Keeping a teenager healthy and happy is a difficult business. As your child grows old enough to make decisions, it is important to encourage their independence. However, when your teen makes decisions that could seriously impact physical or mental health, it is important to know the facts. Some problems like adolescent drug abuse or anger management issues have clear warnings affecting the future. Sometimes dangerous choices are more difficult to uncover. When a lifestyle change seems healthy, you don’t want to object, but obsession over any choice is unhealthy.
Orthorexia is an obsession with eating only healthy foods. Although it is not formally recognized as a health condition, more people are becoming aware of the condition’s existence. It is obviously not a problem to be interested in a healthy diet, but when the interest changes your child’s lifestyle, you should be concerned.
Warning Signs of Orthorexia
As your teen grows older, it is natural to develop opinions about being healthy, losing weight, and looking attractive. However, when these healthy changes become extreme the results can be dangerous. There are some signs to help you determine if your teen is at risk
Cutting out Entire Food Groups
If your child refuses to eat all foods associated with an entire food group, it can be dangerous. While sugar might be the beginning trigger often other foods follow. When your teen refuses to eat all meat, carbs, or any fats, they lose valuable nutrients.
Obsessive Planning of Meals
Teens are often on-the-go. They are juggling school, part-time jobs, and a social life. While it’s healthy to take the time to avoid a diet composed entirely of fast food and ice cream, spending hours planning the perfect proportions is dangerous. A healthy change takes some effort at first, then develops naturally. Dangerous obsessions take over more and more of your child’s time.
Critical Opinions of the Food of Others
As the obsession with a healthy menu takes over, your child may begin criticizing the eating habits of family and friends.
Avoiding Events Centered Around Food
A teenager who once enjoyed an active social life might avoid dates or hanging out with friends to stay away from unhealthy food choices. Friendships and new experiences are integral in teen development and avoiding enjoyable activities can lead to depression.
Suffering Extreme Guilt or Self-Loathing When Straying from the Diet
Feeling guilty for cheating on your diet is natural. It shouldn’t turn into something that ruins your day. Being conscious of the best ways to stay healthy helps keep us on track, obsession with staying that way can be dangerous. A food choice should never be a reason for your teen to change the way they feel about themselves.
Showing Distress or Panic When Healthy Foods Aren’t Available
Eating healthy is a choice, but we realize we can occasionally eat something fattening or less healthy without extreme consequences. If your teen shows visible distress when healthy or pure foods aren’t available, the diet could affect mental health. Some patients even skip entire meals when “approved foods” aren’t available.
Getting Help for Orthorexia
Orthorexia is not a new condition. However, today’s teens have continual access to media endorsing healthy lifestyles. With the mixture of these ideals and the opinions dominating social media, it is easy for a bothersome event to morph into a life-changing disorder. Orthorexia can be particularly dangerous for teens since they are still growing. Eliminating entire food groups often leads to malnourishment. This is a serious danger for the growing minds and bodies of teenagers.
While orthorexia is not currently considered an official condition, it is widely recognized as a problem. Some specialists consider the condition be a possible subset of Anorexia Nervosa, while others think it might be more closely related to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. If you recognize the symptoms of this dangerous disorder in your teenager, it is important to get help. Our specialized team at Centered Health understands the symptoms and dangers of Orthorexia. We have the facilities, education, and caring staff ready to assist your teenager on the road to a full recovery. Start your journey back to health with a phone call to us today.