Orthorexia Nervosa

What is orthorexia nervosa?

Orthorexia nervosa is an extreme obsession with healthy eating.

Orthorexia goes well beyond a commitment to healthy eating in that the individual’s life becomes almost solely focused on eating what she deems proper or healthy food. This obsession negatively interferes with her social life, relationships, studies or career, and physical and emotional well-being.

The term “orthorexia nervosa” was coined by Dr. Steven Bratman in 1977.

Signs and symptoms of orthorexia nervosa

Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Planning their daily menu more than 24 hours in advance
  • Getting more pleasure from the perceived virtue of food than from actually eating it
  • Decreased quality of life as the focus on “better” quality food increases
  • Being increasingly rigid and self-critical about their eating
  • Defining self-esteem and self worth by the quality of food they eat
  • Having a lower opinion of people who do not eat what they deem healthy
  • Describing healthy food as “pure,” “proper,” or “correct”
  • Eating only at home where they have total control of the food, therefore withdrawing socially
  • Feeling guilt or self-loathing when they eat “incorrect” food

For more perspective on Orthorexia Nervosa see the video:  “When Healthy Eating Goes Too Far”

(Note: Although boys and men also develop eating disorders, the majority of victims are female. We will use the female pronouns “she” and “her” consistently throughout this website.)

(Photo Credit: FredArmitrage on Flickr)

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