Orthorexia may not get as much recognition as the better-known eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, however the disordered eating behavior of orthorexia deserves a closer look.
Just as excessive dieting can be the simple start of anorexia, trying to limit oneself to “good” or “pure” foods may lead to orthorexia. According to Kratina, “Those who have an “unhealthy obsession” with otherwise healthy eating may be suffering from “orthorexia nervosa,” a term which literally means “fixation on righteous eating.” Orthorexia may start out as an innocent attempt to eat more healthfully, but people who have orthorexia become fixated on food quality and purity.”
Those suffering from orthorexia may have difficulty eating food that they have not personally prepared as they may question the quality of the food. This can make socializing around meals difficult for someone with orthorexia. According to Marcason (2013), “Someone suffering from orthorexia likely doesn’t enjoy food in the same way that someone with a healthy relationship to food does. Rather, orthorexics feel virtuous when they eat the foods they consider to be good or safe, while deviating from their self-imposed extreme diet restrictions causes anxiety and self loathing.”
Like eating disorders, there are medical complications associated with orthorexia. Because many people with orthorexia will eliminate or greatly reduce certain food groups that are vital to a balanced diet, these people may not be getting adequate nutrition.
Another concern with this condition is that many individuals with orthorexia will have a great knowledge of food and nutrition but may not have factually correct knowledge of food and nutrition. Individuals should seek help from medical and nutritional specialists in order to receive the most accurate information and to better understand balanced nutrition (Marcason, 2013).
There is hope for those with orthorexia. There are trained specialists available to work with those suffering from this condition. Specialized treatment offers clients a better understanding of this condition and ways to help the individual adopt healthier outlook and relationship with food.
Kratina, K. Orthorexia Nervosa. Retrieved from: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/orthorexia-nervosa
Marcason, W. (April 2013). Orthorexia: An Obsession with Eating “Pure”. Retrieved from: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6442471029