has gone through this:
The first sign of this disorder is spending more than three hours a day thinking about food– you cannot help but think of only food and if you want to, should want to or need to be eating it. This constant obsession with food can lead to dangerous actions.
The second sign is not enjoying what you eat. Let’s say you were to eat that slice of pizza with your friends at lunch. In your head, you would not know or be aware of yourself fully enjoying it. You would physically be eating the slice, but the actually taste of the slice wouldn’t be your main concern. In fact, with Orthorexia Nervosa, you are not in a moment of enjoyment but of one that plans ahead for the next meal. Which leads into the next sign.
When you find yourself planning tomorrow’s menu. A mental list is made in your head that you may not be aware of. Being so consumed on your list and what foods you can eat and where, creates a disconnect in your life. This prevents you from going out to certain places with certain people because your list or diet doesn’t agree to it.
The fourth sign is when you start to feel critical of others who do not eat as well as you do. This sign triggers the emotional aspect to Orthorexa Nervosa, because instead of being numb to the situation, you start to develop unhealthy feelings toward others who do not feel the same way as you do. This leads to problems with your friends who did eat their slices of pizza at lunch. Not necessarily hatred, but more of confused envy because you too want to do it but see it as a problem if you do.
The last sign is the trickiest one. The act of feeling in control when you have Orthorexia Nervosa is an unhealthy paradox.
This sign consists of you thinking that you are in control when you choose to eat right, but in reality you are slowly deteriorating due to the mental dissonance that is telling you that you are in control. Standing at the fridge, your mind tells you its OK to binge and eat, but it knows that you will regret it later. This mental cycle is one that is not healthy and creates unwanted confusion and can lead to more disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.
We’re not saying that dieting is wrong. If done the right way with proper nutrition and strategic exercise, then it can be turn into a productive thing.
But, Orthorexia Nervosa is a common trap that many fall into without being aware until a few months later. Seek proper guidance from your local nutritionist or dietitian if you have any questions or hesitations about your journey to being healthy. Do not let the mind games impact you so much that it takes away from the task.
And when all is figured out, that one slice of pizza will be waiting for you to fully enjoy.
Photo by Danielle D’Angelo