Orthorexia Nervosa:A Healthy Obsession?

What is Orthorexia Nervosa?

Orthorexia Nervosa is a disorder in which someone is obsessed with eating the “right” kinds of food. This food is pure, healthy and typically organic. The compulsive obsession those with orthorexia have takes control of their lives, causing them to view their own worth through the food they eat. This distorted perception in turn affects their view of others, causing them to look down on anyone who does not have the same self-discipline they do. Eating disorder treatment is offered for people suffering from unhealthy disorders, such as orthorexia nervosa.

Those with orthorexia nervosa obsess over what is eaten, how much of it is eaten and how it was prepared. Most people with orthorexia nervosa can think of little else, and find it difficult to carry on a conversation without bringing up the subject of food. Relationships, school and work all suffer neglect as a result of this obsession. Vacations are seldom as they typically cause deviation from a strict diet.

Many people with orthorexia nervosa religiously follow certain food rules. These rules determine what they can and can not eat. Obsession over a perfect diet is sometimes so intense that when its rules are broken, certain punishments are imposed. While these punishments may not be as extreme as what someone with anorexia or bulimia might set, they are usually very limiting. Those with this disorder take weight loss and healthy eating to an extreme level, limiting relationships and overall happiness. Eating disorder treatment can help those with orthorexia nervosa find a healthy balance in life.

Ten Common Signs of Orthorexia Nervosa

  1. Planning meals several days in advance
  2. Feeling extremely guilty when you break your diet
  3. Always assessing the nutritional value of foods before eating
  4. Unable to enjoy social activities
  5. Feeling distanced in relationships
  6. Happier when you eat “correctly”
  7. Spending more than 3 hours a day thinking about your diet
  8. Looking down on people who have no control over what they eat
  9. Strictly controlling yourself
  10. No longer eating your favorite foods

Risks/Complications of Orthorexia Nervosa

Physical risks associated with orthorexia nervosa are very few, if any, most risks and complications of orthorexia nervosa are social and emotional. These include:

  • Loneliness
  • Spending too much time buying and planning out meals
  • Eating alone, isolation
  • Poor relationships

Although one may not think that “healthy eating” is an actual eating disorder, such extreme concentration on food is unhealthy and should be treated before certain consequences take place. Effective eating disorder treatment centers treat the emotional and social aspects of an eating disorder as well as the physical. These eating disorder residential centers desire to help their residents and give them hope and advice.