HOW DOES ORTHOREXIA NERVOSA AFFECT YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES?
What’s so wrong with trying to eat healthy? Haven’t we been told to do that all our lives? It depends on what food beliefs the patient is obsessed with, said Reutens.
“For example, if the person deems carbohydrates are bad, he will eliminate an entire food group, which can lead to drastic weight loss, fatigue and irritability.” The common nutritional deficiencies that can result, she said, involve zinc, iron, calcium and protein, which can lead to hair loss, lethargy, loss of muscle mass, brittle or weak nails, low immunity and dry skin.
If the person is determined to cut out preservatives, you may not see obvious physical changes because no major food groups have been omitted, said Reutens, but there will still be adverse effects on his mental health.
“It is mentally draining to live with orthorexia nervosa,” she said. “The person thinks about what he’s going to eat for the entire day the moment he wakes up. For the rest of the day, he’s thinking about how to ‘perfect’ his diet even more based on his own set goals that are usually unrealistic.”
Frustration comes in when the patient is unable to find sufficient sources of “healthy” food, said Dr Tay. And this “violation of self-imposed dietary rules can cause a sense of personal impurity, low self-esteem, guilt, anxiety or even an exaggerated fear of disease”.