They are not concerned with the "how much" of their food, such as the anorexic, but with the right quality. And so that this is true, sometimes hours of the day can be spent with pondering on the content of the food taken. What is seen by some doctors as quirks is identified by others as a precursor to anorexia or obsessive-compulsive disorder; some even see it as an independent disease.
The "new illness" was discovered in 1997 by the alternative physician Steven Bratman. He derived the name from the long-known clinical picture of the eating disorder anorexia. These come in two forms, but they both have in common with the amount of food: whether in the form of puberty-anorexia (anorexia nervosa) food intake is drastically reduced or alternate in the anorexia bulimia phases compulsive fasting with food cravings.
Orthorexia: nutrition and symptoms
Orthorexia (orthos = correct, orexis = appetite) does not focus on quantity but on the quality of food. Those affected are morbidly fixated on healthy food and try to avoid unhealthy. And that can take on an absurd scale: they ponder nutrition tables for hours each day, check the vitamin content of the foods they eat and try to get "healthier" foods - even if they have to order their millet in Africa, for example.
This excessive conflict - compounded by the frequent food scandals in the media (such as BSE, acylamide, etc.) - means more and more food is falling through the grid because it no longer meets the quality criteria it's based on, for example because it is allegedly contaminated with pollutants. are carcinogenic or allergenic or otherwise unhealthy. Those affected live at the end of this "healthy" oriented "nutritional career" mostly vegan, so they only feed on vegetables and fruits - and buy their food in the health food store or order on the Internet.
Orthorexia: consequences of the disease
On the track is not only the desire for food, it also comes to significant deficiencies - and of course underweight. If the person concerned turns to a doctor, then with symptoms such as sleep and concentration disorders, listlessness and limited performance. The extreme fixation on healthy food also has social consequences. Because who feeds so extreme, can no longer eat in convivial round or has to bring his own food. Those affected are also limited by the fact that they are trying with great sense of mission to convert their environment to a healthier life.
Orthorexia: cause control need
Some physicians see the eating disorder referred to in professional circles as Orthorexia nervosa not as an independent disease, but as an obsessive-compulsive disorder, but which may well lead to a manifest eating disorder (such as anorexia). Others consider the fixation on healthy food to be a partial symptom of an already existing eating disorder. Because of these difficulties in the assignment Orthorexia nervosa (currently) is neither included in the international nor the German disease classification. It is therefore officially not recognized as an independent disease.
As a possible cause - as with anorexia patients - the need for control is seen. Regimentation of food intake restores this control, which has been lost in other areas of life. This way, fears and a general reduction in self-esteem can be compensated. Affected are - also here a parallel to anorexia - especially young, mostly educated women between the second and fourth decade of life. Often, they go through a diet for weight loss or a dietary measure associated with a (chronic) disease in the vicious cycle of healthy eating.
Orthorexia: therapy and treatment
Orthorexia is treated like an eating disorder. It is about finding back to a "normal" eating habits and being able to live the food again relaxed. Those affected must learn to "treat themselves" with something that simply tastes good without asking for health or nutritional values. If the weight loss is very pronounced, psychotherapy may be necessary in Orthorexia nervosa.