Orthorexia, bigorexia, drunkorexia

Nowadays we can often read or hear that our culture is affected by an easy access to food and a lack of active movement, both resulting in growing numbers of overweight people. At the same time, there is an increasing number of those who have various ?problems? with food or their figure, are markedly unhappy with their own bodies and/or have abnormal eating patterns. When coping with food and their body, they may get into extremes that endanger their health or even their life. Orthorexia, bigorexia and drunkorexia are relatively new types of eating disorders that are equally dangerous as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa or compulsive overeating when they reach extremes. We are now going to search for the border between a life style and a disease that poses a severe risk to one´s health condition and turns her life into hell. Orthorexia is a pathological obsession by healthy food. The term is composed of two Greek words: ?orthos? – correct and ?orexis? – taste. The disorder manifests so that the initial orientation on healthy food, stores that sell it and search for information how is such a food processed turns into obsession and main life activity. The fear of ?unhealthy? food grows, the healthy food is investigated in more depth and gradually stops being healthy enough, i.e. safe. The diet thus reduces to a minimum, the patient loses weight and becomes underweight. Moreover, s/he must think about food very frequently (like in anorexia nervosa), is bothered by anxiety and depression that lead to a feeling of loneliness and real isolation. The patient has nothing to share with others in such a condition. The problem appears mainly in women, even though it is less prevalent than anorexia or bulimia. Orthorectic patients are radical objectors to artificially fertilized, genetically modified food, that is chemically preserved and coloured. They orient themselves exclusively to organic food from special stores. The pathological issue is the extreme refusal of everything else, not the mere idea that food should be maximally natural and thus healthier. The list of ?approved food? becomes shorter in time as even organic food may be unsafe ? it depends on producers and whether they really complied with all ?organic procedures?, if the food was not contaminated by polluted air … At the same time ?unhealthy food? turns into poison that if ingested by the patient would certainly cause poisoning or another severe disease. I think that the difference between preference of healthy food without additives (E agents) and obsessive ?organic fanatism? is really evident. Definitely, the issue is not to make a healthy life style pathological but to describe a condition when things get out of control. The term orthorexia was first used to describe a fanatic obsession by health food in the book ?Healthfood Junkies? by Steven Bratman, an American physician. He had himself founded a community of people concerned with healthfood but over time he found out that excessive concern with it leads to extreme changes in eating patterns due to obssesive limitations and to significant negative consequences on physical and mental health. So he later dissolved the community. Bigorexia on the contrary concerns body proportions in the sense of obsession by one´s looks. There is a disorder in perception of one´s body when the patient strives for achieving often unreal values of body fitness or body proportions. The literature also refers to this mental disorder under the term ?dysmorphophobia? (excessive concern with fictitiously defective look in a normally looking person) or it can be found under ?Adonis complex?. Bigorectics consider themselves weak, with insufficient musculature, they are much bothered and willing to do a lot to achieve the looks of stars from body building journals or action movies. They are often dependent on body building, abuse protein food supplements, and substances enhancing muscle growth and modifying metabolism (anabolics). The main risk of the disorder is so-called ?overuse syndrome? – a damage to locomotor system due to long-term overload. A totally unbalanced diet and overuse of ergogenic substances (supplements with high protein and aminoacid content) also pose excessive burden onto digestive tract, kidneys and liver. Bigorectics suffer from overweight that they intentionally develop by means of high energy intake to enhance muscular growth. A substantial risk to mental health is brought by social isolation; like in other dependencies, the patients lose common topics with other people and they prefer going to fitcentres to socializing. Mental problems may develop also as a result of insufficient financial resources (fitcentres, food and supplements cost quite a lot and at the same time there may be problems at work or even a loss of job). Drunkorexia refers to repeated reduction of food intake in order to reduce calories and allow oneself to drink more alcohol. This obsession is based on the fact that alcohol, namely spirits, contain a lot of calories. The main role is again taken by dissatisfaction with one´s figure and fear of weight gain. Drunkorexia also includes intentional increase of energy output at parties or discos by combined drinking of spirits and energy drinks. This disorder affects more women but men are not immune either. Statistical data from American population say that 30% girls at the age 18-24 years skip food in order to drink more alcohol. The main danger of such a behaviour is that alcohol gets absorbed much faster on empty stomach and may reach liver in less than 15 minutes. Its effect is thus stronger and more dangerous ? the body absorbs it worse, moreover it often comes in a higher dose as ?eating less means drinking more!? Besides, it is very dangerous to mix alcohol with energy drinks. Such a combination markedly raises blood pressure and heart action, at the same time it reduces the ability to perceive tiredness. So a sudden collapse threatens not only those with a heart defect or hypertension but healthy youth as well. There are numerous cases of sudden deaths ascribed to such a behaviour. Drunkorexia threatens mental health as any other eating disorder – patients experience anxiety when trying to control their proportions, dissatisfaction because it does not go according to their often unrealistic ideas, and ?after-party depressions? from the amount of alcohol drunk and also of food consumed (when tipsy or drunk the patients simply satisfy their hunger). The patient gradually suffers on social level ? repeated irritation due to hunger or quick drunkeness on empty stomach markedly diminish social attractivity of such a person and may lead to feelings of strangeness, loneliness, isolation.