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Orthorexia, also called orthorexia nervosa, is a disorder characterized by excessive preoccupation with he althy eating, in which the person consumes only pure foods, without pesticides, contaminants or products of animal origin, in addition to just consuming foods with a low glycemic index, low fat and sugar.
Another characteristic of this syndrome is the exaggerated concern with the way food is prepared, taking excessive care not to add too much s alt, sugar or fat.
This excessive concern with he althy eating causes the diet to be very restricted and not varied, leading to weight loss and nutritional deficiencies. In addition to also interfering in the person's personal life, since he is no longer able to eat out, to have more control over how the food is prepared.
Main signs and symptoms
The main indicative sign of orthorexia is excessive concern with the quality of the food that will be consumed and the way it is prepared. Other indicative signs and symptoms are:
- Feeling of guilt and anxiety when eating something that is considered unhe althy;
- Food restrictions that increase over time;
- Absolute exclusion of foods considered impure, such as those containing dyes, preservatives, trans fats, sugar and s alt;
- Consumption of only organic products, excluding transgenic foods and pesticides from the diet;
- Exclusion of several food groups from the diet, mainly meats, milk and dairy products, fats and carbohydrates.
It is normal for people with orthorexia to end up never going out to eat, often declining invitations from friends and family. It can still happen that the person accepts the invitations, but brings their own food.
As a consequence of these habits, other physiological and psychological signs and symptoms arise, such as malnutrition, anemia, osteopenia, a feeling of well-being dependent on the type of diet and social and/or professional consequences.
How to confirm the diagnosis
The diagnosis of orthorexia should be made by a doctor or nutritionist through a detailed assessment of eating habits, to see if there are important dietary restrictions and excessive preoccupation with food.
It is also important to see a psychologist in order to assess the behavior and whether there is any triggering factor.
When treatment is needed
Treatment of orthorexia nervosa must be done with medical follow-up, and psychological follow-up is also necessary in some cases. It is common to take nutritional supplements in cases where there are deficiencies in nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, or the presence of diseases such as anemia.
In addition to medical follow-up, family support is also essential for orthorexia to be identified and overcome, and for he althy eating without putting the patient's he alth at risk.
It is also important to remember that orthorexia is different from vigorexia, which is when there is an excessive search through physical activity to have the body full of muscles. Understand what vigorexia is and how to identify it.