Do you know what Orthorexia Nervosa is? Eating healthy food can make a significant impact on your health and happiness. However, for some people, a fixation with healthy eating can develop into orthorexia, also known as orthorexia Nervosa, an eating disorder. The consequences of orthorexia can be just as severe as those of other eating disorders. Orthorexia Nervosa patients are obsessive about eating healthy to the detriment of their health.

Orthorexia Nervosa is difficult to comprehend since it is complex. Some patients with Orthorexia Nervosa also have OCD or other eating disorders. Some argue that orthorexia should be identified and treated in its own way.

This article will teach you everything you need to know about Orthorexia Nervosa, including its signs and symptoms, the harm it can cause to your health, and the therapies that are now available.

What is Orthorexia Nervosa?

Orthorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder in which a person becomes dangerously obsessed with healthy food. A person’s preoccupation with healthy eating and eating only “pure foods” or “clean meals” becomes so ingrained in their way of thinking that it interferes with their daily life.

Even though Orthorexia Nervosa is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), it is well-known among mental health professionals and eating disorder experts and can be damaging to the body, mind, and spirit.

Signs and Symptoms of Orthorexia Nervosa

Even though there are no official diagnostic criteria for Orthorexia Nervosa, there are certain common indications and symptoms.

  • having a strong fear of “unhealthy” foods and staying away from them
  • having an unhealthy fixation on healthy food, nutrition, and eating
  • being unable to change the way you eat or your diet without feeling a lot of stress
  • checking ingredient lists and nutrition labels over and over again and cutting out large groups of food even though there is no medical, religious, cultural, or ethical reason to do so (e.g., gluten, sugar, all carbs, all fats, animal products)
  • spending a lot of time planning, buying, and cooking meals they think are healthy, to the point where it gets in the way of other things.
  • having an unusual interest in other people’s eating habits or being too critical of how they do it
  • spending a lot of time looking at menus or thinking about the food at events
  • avoiding social events and food that other people have made
    bringing their own food to events because they think that other people’s food won’t be “healthy” enough for them.
    being malnourished or losing weight by accident because of severe food restrictions
  • fixating on food or “clean eating” as a way to prevent or treat disease.
    People with Orthorexia Nervosa feel very bad about themselves and are in a lot of emotional pain when they break the “rules” they have set for themselves about healthy eating or “give in” to cravings for foods they think are unhealthy.
  • People with Orthorexia Nervosa often feel that their sense of self-worth depends on how well they can stick to a healthy way of living.
  • So, the most common sign of Orthorexia Nervosa is a fixation on healthy eating that makes your life worse.

Self-Test for Orthorexia Nervosa

Consider the following questions if you believe you have Orthorexia Nervosa:

Do you ever wish you could quit worrying about food and focus more on your family and friends?

Do you ever worry about food and how bad it is for you?

Do you feel guilty or ashamed when you deviate from your ideal diet?
Do you believe it is physically impossible to consume a meal prepared by someone else?

Do you feel “in control” when you follow your planned, healthy, pure diet?

Do you look down on those who don’t eat as well as you do?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, you should consult a doctor about your concerns. If you have a primary care doctor or a mental health care provider, you can start there. If necessary, they might recommend you to a specialist.

Orthorexia Nervosa Diagnosis

Your doctor or a nutritionist may be able to help you with orthorexia, just as they do with bulimia and anorexia. Because of the emotional aspects of your condition, they may refer you to a mental health specialist.

There is currently no official way to identify orthorexia Nervosa because it is not included in the DSM-5, which is a collection of standards used by clinicians to diagnose mental health conditions.

In 2016, Bratman and Thomas M. Dunn, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Northern Colorado, developed a two-part method for diagnosing the condition:

Criterion A states that the individual will be fascinated with eating well and will become irritated if they eat foods they believe are unhealthy. They will lose weight because of what they consume, not because they want to. In addition:

  • They will obsessively follow rules about food that they think will help them stay healthy.
  • If they break the rules, they will worry about getting sick and feel bad about what they eat.

The rules will become tighter over time. The individual can perform cleanses. According to Criterion B, the individual may experience physical and mental health issues:

  • A restricted diet can lead to malnutrition, weight loss, and other health issues.
  • Their rigid standards and beliefs can make it difficult for them to make friends or do well at work or school.
  • How they follow their healthy eating standards may have an impact on how they feel about their effective way bodies and themselves.

Orthorexia Nervosa Treatment

The crucial thing to recognize is that eating healthy food is excellent for you, but the way you’re doing it is not. You’ll have to learn to think about it differently.

If you have a poor relationship with food, your doctor may advise you to eat more consciously. Some common treatments include:

Exposure and reaction prevention: The more you deal with something that makes you nervous, the less it bothers you.

Behavior modification: If you know how your actions hurt others, you can change what you’re doing.

Cognitive restructuring or cognitive reframing, helps you figure out your stressful habits and beliefs and replace them with less rigid thoughts and actions

There are numerous methods for learning to relax, including breathing exercises, guided imagery, mindfulness meditation, yoga, and tai chi.

The Bottom Line

Most people think that being mindful of the things you eat and how they affect your health is a good thing.

However, for some people, the border between healthy eating and an eating disorder is razor thin.

If you believe that your healthy diet is affecting your health, mental health, or social life, you may have Orthorexia Nervosa.

This disorder, like many other eating disorders, can cause major health concerns that can be fatal.

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