Orthorexia Nervosa

Many people are not familiar with Orthorexia Nervosa. However, once you explain it to them, they usually know someone who at least shows some common characteristics of the "disorder". Many professionals in the medical community do not yet recognize it as a recognizable disorder. However, we thought it would be good to have some information about it as we talk about eating disorders this week. Orthorexia Nervosa

People with this disorder fixate on "righteous eating". Their self-esteem comes from how "pure" they keep their diet. Many times, this self-esteem leads to a feeling (and acting) of being superior to others because they only eat what in their minds is pure and healthy. They do not necessarily focus on their body weight or image, but on consumption.

Usually it starts out as a lifestyle of eating healthy and making better choices. But with this disorder, it leads to over-worrying about food safety and preoccupation with eating ONLY things that are healthy. The key here is preoccupation- they think about this ALL THE TIME! Not just an awareness of needing to eat healthy.

Here are some signs of Orthorexia Nervosa:

  • Constantly looking for ways a food might be unhealthy for you.
  • Spending more time on food and less time on living, life, and relationships.
  • Joy, play, and fun are overruled by having the perfect diet.
  • Feeling "in control" when you eat the "right" foods.
  • Viewing yourself as superior to others because of the poor way others eat.
  • Having difficulty imagining yourself eating a meal prepared by someone other then you.
  • When deciding to do the above, you would desperately try to control everything put into the meal.
  • Experiencing extreme guilt when you "slip up" from your eating plan.

Again, this is extreme. Many of us are concerned with eating more natural, organic, or raw foods now that we are more educated on what goes into food. But this disorder is where people are obsessed and it is getting in the way of life.

Tomorrow Joleen will finish up this weeks series on Factors contributing to eating disorders as well as some ways to help. Thank you for reading- have a great week!

For more information you can visit http://www.othorexia.com

*Information adapted from the National Eating Disorders Association. For more information about NEDA, http://www.neda.org

Written by Natalie Chandler

Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. Natalie enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, and couples counseling.  We also specialize in family counseling, child, and adolescent counseling. Imagine Hope serves the Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, Westfield, and Zionsville