Local doctors are warning parents about an emerging trend they’re seeing in their offices: children and teens who take healthy eating to the extreme fueled by what they see on social media.
They warn the trend could lead to physical or mental illness.
Psychologists at Children’s Health in Dallas say more young people are coming in for medical attenion after taking their obession for clean eating to the extreme, leading to a condition orthorexia.
“People will narrow the foods that they eat down to a small group of things, based on these ideas of, in their minds, what is clean or unclean or what is healthy of unhealthy,” said Children’s Health psychologist and UT Southwestern assistant professor of psychology Dr. Andy McGarrahan.
Although not formally recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, awareness about orthorexia is on the rise.
The term ‘orthorexia’ was coined in 1998 and means an obsession with proper or ‘healthful’ eating.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, although being aware of and concerned with the nutritional quality of the food you eat isn’t a problem in and of itself, people with orthorexia become so fixated on so-called ‘healthy eating’ that they actually damage their own well-being.
Dr. McGarrahan says teenagers can restrict food groups that contain nutrients their growing bodies need.
“Your body wants a balance. It doesn’t just want kale and broccoli.”
He also warns orthorexia can be dangerous for people with a family history of eating disorders.
He warns parents that if your child begins to withdraw from activities to avoid food, or always wants to eat by him or herself, your child’s obssession may have manifested into a mental health disorder.
According to the U.S. Health and Human Services, teens should be getting an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables, fat, protein and carbs.