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  • Janelle Hunt

Nutritionist for an eating disorder called Orthorexia: Not just "healthy" eating

Orthorexia is a relatively new term used to describe an eating disorder characterized by an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating. It is not yet officially recognized as a clinical diagnosis, but it is becoming increasingly recognized as a serious health concern. Many people who struggle with orthorexia start out with good intentions – wanting to eat healthier and live a healthier lifestyle. However, as their obsession with healthy eating grows, it can begin to take over their lives and negatively impact their physical and emotional well-being.

Symptoms of Orthorexia

The symptoms of orthorexia can vary from person to person and may include some or all of the following:

· Obsessively checking food labels and ingredients · Avoiding entire food groups or certain types of food · Refusing to eat anything that is not considered "clean" or "pure" · Spending excessive amounts of time planning and preparing meals · Feeling guilty or ashamed when deviating from strict food rules · Experiencing anxiety or panic attacks when faced with unfamiliar foods or

situations · Feeling a sense of superiority or self-righteousness about their food choices · Withdrawing from social activities that involve food


While many of these behaviors on their own may seem harmless, they can become problematic when they start to interfere with an individual's daily life and emotional well-being.

Consequences of Orthorexia

Orthorexia can have serious consequences on an individual's physical and emotional health. Some of the potential risks of orthorexia include:

· Nutrient deficiencies: Individuals who follow very restrictive diets may be at risk

for nutrient deficiencies, which can lead to a range of health problems. · Social isolation: Individuals with orthorexia may become socially isolated as

they withdraw from social activities that involve food. · Anxiety and depression: The rigid rules and extreme behaviors associated with

orthorexia can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns. · Eating disorders: Orthorexia can be a gateway to other eating disorders or co-

occur with anorexia or bulimia. · Impaired immune function: Extremely restrictive diets can lead to a

compromised immune function and increased susceptibility to illness.


Treatment Options for Orthorexia The good news is that orthorexia is treatable. Treatment typically involves a combination of therapy, nutrition counseling, and medical supervision. Therapy can help individuals identify the underlying emotional and psychological factors that contribute to their obsessive behaviors around food. Nutrition counseling can help individuals develop a healthy relationship with food by learning how to eat a balanced diet that meets their nutritional needs. Medical supervision may be necessary for individuals who have developed nutrient deficiencies or other health complications as a result of their restrictive diets.

While it may seem positive to prioritize healthy eating habits, it is important to recognize when these habits become an obsession that begin to negatively affect one's life. Orthorexia can be a serious eating disorder, and early intervention is key to successful treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with orthorexia, seeking professional help from a qualified healthcare provider is strongly recommended.

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