There’s a lot of pressure to make sure that the food you eat is “healthy,” but sometimes, focusing on eating healthy food can go too far. The obsession with and fixation on eating healthy food, known as orthorexia, can be dangerous. For some individuals, genuinely wanting to eat healthy may become a problem if the person becomes consumed with what and how much to eat, the quality and purity of food, and self-punishment when the diet is broken. The obsession with quality and purity of food can cause someone to continue to restrict the types and amounts of food until health begins to suffer—restrictive diets often cause nutritional deficits.
As with many disordered eating behaviors, an obsession with healthy food can lead to withdrawal from activities and interests and impairment in relationships. Some individuals focus their time solely on planning their meals and their food intake.
The line between health and obsession can be difficult to differentiate. Here are several signs that someone may be having difficulty with food:
- Preoccupation with the purity or healthiness of foods
- Avoiding foods that you label “unhealthy”
- Spending a large amount of time per day researching foods and preparing “healthy” foods
- Feeling guilty after you eat foods that are “unhealthy”
- Engaging in exercise or food restriction after eating foods you deem unhealthy or impure
- Judging others for their diets