Signs & Symptoms Orthorexia Nervosa

Orthorexia Nervosa

What is Orthorexia Nervosa?

Orthorexia is an eating disorder characterized by having an unsafe obsession with healthy food. An obsession with healthy dieting and consuming only “pure foods” or “clean eating” becomes deeply rooted in the individual’s way of thinking to the point that it interferes with their daily life.

Although orthorexia is not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), it is still recognized by many mental health professionals and eating disorder experts and can have a harmful impact on the body, mind, and spirit.

Symptoms & Warning Signs

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  • Veganism, Vegetarian or Pescetarian
  • Gluten-free
  • Showing an “unusual interest” in what others are eating
  • Inability to eat any food that isn’t designated “pure”
  • Obsessively following “healthy lifestyle” bloggers or social media figures
  • Obsessions about checking the ingredients
  • Compulsively checking nutrition labels and/or calorie counting
  • Inflexibility
  • Fear of processed foods
  • Perfectionism
  • Obsessions with dietary and nutritional supplements
  • Opting out on celebrations and social gatherings in fear of unhealthy foods that you may be pressured to eat

Causes

  • Past history of trauma
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • Unresolved personal conflicts
  • Low self-esteem
  • Perfectionist personality
  • Long history of dieting
  • Substance abuse
  • In males, decreased testosterone
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation, bloating or nausea
  • Electrolyte abnormalities, such as low blood potassium, sodium and chloride
  • Kidney problems
  • Obsession with exercise

Risks & Complications

Orthorexia can result in severe health problems such as malnourishment leading to protein deficiency disorders that can harm the kidneys and other vital organs. Additionally, the presence of co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance abuse disorders can increase the morbidity and mortality associated with orthorexia.

Treatment for Orthorexia Nervosa

The psychotherapy approaches offered in eating disorder treatment can allow an individual to acknowledge the underlying feelings and triggers associated with their orthorexia nervosa and find strategies to develop healthy coping mechanisms and ways to live in reality without striving for perfection.

Orthorexia nervosa is known to lead to anorexia nervosa, which has the highest mortality rate out of all mental health disorders. Treatment for orthorexia nervosa alone or in combination with anorexia nervosa does differ, as individuals with anorexia nervosa are focused on weight restoration in treatment.

We’re Here to Help

Center for Discovery’s Treatment Centers specialize in treatment for eating disorders, mental health and dual diagnosis treatment with unique treatment programs for every individual to get them on their way to eating disorder recovery.

For more information, resources, or to consult with one of our specialists, call 866.482.3876.

Preferred In-Network Provider for All Major Health Insurance

Preferred In-Network Provider for All Major Health Insurance

  • I was sent to [Center for Discovery], an all women's eating disorder treatment facility, and I was terrified to go. I was told I would be there for a month and would return home after that. I ended staying there for almost 3 months, and I can honestly say I am beyond thankful for my time there. I learned so much and they helped me find myself and get over my traumas and learn to cope with issues that I was having. All the staff was super helpful and had my best interest at heart. I may have not liked all of them, but I knew they wanted what was best for me. Even after my insurance run out, the therapist I was working with arranged for me to go to another center to continue my treatment because I was not ready to come home. I highly recommend getting help with Center for Discovery. They truly care!
    Rebecca S
    Alumni
  • I was at [Center for Discovery] for 6 weeks. I'm from Ohio and being so far away from home was hard. The staff made me feel super comfortable and cared for, making my stay much more manageable. The program was very individualized. They worked hard to make sure my specific needs were met and that my specific behaviors were addressed. This is a top notch facility with incredibly caring staff. Not only were the house staff wonderful, but everyone from admissions to the medical director worked hard to make sure I knew what was going on. This is a wonderful company who are true to what they say. They gave me my life back. I'm someone who has been in and out of treatment for my eating disorder and this program was by far the best. I feel so optimistic about my future. The progress I made there was life changing and I will be forever grateful. I recommend this program to anyone who is serious, willing, and ready to get better.
    Natalie F
    Alumni
  • I was surprised by my parents with the option of going to get help for my eating disorder and overall unhealthy lifestyle. I so badly wanted to get help, but was too ashamed. After talking to my mom I agreed to at least talk to someone from Center for Discoveryabout what program I would be in and what it would be like. The gal was super helpful, kind, and did not make me feel like I was the only person who suffered from what I did. She was very patient with me and overall helped out our family with the process of insurance and costs and what not. As for the actual facility I stayed at, it was a great experience.
    Rebecca S
    Alumni
  • We had our son in an acute care hospital and the social worker recommended the Center for Discovery. Before our son was discharged, my wife and I met with the staff and toured the facility. We were impressed by the staff and how the program was structured. Our son was there 6 weeks. It was a game changer and now we feel our son left with a good base of skills that he has continued to use. We now feel our son can leave a normal type life and not have to worry that he may need to live in a group home setting as an adult. We can't say enough for the help and support we received from the entire staff at the Center for Discovery. When we were considering the facility we did some reviews on line. Some weren't overly positive, but most were and we feel that it was a very positive experience for our son and our family. Even our son now admits that he learned some great skills and that his time at Center for Discovery turned his life around.
    John W
    Parent of Alumni

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