What is it?

Orthorexia is an unhealthy focus on eating in a healthy way. Eating nutritious food is good, but if you have orthorexia, you obsess about it to a degree that can damage your overall well-being.

2 Alikes with Orthorexia

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Signs & symptoms

If you have orthorexia, you might:
* Worry about food quality. High levels of concern about the quality and source of foods you eat could lead to anxiety.
* Avoid going out to eat or avoid eating food prepared by others out of fear that foods you don’t prepare yourself won’t meet your standards.
* Fear sickness. You worry about how "clean" food is or if it’s "bad" for your health.
* Show physical signs of malnutrition. When you limit the variety of foods you eat, you may not get all the nourishment you need. You could lose weight as a result.
* Bury yourself in food research. It’s one thing to spend a few minutes scanning a product label or surfing the web for more information on ingredients. But with orthorexia, you may spend hours thinking about food and planning meals.
* Refuse to eat a broad range of foods. It’s normal to avoid some foods because you don’t like the way they taste or the way they make you feel. But with orthorexia, you might decide to drop whole categories of foods from your diet. For example, you might stop eating grains; or any foods with preservatives, gluten, or sugar; or all foods that just don’t seem “healthy."
* Fear losing control. You feel that you’re doing the right thing by eating healthy. But you may also be afraid that eating even one meal you didn’t prepare -- including dinner at a restaurant -- can be disastrous.
* Be overly critical of your friends’ food choices. At the same time, you may have no rational explanation for your own.
* Find yourself in a vicious circle. Your preoccupation with food causes you to bounce between self-love and guilt as you change and restrict your diet.


As with bulimia and anorexia, your doctor or nutritionist may be able to help with orthorexia. Because of the emotional parts of the condition, they may ask you to see a mental health professional.
Right now, there are no official criteria for making a diagnosis because orthorexia isn’t included in the DSM-5, the guidelines doctors use to diagnose mental health conditions.


The key is to recognize that even though eating healthy food is good for you, the way you’re going about it is causing harm. You’ll need to train yourself to think differently about it.
If you think you have an unhealthy relationship with eating, your doctor may suggest mindful eating strategies. Common treatments include:
* Exposure and response prevention: The more you’re exposed to the situation that causes you anxiety, the less it’ll upset you.
* Behavior modification: Understanding the negative effects of your actions so you can change what you’re doing
* Cognitive restructuring or cognitive reframing, which helps you identify habits and beliefs that cause stress and replace them with less rigid thoughts and actions
Various forms of relaxation training, like breathing exercises, guided imagery, mindfulness meditation, yoga, and tai chi

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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