Dangerous to health: Obsessive exercising, dieting defined as new eating disorders

Although there’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of the SRC on UNA’s campus, obsessively working out and dieting, also called “orthorexia,” can be a dangerous addiction.

Orthorexia is “an obsession with healthy or righteous eating,” according to eatingdisorderhelpguide.com.

For many years, orthorexia was not recognized as an eating disorder; however, it has recently come to national attention.

The disease makes the victim obsessed with eating the perceived right food and the right amounts.

Those who suffer from this disease do not suffer from the same health deficiencies as those with bulimia or anorexia, but they do lack necessary nutrition.

Many professionals once believed that orthorexia was another form of obsessive compulsive disorder, but it is now considered its own disease.

Some characteristics of a person with orthorexia are perfectionism and being overly self-critical.

The main problem with orthorexics is that they do not think they need help, and most will not accept professional help because they are very proud of their healthy eating habits.

Glenda Richey, the fitness coordinator at the Student Recreation Center, is an expert on orthorexia. In fact, she was once accused of being orthorexic. She believes that almost everyone has a small case of orthorexia.

“I eat whatever I deem the right things to eat,” Richey said.

While she sees nothing wrong with counting calories, she believes it can become an unhealthy obsession that can eventually lead to death.

She is very serious about her diet and gets pleasure from being in control of what she eats. However, she diets the safe way and says that you can really eat anything in moderation.

Some advice Richey gives to those suffering from orthorexia is to eat a wide variety of foods.

Having a narrow diet can be very dangerous and lack the nutritional value that is necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

While obtaining perfection is the main idea of orthorexia, it can get out of hand, according to Richey.

Richey advises those who count calories to do it the right way by eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and protein to nurture the body.

Richey gets a thrill out of planning out her next meal and counting its calories.

She says that eating, for those with orthorexia, is more about the virtue of maintaining self-control than the pleasure of eating food.

“It gives me an increased sense of self-esteem,” Richey said.

The downfalls of having orthorexia are: isolation from others that may participate in fun activities that require eating “bad things,” as well as looking down upon someone that does not eat healthily.

Symptoms of orthorexia include depression and mood swings, avoidance of eating food prepared by others, advanced planning of the day’s meals, time spent thinking about food, fear that eating away from home will make it impossible to eat healthily, satisfaction from sticking to a diet and guilt when deviating from a diet.

Richey suggests notifying her or health services if you or someone you know exhibits signs of dangerous eating behaviors that may be linked to anorexia, bulimia or orthorexia.