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5 Things You Need to Know About Orthorexia

Around 24 million people in the United States suffer from an eating disorder. Mental illnesses such as anorexia or bulimia are typically what come to mind. However, did you know that some that practice "healthy eating" are suffering from an eating disorder as well?

This "healthy eating" becomes an issue when the person becomes so fixated and obsessed with their diet that it negatively affects their life. Continue reading to learn five things you must know about orthorexia nervosa.

1. Causes of Orthorexia

To learn more about "what is orthorexia," you may want to consider the causes. Orthorexia usually begins with positive eating goals. Over time it becomes more extreme as they begin to restrict themselves further.

There isn't a lot known about the causes of orthorexia. However, it is often linked to those who have experienced other eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Several other factors such as profession and social media can contribute.

2. Orthorexia Symptoms

Learning about this illness could be alarming for those who practice a healthy diet. Could this be me? There are several things to look for when it comes to how to tell if you have orthorexia.

Symptoms include:

  • extreme fear and avoidance of "unhealthy" foods

  • obsession with healthy foods and nutrition

  • unable to deviate from dietary regimen without high anxiety

  • cutting out large groups of food

  • constantly checking food labels

  • large amounts of time spent planning and preparing food

  • avoidance of social gatherings

  • bringing premade meals to gatherings due to their food not meeting their standards

  • excessively critical of other people's eating habits

3. Orthorexia Diagnoses

There are no formal diagnostic criteria for orthorexia nervosa. It is not yet clear whether it is a subtype of OCD, part of anorexia nervosa, or its own disorder. But, several proposed tools are used to diagnose it such as:

  • ORTO-R

  • ORTO-15

  • Bratman Orthorexia Test (BOT)

  • Eating Habits Questionaire (EHQ)

Most agree that two statements must be true: an obsession with healthy eating and behaviors that disrupt daily life.

4. Consequences of Orthorexia

This mental illness has psychological, physical, and social effects. Psychologically, sufferers will likely experience guilt, anxiety, and frustration about disruptions in their eating patterns.

Physical consequences can be similar to other eating disorders. This can include malnutrition, low heart rate, and anemia.

Socially, those with orthorexia may find that they are not able to enjoy social settings. Their tendency to feel superior can also lead to complications in their relationships.

5. Orthorexia Treatment

Following identification and acknowledgment, a multi-disciplinary team is typically recommended. This may include a doctor, psychologist, and dietician, or nutritionist. Psychotherapy, cognitive reframing, reintroduction of trigger foods, and behavior modification are potential components of treatment.

Getting Help with Orthorexia

Although your intention may be to live a healthier lifestyle, you could be taking it too far. Orthorexia can easily go unnoticed, but it is still very dangerous. If you feel that you might be suffering, get help from an expert who can help you develop a treatment plan and envision the best version of you!

Are you looking for help recovering from your eating disorder? Contact me to learn more about how self-love and reclaiming your identity can help you on your path.

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