According to a report in the Irish Examiner, orthorexics want to feel "pure, healthy and natural by pursuing a rigidly healthy diet." But some people are going too far.
"It’s a terrible condition and those that suffer it can develop an almost pathological obsession with food," said Suzanne Horgan, director of the Eating Disorder Resource Center of Ireland. "What starts out as a desire to be healthy by eating only certain foods quickly becomes very unhealthy. It’s an almost pathological obsession with the origin of food and the desire to detox and cleanse the body."
In extreme cases, the fixation with only eating organic or additive-free foods can lead to severe malnutrition or even death.
"The relationship with food becomes irrational to the extent that sufferers will not eat for two, three or even four days and it can quickly develop into other eating disorders, like anorexia," Horgan said. "It can also lead to binge-eating because the diet has been so rigid the body is craving food."
Another problem is that people suffering from the condition may not even know it. And despite the lack of awareness, Horgan said it is a growing problem.
"I think it’s definitely on the increase and it can be treated through therapy by exploring the reasons why someone wants to become uber-healthy and why they are over-evaluating themselves."