Orthorexia in sport – the general picture of the fashionable 21st century disease


Eating disorders in the modern world are becoming an increasingly common problem. One this disorder types is orthorexia nervosa, or extreme adherence to a healthy lifestyle. It is very popular among athletes. However, during the pursuit of a beautiful and healthy body, the results may not meet expectations. Orthorexia can cause excessive obesity, despite high sports activity or on the contrary – severe body exhaustion.

It is hard to believe that a healthy diet can lead to some disease. But it can. It can really lead to the very dangerous disorder in which the patient is obsessed with cooking methods, constant weighing and checking the compatibility of macronutrients.

What is orthorexiawhat is orthorexia nervosa

Orthorexia is a mental disorder associated with nutrition. This disease is characterized by an obsessive desire to eat healthy and proper food.

Orthorexic avoids many products, chooses certain methods of cooking, avoiding frying and freezing. Such a person often avoid regular food, counts calories and strictly controls the amount of consumed food.

Usually, orthorexia nervosa is accompanied by other eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, or cause them if it has not been treated for a long time. All this destroys the body and can contributes the development of allergies and food intolerance.

Orthorexia in sport

Basically, this type of disorder affects people who have an active lifestyle and engage in various sports. Mostly orthorexia nervosa affects athletes of such disciplines as bodybuilding and fitness, but not only them. They tend to gain the right (from their point of view) weight or to lose weight. Therefore, they begin to worry and get angry if they do not control the ingredients content in the consuming food. Orthorexics are afraid to break out of the food plan, because this way they can become fat!

For many athletes, this orthorexia develops very quickly. This is due to the common fact that diet is a big part of success in building the body, and training is only its complement. So athletes attach great importance to nutrition, greatly reduce the amount of consuming food, eat too little food, or overeat, nervously count each gram of the product.

Contrary to expectations, such “healthy” lifestyle does not add health. On the contrary, there are many hormonal, intestinal and behavioral disorders, as well as concentration problems and chronic stress.

People who are active in sports like to joke: “I no longer see food, I only see proteins, fats and carbohydrates.” It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

Now on the Internet there are many websites where you can keep your own log of nutrition and training, as well as applications for tracking carbs, prots, fats and calories.

However, such strict monitoring of food is not accurate. Secondary factors have a great influence on the nutritional and energy value of the eaten food. The factors are method of cooking, the degree of maturity for fruit and vegetables, manufacturer, and even the time of storage. For example, it is believed that the banana contains an average 20 grams of carbohydrates per 100 g, but in fact the amount can be 15-50!

orthorexia nervosa treatment

How to treat orthorexia in sport

The fact that the athlete has orthorexia does not sentence him to eternal suffering and headache from counting calories. After all, this mental disorder is treatable.

The first step

The beginning of the “healing” is the realization of your obsession and how much time and effort you spend on it. You can, for example, calculate how much time you spend on the menu, cooking, and how much difficulty it all brings.

You also need to take the time and decide on the goals that you want to achieve, because of which began to adhere to this method of nutrition. A special meal regimen is usually associated with a specific task, such as weight gain or weight loss. We cannot allow this process to last forever.

The optimal state for the body is a state of homeostasis, that is, the desire for stability in eating and maintaining weight. For example, if we lost weight for 3 months, using a low-carb diet and maintaining a negative balance of calories – you need to use a break for a few weeks or even a few months, during which you should maintain the weight.

Frequent weight loss and constant calorie deficit leads to the effect of yo-yo. So we only harm ourselves, and excess kilograms will return in any case. If a person does not have such priorities as competitions or urgent preparation for them, then there is no reason for radical decisions like hunger strikes or overeating.

Severe starvation before the competition and rapid weight gain immediately after them cause only stress, rejection of your own body, which eventually deepens.

orthorexia nervosa treatment

Step two

It requires slow changes that will help to return to adequate nutrition. Over time, you will realize that eating a chop at a Sunday dinner or a good portion of chocolate will not spoil the figure and will not lead to the starting point.

Of course, we can not allow the reverse situation, which is obesity. However, it should be remembered that even the best athletes make cheat-meals. These meals allow them to improve metabolism, improve mood and relax.

Step three

Make a plan of actions based on new experience. Now that you have assessed the negative impact of such a “healthy” lifestyle, you understand where you made a mistake. Set more realistic goals and stick to adequate eating habits.

Cook more simple food and stop counting each calorie. Eat 3-5 times a day depending on your goals, so as not to overeat during the day and with each specific meal. Because the stomach has a limited volume. Frequent meals will also help to avoid hunger.

Alternate rest and work. Spend no more than 2-3 months a year for priority nutrition, whether it is weight loss or muscle gain. Then return to a balanced diet. This mode is much better than constant stress.

Orthorexia nervosa is very common among athletes, but they rarely realize such dependence on food.

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