FROM WIKIPEDIA: In 2016, formal criteria for orthorexia were proposed in the peer-reviewed journal Eating Behaviors by authors Dr Thom Dunn of the University of Northern Colorado, and Steven Bratman. These criteria are as follows:
Criterion A. Obsessive focus on "healthy" eating, as defined by a dietary theory or set of beliefs whose specific details may vary; marked by exaggerated emotional distress in relationship to food choices perceived as unhealthy; weight loss may ensue, but this is conceptualized as an aspect of ideal health rather than as the primary goal. As evidenced by the following:
- Compulsive behavior and/or mental preoccupation regarding affirmative and restrictive dietary practices believed by the individual to promote optimum health. (Footnotes to this criteria add: Dietary practices may include use of concentrated "food supplements." Exercise performance and/or fit body image may be regarded as an aspect or indicator of health.)
- Violation of self-imposed dietary rules causes exaggerated fear of disease, sense of personal impurity and/or negative physical sensations, accompanied by anxiety and shame.
- Dietary restrictions escalate over time, and may come to include elimination of entire food groups and involve progressively more frequent and/or severe "cleanses" (partial fasts) regarded as purifying or detoxifying. This escalation commonly leads to weight loss, but the desire to lose weight is absent, hidden or subordinated to ideation about healthy food.
- Malnutrition, severe weight loss or other medical complications from restricted diet
- Intrapersonal distress or impairment of social, academic or vocational functioning secondary to beliefs or behaviors about healthy diet
- Positive body image, self-worth, identity and/or satisfaction excessively dependent on compliance with self-defined "healthy" eating behavior.
My Reflections: One must be mindful of the extent to which a food choice that does not support health goals impacts him/her both emotionally and physically. When thoughts about one's food choice shows up, recognize them, and ask what those thoughts might be telling you. If there's any merit to them, you've gained information that may propel you to make more helpful choices next time around. If they're punitive, notice and replace them with a more gentle understanding: "I had a taste hunger; that was an emotional hunger I was feeding." Food and mood are related and can connect us to emotional hungers as well as physical needs. Our bodies give us information about what it wants AND doesn't want. Be receptive to listening to the wisdom of your body and be open to the consequence of foods that provide momentary pleasure, but deplete you of the vitality and mental focus that other food choices and physical movement/exercise may have.
Also, there's a deep pressure sometimes to connect-and receive love-through food. One may be so disciplined in making choices alone, but when with family or friends, they feel like you've rejected them if you don't partake in the feast as they do. True friends and family can understand that presence and joy with them can be just as connecting as the food, and respect your choices. If not, that is their issue. Your actions and behavior at the feast can be part of a larger cultural narrative that enriches the meaning of connection beyond the plate.
Finally, our bodies are gifts that can support us in doing the things we want to do. If there's a focus on wellness, let's not problematize it. We can notice when things are getting out of hand (some of the symptoms noted in the diagnostic set), be gentle with ourselves, and move forward with greater awareness to living a lifestyle that we come to understand and define as most helpful to our own emotional and physical wellness. This will be as unique as people are, and that's the beauty of awareness, which food and our physicality bring forth.