Are you obsessed with eating unhealthy foods? You may be suffering from orthorexia.

Sitting in front of the food aisle for over an hour to read the composition of each product, chewing 50 times to give your brain the impression it is eating more: orthorexia, or the obsession with healthy eating, develops during healthy fashion hour.

As yet, there is no scientific consensus on orthorexia. The two views most often supported are its classification under eating disorders (ED) or under obsessive behavioral disorders.

Orthorexia, which is still under investigation, was detected through a ten-question test developed by Steven Bratman, an American physician who in 1995 gave this name to the condition from which he himself was suffering.

“If the patient distinguishes between healthy and unhealthy food, if he is overwhelmed by strong or even disproportionate emotions with unhealthy food and this affects his daily life, he probably has orthorexia.”

Alexandre Chapy, psychologist in Montpellier

Orthorexia has a closeness, but there remains a difference between the two: “An orthorexiaer does not want to lose weight”when this is the goal of an anorexic person.“Orthorexia value aesthetic body image less, but look at their bodies through the prism of their health”analyzes Laurence Myr, dietician in Fumel, in Lot-et-Garonne.

More than the desire to be healthy, “they are afraid of being poisoned by pesticides or food, of dying from cancer”“says Alexandre Chapuy. They follow strict diets, which in themselves are not problematic “as long as it does not bother us, that we do not isolate ourselves and that our health is not affected”emphasizes the psychologist.

For Laurence Myr, however, people who follow specific diets by eliminating certain foods can “more prone to developing a disorder” eating.

“Developing extremely strict behavior, like an orthorexic person does, leads to social unrest”, fueled by the healthy practices advocated on social networks, can trigger a shift toward harmful obsessive behavior, she adds. Especially since the various agri-food scandals, such as the recent contamination of chocolates or pizzas by bacteria, “Consumer confidence is very weak”

Dietitian Laurence Myr notes an “increase in her patient base” suffering from orthorexia, but official figures on the extent of this condition in the world are useless, in the absence of an accurate diagnosis. However, it establishes a prevalence among “athletes, health students, researchers or dietitians“, which work in connection with food.


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