what is orthorexia and effects on teens?

When we think of eating disorders, we often think of anorexia and bulimia before anything else. However, orthorexia can be just as dangerous.

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Adolescents are at a very critical stage in their development. They are trying to find their place in a world separate from their parents. They are beginning to understand and express themselves as individuals, and that involves decision making. While they may feel ready to take on the world, there are many reasons why mothers need to be aware of the challenges they face to help them make healthy and appropriate decisions. Teens face a lot of pressure, and some of that pressure can lead them into dangerous situations that may be hidden.

Eating disorders can be a common problem for teens as they try to conform to the standard they think they should be. Although eating disorders often affect females, males can suffer from them as well. When a mother thinks of eating disorders, she usually thinks of anorexia and bulimia first, but orthorexia can be just as dangerous and is often overlooked by parents.

What is orthorexia?

Orthorexia is not an official eating disorder because it is not in the DSM, but many experts are calling for it to be included, according to She Knows. Orthorexia is an "obsession" with healthy eating. It causes people to limit the types of foods they eat because they are not "clean" or "good." This leads to an obsession with reading food labels, counting calories and constantly weighing themselves.

It is often overlooked by parents because it can be perceived as an attempt to live a healthy lifestyle and make "smart" choices. However, orthorexia can lead to many problems and should be treated.
Why is it harmful?

Since it can be overlooked because it masquerades as a healthy diet, moms will want to know why it's so important. According to Your Teen Mag, orthorexia can often leave teens malnourished because they don't meet their nutritional needs. They don't get the energy they need because they drastically reduce the amount of calories they consume. This is often referred to as "semi-starvation."

Orthorexia is common among those who spend a lot of time on social media, and this is due to the following health pages, which may not provide medically accurate information. Adolescent bodies are still developing and still need the right amount of food and calories to develop.
Why do teens do this?

There are many reasons why a teen may engage in orthorexia, and to find out exactly why a teen is struggling with this problem, it is necessary to talk to medical professionals. Some of the feelings that may be behind orthorexia are fear, anxiety, and obsession. These feelings are incredibly common among adolescents, who may fear the changes that are occurring and need to feel in control of something.

It can also affect their social-emotional development because it can prevent them from sitting down to a meal with their family. If they haven't cooked a meal, they won't know the number of calories or the exact ingredients used to make it.
Signs to watch for.

If a mother wants to watch for signs of orthorexia in her teenage child, there are a few to watch for. We are not medical experts, but there are some common symptoms of orthorexia, but if a mother has a problem, she should seek a medical professional for her child.

According to Adolescent Growth, it's important to pay attention to your child's attitude toward food and eating. Do they show signs of guilt or shame when they feel they may have "cheated" on their diet or not followed their plan perfectly? They may also verbally "put down" others who are not dieting at all.

Another sign is if your child has completely dropped out of the food group. If your child has suddenly stopped eating carbohydrates of any kind, this can be alarming. They will also become very concerned about how their food is prepared and may ask you a lot of questions as you prepare dinner.

If they feel they cannot control their food, they may avoid situations altogether. They may refrain from attending a party or family dinner if they can't control what is served and fear they won't be able to maintain their diet.

It is always important for mom to have a regular conversation about how important it is for her growing body to get a little bit of everything to be healthy. If her child continues to seem anxious, mom may offer to set up a meeting with a nutritionist/dietitian to discuss what really constitutes a healthy eating pattern for her teen.

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