We all want to eat well, but what happens when healthy eating is taken too far?
As more and more information comes out about our food and how it is produced many are trying their hardest to focus on ‘clean’ eating, eliminating processed foods and trying to eat foods that are more natural. This movement of a more natural diet is of course is not unhealthy at all, it is when these eating habits become obsessive that orthorexia emerges.
For people experiencing otherexia, the quest to eat right becomes an eating disorder in itself. Orthorexia nervosa is not currently recognized as a clinical diagnosis but many people struggle with symptoms associated with this term.
What is Orthorexia?
Originally coined by Dr. Steven Bratman in 1997, the word “orthorexia” is derived from anorexia and “ortho” meaning straight or right. Unlike anorexia, which focuses on restricting food intake in order to achieve a certain body type othorexia restricts foods that are insufficiently ‘clean’, healthy or wholesome.
Is Orthorexia An Eating Disorder?
It is not an officially recognized disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), but it is similar to other eating disorders – those with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa obsess about calories and weight while orthorexics obsess about healthy eating (not about being “thin” and losing weight).
When does eating healthy turn into Orthorexia?
Following a healthy diet does not mean you are orthorexic, and nothing is wrong with eating healthfully. For people with orthorexia, eating healthily has become an extreme, obsessive, psychologically limiting and sometimes physically dangerous disorder. Often, orthorexia seems to have elements of OCD, as does anorexia.
It is most often only a psychological problem in which food concerns become so dominant that other dimensions of life suffer neglect. In rare cases, however, it can be much more severe, even resulting in death via malnutrition.
What Is The Treatment for Orthorexia?
Society pushes healthy eating and thinness, so it is easy for many to not realize how problematic this behavior can become. Even more difficult is that the person doing the healthy eating can hide behind the thought that they are simply eating well.
While orthorexia is not a condition your doctor will diagnose, recovery can require professional help. A practitioner skilled at treating eating disorders is the best choice.