It seems as if our society has struck a new obsession with the concept of healthy eating and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. You could say this is partially driven by the constant reinforcement and focus the media exposes of the new and improved ways celebrities lose weight and maintain their lean and flawless figures. These reinforcements circulate everyday society through all sorts of mediums including magazines, newspapers and most significantly social media. Almost every month there is a new diet or fad arising that shows effective results in living a healthy lifestyle, some of these including the paleo diet, raw diet and detox diet. We have been constantly reminded by both the media and dieticians that we have to be mindful about the quantity, quality and types of food we are consuming in order to build and maintain a nourishing and balanced lifestyle.
This routine consciousness of healthy dieting has said to become a prime issue in individuals as they are unaware of the fact they might be developing a psychological obsession with their eating habits in order to remain fit and healthy. Although what has to be kept in mind is that there is a “very thin margin between selectivity about the type and quality of food consumed and developing a psychological obsession about the diet in order to remain fit” (Chaki 2013). The development of this psychological fascination about healthy eating, can lead to the extreme of “psychological eating disorder”. This leads us to the essential issue..
Has our latest obsession of healthy ‘pure’ eating created a new eating disorder?
In 1997 American Physician Steven Bratman, labels and introduces this new obsession as ‘Orthorexia Nervosa’. The disorder describes people’s extreme diets in which the individual becomes obsessed and fixated on eating healthy foods intended for positive improvement and wellbeing but have ultimately lead to malnutrition and impairment of daily functioning as it primarily effects the personality and behaviour of the patient.
Copious amounts of research have been conducted in relation to the psychological eating disorder Orthorexia Nervosa, some valuable articles that will support my research project include Biswajit Chaki’s “Exploring scientific legitimacy of orthorexia nervosa: a newly emerging eating disorder” and Steven Bratman’s “A review of the literature and proposed diagnostic criteria: Orthorexia Nervosa.” Although rarely does this research surface due to the lack of public exposure. This ultimately highlights the reason as to why there is such a low awareness rate of the emerging eating disorder. As a result of this it poses another question, how many people are suffering or know someone who is affected by the eating disorder yet have no knowledge or understanding of the long term damage in may have on their wellbeing.
There are various ways I intend on collecting and obtaining information about this latest obsession with ‘pure’ eating and also investigate how prevalent this eating disorder ‘Orthorexia Nervosa’ is. I propose to conduct this analysis through utilising several research methodologies while incorporating the notions of qualitative, quantitative, primary and secondary research. Through practicing this I plan to include the creation of open ended surveys, organising personal structured interviews and lastly carry out a questionnaire for the diagnosis of orthorexia nervosa amongst men and women at random. This questionnaire is called the “ORTO -15” is made up of 15 multiple choice questions, created by Steven Bratman.
With the gathered information collected from the research, hopefully I can get a grasp on how many individuals abide by these healthy eating guidelines, the awareness of Orthorexia Nervosa and overall how healthy is healthy eating in regards to maintain a balanced and nourished lifestyle.
- CHAKI, B, PAL, S, & BANDYOPADHYAY, A 2013, ‘Exploring scientific legitimacy of orthorexia nervosa:a newly emerging eating disorder’, Journal of Human Sport & Exercise, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 1045-1053.
- Dunn, TM, & Bratman, S 2016, ‘On orthorexia nervosa: A review of the literature and proposed diagnostic criteria’, Eating Behaviors, vol. 21, pp. 11-17. Available from: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2015.12.006. [27 March 2016].
- Orthorexia: Proposed Formal Criteria | Orthorexia. (2015). [online] Orthorexia.com. Available at: http://www.orthorexia.com/orthorexia-proposed-formal-criteria/ [Accessed 27 Mar. 2016].