What are the Signs & Symptoms of Orthorexia?

What is Orthorexia?

Orthorexia nervosa is an eating disorder defined by an unhealthy obsession with eating only 'pure' foods and excessively cutting out foods falsely perceived as 'unpure'.

The dieting is used not to become thinner, but to control the individual's anxiety about the idea that some foods will make them and their bodies unclean, and to cope with the intense guilt associated with eating certain foods. 

Because of its similarities to anorexia and other eating disorders, it is not clinically recognized as an official diagnosis. However, there are certain behavioral and physical signs that you, or someone you know, might be suffering from orthorexia.

 

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Behavioral Signs

  • excessively cutting out more and more foods to make their diet healthier
  • judging the diet and eating habits of peers
  • projecting personal opinions onto existing theories about healthy eating and dieting
  • obsession with a "healthy" diet
  • their focus on diet and eating interferes with daily life, work, personal relationships
  • unable to put aside the personal dieting and eating rules they have created for themselves
  • feelings of guilt and anxiety concerning eating foods that they think will make them unclean or unhealthy
  • perception of different foods as 'right' and 'wrong'
  • low energy levels and depressive moods

Physical Signs

  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • poor ability to recover from illness
  • sensitivity to cold
  • feeling physically weaker

Treatment

Challenge is the most important word and concept in treating orthorexia.

It is vital to recovery to challenge the perfectionism that is controlling your mind and behavior. Orthorexia revolves around a rigid way of thinking and a specific routine, and challenging that routine is the key to recovering. 
Therapy can help to develop skills to overpower obsessive traits and a need for control. Breaking unhealthy patterns of thinking around food and eating can combat negative perfectionism and set you on a path to a positive balance in your life.

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If you think you might be struggling with orthorexia or have other issues with eating, our staff at Weight Matters is here for you.

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