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When Healthy Eating Goes Too Far: The Rise of Orthorexia in the Social Media Age

Updated: May 26, 2023

The clean-eating trap



Have you ever looked at perfectly staged meals and fit models on social media and thought, "Wow, they look great!" Because of the rise of wellness culture and the power of social media, healthy eating has become a popular trend. But what happens when the emphasis on healthy eating becomes an obsession, leading to malnutrition and social isolation? This is where orthorexia comes in.

Orthorexia is a term for an obsession with healthy eating that is so strong that it turns into a mental health disorder. In today's social media age, where influencers tout "clean" eating and picture-perfect bodies, it's easy to see why orthorexia is rising.

The mental health risks of orthorexia need to be talked about to make people aware of them. Let’s explore its definition and causes, particularly in the context of social media.



Health consequences of orthorexia

Orthorexia is not just a battle of the mind but also the body. The physical consequences of this disorder can be debilitating and dangerous. Malnutrition is one of the most worrying physical symptoms because it can cause tiredness, weakness, and other health problems. A restricted diet can cause gastrointestinal issues like bloating, constipation, and abdominal pain, which can be uncomfortable and distracting. Because they aren't getting enough food and their hormones are out of balance, women with orthorexia may also have menstrual problems or not have periods at all. Even though most people want to lose weight, it can be dangerous and even life-threatening if they go too far. Lastly, a common sign is a lot of tiredness. This is because not eating enough and not getting enough nutrition are hard on the body. As a key part of getting better from orthorexia, it is important to recognize and deal with these physical symptoms.




Psychological consequences of orthorexia

Orthorexia can be a slippery slope that takes individuals down a rabbit hole of psychological consequences. The constant need to eat "clean" in a way that is impossible to do can lead to anxiety, depression, and feelings of inadequacy and frustration. This can lead to social isolation because people with orthorexia may find it hard to do things that involve food. This can make them feel alone and cut off from the rest of the world. Also, the obsessive behavior around food can make it hard for people to pay attention to other parts of their lives, making them feel like their need to eat "clean" is taking over their lives. Lastly, orthorexia is often linked to perfectionism because people may feel like they need to eat in a certain way that is impossible. These psychological effects can have long-term effects on a person's mental health, so it's essential to know the warning signs and get help from a professional if needed.



The role of social media in the rise of orthorexia

The rise of social media has changed how we interact with the world, including how we relate to food and what we think about it. With so much food-related content on social media, it's easier than ever to follow the latest food trends and fads. This can have a significant effect on how we eat, leading us to choose unhealthy foods or even develop disordered eating habits. Because of this, it's important to be aware of how social media affects our eating habits and to be wary of food trends.


The culture of comparison and perfection that social media has created can have a big effect on how we feel about ourselves and how we see our bodies. The constant stream of images and messages that show a narrow view of beauty can make people feel bad about themselves. Pressure to meet these impossible standards can also cause people to be obsessed with their looks, develop bad eating habits, and have a bad opinion of their own bodies. To stop the harmful effects on our mental health, we need to look at social media with a critical eye and encourage self-love and body positivity.



The fine line between health and obsession

To stay healthy and happy, it's crucial to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods from each food group. This is to make sure that our bodies get the nutrients and energy they need to work at their best, which improves our quality of life. It's good for your body and your health, and it helps you have a good relationship with food. On the other hand, orthorexia is an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. It has strict rules about what you can and can't eat, a focus on the purity and quality of food, and a skewed idea of what "healthy" eating is. Orthorexia can make your physical and mental health worse and mess up your everyday life, relationships, and quality of life as a whole.



Identifying the signs and symptoms of orthorexia

Orthorexia is an intricate disorder that is often misunderstood. Some signs and symptoms of orthorexia are an obsession with healthy eating, strict dietary rules and restrictions, intense guilt or anxiety about food choices, and a negative effect on social and emotional well-being. Malnutrition can happen when people don't get enough of the nutrients they need, which can hurt their physical and mental health.

Compulsive exercising is also typical in orthorexia and can be a way to burn off calories or "purify" the body after consuming "unhealthy" foods. Avoiding social situations that involve food is another symptom that can be related to orthorexia, as it may cause anxiety or stress related to the fear of consuming foods that do not meet the individual's strict dietary rules. If you or someone you know is having trouble with these symptoms, consulting a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment is necessary.



Coping mechanism for orthorexia

Orthorexia can be hard to overcome, but it is possible to regain a healthy relationship with food with the right help and strategies. Some ways to deal with orthorexia are to get professional help, practice self-compassion and mindfulness, find new hobbies or activities to focus on, and build a support system of family and friends who can offer encouragement and understanding. By taking small steps toward a balanced and flexible approach to food and exercise, individuals with orthorexia can find a path toward a healthier and happier life.



To conclude….

In the age of social media, the rise of orthorexia is a worrying trend that needs to be dealt with. It can be hard to keep up with the pressure to look a certain way and eat a certain way, leading to a dangerous obsession with healthy eating. Recognizing the symptoms of orthorexia and getting help when necessary is essential. Mindfulness, asking for help from friends and family, and getting professional help are all ways to deal with this condition. This reminds us that while striving for healthy eating is admirable, it shouldn't become an obsession that dominates our lives.

Tip: Connect with your food, Consult your brain, and Heal yourself!



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