All three of the above terms refer to a particular behavior. All three of those terms are used by doctors who must alert parents to the fact that their son or daughter suffers from an eating disorder. While anorexia nervosa and bulimia might be viewed as “dieting disorders,” orthorexia results from an overstated emphasis on healthy food.
A young person who eats nothing except healthy food, but who fails to ingest a sufficient quantity of healthy food might develop orthorexia. Individuals who stick to a vegan diet stand at greatest risk for developing orthorexic symptoms. For someone on a vegan diet, only careful meal planning can guarantee ingestion of sufficient calories by a moderately active or a highly active youth.
Orthorexia occurs when an individual puts severe restrictions on his or her diet. Orthorexia has also occurred in youth, when their parents have forced them to stay on a very restrictive diet. For example, a parent who has wanted the family to eat only healthy food has been known to avoid the purchase of all foods containing some form of fat.
An online search for information about orthorexia reveals the importance of fat in food. Memories of one young woman fail to contain one moment when she did not feel hungry, because her mother refused to have any fat in the house. That same young lady later developed orthorexia.
Hunger can not be associated with health. A person on a healthy diet should not feel hungry. The craving for fat represents a healthy desire for satisfaction, for satiety.
Parents who want to offer their children healthy foods, but who do not want those children to then show orthorexic symptoms, might benefit from studying the diet of one player on the football team at a southern California high school. That young man had big muscles.
One time at the end of the football season, the coach announced that the team would celebrate with a barbeque. The muscular defense player told the coach that he would not be coming to the barbeque, because he did not eat meat. The coach was quite taken-back by that confession.
That football player showed no signs of orthorexia. He had learned how to get a sufficient number of calories from his vegan diet. He had learned how to build-up his muscles while eating a diet rich in beans and grains. He had appreciated the importance of using some fat during the preparation of meals rich in beans, grains and vegetables.
That football player had not become muscular by eating loads of ice cream. Still, his Hindu upbringing had not caused him to refrain from eating plenty of fruit. His parents had given him a healthy but satisfying diet. His parents had not allowed their own religious preferences to impose dangerous restrictions on their son.
Orthorexia would not hamper the success of one high school football team.